HC Deb 10 May 1950 vol 475 cc367-8
36. Mr. John Hay

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that practice bombing of the bombing range at Charlton-on-Otmoor, Oxfordshire, on 13th April caused alarm in the nearby village; and what action he proposes to take.

Mr. Crawley

I regret that during a bombing exercise at the Otmoor range on the night of 13th April, three 25-pound practice bombs were irregularly released and burst in a field near the village of Murcott about two miles from the target area. No damage occurred to either persons or property. A full investigation has been carried out, and it has been established that the faulty release was caused by a fault in the electrical wiring circuit of the aircraft. Action is being taken to prevent a recurrence.

Mr. Hay

Will the Minister consider whether or not it would be practicable to close the Charlton-on-Otmoor bombing range altogether, as this is not the first time that this sort of thing has happened?

Mr. Crawley

We could not close this range, which is one of the largest in the country. If we were forced to close inland ranges altogether, it would be impossible for bombing practice to continue. We have taken every conceivable precaution to reduce this type of fault to a minimum.

Lord John Hope

When the hon. Gentleman says "irregularly released" does he mean dropped by mistake?

Mr. Crawley

If I said "dropped by mistake "it might have implied that the pilot was at fault, whereas this was due to a mechanical defect.