HC Deb 10 November 1954 vol 532 c1196
35. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress he has made towards securing international agreement on the mandatory installation of rearward-facing seats in passenger aircraft.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The installation of rearward-facing seats was advocated by the United Kingdom at the 4th Session of the Airworthiness Division of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in March, 1951. No agreement has been reached. I intend to instruct our representatives to raise this matter again at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Beswick

Is the Minister aware that not only is the Royal Air Force advocating rearward-facing seats, but that his Department's former inspector of accidents has now come out with a public statement in favour of them, which puts his Department in a rather awkward position? Will he say if he can take some additional initiative other than that already taken?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I do not think that we are in an awkward position. We have, in fact, taken the lead over this, and in that respect we have been forward-facing.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Is my right hon. Friend aware that anyone who has had experience of this matter knows that undoubtedly rearward-facing seats are infinitely safer, and that there is nothing to prevent him, or this country as a whole, from adopting them and putting the procedure into practice immediately?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

From a safety angle, there is a good deal of evidence in support of the view expressed by my hon. Friend, but I think that he will be aware that there are a number of steps which have to be taken before there can be any question of compulsion, particularly in respect of existing aircraft.