HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1185-6
17. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to visit the island of Aldabra.

Mr. Healey

I have no plans for doing so.

Mr. Ridley

Is the Secretary of State aware that the island of Aldabra is the main haunt of the giant turtle? Is he further aware that it is practically impossible ever to land there because of the weather? Will he say what on earth he intends to do there, and why he wishes to pour so much of the taxpayer's money into this barren coral reef?

Mr. Healey

As I understand it, the island of Aldabra is inhabited—like Her Majesty's Opposition Front Bench—by giant turtles, frigate birds and boobies. Nevertheless, it may well provide useful facilities for aircraft. What the hon. Member said about the suitability of Aldabra in this respect is totally wrong.

Mr. Goodhew

Will the Minister tell the House whether it is intended to be a staging post for transport aircraft or a base for the F111K, which we now know is not to be used in Europe?

Mr. Healey

Without accepting the extraordinary assertion made by the hon. Gentleman at the end of his supplementary question, I can say that so far no decision has been taken by Her Majesty's Government to develop facilities on this island. This island has not been bought. It did not require to be bought. It did not belong to anybody else except Her Majesty's Government, as the hon. Member would know if he took the trouble to do his homework. But if we decide in the end to develop the facilities on this island we shall use them to the extent required both in respect of air transport and any other aircraft.

Mr. Onslow

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Onslow; Question No. 18.