HC Deb 08 November 1967 vol 753 cc1018-9
24 and 25. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he will announce a decision on the base or staging post at Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean;

(2) what plans he has for the protection of the staging post at Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean.

Mr. Healey

No decision has yet been taken on the possibility of building an airfield in the British Indian Ocean territory. I will make an announcement, one way or the other, as soon as possible. I am not prepared to deal on a hypothetical basis with the question of the protection of such an airfield.

Mr. Dalyell

Is there a current cost estimate?

Mr. Healey

Yes, Sir.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Is the Minister aware that it is rather more than two years since he announced this as being a basic part of his defence philosophy, in the White Paper of 1965? That is rather a long time, and he has not yet produced any plans to bring into being what he suggested was essential in order to make use of the F111.

Mr. Healey

I am afraid that it was such a long time ago that the hon. Member has completely forgotten the terms in which reference was made to this matter. It was not regarded as a basic part but as a possible element of flexibility.