HC Deb 04 March 1963 vol 673 cc10-1
22. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Aviation if there has been a radical change in the specifications of the TSR2 aircraft since the beginning of 1962.

Mr. J. Amery

No, Sir.

Mr. Cronin

Does the Minister realise how puzzling his reply is, since, in the 1962 White Paper, the TSR2 is referred to as a tactical strike and reconnaisance aircraft whereas, in the present White Paper, it has been promoted to the rôle of strategic bomber and it is even to fill in the missile gap before the Polaris submarines come into service?

Mr. Amery

I am sorry if we have puzzled the hon. Gentleman; I thought that that was a difficult thing to do. The TSR2 was designed for the tactical rôle, but it also has a very efficient strategic capability.

Mr. Mulley

What alterations have taken place in the last year? When did the change in design take place which transformed the TSR2 from its original rôle announced in the 1959 White Paper as an Army support plane to its present rôle as a nuclear strategic strike plane? Is he suggesting that the original 1959 designs will permit it to fulfil this new task?

Mr. Amery

This is no new or last-minute opinion which I am expressing. At the time when I was at the Air Ministry, it always struck me that the TSR2 might be very useful in the strategic rôle as well.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Does it matter what it is called, provided that it can deliver the deterrent and do all these other things which we believe it can?

Mr. Amery

I do not think that there is much in a name. The important thing is that it can do both jobs.

Mr. Cronin

Bearing in mind that it is equipped only with a free-falling nuclear bomb, is not the Minister rather stretching the point when he says that it can deliver the deterrent?

Mr. Amery

I shall not attempt at this stage to lift the veil from what the Defence White Paper states on this subject; this is for others to deal with. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the TSR2 will be fully effective in the strategic rôle.