HC Deb 30 April 1958 vol 587 cc373-4
43. Mr. Mason

asked the Secretary of State for Air when there is to be a decision on a replacement for the Canberra bomber.

Mr. C. I. Orr-Ewing

As the House knows, we are examining the various possibilities, but it is bound to be some time before we are in a position to reach conclusions.

Mr. Mason

Whilst hoping that the decision is not being unduly delayed because of what appears to be a constant wrangle between the Minister of Defence and the Service Ministers, may I ask to what extent the N.A.39 is proving a possible successor to this aircraft?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

On the question of speed, the Canberra, particularly in its latest mark, will continue to serve very useful operational purposes well into the 'sixties. The N.A.39, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, is one of the aircraft under consideration. I think that I cannot say more at this stage.

Mr. de Freitas

Will the Under-Secretary of State not continually repeat the phrase that a certain aircraft will serve well on into the 'sixties? We well realise that. What we are interested in is a successor, because plans have to be made now.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

What is equally important is that we should get the aircraft which will really meet the very advanced operational requirements of the 'sixties and not get a second-best. We must take mature consideration before placing orders.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Is my hon. Friend aware that this matter has been under consideration for over six months, that very little progress has been made, and that industry in some respects is being misled? Will he ask the Minister of Defence to bring some co-ordination into these matters so that workers in the industry know where they are?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I will certainly bear that point in mind.