HC Deb 30 November 1972 vol 847 cc615-6
30. Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

asked the Minister of State for Defence how many Harrier aircraft have now been ordered for the United States Marine Corps and how many for the Royal Navy.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

The United States Marine Corps has ordered 90 aircraft. There have been no orders for the Royal Navy.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

Is not that a fantastic reply?

Mr. Gilmour

I do not think that I have to explain to my hon. and gallant Friend, of all people, the difference between the Royal Navy and the United States Marine Corps. The American Marines are using their Harriers largely in a ground support rôle, which is not a rôle for which the Navy would use its Harriers.

Mr. Judd

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in the interests of the morale of the Fleet Air Arm it is essential that as soon as possible there should be a clear-cut indication from the Government about their future policy for the Harrier with the Navy?

Mr. Gilmour

I appreciate that, but the hon. Gentleman knows the difficulties, and he heard what I said in reply to an earlier Question.

Mr. Marten

May I link the Question about Harrier Aircraft with Question No. 16, tabled by the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) who criticised, or had comments to make, about the safety of Royal Air Force flying? May I make it quite clear that he was referring to operational aircraft, and not to Transport Command, which is based in my constituency and which has an excellent record of safety?

Mr. Gilmour

I am sure that that is true.