HC Deb 19 July 1950 vol 477 cc2245-6
25. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what was the total cost of developing and purchasing the Solent flying boats, including the cost of development of the flying boat bases along the routes to South Africa, and the cost of the Southampton base.

Mr. Beswick

It would be contrary to established practice to disclose the contract prices of these flying boats. The development expenditure of the bases, including Southampton, which was directly attributable to Solent operations, is about £250,000.

Mr. Cooper

Would my hon. Friend agree that the whole policy of B.O.A.C. in the past with regard to its aircraft has been hesitant, muddled and unnecessarily costly, and is he satisfied that the same line of policy is not being pursued at the present time?

Mr. Beswick

I agree that their operations have been costly, and that is because they have had to be carried out with the aircraft available. At the time the Solent services were started, the Solent was the only aircraft available for those services.

Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton

Why is it against the public interest to tell the House the cost of developing and purchasing the Solent flying boats? After all, they are civil machines and not war machines.

Mr. Beswick

It is quite true that the Solent is a civil machine. This is a civil commercial contract as between a buyer and a seller. It is a commercial transaction between the Corporation and the manufacturer and it is not, therefore, of advantage to publish the price.

Air Commodore Harvey

Is the hon. Gentleman correct in saying that it is between the Corporation and the manufacturer? Are not these aircraft the property of the Ministry of Supply? Will he look into the matter and make a statement to the House at a later date?

Mr. Beswick

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman cares to put down another Question, I shall be glad to answer it.

Mr. W. J. Taylor

As the British taxpayer is being called upon to subsidise the cost of these machines, should not the House be informed of their cost?