HC Deb 03 March 1948 vol 448 cc359-60
4. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when it is intended to publish the Report of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee recently set up to inquire into the procedure to be followed when accidents occur to civil aircraft.

Mr. Lindgren

It is not intended to publish this Report.

Mr. Cooper

In view of the fact that, in British South American Airways Corporation aircraft, over 70 people were killed in a period of five months, does not my hon. Friend consider it a matter of vital public concern that the reports on these accidents should be published?

Mr. Lindgren

No, Sir. The responsibility for the decision must always rest with the Minister, and he has to take the best advice possible before coming to his decision. The Minister should take that responsibility and, when his decision is made, it is announced to the House and is a subject for discussion.

Mr. Keeling

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the refusal of the Inspector of Air Accidents, under instructions from the Department, to allow the cross-examination of Government witnesses cause great uneasiness, and can he say anything about that?

Mr. Lindgren

The hon. Gentleman is mistaken. The Inspector of Accidents is under no instructions from anyone.

Mr. Keeling

Still, he refuses.

Mr. Beswick

Could my hon. Friend say whether this Committee made any recommendations and whether we are to know what they were?

Mr. Lindgren

No, Sir. These recommendations are for the information of my noble Friend. They are made in a private capacity, and the Minister respects advice given to him in confidence, and takes full responsibility for the decisions which he makes arising from it.

Sir Ralph Glyn

If there is a statutory obligation in regard to accidents occurring on the railways and at sea, why should not the same thing apply to the air?

Mr. Lindgren

There is a statutory obligation in regard to the air, but the difference is that the railways are longer established, with over 100 years of operation, and air transport is new. Therefore, there is a little more limelight in the newspapers on unfortunate incidents which happen from time to time.

Mr. James Hudson

In view of the tact that reports on air accidents have already been published, and I am referring to the one in Northampton, particularly, and that nothing has been done about the statement that drink was one of the causes of the accident, is that not a further reason why my hon. Friend should reconsider this matter?