HC Deb 30 April 1969 vol 782 cc1420-1
23. Mr. Boston

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about his review of alternative safety measures following the withdrawal of helicopters from Manston, Kent.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. William Rodgers)

There is a wide range of well tried and effective rescue facilities in the area on which H.M. Coastguard can call in an emergency. They include 11 life-boats and 11 fast inshore rescue boats operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and the Institution has now announced that it is adding two more inshore rescue boats and a new 40 ft. lifeboat. Helicopters from Coltishall and Thorney Island will be available.

Mr. Boston

Will my hon. Friend accept that the additional facilities that he has mentioned will be welcomed? Is he satisfied that these will be adequate to cope with an area where there is increasing traffic? Does not he feel that there is a case for basing our rescue services as a whole on more than mainly voluntary organisations and part-time military help? Will he not consider having an inquiry into the whole matter?

Mr. Rodgers

I do not think that we can ever say that we are satisfied with the facilities available, because it is our job to improve them as far as possible. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has a noble record as a voluntary organisation and would, I think, prefer to keep it that way. We are certainly reviewing the facilities at present and discussing them with, for example, the Chamber of Shipping and the R.N.L.I., and we shall make such changes as may be required in the light of what we learn.