Aircraft Accidents

Oral Answers to Questions — Royal Air Force – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th April 1945.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon 12:00 am, 11th April 1945

asked the Secretary of State for Air if he is now in a position to make a full statement as to the cause of the loss of the aircraft on passage from this country to Malta on 31st January to 1st February, conveying officials of the War Office and Foreign Office to the preliminary conference held on 2nd February.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I am awaiting the comments of the two Commanders-in-Chief concerned on the report of the court of inquiry, which only became available a few days ago. I will let my hon. Friend know when I am able to make a statement.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

In view of the length of time which has elapsed since the accident, I propose to put a Question down this day week.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Will the evidence at the inquiry be made available to the House?

Photo of Mr Oliver Simmonds Mr Oliver Simmonds , Birmingham Duddeston

Does not my right hon. Friend think that there would be great advantage, in view of the criticisms which have been made in the House, if he were to publish this report?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

No, Sir, I am sure there would be great disadvantage. I am sure that anyone who has had to do with inquiries in any of the three Services would know that it is of the utmost importance that officers should be able to speak freely, and even criticise their superior officers, and that any divulgence of the report or findings would make it more difficult to ascertain the truth.

Several hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

We cannot debate, by Question and answer, what we discussed yesterday.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

asked the Secretary of State for Air the details of the accident which happened to a Transport Command Liberator at the Azores about three weeks ago when 16 or 18 people were killed.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

On 14th March a Liberator aircraft crashed shortly after take-off at the Azores, causing the deaths of the six members of the crew and the 12 passengers. The accident has been fully investigated, but the proceedings of the court of inquiry are not yet available in this country.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

When does the right hon. Gentleman expect to have the report? If he will tell me that, I will follow the example of the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), and put down another Question later.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I will communicate with the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

May I also ask whether in this case the evidence of the inquiry will be made available, and, if not, whether the right hon. Gentleman does not consider that in these cases where Transport Command is concerned mainly with the transport of civilian passengers, there ought not to be a public inquiry, exactly as there would be in the case of a railway accident?

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

That is a question which I have answered already. I am sure that the object of the House is, as it is mine, to get at the truth and to encourage people to give their evidence without fear or favour. All that is greatly fostered by non-publication of the report.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that if he really wants to get at the truth a public inquiry will take him there more quickly than a private inquiry?