§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)
Progress has been encouraging. The first prototype has been flying for eight months. It recently achieved successfully the transition from vertical to direct forward flight and it has already flown at forward speeds of up to 165 miles an hour. Since the aircraft has been designed to meet a requirement for a 40–50 seater inter-city helicopter issued by British European Airways and is unique in its class, its prospects for inter-city use in this country and elsewhere are promising.
§ Mr. Dodds
I thank the Minister for that information. Is he aware of the deep concern which has arisen from authoritative reports that there is a likelihood that this aircraft, with its tremendous possibilities, may be sold to American interests because of the difficulty of the makers to raise enough money in this country, and will he state what the Government are doing to ensure that it remains in this country?
§ Mr. Jones
I find it rather difficult to understand that there should be any concern on this subject about a possible sale to American interests. The position is that I have invited two companies, the air frame company and the aero engine company, to submit to me their proposals for their financial contributions to complete the development of the aircraft. On receipt of the information about their contributions, Her Majesty's Government will make up their mind about their contribution, but it is quite premature to speak of the possible demise of the aircraft.