HC Deb 04 February 1970 vol 795 cc399-400
4. Mr. Marten

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with the multi-rôle combat aircraft proposal.

Mr. Healey

Work is proceeding in accordance with the timetable I gave in my statement on 14th May, 1969. It is expected that within the next three months work will have been completed both on the project definition phase and on the evaluation needed as a basis for further decisions.—[Vol. 783, c. 1411–17.]

Mr. Marten

Does the Secretary of State recall that on 3rd December, while he was away, his colleague refused to give the House all the details about the M.R.C.A.? Is he aware that on 11th December all those details appeared in Flight International from a Press conference which had been given the previous week by the managing director of Panavia? May we be told what is going on?

Mr. Healey

If the hon. Gentleman will put down specific Questions, I will seek to answer them.

Mr. Allaun

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the magazine Flight Estimates shows the total programme as £2,110 million? Can my hon. Friend at least tell us whether there is any ceiling to the British contribution? Is it more than the £650 million estimated by the defence correspondents of The Times, the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian?

Mr. Healey

I cannot give financial details—[HON.MEMBERS: "Why not?"] As I have already explained to the House, it is not customary to do so. And it is no good the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) waving documents at me which are quite unofficial. In any case, total programme costs depend very much on the numbers of aircraft which are ultimately ordered and the unit price of each, and that has not yet been decided.

Mr. Corfield

The managing director is responsible to the Governments which have participated, and if he can give information, surely the Secretary of State can give the information to the House?

Hon. Members


Mr. Marten

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I beg to given notice that I shall seek to raise the subject on the Adjournment at the earliest moment.

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