Firing Practice (Accidents to Civilians).

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force. – in the House of Commons on 5th August 1942.

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Photo of Mr Somerset De Chair Mr Somerset De Chair , Norfolk South Western

asked the Secretary of State, for Air whether he has any statement to make in relation to the death of Mrs. Redcar, of Denver, Norfolk; what precautions as to the safety of civilians are taken in connection with air-to-air firing practice over populated districts; how many cases of death or injury have been caused through such firing practice since the beginning of the war; and what compensation is paid in the event of accident?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

Mrs. Redcar was unfortunately killed on 9th July, 1941, by a bullet fired from a Royal Air Force aircraft engaged in air-to-air firing practice. All possible step" are taken to avoid injury to persons by bullets fired from aircraft engaged in these practices which form a vital part of the operational training of our air crews. Unhappily the risk cannot be completely eliminated. Great care is exercised in selecting suitable areas; the regulations forbid practices below 2,000 feet or in visibility of less than five miles, and the guns must be elevated to not less than 20 degrees when firing. A fire control officer is carried in all aircraft and the regulations are strictly enforced. There have been very few accidents but I regret to say that, over the past two years, four persons have been killed and two injured as a result of air-firing practices of this character. I understand that the position with regard to compensation has been fully explained to my hon. and gallant Friend by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions.

Photo of Mr Somerset De Chair Mr Somerset De Chair , Norfolk South Western

While thanking my right hon. and gallant Friend for his clear explanation of how these practices are conducted, may I draw his attention to the unsatisfactory nature of the pensions payable in these cases? Is he aware that the reason I have raised this matter is because no pension was paid to the husband of Mrs. Redcar. It was refused.

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

I cannot comment on that, because this is entirely a matter for the Minister of Pensions. I suggest that my hon. and gallant Friend addresses a question to that effect, to the Minister of Pensions.

Photo of Mr Somerset De Chair Mr Somerset De Chair , Norfolk South Western

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that it is precisely because the Ministry of Pensions say it is a matter for the Air Ministry that I have raised the question with his Department?

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

Is my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that when these very necessary practices were started on the Berkshire Downs, the Secretary of State for Air stated that immediate compensation would be paid? Is he further aware that animals have been shot while grazing and no compensation has so far been paid? Will this matter be dealt with promptly?

Photo of Mr Harold Balfour Mr Harold Balfour , Isle of Thanet

I am not aware of that, but if my hon. Friend will send me particulars, I will certainly undertake to look into it.

Photo of Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson , Birmingham Handsworth

Does not the Under-Secretary think that compensation ought to be paid?