HC Deb 24 January 1956 vol 548 cc36-7
Mr. F. Anderson

(by Private Notice)asked the Secretary of State for Air if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which the Canberra bomber exploded on Ponsonby Fell, Cumberland, on Friday, 20th January, 1956.

The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. Nigel Birch)

A Canberra photographic reconnaissance aircraft from the Royal Air Force station at Wyton crashed shortly after noon on 20th January on Ponsonby Fell, in Cumberland. Both the pilot and the navigator were killed.

I am sure that the House would wish to join with me in expressing sympathy with the relatives of the deceased.

Mr. Anderson

In view of the close proximity of this crash to the Windscale and Calder Hall atomic energy establishments—they were only about three and a half miles away—will the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to take the responsibility of inquiring how far it is reasonable for military or civil aeroplanes to be in close proximity to atomic energy establishments?

Mr. Birch

I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for raising the point. There are, of course, certain regulations, and I will consider very carefully whether or not further regulations ought to be made.

Mr. Winterbottom

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the coroner who conducts the inquest will have the right to make whatever investigations he pleases from the personnel of the Royal Air Force without being restricted as in the case of the Lodge Moor air crash a few weeks ago? May I call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that, in that case, the coroner has had to delay decisions because information has been withheld by the American Air Force, which has been conducting the inquiry?

Mr. Birch

That is obviously quite a different question. If the hon. Gentleman cares to put it on the Order Paper, I will do my best to answer it.