HC Deb 27 April 1959 vol 604 cc874-5
14. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Supply why there has been a delay in ordering the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy 660 required by the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Since January last, when it was announced that the Royal Air Force proposed to adopt a military version of the Argosy, my Department and the Air Ministry have been working out with the firm the details of the specification. The firm has been invited to tender for the supply of the aircraft to this specification. The order will be confirmed as soon as possible consistently with my being satisfied that the price quoted is reasonable.

Mr. de Freitas

Since the aircraft already exists and the modifications for military use will be comparatively minor, may we take it that the delay in placing the order is because this time the Ministry of Supply will get the kind of contract which will meet the requirements of the Public Accounts Committee and really give value for money?

Mr. Jones

The aircraft does not exist at the moment. The military version does entail modifications from the civilian version, and much of the time which has elapsed has been taken up with the study of this question. At the same time, I am most sensitive to charges that costs of weapons ultimately turn out to be much greater than their original estimates, and I am most anxious to avert any such development in this case.