HL Deb 17 July 1972 vol 333 cc511-2

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many fatal accidents occurred on fairgrounds in the period 1963–70 ; whose responsibility it is to inspect machinery and whether the voluntary inspection scheme run by the Showmen's Guild extends to permanent fairgrounds or is confined to travelling fairs.


My Lords, there were 17 fatal accidents at fairgrounds between 1963 and 1970. The bylaws relating to safety at fairgrounds, enforced by those local authorities which have made them, do not specify arrangements for inspections but lay a duty on the operators to ensure the safe construction and maintenance of the devices concerned. Under the voluntary scheme operated by the Showmen's Guild, which applies only to travelling fairs, annual inspections are carried out by independent engineers.


My Lords, is the noble Viscount aware that of course 17 fatal accidents even in eight years represents 17 too many? Is the noble Viscount further aware that following the tragic accident at Battersea Park some misleading and inaccurate statements were made, such as that there were between 1,000 and 2,000 accidents a week ; and that this accident at Battersea was made the occasion for an attack on the Showmen's Guild? Would not the noble Viscount agree that the members of the Showmen's Guild have shown themselves to be very responsible in running their voluntary scheme so successfully, and that they have co-operated with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the local authorities and the Home Office?


My Lords, of course any accident is an accident too many, but I have certainly nothing which would give credence to the sorts of figures quoted by the noble Baroness. She asked about the Showmen's Guild voluntary scheme. I have been looking up the Home Office circular, which was sent out in March of this year, which explains it. Not only is it comprehensive and goes so far as to require some devices not to be operated at all until repairs have been carried out and further certified, but it has been tightened up again as from January of this year. So far as I know, there is the greatest possible co-operation between the Showmen's Guild, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the Home Office and anybody else who is responsible ; and I think they are highly to be commended for it.


My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that many of us, on hearing these figures, compare them with the figures of accidents in the home and feel that the Showmen's Guild should be congratulated on the state of their machinery?


My Lords, I am sure that the House is obliged to the noble Viscount, as the showmen will be, for that remark.