HC Deb 05 February 1957 vol 564 cc221-2
16. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware of the periodical loss of lives from mountain climbing in Scotland and the frequent danger and loss to local inhabitants involved in rescue work; and whether he will inquire into the possibility of controlling or warning climbers with a view to avoidance of such tragedies.

Mr. N. Macpherson

Yes, Sir. I am assured that everything possible is done by the police to deter climbers from attempting ascents in unsuitable conditions, including the display of posters describing the precautions which climbers should take. These posters are displayed at youth hostels, hotels and other places in Inverness-shire, including Skye; and I am suggesting that this might also be done in other areas. While I shall, of course, gladly consider any suggestions that the right hon. Member may wish to make, I am afraid that control of climbing would involve difficulties both of principle and of administration.

Mr. Woodburn

I am no expert in climbing, and my advice would not be of any special value, but would the Secretary of State not consider getting together people who are expert in this connection to find out what can be done to stop this dreadful waste of valuable young lives and to avoid distress to people in the localities who are compelled to go out to rescue them and to the general public who are disturbed every year at finding these boys losing their lives seemingly for no purpose whatever?

Mr. Macpherson

Yes, Sir. Mountain courses are available for those who wish to learn to climb, but I would point out that most of the fatal accidents occur to those who have not informed themselves as to the conditions, or indeed as to the methods.

Mr. Woodburn

Cannot something be done about the provision of huts and roads at places where people do this climbing regularly?

Mr. W. R. Williams

Are not similar dangers involved in Snowdonia, in the Welsh Principality? Is there any reason why the Ministers and Departments concerned should not issue suitable warnings to inexperienced young men and women who tackle some of these very dangerous mountains without knowledge and experience of them?

Mr. Macpherson

I hope that these Questions and the publicity given to them will do something to deter inexperienced people from undertaking these impossible tasks.