HC Deb 25 January 1961 vol 633 cc142-3
6. Mr. Mulley

asked the Secretary of State for Air what changes in the future policy of the Royal Air Force are involved as a result of the decision to acquire the Skybolt missile; and if he is satisfied with the progress to date of the development of the missile.

Mr. J. Amery

The answer to the first part of the Question is, None, Sir. As to the second, detailed questions on the progress of development are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation, but I can say that all reports I have received show that good progress has been maintained.

Mr. Mulley

While not endorsing the Government's decision to acquire this weapon, may I ask whether the Secretary of State has seen reports about the progress? Will he give us an asurance that the Skybolt weapon will fit the existing V-bombers without undue expenditure? Will it fit both the Vulcan and the Victor? Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us about reports to the contrary which have appeared? Can he also say that there has been no cut-down in the programme for development of Skybolt in the United States?

Mr. Amery

Obviously, I cannot give assurances about what will happen in the United States. I have seen the Press announcements to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I can report that progress is being maintained satisfactorily in the factory on the production of this weapon. We see no reason to doubt that it will go forward. I should not like to answer off the cuff about fitting the weapon into the Vulcan and the Victor. If the hon. Gentleman will table a Question, I will certainly do my best to answer.

Mr. Chetwynd

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman say at this stage which of our bombers is being adapted for this purpose?

Mr. Amery

I have a good deal of information on this. There is always difficulty when Questions of this nature are asked and one must suddenly try to remember what is on the secret list and what is not. It is very easy to be confused, particularly if one is new at the job. I should like to check on that before I make a reply.