HC Deb 11 July 1955 vol 543 cc1562-3
27. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Supply the value of expenditure by his Department on development and production contracts for aircraft during the past three years to the nearest convenient date.

Mr. Maudling

The expenditure on the production of airframes and aeroengines and spares therefor, in the three years from April, 1952, to March, 1955, was £129 million, £161 million and £210.5 million, respectively. It is not the practice to give details of expenditure on research and development.

28. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Supply what types of aircraft originally ordered by his Department have been discontinued in manufacture during the last three years; and what was the value of contracts thus cancelled.

Mr. Maudling

The following are the types on which manufacture has been discontinued in the last three years: Four marks of Meteor; two marks of Venom; one mark each of Balliol, Vampire, Canberra, Varsity, Dragonfly and Firefly. The estimated value of orders for these aircraft which have been cancelled is about £70 million. In addition, as the House is already aware, no further orders for the earlier marks of Swift were placed. The order for the Mark 4 was reduced and that for the Mark 6 cancelled before any were delivered.

29. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Supply what percentage of his total payments to aircraft manufacturers during the last three years has been attributable to development contracts and the manufacture of prototypes, and what percentage to production orders.

Mr. Maudling

I regret it would not be in the public interest to give these percentages.

Mr. Edelman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the grave public disquiet at the expenditure of so many millions of pounds on ineffective prototypes which never reach the production stage? Will he explain why, despite this vast outpouring of public money, we still have no aircraft, while in Coventry a great aircraft company is now dispersing its highly skilled manpower as redundant?

Mr. Maudling

I am not prepared to accept any of the implications contained in the supplementary question of the hon. Gentleman.