HC Deb 23 May 1960 vol 624 cc31-2
40 and 41. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of Aviation (1) what study has been made of the possible Commonwealth uses of vertical take-off and landing aircraft; and what offers were made by, and what invitations extended to, Canada and other oversea Commonwealth countries to assist in the joint development of a vertical take-off aircraft with France and Germany;

(2) to what extent the vertical take-off aircraft to be jointly developed by the United Kingdom, France and Germany will be adaptable to operations in jungle, bush and other confined areas and to other purposes in the Commonwealth.

The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

This aircraft is primarily designed to meet a N.A.T.O. requirement. Canada, the only other Commonwealth country in N.A.T.O., has been kept fully informed. This type of aircraft should, in addition, be suitable for use from unprepared surfaces and in confined areas outside Europe. Other Commonwealth countries will therefore be given full information about this project.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. May I ask what study has been made of the possible use of such aircraft in regions like the shores of the Canadian Lakes, and the Caribbean Islands, where important towns and centres are separated by water, and space for landing and take-off is not unlimited?

Mr. Sandys

Of course, vertical takeoff aircraft will take off in a very small space in any part of the world. This aircraft is primarily designed to be a military aircraft.

Mr. Chetwynd

Are we to understand from the Minister's reply that agreement has been reached with France and Germany to go into production with this aircraft? Can the Minister say what stage the negotiations have reached?

Mr. Sandys

I do not know why the hon. Member should assume that. I did not mention either of those countries in my reply. I gave a full statement the other day about the negotiations which are taking place. Discussions are continuing between ourselves and France and Germany—

Mr. Rankin

What for?

Mr. Sandys

—and I had a further talk on this subject with the French Defence Minister when he was over here the other day.