HC Deb 12 December 1949 vol 470 cc2336-7
8. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply what assistance financially, from public funds or otherwise, has been given towards the development of the de Havilland Comet.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

The total expenditure incurred by my Department which has contributed to the development of the de Havilland Comet is estimated at about £4 million. The main item is the cost of developing the Ghost engine which can, of course, be used in other aircraft. Other items include the three prototypes of an aircraft known as the D.H.108, built to obtain experience of the aerodynamic problems involved in the Comet project. As my hon. Friend is aware, my Ministry is the purchaser of the Comet aircraft now flying and also of the second aircraft nearing completion. The price of these two Comets, which will be used for experimental purposes, is included in the £4 million. That figure does not however, cover the cost of basic research work, wind tunnel tests, etc., carried out in Ministry of Supply Experimental Establishments. I am not aware of any financial assistance to de Havillands on this project otherwise than from public funds.

Mr. Cooper

Since my right hon. Friend has given details of a contract with a private firm in this case, could he not do the same in the case of the Question I put to him earlier? In any event, can he say how much of this contract was on a cost-plus basis, which we know to be so wasteful?

Mr. Strauss

I was not giving the contract with de Havilland's but was estimating the amount for development and research which has gone towards the building of the Comet aircraft.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that a large return will be obtained from this investment for military aircraft, and does he not further agree that his Department is getting full value for money?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, I fully agree with everything that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said.

Mr. Beswick

While I fully agree that we are getting value for money, can my right hon. Friend say how many of these fine aircraft are now on order by this country and others?

Mr. Strauss

No, Sir. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has a number on order and my Department has on order the first two for experimental purposes, as I have mentioned.

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