My Lords, provisional figures show that 502 accidents were reported to the Health and Safety Executive between April 1987 and March 1990. In 1989–90 that was equivalent to a rate of 4,468 per 100,000 employees. All fatal accidents and some other accidents are investigated by HSE inspectors to see what can be done to prevent any recurrence.
My Lords, are not those figures absolutely horrendous? Is there not an urgent need to dispel the anxiety on the part of the public that safety considerations are perhaps being sacrificed in order to achieve speed in the construction of the tunnel? How does the incidence of accidents on our side of the Channel compare with those on the French side?
My Lords, the accident figures are extremely regrettable and we obviously feel that they are too high. However, I cannot agree with the noble Lord when he said that it was due to cost-cutting. Everyone involved in the construction industry knows that an efficient site is a safe site and that goes, as far as possible, for the Channel Tunnel site. As for comparisons with the French sector, they are not entirely helpful because the French set different criteria for reporting accidents.