HC Deb 06 March 1995 vol 256 cc54-5W
Mr. Duncan

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to complete his consideration of the chief inspector of marine accident's assessment of the material provided by the International Transport Workers' Federation following their location of the wreckage of the Derbyshire and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Mawhinney

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".

Subsequently, in June 1994, the wreckage of the Derbyshire was found during an ITF-sponsored search. The chief inspector of marine accidents has examined the evidence submitted to him by ITF and has advised me that the evidence still does not allow the cause of the Derbyshire's loss to be determined.

I have decided, therefore, that an assessment should be made 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. I have asked the right hon. Lord Donaldson of Lymington to undertake these assessments with the following terms of reference:

To assess—

what further work would be needed in order to learn more of and, if possible, make a judgment about the cause of the loss of the Derbyshirein respect of each option for further work the assessed probability that the cause could be determined with reasonable confidencefor each option the costs likely to be incurredwhat benefit to ship safety would be secured if the cause of the loss of the Derbyshire were established, or if better understanding of the cause of the loss was obtained, and whether in either case this would justify the likely costs involved.

A technical assessor will be appointed to assist Lord Donaldson. Lord Donaldson's report to me will be published.