HC Deb 24 July 1957 vol 574 cc404-5
25. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he has now invited the air Corporations to tender for the transportation of troops to overseas stations.

The Secretary of State for Air (Mr. George Ward)

I would refer the right hon. Member to the statement on air trooping policy in my speech on the Air Estimates.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the right hon. Gentleman take the House a little more into his confidence? Can he give an explicit answer whether or not he is to shut out the Corporations altogether and limit these tenders to the independent companies?

Mr. Ward

The Government's broad policy has always been that the Corporations should concern themselves primarily with the operation of scheduled services. The Corporations have undertaken not to maintain aircraft specifically for charter work, so we do not invite tenders from them for long-term trooping contracts.

Mr. de Freitas

But surely the right hon. Gentleman should demonstrate, and demonstrate publicly, that nothing but the best is good enough for the men in the Services. Why, therefore, should they be barred, by Government policy, from flying in nationalised Corporation aircraft if those Corporation aircraft compete on tenders and get the contract?

Mr. Ward

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that nothing but the best is good enough. I would draw his attention to the fact that we have just let a contract for trooping to the Mediterranean to one of the civil charter companies which will be operated with Viscounts.

Mr. P. Williams

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that one of the most important things here is to extend the period of contract?