HC Deb 03 August 1966 vol 733 c448
16. Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what tasks are at present carried out by aircraft carriers in the British Far East Fleet.

Mr. Healey

Aircraft carriers provide for the mobile deployment of aircraft with the necessary maintenance and support. In the Far East this gives the Commander in Chief great flexibility in the deployment of air power and also enables him to meet contingency plans and unforeseen needs at short notice. Carriers are also available to participate in exercises with Commonwealth and other navies and to play their part in goodwill visits.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

Would the right hon. Gentleman say with what aircraft and from what bases these important tasks will be carried out if aircraft carriers are no longer to be available in future?

Mr. Healey

I made this clear in the course of the debates on the Defence Review. In the maritime rôle there will be Phantom aircraft, the HS801 and helicopters and for land strike the F111A and V-bombers.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that £30 million is to be spent on refitting the Ark Royal? Could we not postpone this until the financial crisis has cleared up a bit?

Mr. Healey

That is another question.

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