HC Deb 01 March 1967 vol 742 c481
10. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many helicopters, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, respectively, fully equipped for search and rescue are stationed in Scotland and ready for immediate use.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force (Mr. Merlyn Rees)

During daylight there is a Royal Naval helicopter standing by at Lossiemouth and an R.A.F. one at Leuchars.

There are other helicopters at these two airfields at lesser degrees of readiness; there are logistic arrangements to enable helicopters to operate in emergencies in the North West of Scotland, the Hebrides and Orkney; and helicopters based outside Scotland, for instance at Acklington and Ballykelly, are available for operations in Scottish waters.

Mr. Monro

Is the Minister aware that the people of Scotland greatly appreciate the work of these aircrews at times of distress? Would he confirm that to have only one helicopter ready for action in Scotland is quite insufficient for the possibilities of rescue?

Mr. Rees

No, Sir. I would not agree. We are quite satisfied that the helicopters we have deployed are sufficient. In the very north of Scotland we are providing further logistic arrangements. The hon. Member must not forget that the Shackleton also plays a part in this.

Mr. Hamling

Is my hon. Friend saying that the cost of these helicopters which are for rescue operations is borne by the Defence Vote?

Mr. Rees

They are borne by the Defence Vote, but very gladly the R.A.F. does this on civil occasions at no cost.