§ 24. Mr. John Rankin
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to create a modern Government-backed air-sea rescue force equipped with long-range, high-powered helicopters to replace the existing services.
§ Mr. Anthony Grant
Her Majesty's Coastguard and Service helicopters are already an integral part of the present air-sea rescue arrangements. Rescues which can be effected only by long-range helicopters are fortunately very rare.
§ Mr. Rankin
Whether or not they are very rare is surely beside the point. They happen. Will not the Minister give thought to that fact, in view of the tremendous disaster involved, which was emphasised recently in the Orkneys which caused a great deal of concern to many people? Would the hon. Gentleman have another thought about the suggestion in my Question?
§ Mr. Grant
I certainly take this matter very seriously indeed, as I know the hon. Gentleman does. The fact that I said that these long-range disasters were happily rare does not mean that they are not extremely important. Indeed, I pay tribute to the work done by the Royal Danish Air Force in the recent disaster to which the hon. Gentleman referred. We are considering carefully and urgently the question of helicopters and their use for this purpose, and I hope to make a statement as soon as possible.