HC Deb 12 March 1958 vol 584 cc419-20
47. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation how many air accidents involving civil airliners are currently being investigated by his Department; and what was the date of the first of these accidents.

Mr. Watkinson

Six accidents to transport type aircraft are currently under investigation in the United Kingdom. Three involved aircraft engaged in ordinary passenger transport. One concerned an aircraft on scheduled freight operations. The other two aircraft were a Heron on an ambulance flight and a Britannia on a development flight. The earliest of these accidents was on 28th September, 1957. Four accidents to United Kingdom registered transport type aircraft are currently under investigation by overseas authorities.

Mr. Beswick

The Minister will be aware that I am not trying to direct attention to the fact that there have been a number of accidents. I am dealing with the point that the staff at his disposal is not now adequate to deal with the number of accidents that are likely to occur, with the increased amount of traffic within his responsibility. In view of the complacency which he displayed when I raised this matter last time, may I ask him how many additional people with technical qualifications have been added to his safety and accident investigation branches in the last seven or eight years?

Mr. Watkinson

If the hon. Member wants an answer to that question, he had better put it down. As for saying that I am complacent, I have already given the date. The oldest outstanding accident occured on 28th September last year, and the hon. Member knows from his own practical experience in the past that the proper investigation of these accidents must take a considerable time. It is nonsense to say that my Department is not capable of coping with the situation.