HC Deb 08 December 1965 vol 722 cc394-6
6. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the Minister of Aviation what assurance he has received from the United. States Government that the advanced avionics required for the British version of the F111 will now be developed and produced.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Equipment comparable in performance to the avionics fit of the TSR2 will now be available without waiting for the development of the Mark II version of the F111. If F111s are purchased, this, together with a British reconnaissance pod, will be fitted.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

In view of the merits of the Spey/Mirage, might it not be wise to postpone the purchase of this aircraft and not commit ourselves at this stage, before publication of the defence review and discussion of these matters in the House?

Mr. Jenkins

The hon. Gentleman will have noted that I have not committed myself. There is another Question down about the Spey/Mirage.

34. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will now make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's intentions with regard to the option to purchase the F111.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I have nothing to add to the statement made to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 24th November.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the Minister aware that a very large majority of hon. Members is against taking up this option on the evidence which has so far been presented to us and that many of us think that the visit of Mr. Kuss is very sinister and is designed to pressure the Government into taking wrong decisions on this matter which will materially affect our balance of payments in future years? Further may I ask him——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Even the Liberal Party must put its question concisely.

Mr. Lubbock

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to ask the Americans for a postponement of this option until such time as the House has had an opportunity to study the Plowden Report?

Mr. Jenkins

That, of course, is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that we shall not be pressurised into taking wrong decisions by Mr. Kuss or anyone else.

Mr. Edelman

is my right hon. Friend aware of the grave anxiety on this side of the House as well, as expressed in the form of a Motion about the Government's reported intention to buy the F111? Is he aware that the Spey/Mirage aircraft is likely to cost £1 million less than the F111 and can be delivered on time?

Mr. Jenkins

I take note of what my hon. Friend says, but I stress that no decision has been taken. My hon. Friend has another Question about the Spey/ Mirage, but I cannot accept either of his statements about it.

Mr. R. Carr

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that a decision on the F111 will have a major effect on the future of the British aircraft industry and British-French co-operation? Will he therefore undertake not to make this decision until the Plowden Report has been considered, since this is one of the most important factors affecting the future of the industry?

Mr. Jenkins

Of course we will take this matter fully into account. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Plowden Report has already been delivered to the Government.