HC Deb 05 May 1958 vol 587 cc823-4
10. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Supply whether he will make a statement on the accident to the missile launched on Wednesday, 30th April, at the Missile Research Establishment, Aberporth.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

At 10.30 a.m. on 30th April an experimental rocket was fired from the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Aberporth, on a trajectory out to sea within the Cardigan Bay ranges. The rocket deviated from its course and fell on farm land near New Quay, on the Cardiganshire coast. So far as is at present known, no damage either to persons or property resulted. I much regret this incident and any anxiety or disturbance it may have caused. I have asked for a very full investigation and for a report to be made to me without delay.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the Minister aware that those of us who have visited this establishment have been deeply impressed with the care taken to prevent something like this happening, but unless the self-destructive device is improved, will it not be necessary for the Minister to look into the matter again to see if these experiments should not take place in centres further away from population?

Mr. Jones

I think the hon. Gentleman had better await the outcome of the inquiry. The establishment has been there for ten years, and the firing of rockets has been going on for the best part of ten years. The number of occasions on which a rocket has fallen on land is very few; I think at most five times.

Mr. Donelly

Would the right hon. Gentleman go a little bit further and give an assurance to people living in the locality that this sort of thing is most unlikely to happen, that inquiries will be made into the technicalities of it, but that, in the meanwhile, nothing will be undertaken which might result in a recurrence?

Mr. Jones

Pending the outcome of the inquiry, nothing likely to lead to a recurrence will be undertaken.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the Minister give an undertaking that as soon as the inquiries are completed he will make a full statement to the House?

Mr. Jones

Clearly, security considerations arise here, but within the limits permitted to me by security considerations, I will be as forthcoming to the House as I can.