HC Deb 15 April 1964 vol 693 cc413-5
30. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate has been made of the further requirements for Short Belfast aircraft that would be needed to enable Her Majesty's Government to provide the logistic support for a United Nations peace-keeping force, as at present being considered

The Minister of Defence for the Royal Air Force (Mr. Hugh Fraser)

None, Sir. No R.A.F. requirement for extra Belfast aircraft is foreseen.

Mr. Lubbock

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said, on 21st March, that they were looking into the Scandinavian suggestion that some assistance to the United Nations peacekeeping force on the logistic side was being investigated by the Government Would not this be a suitable way of tying in that investigation with the assistance that we hope will be given to the Northern Ireland employment situation by a further order for Belfasts?

Mr. Fraser

I congratulate the hon.. Member on his ingenious way of raising the question of the interests of Northern Ireland. We have given, and are continuing to give, a good deal of logistic support to the United Nations. We have done so in the Congo and in many other peace-keeping operations in the last few months.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will my hon.. Friend bear in mind that a new jet engined type of Belfast aircraft can be developed to give an improved performance? Will he consider ordering such a type of aircraft for our own use?

Mr. Fraser

No, Sir—not at the moment. We have a good Transport Command. We are getting better air-craft and I, personally, foresee no immediate need of any such aircraft.

Mr. Mulley

Is the hon.. Gentleman satisfied with the extent of our strategic freighter capabilities? As I understand it, until the Belfast arrives they are zero. Not only would this have assisted us in our United Nations obligation, but it would have helped in moving troops to Cyprus and East Africa if we had had some freighter capabilities.

Mr. Fraser

We have managed. I have given the House remarkable figures of the freight and people that we have been able to move in the last few months with Transport Command as at present constituted. Undoubtedly it will be greatly improved when the Belfasts and the VC10s are in operation.