HC Deb 15 May 1963 vol 677 cc1310-1
24. Mr. Milne

asked the Minister of Transport what further steps he will take to ensure that all sea-going craft carry distress signal flares and rescue equipment.

Vice-Admiral Hughes-Hallett

All seagoing craft, except pleasure yachts of less than 15 tons burden, must by statutory regulation carry distress signals and lifesaving equipment. I do not consider that further steps to ensure compliance with these regulations are needed.

Mr. Milne

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this will cause some concern around our coasts, because an increasing number of craft are putting to sea during the holidays and other periods every year and an unnecessary strain and burden is being imposed on the many splendid voluntary workers who are called out to rescues following accidents? Will he look into the matter much more closely and extend the range of vessels needing the type of equipment referred to in the Question?

Vice-Admiral Hughes-Hallett

We are, of course, aware of the seriousness of the problem, but we do not think we would be justified in taking responsibility for the inspection of all the various types of craft because of the large and costly organisation which would be required. We think that the matter is best left to local initiative and to instruction and training, which is going forward.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind the fact that a large number of sailing and other dinghies race a mile or two out from the coast, and that it would be quite impracticable for this type of craft to carry these heavy distress appliances?

Vice-Admiral Hughes-Hallett

Yes, Sir; I am inclined to agree with my hon. Friend over that. Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that pyrotechnic signals need a great deal of care in handling, and that we must be careful that while guarding against one danger we do not introduce another.