HC Deb 05 March 1973 vol 852 cc10-1
10. Mr. Costain

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects receiving the results of his Department's experiments at selected coastguard stations to evaluate the use of direction-finding equipment on the radio telephone distress frequency.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

Results so far show unacceptable inaccuracies and further trials are therefore necessary. I cannot say when these will be completed.

Mr. Costain

Does my hon. Friend agree that the recent loss of the "Gold Coin" off Hastings, which nobody could tell was in the English Channel, shows that there are serious defects in the system? Can my hon. Friend do something to get it modernised?

Mr. Heseltine

Certainly we are anxious to make progress in this matter, although it is not certain that we would have been able to help in the "Gold Coin" case. However, we wish to make progress and that is why we are carrying out tests of which my hon. Friend is aware.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied, following the move of Royal Air Force helicopters and the search and rescue facilities from Chivenor to Thorney Island, that the DTI in their stead will be able to make adequate search and rescue provision? May I suggest something on the lines of the American civil air patrol in this country?

Mr. Heseltine

That is another question. I hope that my hon. Friend will be aware of the announcement that we have made about the continuing air search and rescue operations and the helicopters, which I think will be satisfactory.