HC Deb 21 January 1959 vol 598 cc198-9
39. Mr. N. Nicolson

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation if he is now in a position to state when the public inquiry into the crash of a Viking aircraft at Southall on 2nd September, 1958, is to be held; and if he will give an assurance that this inquiry will be started immediately the result of the inquest is known so that all the relevant facts may be elicited before the question of whether other proceedings should be taken is decided.

Mr. Watkinson

There will be no avoidable delay in starting a public inquiry as soon as proper consideration has been given to the results of the inquest.

Mr. Nicolson

My right hon. Friend has been most helpful to the company which owns the aircraft, and I thank him for it. Has not an unusually long time been taken to complete the preliminary inquiries into this air crash? While I quite understand that he cannot comment on the coroner's three adjournments of the inquest, in general terms, would it not be a good thing to complete preliminary inquiries as soon as possible after a crash so that the company concerned can have an early opportunity to clear its name before a properly convened public inquiry?

Mr. Watkinson

My Ministry would very much like to hold its own inquiry as soon as possible, but as my hon. Friend knows, we cannot do so until the coroner has concluded his inquest.

Mr. Beswick

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the situation created by the scope of the coroner's inquiry has made the matter most difficult? While we appreciate that neither he nor his colleagues has any power over the coroner, is it not possible to have some sort of inquiry and some sort of understanding so that this sort of situation does not arise again?

Mr. Watkinson

I am considering future procedures in air accidents, but it is very difficult when a coroner's inquiry has to be held first.

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