HC Deb 21 January 1931 vol 247 cc176-9
38. Captain P. MACDONALD

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air if he can now state whether the Schneider trophy race is to take place in England in 1931; if so, where is it to be held and on what date; and if it is to receive the support of His Majesty's Government?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Mr. Montague)

As recently announced, His Majesty's Government, after a full and careful review of all the relevant circumstances, have decided that there can be no departure from the policy promulgated in October, 1929. The answer to the third part of the question is, therefore, in the negative, and the first and second parts fall within the sphere of the Royal Aero Club.


In view of the fact that machines are already available, and of the manifest effects that the winning of this race has had upon British aircraft development, will the hon. Gentleman undertake to reconsider this matter?


The subject has been considered for some considerable time—very thoroughly considered—and the answer is a final answer.

Lieut. - Colonel ACLAND - TROYTE

Does the hon. Gentleman think it better to subsidise opera than to encourage British aircraft development?

Sir PHILIP SASSOON (by Private Notice)

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that without the Air Ministry organisation, and co-operation it is impossible to compete for the Schneider Cup, which this country has but to win once again to make it its own; whether the offer of the Royal Aero Club to relieve the Air Ministry and the taxpayer of all expense in the matter, providing the Air Ministry would be responsible for the organisation of the race as in the past, has been considered by the Government and what decision has been come to and the reasons therefor?


The view stated by the right hon. Gentleman in the first part of his question was put forward by the representatives of the Royal Aero Club in the discussions which took place last month. It was considered, together with other relevant factors—such as the representations made by the club as to their inability to find the necessary funds for the competition—by His Majesty's Government before arriving at the decision which I have just announced. With regard to the second part of the question, an offer to attempt to raise the necessary funds by the end of the month was made to the Air Ministry for the first time yesterday. This offer has also been considered by the Government. As, however, their decision against official participation in the race was not taken on grounds of finance only, but also for reasons of policy and principle, this offer does not enable them to modify their decision in any way.


Is the hon. Member aware of the very serious effect a withdrawal at this moment from this contest will have upon our air position throughout the world, and also of the repercussion it must have upon our industry in this country, which, largely by virtue of our air supremacy in this very contest in the past, has shown a growing export business?


Those questions have been thoroughly considered not only by the Cabinet but also by the Air Ministry in conjunction with the right hon. Gentleman himself and the Royal Aero Club. Those points have been quite in our mind, and the decision is as I have announced.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Would my hon. Friend state briefly what are the reasons of policy, and is my hon. Friend aware that the question of policy is quite a new position and that in the past it has always been finance?


No, that is not correct. It has not always been finance. As long ago as October, 1929, and also in my Estimates speech, all those reasons were given. Questions of principle were involved. For instance, the consideration of whether it is desirable for the Government of the country to undertake responsibility for what was originally intended to be, and should be, a purely sporting contest.


If the Opposition want to see a good race, let them come to Scotland.


May I ask the Prime Minister as the head of the Government whether, in view of the new factor which has come to light and the offer made since yesterday, which surely alter the whole position, he would allow the matter to be reconsidered by the Cabinet, because, surely, the new offer puts the situation in a new light altogether?




Is it not a fact that the Governments of other countries are being responsible for, participation in this race, and why should this Government hold themselves above the Governments of other countries in this matter? Furthermore, is it not a fact that we have the machines available and that they are of no use for any other purpose?


This matter seems to be developing into a Debate.


In view of the unsatisfactory reply and the great importance of this matter to the country I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing it as a definite matter of urgent public importance.


I am afraid that I cannot possibly accept such a Motion. It certainly does not come under Standing Order No. 10.


Cannot we have an answer from the Prime Minister?


Is there no means by which we can raise this question?


It is not my business to instruct Members as to when they can raise questions in this House.


In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.