HC Deb 26 January 1959 vol 598 cc692-3
36. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the Minister of Supply how many Armstrong Whit-worth AW/660 Argosy freight aircraft have been ordered; and how many it is contemplated ordering.

37. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply if he is now able to make a statement about the ordering for Transport Command of a long-range jet aircraft suitable for freight and personnel carrying.

41. Mr. Mason

asked the Minister of Supply if he is yet able to make a statement regarding the future orders of transport aircraft for Her Majesty's forces requirements; and to what extent it is still his intention to order American transport aircraft meanwhile.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. Aubrey Jones)

The precise number of the initial order for A.W. 660 has not yet been determined, but I think it will be between 20 and 30.

As for a long-range strategic freighter, I have no statement to make at present except that it is not intended to buy American aircraft.

Sir A. V. Harvey

While thanking my right hon. Friend for what he has said, may I ask him, if he orders between twenty and thirty of these Argosy aircraft, when the order is likely to take place and when the aircraft are likely to be delivered?

Mr. Jones

I would expect the order to be placed over the course, shall we say, of the next three months and expect delivery to begin in the year 1960.

Mr. Beswick

With regard to Question No. 37, which has nothing to do with Question No. 36 as it is a different aircraft entirely, may I ask the Minister when he now expects the order to be placed? Is he aware that there is some apprehension that the order is likely to be placed for reasons other than the merit of the particular designs submitted and may I ask him whether that apprehension is justified or not? If the order has gone elsewhere than Northern Ireland, would it not be possible to look after the economic difficulties there through the means of sub-contracts?

Mr. Jones

As to the first part of the supplementary question, I would expect a statement to be made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence shortly. As to the second part, I hope that one would always take into account not only the technical merits of the design but also the capacity of the firm submitting the design to produce, which is a very important consideration.