asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the number of people rescued by Royal Naval helicopters in each of the past five years.
Complete figures are available only from 1972 and are as follows: 1972, 25; 1973, 62; 1974, 160— making a total of 247.These statistics cover only those Royal Naval helicopters within the United Kingdom search and rescue region; rescues by ship-borne helicopters are not normally recorded.
Is the Minister aware that the information that he has given suggests a very real achievement? Does he not feel that all those involved in these rescue activities deserve great commendation and wholehearted approbation?
I am certain that I speak for all of my colleagues when I thank my hon. Friend for those very appropriate remarks. Certainly we wish to pay a warm tribute to all those who operate this service, in not only the Royal Navy but the Royal Air Force.
Does the Minister appreciate the efforts that some of us have made to ensure that this service is maintained, particularly in the South-East? After these figures, will he give an assurance that no one will be able to persuade him to stop the service?
This service will remain as important in the future as it has been in the past.