HC Deb 26 November 1962 vol 668 cc6-7
4. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Minister of Aviation when he expects to place an order for the Hawker 1154.

Mr. J. Amery

We are proceeding with a project study as the first stage of development of this aircraft as a Hunter and possibly a Sea Vixen replacement. We are backing the aircraft in N.A.T.O. and we hope that other countries will join with us in its full development.

Mr. Williams

In view of the fact that the N.A.T.O. competition has resulted in a draw and there is a danger that the Americans may acquire our knowledge and develop it themselves, will my right hon. Friend agree that it is vital that Britain goes ahead with a project of this nature and places an order at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Amery

We have a very long lead over the rest of the world in this technique. I am sure my hon. Friend will understand that the placing of an order depends, first, upon the successful conclusion of the project study.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, if he wants this aircraft to continue to lead the world, the best thing to do would be to place an order for the P.1127 to get the technique of operating these aircraft and to use them as a shop window in other countries?

Mr. Amery

As I am sure my hon. Friend realises, we are already, in agreement with the American and West German Governments, producing a small number of P.1127s for experimental purposes. The placing of a production order for the P.1154 must await the conclusion of the project study and later on, if we should proceed to it, of a development contract.

Mr. Tomney

The Minister states that we have a long lead over other nations in experiment and development in this field. This lead can only be interpreted in terms of progress and orders if a firm order is placed now, otherwise the lead will be whittled away.

Mr. Amery

Yes, but the hon. Member will, I am sure, realise that there are three stages in the placing of an order. There is the project study, the development contract and the production order. At the moment, we are at the project study stage and it is very unwise to leapfrog these stages.

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