HC Deb 20 February 1973 vol 851 cc215-6
19. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Minister of State for Defence how many accidents have taken place with Polaris submarines.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Apart from the deliberate destruction of a Polaris test missile on 13th February, there was a minor collision between HMS "Renown" and the motor vessel "Moyle" in 1969.

Mr. Jenkins

Will the Minister clarify the extraordinary written answer that he gave on Friday to one of my hon. Friends in the first part of which he said that the test had been a failure and in the second part that it had been successful? What did he mean?

Mr. Gilmour

There is no possible confusion in what I said originally. The missile itself was fired successfully by the submarine, but in flight something went wrong—we do not know exactly what—and that is what I told the hon. Gentleman's colleague.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

To prevent any misunderstanding of the word "accidents" in this connection, will my hon. Friend make it clear that the Polaris submarines have been outstandingly safe and successful and also that the one recent malfunction caused no risk of any nuclear hazard?

Mr. Gilmour

As my hon. and gallant Friend says, the Polaris submarines are extremely safe and their record on missile firings up to now has been very good. I need hardly bother to assure the House that there was of course no nuclear warhead in that missile.

Mr. Dalyell

The answer about the "Repulse" referred to by my hon. Friend was a bit confusing, since it was said that the fault was not the fault of the personnel or of the equipment. Whose fault was it?

Mr. Gilmour

That is something we are seeking to find out.

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