HC Deb 19 February 1946 vol 419 cc948-9
36. Major Symonds

asked the Secretary of State for War when the hon. Member for Cambridge can expect to receive the further communication, promised him on 18th December last, in connection with the tank fatality which occurred in Cambridge on 22nd October, 1945.

Mr. Lawson

I very much regret the delay in sending my hon. and gallant Friend a final answer about this case. I have, however, now considered both the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry in connection with this accident and also the reports of the related proceedings at Cambridge Petty Sessions. As civil proceedings have already either been taken against the other ranks concerned or were not proceeded with, I do not consider that any further action is called for in their case. I understand that the Officer Commanding the unit has never at any time given instructions for convoys to ignore traffic lights, nor so far as can be ascertained have any of his officers. No action is, therefore, called for so far as any officer is concerned. As I stated in answer to my hon. and gallant Friend's Question on 13th November, military drivers must at all times conform to normal traffic signals and road signs.

Major Symonds

Arising out of that reply, is my right hon. Friend aware that at the inquest proceedings it was stated by an officer of the unit concerned that the men, in disregarding traffic lights, were simply obeying instructions, and is he really satisfied that only the men in the tank crew alone are responsible for what occurred?

Mr. Lawson

I made inquiries on that point and I found that in the report of the inquest, the officer commanding the depot from which the tank came is reported as having said that it was the practice of despatch-riders to see a convoy through irrespective of lights, and that he thought there was an order in respect of that, but had not checked up. It was this report which drew the attention of the Press to the case.