§ 43. Mr. Beswick
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he has yet decided to hold a public inquiry into the accident at Nutts Corner to a British European Airways aircraft on 23rd October; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Watkinson
On 23rd October, 1957, a Viscount aircraft of British European Airways Corporation was making a flight from London to Nutts Corner with a crew of five and an employee of the Corporation and his wife as the only passengers. At approximately 16.45 hours, in conditions of low cloud and rain, an approach to runway 28 was made using a ground-controlled approach. On completion of the G.C.A. talk-down the pilot commenced to take normal action to overshoot. Almost immediately afterwards the aircraft crashed near the up-wind end of the runway. It was almost completely destroyed and all on board were killed.
The Chief Inspector of Accidents is conducting a detailed investigation into this accident. In accordance with normal procedure, I shall decide, when I see his preliminary report, whether the circumstances justify a public inquiry.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the House will wish to join with me in expressing sympathy with the relatives of those who have lost their lives.
§ Mr. Beswick
Whilst assuring the Minister that we on this side of the House would certainly like to associate ourselves with the sympathy which he has expressed, may I ask whether it is not unusual for these preliminary inquiries to take so long before it is decided whether or not to have a public inquiry? 193 Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there are any unusual circumstances in this case?
§ Mr. Watkinson
The only circumstance that has delayed matters is the fact that the aircraft crash was such that wreckage was very widely spread and very much dispersed and damaged. Therefore, the investigation has taken my officers rather long. Otherwise, I know of no other unusual circumstances, and I await the preliminary report on which I must decide.