HC Deb 21 October 1971 vol 823 cc884-5
22. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of development of the command through-deck cruisers.

23. Mr. Lane

asked the Minister of State for Defence what are his latest plans for the development of a through-deck cruiser, in the light of the Harrier trials this year.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Work on the design of the new cruiser continues. Our plans for its development are not dependent on the outcome of the Harrier trials.

Mr. Wall

Is my hon. Friend aware of the view that the nation will not get value for money from these ships unless they have short take-off aircraft? What is being planned in that respect?

Mr. Gilmour

We have just answered a Question about short take-off aircraft. I should make it plain to my hon. Friend that the through-deck cruisers are not dependent on V/STOL aircraft. They are still needed for helicopters.

Mr. Lane

In view of the new emphasis on naval shipbuilding, which is welcomed for various reasons, can my hon. Friend tell us the time scale of the announcement of future decisions about the through-deck cruiser? In how many months may we hear something further?

Mr. Gilmour

The supplementary statement on defence policy published last October indicated that the new cruisers would start to become available in the late 1970s. It would be contrary to normal practice to be more specific about our building plans at this stage. But our plans to introduce the cruisers into service remain unchanged.

Mr. Wall

In view of the unsatisfactory reply on short take-off aircraft, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.