HL Deb 20 May 1996 vol 572 c71WA
The Marquess of Huntley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the interdepartmental group set up to review search and rescue helicopters has reported.

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

The review group has submitted its report. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

The group was set up in July 1995 to examine the national requirement for search and rescue helicopters, and how this might most efficiently and effectively be met, as part of an integrated approach to search and rescue. It has made six recommendations, listed in Chapter 6 of the report.

The Government have accepted Recommendation 4, to set up a new joint advisory board for search and rescue helicopter provision. This board will consider further work on establishing a national database of emergency incidents and helicopter call-outs (Recommendation 1), on monitoring helicopter availability (Recommendation 3) and on examining the options for interdepartmental charging (Recommendation 6).

Formal consultation on the report is being launched today with the UK SAR Committee and other interested parties. Views are particularly invited on the group's proposed additional coverage criteria (Recommendation 2) and on ways to strengthen the coordination and consultation machinery for search and rescue generally (Recommendation 5).

The Government are considering the best location for the two aircraft currently based on the South Coast at Lee-on-Solent and at Portland. Our consideration will have regard to the search and rescue requirements along the South Coast and Mid Channel. Views on these additional issues have also been sought.

Replies have been requested by Friday 28th June.