HL Deb 04 December 1996 vol 576 c55WA
Lord Brabazon of Tara

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of their review of the location of search and rescue helicopters on the south coast.

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

We have concluded that the current basing arrangements for Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopters on the south coast should continue. The current temporary arrangements for the Portland helicopter will be replaced with a five-year contract for an upgraded all-weather aircraft. The arrangements for the helicopter based at Lee-on-Solent will continue unchanged.

Our conclusions are based upon the results of consultation with interested parties on national requirements for SAR helicopters and an analysis of the use of helicopters in SAR incidents on the south coast and English Channel.

In addition we are taking forward the recommendations of the interdepartmental review on SAR helicopters through the auspices of the newly formed joint advisory board for SAR provision.

The Commission's investigations arise not only as a result of complaints of abuse, but also from the Commission's own monitoring programme and the scrutiny of charity accounts. At the end of October 1996, 303 cases were under investigation and a further 194 were being evaluated to establish whether there was a prima facie cause for concern. Figures for average turnaround times are not recorded, but at present 77 per cent. of cases are completed within the target period of 12 months.