HC Deb 04 August 1965 vol 717 cc1673-4
11. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement about the avionics systems to be used in the F111 for the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence told the House on 13th April, 1965.

Mr. Marten

Will the Minister do his utmost, if and when the time comes to buy the F111, to see that the British avionics industry is given the earliest possible notice of what is required of it, so that it can get its bids in at the earliest moment?

Mr. Jenkins

Certainly if this eventuality should arise we will endeavour to see that no lack of prior warning and prior information will in any way tell against the British avionics industry.

Mr. Soames

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in the Press conference which I understand his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence is now giving on the defence review in the Ministry of Agriculture—or, rather, the Ministry of Defence—he will not be imparting any information to the Press on the subject of the F111 which he has not already given to this House?

Mr. Jenkins

I do not think that wherever my right hon. Friend is holding this Press conference there is any danger of his doing that.

Mr. A. Royle

Can the Minister say when we are getting the F111 and also whether the Secretary of State for Defence intends to come here at 3.30 to make a statement to the House on the information that he is now giving to the Press in the conference at the Ministry of Defence?

Mr. Jenkins

As the hon. Member knows, I cannot give the House any decision upon the F111. The decision will depend upon the defence review and, as has always been made clear, it will be taken in the autumn. There is no need for a decision before the autumn. One advantage of this is that we have some months in which to review it without incurring any additional costs.

Mr. Maude

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the real difficulty as we see it is that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said that he thought it possible, if not likely, that many of the avionic devices in the TSR2 could be incorporated in the F111? Is it a fact that research in and development of these avionic devices has stopped with the cancellation of the TSR2 and that progress towards providing British avionics for the F111 has therefore ceased?

Mr. Jenkins

No, Sir. There is a possibility of incorporating avionics which were associated with the TSR2 not merely in the F111, if a decision were taken to purchase that plane, but also in the Buccaneer Two-Star, if a decision were taken to go ahead with that plane, and also in the Phantom, where these have more general applications worthy of consideration.