HC Deb 25 February 1926 vol 192 cc775-6

I refer to airships. There, as the House knows, we are engaged upon a policy of building two great airships which, we believe, will lessen the journey between London and the various capitals of the Dominions by two-thirds of the time that is now taken. We have had an eventful year during the last 12 months with our airship programme. Hon. Members will no doubt at once remember the fine achievement of the R.33 last spring. They will also be interested to know that we obtained from that flight, and from subsequent flights that were made by the R.33, much valuable experience and data for the construction of the two big airships. Indeed, I go so far as to say that the Government have never entered upon a great experiment with more caution and with more desire to avail themselves to the full of the experience of the past and of the lessons of science than we have shown in developing this airship programme.

To-day I will not be so bold as to make a prophecy as to when the programme will be completed, or when the two airships will be regularly flying between London and distant parts, but I do think I am not over-sanguine when I tell the House that I see no reason at present why, before this Parliament comes to an end, these two airships should not be flying regularly between London and distant parts of the Empire, and saving two-thirds of the time that is now taken by other methods of transport. In any case, I think these observations upon our Empire air communications policy will at least show the House that the Air Ministry and I attach enormous importance to it, and that we regard it as one of the basic foundations of any national air policy.