asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he has considered the letter from the hon. Member for West Ham, North, concerning the case of Mr. Sam Cook, Mark Street, Stratford, E.15, the driver of the motor-bus that was recently involved in an accident at Hyde Park Corner; and whether he will make a statement in connection with this matter.
Yes, Sir. On 28th April, I replied to a supplementary question regarding the accident at Hyde Park Corner on 17th December, 1953, when an omnibus turning into Knightsbridge mounted the kerb and knocked down some people standing in a queue. The implication of the supplementary question was that the accident was due to the dangerous character of Hyde Park Corner. I replied that the accident was not due to the corner, which it is not at present proposed to alter, but was due to the driver's negligence. I find that evidence was given at the inquest that the steering gear of the bus locked just before the incident and the verdict was one of accidental death. In these circumstances, I wish unreservedly to withdraw the statement I made regarding the driver's negligence and to express my regret for an unprepared statement which I am afraid must have caused pain to the driver.
May I thank the Minister most sincerely for that statement and say that I fully understand how, in the heat of the moment in replying to a supplementary question without being briefed, any Minister is liable to make a slip? We can all accept that. But may I say in addition that the driver has received, very fortunately and thankfully, a letter from the Commissioner of Police stating that he was in no way responsible for this unfortunate accident? On behalf of the driver, and I am sure of his trade union, I should like to thank the Minister sincerely for making that statement.
As the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's answer was given in reply to a supplementary question of mine, may I add to what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) that I much appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has made a frank statement about this matter? I am sure that the whole House will appreciate the Joint Parliamentary Secretary's frankness.