HC Deb 17 March 1965 vol 708 c1273
33. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he is aware that the flight of the Constellation belonging to the United States Airways engaged in transporting arms and ammunition and at present impounded in Malta originated in the United Kingdom; and what steps he is taking to prevent British airports being used in connection with illicit arms traffic.

Mr. Stonehouse

I would refer my right hon. Friend to the Answer given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to a similar Question on 25th February last; general questions about the transport of arms are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Henderson

In view of the fact that this gun-running operation is supposed to have originated from an airfield in this country, may I ask the Minister whether any undertaking has been received from United States Airways that no flights by its aircraft which are to be engaged in gun-running activities will originate from any airport in this country?

Mr. Stonehouse

I shall refer that point to the Foreign Secretary, but I am satisfied, as a result of the investigations which have been made, that the aircraft had no cargo taken aboard when it was at the airport in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Walden

Is my hon. Friend aware that the aircraft which was used for this purpose had already been engaged—as the company had been engaged—in a contract for a civilian flight, for which money had been collected which has not at the moment been returned?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am aware of that, but the Ministry did not allow the flight to take place because of the condition of the plane.