HC Deb 24 June 1968 vol 767 cc8-9
11. Mr. Kitson

asked the Minister of Technology what assistance he is giving to the development of an all-British future combat aircraft.

Mr. Stonehouse

We hope to be able to develop an advanced combat aircraft in collaboration with other European countries and with Canada and discussions with these countries are under way. The studies which British firms have been carrying out are continuing.

Mr. Kitson

Would it not be better to build a British plane and sell it rather than continue these discussions?

Mr. Stonehouse

What we want to ensure is that, when we build a plane, it has a very good export potential. It is more likely that it will have this export potential if the plane is built in collaboration in the first place. We are going ahead with discussions in the hope that we can agree on the building of an aircraft which will meet the requirements of many of the air defence staffs.

Mr. Corfield

We recognise the advantages of that proposal, but can the Minister assure us that, if it is not possible to reach an agreed specification, he will not discard the idea of an all-British combat aircraft aimed at the same market?

Mr. Stonehouse

I think that it is premature to look at any fall-back position. We are hoping that our present plans for a collaborative aircraft will be a great success technically and commercially.

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