HC Deb 14 December 1927 vol 211 cc2300-1
33. Mr. ROSE

asked the Secretary of State for Air the reason for the estimated excess cost of airship R101 increasing from £100,000 on 16th November to £165,000 on 7th December?

The SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Samuel Hoare)

The hon. Member appears to have misconstrued the replies in the House on 16th November and 7th December; there has been no such increase as that stated in the question. The £100,000 quoted in the earlier reply is the amount by which the original estimate (£300,000) is likely to be exceeded; the £165,000 quoted in the later reply is the amount which will probably be required in addition to that which has already been expended (£235,000). The total estimated cost is the same in either case, namely £400,000.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say if, as a graceful interlude in the process of airship development, he will train his expert staff at Cardington in the community singing of that beautiful old English ditty: That's the way the money goes; Pop goes the gas bag.


I must ask the hon. Member to give me notice of that very interesting question.

34. Mr. ROSE

asked the Secretary of State for Air how many times since May 1924 he has revised the estimates of cost, quantity, lift capacity, and structure of airship R 101; and if he is confident that the present working designs are satisfactory and final?


As regards the first part of the question, R. 101 is an experimental type of aircraft designed on novel principles. This being the case, it was inevitable, as is the case in almost every new field of enterprise, that estimates made while many of the factors were still unknown should be provisional and a reasonable degree of elasticity allowed in the programme. It has followed that those originally made have had to be revised from time to time; but to state on how many occasions some item or other of expense has been varied would clearly be impossible. As regards the second part of the question, I would certainly not rule out the possibility that, as the work of assembly progresses, or as a result of trials, some further minor modifications may be found advisable— indeed in experimental development of this character excessive rigidity would obviously not be conducive to true economy or the production of an efficient article—but it is not expected that any major alterations will be necessary.


Will the Minister explain why up to the end of the present financial year he is spending over £40,000 in drawing office salaries alone; and if any sort of limit is going to be placed on this indefiniteness, since he did not know what he was doing in the first place and apparently, does not know now?


In the first place, a Socialist Government was in office, and I certainly was not responsible for that. In the second place, as to the actual figure, I would ask the hon. Member to give me notice of that question. The amount I am spending is strictly limited, and I hope it will not be greatly exceeded.

Lieut. - Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL

Would it not have been very injudicious, in the construction of an airship of this nature, to have had any fixed programme, in view of improvements which are bound to come along as the construction develops?


The right hon. Gentleman, for the third time, has suggested to me that this is a legacy to him from somewhere else.




It has often been laid down that this is not a time for speeches.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman then, if he is not conscious of the fact that a half truth is the meanest form of mendacity of which anyone can be guilty?

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