HC Deb 13 December 1950 vol 482 cc156-7W
38 and 39. Surgeon Lieut.-Commander Bennett

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (1) if he is satisfied that the Explosives Regulations were being properly observed at Bedenham Pier at the time of the explosion there, with particular reference to the amount of explosive accumulated as against the safety radius, the propinquity of loaded lighters to one another, and the provision of a warning alarm system to the neighbourhood;

(2) what portions, if any, of the report on the Bedenham explosion he will make public; and, in particular, what progress has been made in identifying the culprit or culprits.

Mr. W. Edwards

The Regulations governing the handling of explosives in naval custody are based on recommendations of the inter-service Explosive Storage and Transport Committee. I am satisfied that they were being properly observed at Bedenham, that the quantity of explosive on the pier and in the lighters was not excessive, and that the arrangements for notifying outside authorities of the outbreak of fire were carried out promptly. It must be appreciated that explosions develop very rapidly and that there could be no guarantee that a warning would be given before the explosion occurred.

As I informed the hon. and gallant Member on 18th October, it is not the intention to publish the report of the Naval Board of Inquiry; this decision applies to the whole report. I regret that it has not yet been possible to identify the culprit or culprits.

Perhaps I might take the opportunity of inviting the attention of the House to the announcement in the "London Gazette" last night of a number of decorations and commendations which have been awarded to persons who performed meritorious service in connection with the fire and the resulting explosions. My noble Friend would wish me also to place publicly on record the Admiralty's appreciation of the many others, both Admiralty employees and members of the public, who so readily gave valuable assistance in the vicinity of the explosion and whom it has not been possible to mention individually.