asked the Secretary of State for Air to what extent the coast of Britain is covered for air/sea rescue operations.
A number of R.A.F. aircraft are held at readiness to undertake search and rescue operations at any hour of the day or night. They are so stationed as to cover the whole area of the British Isles and sea areas within their range. In addition, arrangements exist under which aircraft of all R.A.F. Commands and the Royal Navy can be called upon to assist in the search, as well as R.A.F. launches and Naval vessels. Civil aircraft, lifeboats and merchant vessels also co-operate.
In view of the importance of this service, has the Under-Secretary considered the possibility of using auxiliaries to supplement the Regular Forces, which could he used to back them up in case of hostilities?
Yes, we are considering that now. We should like to do it, but it has not a very high priority at this time.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that boats of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are frequently called out on abortive operations? Will he check up on the operations in the Air Sea Rescue Service itself?