HC Deb 14 May 1952 vol 500 cc1423-4
32. Air Commodore Harvey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence to what extent helicopters are used by our Forces in the Middle East; and how many are available for such purposes.

Mr. Birch

No helicopters are being used by our Forces in the Middle East and none are available at present without diverting them from more urgent tasks.

Air Commodore Harvey

Is this not a deplorable situation which is mainly due to Socialist planning in the last Government? Does my hon. Friend recall that two weeks ago the greatest difficulty was experienced in rescuing an airman who was only 25 miles in the desert? Will not my hon. Friend try to divert at least two helicopters to the Middle East for rescue purposes in an emergency?

Mr. Dodds

It needs more than that to rescue the Tories.

Mr. Birch

As I told my hon. and gallant Friend the other day, we are taking what steps we can to increase the supply of helicopters. As he knows, the really urgent need for helicopters at the moment is for rescuing wounded in Malaya. I do not think it would be right to divert them from that theatre.

Mr. F. Beswick

Is it not a fact that these helicopters have been developed by private firms? Since these private firms are so slow in developing them, could we not see what assistance could be given by State planning?

Mr. Birch

It is not possible to produce helicopters unless they are ordered.