HC Deb 07 May 1958 vol 587 cc1219-20
55. Sir J. Hutchison

asked the Minister of Defence what plans he has evolved for providing for the mobility of a strategic reserve; and to what extent this includes provision for the movement of equipment and supporting weapons as well as men.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

These plans were described in paragraphs 40 and 41 of this year's Defence White Paper. They provide for the movement of both troops and equipment.

Sir J. Hutchison

Is my right hon. Friend confident that the stockpiles of heavy equipment are likely to be near enough to the scene of operations to be able to be moved by existing short-range heavy freighters? Further, is he confident that, in such war areas as Korea, we will be able to have long, permanent runways of the kind required by the Britannia?

Mr. Sandys

I hope we shall not have any more operations in Korea for the time being. As regards the storage of equipment, I have already explained to the House that in addition to providing for the transportation of a certain amount of equipment, either by air or in the case of very heavy equipment by sea, we are planning to keep supplies of heavy equipment at certain focal points, and from there to transport them, where necessary, by Beverley aircraft, which I am glad to say are giving very great satisfaction.

Mr. G. Brown

But in view of the short range and limited lift capacity of the existing Beverley, can the right hon. Gentleman explain the curious reluctance to come to an agreement about, and to order a successor to, the Beverley aircraft?

Mr. Sandys

That is a wider issue. One is always considering further equipment problems for the future, but I must say I am pleased with the performance of the Beverley. Provided that equipment can be stored at these various focal points, the distances involved are not so great, as the right hon. Gentleman will see if he will study them.