HC Deb 06 May 1968 vol 764 cc11-3
8. Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

asked the Minister of Technology what was the total value of the jigs and tools of the TSR2 when it was scrapped in 1965; and what was the cost of these tools when they were first made.

Mr. Stonehouse

The cost of the jigs and tools constructed for TSR2 was approximately £12 million. Sales of scrapped jigs and tools produced £53,000.

Sir W. Bromley-Davenport

Is it not customary in cases like this to preserve the jigs and tools for a number of years? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in the opinion of the aircraft industry and many people outside it, the destruction of these tools was a deliberate action to stop any future Government from continuing the project? Is that not sabotage on the grand scale?

Mr. Stonehouse

The hon. and gallant Member is completely wrong. The space at the firms concerned was required and the jigs therefore had to be removed or destroyed. The hon. Member's attempts to breath fire and brimstone into this very stale old controversy will not succeed.

Mr. Brooks

To clear up ambiguities of this sort over the TSR2, would my right hon. Friend consider publishing a full and detailed account of the reasons why the cancellation charges proved to be much larger than was at one time expected?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am sure that my right hon. Friend, who will have heard that question, will consider it.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Does the hon. Gentleman recall that some of us told the present Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time that these jigs should have been preserved and that there was plenty of hangar space available all over the country? Was this not done out of spite?

Mr. Stonehouse

I have nothing further to add.

16. Mr. Onslow

asked the Minister of Technology if he will arrange for the TSR2 airframe at present located at Shoeburyness to be transferred to the Science Museum.

Mr. Stonehouse

This airframe is needed for a continuing series of ground tests to be carried out by the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Mr. Onslow

Is it not a fact that the so-called ground tests at Shoeburyness consist of using the aircraft as a target? Despite the Minister's guilty desire to destroy all trace of the TSR2, is he aware that it would be more to the nation's benefit if this product of British engineering were displayed where people could see it?

Mr. Stonehouse

The present Government are more concerned about the future than in trying to rake over the dying embers of the past. As for the research work on this aircraft, it is extremely important to gauge the vulnerability of advanced aircraft to missiles that may be used against them in future.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Would my hon. Friend consider transferring this airframe to the Tory headquarters at Woking since the prime purpose of the Question is a political one, designed to hide the considerable achievements of the Labour Government in the aircraft industry in that it refers to an aeroplane which the Tories would themselves have cancelled?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for referring to the achievements of the Government. There is no doubt that the emphasis which we have put on civil and export work has been a great encouragement to all who are employed in this great industry.

Mr. David Price

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if the Labour Government had carried on with the TSR2 we would, in view of the failures of the F111, now be selling it to the Americans in South Vietnam?

Mr. Stonehouse

That is a very doubtful point indeed.