HC Deb 26 July 1951 vol 491 cc629-30
22. Mr. Reader Harris

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider the provision of helicopters for Civil Defence forces in time of war.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas)

The provision of light aircraft (including helicopters) for Civil Defence in time of war is already under consideration. Helicopters may well play a useful part in Civil Defence and we are taking this fact into account in planning.

Mr. Harris

Can the hon. Gentleman say how soon training will commence for the Civil Defence personnel?

Mr. de Freitas

We are a long way from that; we are working out the general principles first.

Mr. Profumo

When the hon. Gentleman says that the matter has been taken into consideration, can he tell the House whether any indication has been given to the aircraft industry that these aeroplanes may be needed? Have any firm orders, or tentative orders, been placed?

Mr. de Freitas

I cannot say. We are in consultation with the flying Departments. After that stage, they will let the industry know.

Brigadier Prior-Palmer

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the matter of communications could be dealt with far more easily and efficiently by radio rather than by helicopter?

Mr. de Freita

This is not only a question of sending a message. One cannot send an important man by radio.

Major Legge-Bourke

Would the hon. Gentleman say whether priorities have yet been decided as between providing helicopters for ambulance service with the Forces and providing them for Civil Defence purposes?

Mr. de Freita

We have not got as far as that.

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