HC Deb 04 March 1963 vol 673 cc9-10
21. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Aviation what steps he is taking to accelerate the production of the Hawker P1154 vertical take-off and landing strike aircraft.

Mr. J. Amery

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) on 18th February, 1963. We are pressing on with development as fast as we can. The project study should be completed at the end of this month.

Mr. Cronin

Is it not disappointing that, in spite of the long lead which Britain has had in the development of this aircraft, the French Mirage HIV will clearly be the first Western V.T.O.L. supersonic aircraft going into service? Does not this lassitude and indecision of Her Majesty's Government in this matter compare rather unfavourably with the vigour and decisiveness of the French Government?

Mr. Amery

I do not think that there has been any lassitude or delay. We have pressed on with the project from the beginning as far as possible and we are keeping up the pressure as best we can.

Mr. Eden

Is my right hon. Friend's Department co-operating in trying to sell this aircraft or its predecessor, the P.1127, to customers overseas?

Mr. Amery

Yes, Sir, we are active on both points. I wish to dispel completely any idea of delay in the P1154 programme. The project study is proceeding as fast as it can. The moment it is completed work will continue on the cutting of metal and so forth, and there will be, if necessary, holding contracts to cover the position until the development contract is decided.

Mr. Cronin

Does the Minister realise how difficult it is to accept his statement that we are pressing on as fast as possible, bearing in mind that the French have, during the past four months, made the same progress as we have made in the past two years?

Mr. Amery

Quite honestly, I think that the hon. Gentleman is wrong in his facts.

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