HC Deb 12 August 1966 vol 733 cc2011-2

Dame Joan Vickers (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the firing of a practice shell by H.M.S. "Tiger" into Devonport Dockyard, and whether he will give an assurance that immediate action is being taken to make repetition of this incident impossible.

The Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)

A dummy 6-inch projectile was accidentally fired during material tests of the equipment in H.M.S. "Tiger" on 10th August. One member of the ship's company was slightly grazed, but there were no other casualties.

A full investigation is under way and I assure the hon. Lady that, in the light of the findings, we shall take every possible step to prevent any recurrence of a similar accident.

Dame Joan Vickers

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply. I am glad to know that there were no severe casualties. May I ask him whether it is possible to ensure that there are better safeguards for this push-button mechanism in future, and whether the findings of the board of inquiry will be made public?

Mr. Mallalieu

I think that the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question depends on the findings of the inquiry. If there is any step which we can take to add to safety, we shall certainly take it.

On the second part of her supplementary question, we shall publish the main conclusions.

Mr. Goodhew

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether there is any indicator in these guns to make it clear that they are ready for such a live firing?

Mr. Mallalieu

Normally there is, if it is working.