asked the Secretary of State for War if he is aware that no start has yet been made to re-sweep the minefield at Par Beach, Cornwall; and when the special party referred to in his letter of 25th March to the hon. Member for Bodmin will commence operations.
I regret that it has not been possible to start re-sweeping at Par Beach during April, as had been hoped. The delay has resulted from a shortage of officers, caused by the run-down of the Army, in Bomb Disposal Companies, R.E. The work will be carried out as soon as officers become available. As the hon. Member will be aware, however, the enclosure of the area suspected to contain mines does not prevent access to the beach.
Can the Minister give me a little more satisfactory answer, and some indication that he may be able to have this carried out in May, and is the Minister aware that this matter is very important to our invisible export?
I will endeavour to do everything I can to give satisfaction, but Par Beach was cleared by United States Army troops, and they believed every mine was cleared. Unfortunately, the local inhabitants have an idea that there are still some mines left there. We have to test that, but unfortunately I have not the officers to do that.
Will the right hon. Gentleman guarantee that the beach is cleared of mines?
No, Sir, I cannot, but I will do so as soon as I can get the staff to make sure there are no more mines there.