HC Deb 07 December 1949 vol 470 cc156-7W
78. Mr. Foster

asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the fact that Mr. McDonald's report on the air crash at Prestwick on 20th October, 1948, was made to the Minister of Civil Aviation in July, 1949, but not published until 23rd November, 1949, he will give an assurance that the period of limitation will not be pleaded in any civil action arising out of this accident which may be brought against the Ministry of Civil Aviation, as such period of limitation expired on 20th October, 1949. before the contents of the report could be known to possible claimants.

The Attorney-General

The report to which the hon. Member refers was one made to the Minister under the Air Navigation (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations, 1922 to 1935, which would not bind a court of law in any civil proceedings or even be admissible in evidence in such proceedings. I am not able to bind myself in advance in relation to any proceedings not yet commenced that the Crown will in no circumstances rely on its rights under the Public Authorities Protection Act. I have, however, on previous occasions made plain that the Crown does not rely on that Statute unless real prejudice has been caused by the delay. Regard would certainly be paid to the point raised by the hon. Member in considering upon their merits any proceedings which may be commenced in respect of the accident referred to, and whilst giving no formal undertaking, as at present advised, I see no reason to think that the Statute would be pleaded in connection with any proceedings commenced with reasonable expedition.