HC Deb 18 July 1956 vol 556 cc1208-9
40. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation which British aircraft have been considered for approval by him, together with the Boeing 707 and the DC8, for future use on the North Atlantic route by the British Overseas Airways Corporation.

Mr. Watkinson

The technical discussions which British Overseas Airways Corporation is undertaking with aircraft manufacturers in this country and in America are not yet completed and I cannot anticipate what proposals the Corporation will put forward.

Mr. Beswick

Is the Minister aware that there appears a very serious contradiction between what he has said and what his right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply said on this matter? Can the Minister say what responsibility he or the Corporation have for the specifications sent to the industry last January, whether there has been any response from the industry to those specifications, and if any such proposals are now being considered?

Mr. Watkinson

I think that the specification issue is a matter which the hon. Member should pursue with my right hon. Friend. So far as B.O.A.C. is concerned, I have made the position quite plain to the House. The Chairman is now in America with an expert technical mission, looking at these aircraft. He and his colleagues are examining whatever project the British aircraft industry can offer. That is how the matter rests at the moment.

Mr. Burden

Is it not a fact that the selection of future aircraft is in the hands of a committee of the Board of B.O.A.C., including one of its senior air pilots? In the meantime, whatever the future long-term policy may be, is it not essential that we should have aircraft which will keep B.O.A.C. flying, with traffic in British, hands throughout the world?

Mr. Watkinson

I do not disagree. It is a very difficult task. All I can say is that I am quite satisfied that the Corporation now has a very much better set-up for trying to judge what for its commercial future it really needs in the way of aircraft. As my hon. Friend has said, it has added a pilot to its technical committee, and that is very wise. It is now really up to the Board to make up its own mind.