HC Deb 13 November 1957 vol 577 cc947-8
50. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Minister of Defence how far it is intended to abandon the guided missiles project in the Western Isles; what changes in expenditure and scale are contemplated; and what arrangements have been made for continuity of employment for workers on the scheme.

54. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Defence what consideration he has recently given to reducing expenditure on the South Uist rocket range.

Mr. Sandys

I hope to be able to make a full statement shortly.

Mr. MacMillan

Can the Minister give some sort of idea of what the word "shortly" means, in view of the fact that a Question has already been deferred by arrangement with his Ministry in order to give it an opportunity to make a full reply today? There is a good deal of local uncertainty and disturbance about the matter.

Mr. Sandys

I recognise the need to clarify the position as quickly as possible.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will the Minister's consideration take into account the fact that the lowest estimate for this scheme was £15 million, and that one was £20 million? Is he aware that the Government are advising us to stop inflation, and does not he think that his Ministry, by countenancing this enormous sum of money, is helping to increase inflation? Can he give some assurance that this colossal expenditure of public money will be abandoned, because it is a useless expenditure in view of the recent developments in rocket warfare?

Mr. Sandys

The reason why I am not making a statement today is that I am doing just what the hon. Member wants, namely, seeing how far we can reduce to the absolute minimum the demands that we shall have to make upon land and the expenditure that we shall have to incur out of the taxpayers' money.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that fairly definite statements have appeared in the Press that this rocket range is to be abandoned, and can he say whether this information is correct or whether it is intelligent anticipation?

Mr. Sandys

I should say that it is anticipation, not necessarily correct.