HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 c1189
26. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the first British surface-to-surface missile for use at sea will be operational.

Mr. Mason

I have nothing to add at present to the statements which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy and I made in the recent Defence debates.—[Vol. 742, c. 553; Vol. 743, c. 614–5.]

Mr. Wall

Can the hon. Gentleman undertake that these missiles will be operational before aircraft carriers are phased out?

Mr. Mason

I could not give such an assurance, but I think that the position will become clearer after we have examined the report of the Future Fleet Working Party.

Mr. Goodhew

This is altogether unsatisfactory. The Government have decided to abandon the aircraft carriers and surely it is essential that they should know whether they will have the surface-to-surface missiles to replace them, because without such missiles the Navy will be useless.

Mr. Mason

We have in mind providing a light tactical strike capabality from either ships or helicopters, and the various alternatives are still under consideration.