HC Deb 26 January 1966 vol 723 c205
37. Sir J. Eden

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many types of surface-to-surface weapon, classified by range and weight of charge, the Royal Navy requires at any one time.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)

Apart from carrier-borne aircraft which are the Navy's main long-range offensive weapon today, the Fleet requires medium-range armament to engage ships, surfaced submarines and shore targets; and short-range, small calibre weapons suitable for cold war tasks, such as anti-piracy.

Sir J. Eden

Can the hon. Gentleman go a little further into what exactly is the thinking of the Government on this subject? Would he not agree that the kind of information asked for in this Question is basic to the future development and evaluation of our weapons. Would he not agree that if we are to get value for money and translate into practical terms the philosophy of cost effectiveness we must know what the Government's attitude is to questions such as this?

Mr. Mallalieu

The question is "What are the arms at the present time, and what are the needs at the present time?" They are as stated. The present weapons are 6 in. and 4.5 in. guns, Oerlikons, Bofors guns and so forth.

Commander Courtney

Is it not a fact that there is as yet no surface-to-surface guided weapon in sight for the Royal Navy which can displace fixed-wing aircraft as the main armament of the Fleet?

Mr. Mallalieu

The hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend has a Question down on that subject next week.