HC Deb 08 June 1939 vol 348 cc595-6
Mr. Greenwood (by Private Notice)

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any further statement to make regarding the disaster to His Majesty's Submarine "Thetis"; and whether he can now announce the arrangements made with respect to the public inquiry and the personnel of the committee?

The Prime Minister

With regard to the salvage of His Majesty's Submarine "Thetis," it had been hoped to attempt to lift the submarine yesterday. The camels were secured to the submarine and all the lifting wires were in position under the submarine. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated as the tide rose and early this morning a heavy north-westerly swell threw a heavy strain on the wires. The wires on the after camel parted and the wires on the foremost camel had to be slipped. The flooding of the submarine is thought to be more extensive than originally anticipated, with a consequent loss of buoyancy and increase in weight. This has shown that to lift the submarine additional lifting power will be necessary, and heavier wires will be required. The salvage craft have temporarily withdrawn to Liverpool pending the provision of additional appliances, and more favourable weather conditions.

The public inquiry into the loss of the submarine "Thetis" will be held by Mr. Justice Bucknill. Assessors, whose names will be announced shortly, will be appointed to assist him. In order that the Tribunal may have powers in relation to the summoning of witnesses, taking evidence on oath and similar matters, it is desirable that the provisions of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921, should apply. To authorise this, Resolutions by both Houses of Parliament are necessary. I am placing a Resolution on the Order Paper forthwith.

Mr. White

Can the Prime Minister say where the inquiry will be held?

The Prime Minister

I have not any official information about that at present.

Mr. Greenwood

May I say that the procedure which the right hon. Gentleman has suggested will, I think, meet with general agreement on both sides of the House?