HC Deb 25 May 1938 vol 336 cc1202-4
43. Mr. Garro Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether Scheme F, which is for 1,750 first-line aircraft by March, 1939, or earlier, provides that those aircraft will he of types not obsolescent, which will be fully equipped, in the case of bombers, with gun turrets, automatic pilots, and other modern equipment?

The Secretary of State for Air (Sir Kingsley Wood)

Yes, Sir. Scheme F provided for a first line of approximately 1,750 fully-equipped modern aircraft by 1st April, 1939, and it is anticipated that this programme will be substantially realised by that date.

Mr. Garro Jones

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that he has not answered my question, which had as its object the elucidation of that general statement? Will he be so good as to apply himself to answering the question on the Paper, and not a question which I have not put down?

Sir K. Wood

I have endeavoured to answer the question, and if the hon. Member will indicate in what way I have not done so, I will endeavour to remedy the defect.

Mr. Montague

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what he means by substantial realisation?

Sir K. Wood

I did not want to pledge myself actually to 100 per cent., but it is anticipated that substantially this programme will be achieved.

Mr. Garro Jones

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that great confusion has arisen in the minds of hon. Members as to the meaning of the words "modern aircraft" and "obsolescent aircraft," both of which terms have been used by the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence but do not always appear to mean the same thing? Will he have their meanings co-ordinated?

Sir K. Wood

I will endeavour to do that, but I am afraid that I cannot remedy the confusion in the minds of hon. Members.

44. Mr. Garro Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Air through what representative and channel of communication the aircraft industry have notified the Government that, given the necessary labour, they estimate that the output of aircraft and engines can be increased by 5o per cent. during the next 12 months and increased threefold during the succeeding financial year; and whether he is satisfied that this rate of expansion will be achieved?

Sir K. Wood

As stated by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy, the estimate in question was given by him after a careful examination of the possibilities of the situation and on information given by representatives of the various aircraft firms. I have no reason to suppose that this forecast will not be achieved if the expected facilities are forthcoming, and I need hardly say this is a matter to which I propose to give special attention.

Mr. Garro Jones

Is the Minister aware, while we are speaking about con- fusion, that whereas the estimate given for the succeeding year by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was a threefold increase, the estimate given by the late Secretary of State for Air in another place was a twofold increase? Can he say which of those approximate estimates is correct?

Sir K. Wood

I have answered the question on the Paper.

Mr. Hannah

Is not Saul among the prophets?

Mr. Benn

Who is going to accept responsibility for the programme—the Ministry or the aircraft industry?

Sir K. Wood

I think the position is that the aircraft industry have given certain figures to the Ministry, and upon those figures being supplied the estimate was made. I should think it is very much a joint responsibility. We have all got to work together to achieve this programme.