HC Deb 21 December 1988 vol 144 cc547-8 10.12 pm
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham)

With permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to make a short business statement.

As the House may be aware, there has been a major air crash at Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, involving a Pan Am Boeing 747 on route from London Heathrow to New York, reported to have more than 250 people on board.

The House will appreciate that, at the present time, there are very few facts available. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is flying to the scene tonight. The emergency telephone numbers have been given on television. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport will make a full statement to the House tomorrow.

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

I thank the Leader of the House for his courtesy in making this statement. I am sure that everyone in the House recognises that there is nothing that can be said by the Secretary of State for Transport at this time.

I am sure that the whole House joins in offering sympathy to those who have suffered and who are grieving. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] We also offer our best wishes to the emergency services who are currently carrying out their desperately difficult tasks. I am sure that the whole House is confident that they will be doing so with the dedication and professionalism that we have come to expect.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Wakeham

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the words that he has spoken.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

I hope that the House will agree that we cannot carry this matter further, but I will call the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) in whose constituency this accident happened.

Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

This terrible disaster occurred in the centre of my constituency, and the hearts of all hon. Members will be with those who have lost their lives, with the relatives and with the seriously injured—many of whom may be my constituents—as well as those who have been killed in the aircraft. I am fully confident that tonight the rescue services, the Health Service, the police, hospitals and the fire service will do magnificent work to help those who are still alive. I will be going north to the site with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, and I apologise for the fact that I shall not be present in the Chamber tomorrow for the statement.

Mr. Wakeham

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. I know that he spoke for the whole House and I hope that he will reach Scotland as soon as possible to do what he can there.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

After these very solemn matters, we return to the business of the House and the debate on structural funds.