§ Mr. de Freitas
(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he can make a statement about the incident involving the R.A.F. Comet in which Her Majesty the Queen was flying yesterday.
§ The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)
Her Majesty the Queen was returning yesterday from Copenhagen in a Comet of Royal Air Force Transport Command. At about 11 o'clock, when the aircraft was flying at a height of 35,000 feet near the Ems estuary, the co-pilot saw two fighters which approached the Comet head on and passed very close to it. These fighters appeared to bear the markings of the Federal German Air Force.
I have set up a board of inquiry with which officers of the Federal German Air Force will be associated and the incident will be fully investigated.
§ Mr. de Freitas
Since an inquiry is being held, there are few questions which would be appropriate now. There was no accident and we must all be grateful for that. However, will the Secretary of State impress upon the Minister of Aviation, who has these negotiations in hand, that this incident makes it even more urgent and important that there should be the strictest system of air traffic control in Western Europe for both military and civil aircraft?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does not this show that those of us who opposed Germany ever having a Luftwaffe at all were abundantly justified?
§ Mr. Rankin
Is the Secretary of State not aware that the question of a unified system of control—for the whole of Europe, I hope—has been under the consideration of the Civil Air Traffic Control Advisory Committee for months and that a report on its findings has been given to the Committee responsible to the right hon. Gentleman's colleague, but that all that has happened is that the Air Traffic Control Board returned it to the Advisory Committee? It has been sent back to that Board, but changes in Ministers of Aviation have been so frequent that, evidently, no Minister has had time to get down to considering the report.