HC Deb 04 July 1949 vol 466 cc1788-9
70. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply what was the original agreed date for the delivery of Hermes aircraft; and by what date delivery is now expected to be completed.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

It was originally hoped that these aircraft would be delivered by June, 1949, but according to present estimates all the aircraft should be delivered by early next year.

Mr. Beswick

I wonder whether my right hon. Friend heard the remark of Sir Frederick Handley Page, at the end of his reply to a toast at the Grosvenor Hotel, when he said, "To hell with Government planners"? Are we to understand that delay in the delivery of these aircraft is due to Government planning or private enterprise?

Mr. Strauss

I think that the remark was made in the course of one of Sir Frederick's witty after-dinner speeches. I do not think it should be taken too seriously. Unfortunately, all new aircraft are late in delivery, whether in this country or elsewhere. I do not think that the fault can be placed on Government planning, at all events.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Is the Minister aware that his remark will be very much welcomed, because the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in a speech which was neither witty nor after-dinner, blamed the Handley-Page factory for that delay? The statement of the Minister of Supply, who knows more, will be received with great pleasure.

Mr. Strauss

All I said was that the Government were not responsible for the delay.

Mr. Beswick

Referring again to that remark, may I ask if the cost of dining those 400 people at the Grosvenor Hotel will be included in the price of the aircraft?

Air-Commodore Harvey

Is the Minister aware that the American Stratocruisers ordered by his Department are also a year late, and will he in the meantime give Sir Frederick Handley Page every encouragement?

Mr. Strauss

The Stratocruisers are over two years late.