HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1305-6
41. Mr. McMaster

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will announce his decision on which light helicopter is to be ordered for use by the Army.

42. Mr. Pounder

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will now make a statement on the light helicopter requirements for the Army.

44. Mr, Stratton Mills

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will now make a statement about helicopter requirements.

Mr. Marten

I am not now in a position to announce a decision on helicopter requirements for the Army this week, but I hope to do so very soon.

Mr. McMaster

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this offer by Short Bros. on the Hiller helicopter is the result of the intervention of the Ministry of Aviation in putting Hiller in contact with Short Bros. and Harland? Is he aware that this helicopter has a better stretch and also a potential of export orders on three continents?

Mr. Marten

This is the sort of factor which is taken into account in arriving at any decision.

Mr. Pounder

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during last week's defence debate the Minister of Defence gave the House reason to think that this week would see a decision on the light helicopter requirement? Is he now certain that a decision will definitely be announced next week?

Mr. Marten

I certainly hope so. I regret this delay as much as does my hon. Friend, but it has been necessary for my right hon. Friend to re-examine certain financial aspects of the tenders.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Does my hon. Friend recall the Government's assurance in 1960 to bear in mind the social implications of placing orders with such firms where there is very little price differential?

Mr. Morten

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Wigg

Will the Minister be good enough to indicate whether the Government are reconsidering the whole proposal? In other words, are they reconsidering the three aircraft or is the Hughes still out of it? If so, does that mean that the Government are not taking the evaluation of the Hughes into account because there was not time to have done so in view of the fact that it was completed only a week ago last Saturday?

Mr. Marten

What we are considering is a matter for the Ministry of Aviation. When the announcement is made I will answer questions on that issue.