HL Deb 04 December 1995 vol 567 cc67-8WA
Lord Mountevans

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they expect to publish Lord Donaldson's assessment of what further work should be undertaken to identify the cause of the sinking of the "Derbyshire".

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen):

We have today published Lord Donaldson's assessment. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

The Formal Investigation in 1987 into the loss of the "Derbyshire" decided that "…the Derbyshire was probably overwhelmed by the forces of nature in Typhoon Orchid"…, and added that "the evidence available does not support any firmer conclusion".

Following the discovery in June 1994 of the wreckage of the "Derbyshire" during a search sponsored by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), Lord Donaldson of Lymington was appointed to undertake an assessment of what further work might be undertaken to seek to determine the actual cause of the loss of the "Derbyshire", together with assessments of the costs involved, the likelihood of establishing the cause, and the likely benefits to ship safety.

Lord Donaldson has recommended that a second, and final, re-examination of the wreck should be carried out, at a cost which he estimates at around £2 million. He believes there is a compelling case for seeking to establish the cause of the loss, with resulting benefits to ship safety.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport has decided to accept his recommendation. The timing of this re-examination will depend on making the necessary arrangements (drawing up a specification, inviting tenders, and selecting a contractor) and will take place as soon as practicable—in either spring 1996 or spring 1997. We have raised with the European Commission the possibility of sharing the costs with them, given that the potential benefits are not confined to British ships and seafarers. The Commission have confirmed their readiness to assist financially.