HC Deb 06 February 1947 vol 432 cc1954-5
47. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Prime Minister how many aeroplanes have been ordered for the use of Cabinet Ministers; and at what cost per aeroplane.

The Prime Minister

The end of the war made it necessary for His Majesty's Government to reconsider the arrangements for the transport of Ministers of the Crown, other important persons, delegations and their staffs, trade missions, etc., by air in order to enable them to fulfil their official duties. During the war this responsibility had been undertaken by the Air Ministry, but the Government decided that in peacetime it would more appropriately fall primarily under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Consequently, as soon as it is physically practicable the main responsibility will be assumed by that Department. As part of this process the Ministry of Civil Aviation have recently ordered two Tudor III's which I assume are the aircraft to which the hon. Gentleman refers. They are estimated to cost £105,000 each. Until sufficient aircraft are available to the Ministry of Civil Aviation to enable them to assume the main responsibility, the Air Ministry have continued their wartime arrangements and eight four-engined aircraft and eight Dakotas are available for use for any important official duties to supplement civil aircraft.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of the admission in a White Paper of the failure of the Government's policy, why should Ministers be allowed this extravagance and, further, is the Prime Minister aware that the less they move about the less mischief they will do?

The Prime Minister

I do not admit either of the allegations of the hon. Member. It is commonsense that if Ministers and officials have to move about the world quickly, as they have to do, it is uneconomical to let them lose a great deal of time in their journeys when it can be saved by sending them by air.

Mr. Oliver Stanley

Are these two Tudor aircraft which have been ordered for this special purpose to be left unused in the unlikely event of Members of the Government deciding at any time to stay in London?

The Prime Minister

I understand that the planes which are allocated for this purpose are also available for other uses.

Captain Crookshank

Is it not a fact that Members of the Government almost always charter private aeroplanes as being better and safer?