HC Deb 01 May 1968 vol 763 cc1096-7
31. Mr. Robert Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what effect the withdrawal from East of Suez will have on the plans for introducing new aircraft into Royal Air Force air mobility forces; and what effect it will have on the scrapping of older types.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

The main re-equipment of the Royal Air Force air mobility forces will be complete with the delivery of the last Belfast in the middle of next year. Reductions in the transport force will be effected by withdrawing older aircraft earlier than previously planned.

Mr. Howarth

Will my hon. Friend confirm that with the proposed withdrawal east of Suez, the Royal Air Force air mobility forces will be considerably larger than we shall need? Is it intended to speed up the removal of the older type of aircraft at present in use?

Mr. Rees

Certainly the older aircraft will go first, but I ask my hon. Friend to bear in mind the need for transport aircraft for the mobility of forces in Europe, particularly on the flanks.

Sir A. V. Harvey

If there are any spare transport aircraft available, will he try to give one to the Commander-in-Chief, B.A.O.R., who is now flying around in a propeller-driven aircraft which is 20 years old, when junior Ministers fly around the Continent in jet aircraft?

Mr. Rees

Commanders-in-Chief in Europe generally fly these old aircraft. I can only say that these jet aircraft for junior Ministers do not apply to some junior Ministers that I know.