§ 69. Rear-Admiral SUETER
asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that the considerable orders which the late Prime Minister stated, on the 3rd August, 1922, would be placed with aircraft firms in the current calendar year have not yet been placed; and whether he is in a position to state by what date the remaining orders will be given out to the air industry?
§ 71. Captain Viscount CURZON
asked the Secretary of State for Air how much of the extra grant for aeroplanes has yet been paid; how much still remains when the orders for the remaining machines have been given out; whether he is aware that Messrs. Napier and many other firms concerned with the manufacture of aircraft and engines will soon have to close down altogether unless more orders can be given out; and whether he is in a position to make any statement about the matter?
§ Sir S. HOARE
Under the authority given by the late Government, as announced in this House on the 3rd August, orders for aircraft and engines to the value of about £280,000 were placed with a number of private firms during the autumn. As deliveries will not be completed by the 31st March next, only a part of this liability will fall due this financial year. Since the present Government assumed office no further orders have hitherto been given, as the expansion of the Air Force was one of the commitments of their predecessors which they felt bound to examine. The preliminary examination which has already taken place enables me to inform the House that the formation of the additional regular squadrons for home defence will now proceed. As I am aware of the serious position in which certain firms are placed, I am glad to be able to assure my hon. Friend that definite orders for additional aircraft and engines will be immediately placed. Pending a fuller review of the situation, however, no further progress will be made with the scheme for an Auxiliary Air Force. I would add that, apart from this, I am making a further close scrutiny of the shetch Estimates.
§ Viscount CURZON
Will the right hon. Gentleman carry out the examination, if he has not already done so, of the con- 3147 dition of many firms in the industry, and see to it that they are not allowed to go under, such as the firm mentioned in the question?
§ Sir S. HOARE
I have already done so, and I can assure my Noble Friend that I am fully aware of the difficulties in which they are placed, and I have dealt with that point in my answer.
Do the Government adhere to the policy of their predecessors, to find any money which may be required for the Air Force by economies on the other two Services?
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Will the right hon. Gentleman see that no orders are placed with private manufacturers of munitions of war while the Government factories are short of work?