HC Deb 09 February 1959 vol 599 cc852-3
39. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware that the mobility of British armed forces is seriously prejudiced by the lack of long range strategic air freighters; and whether he will now make a statement on service requirements for such British aircraft as the Blackburn B.107, the Bristol Britannic, the Handley Page HP111 and the Vickers VC10.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I have nothing to add to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air in the House on 28th January.

Mr. de Freitas

Surely this is becoming a scandal. Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the Services and industry must know where they are going from here? Since no question of security can possibly be involved in this, will he not do something in co-operation with his colleagues?

Mr. Jones

Three or four Questions on this subject are on the Order Paper for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on Wednesday, and I think that it would be most unwise of me to anticipate the Answer which my right hon. Friend may give then.

Mr. Shinwell

Can we be assured that, when it finally makes up its mind on the best air carrier to meet what the Services require, the Ministry will not allow itself to be overcome by the blandishments of pressure groups but will decide solely on the merits of the machine?

Mr. Jones

Yes, Sir, without any question, but also taking into account the fact that we ought to have regard not only to paper drawings but to those things behind the paper drawings, for example, the ability to produce.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Provided that the technical details are satisfactory, will my right hon. Friend give orders where they are most needed in the country, that is, in order to employ people? Secondly, will he assure the House that on no account will United States aircraft be ordered for this purpose?

Mr. Jones

As to the latter part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I have already indicated that it has been decided not to buy American aircraft. As to the first part, I would agree that unemployment is one among the many considerations which clearly must be taken into account.

Mr. G. Brown

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the very long delay in making a decision on this matter has inevitably now made the arrival of this much-needed aircraft very much later than it ought to be in the light of our defensive needs? Is it a refusal on his part and that of his colleagues to be coordinated, or failure on the part of the Ministry of Defence to co-ordinate them, that has caused the delay?

Mr. Jones

The right hon. Gentleman would be wise to address his question to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence on Wednesday.

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