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Army Exercise (Boy Soldier's Death)

Volume 718: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1965

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the circumstances in which a Coventry boy soldier serving with the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers was drowned while on an Army Outward Bound School exercise; and what future added precautions he intends to take in order that the limits of reasonable risk should not be exceeded.

This boy soldier died after the canoe in which he was travelling overturned. When the coroner's inquest on his death has been completed the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command will consider whether any modification to existing instructions is required.

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind in the meantime that in this tragic incident several canoes overturned, and it was only fortuitous that more lives were not lost? Will he consider tightening up the regulations so that canoes, which are ill-fitted for sea-going purposes, will not be used in such exercises?

We shall consider any points that arise, but I think it would be better to leave it to the coroner and the inquest first, so as to get all the information. Then we can look at it.