HC Deb 20 July 1972 vol 841 cc891-2
20. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will require the promoters of cross-Atlantic sailing competitions to pay a deposit to cover the cost of air-sea rescue operations, if and when these become necessary.

Mr. Kirk

No, Sir. Where life is, or is believed to be, in imminent danger, assistance is provided if it can be, but without charge.

Mr. Lipton

Is it not deplorable that public money should be spent and lives risked, or even lost, through the vanity and obstinacy of foolhardy persons who seem willing to lend themselves to commercially sponsored exploitation?

Mr. Kirk

There are two views. Elderly gentlemen sometimes do curious things.

Mr. Ewing

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that these are commercially sponsored events and that national newspapers are making a great deal of money out of buying the rights to the stories which these people can tell, and, moreover, having been rescued at great public expense, such people come back and are then able to sell another story so that the national newspaper makes further profit at the expense of the British taxpayer?

Mr. Kirk

My Department is in touch with the Sunday Times about a possible contribution.