HC Deb 15 April 1986 vol 95 cc720-1
8. Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress on the experimental aircraft projects.

Mr. Norman Lamont

The design and construction of this aircraft are well advanced and on schedule. My right hon. Friend will tomorrow take great pleasure in attending the roll-out at Warton.

Mr. Howarth

Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating British Aerospace and its Italian and German partners on producing on time this high technology demonstrator that is to be rolled out tomorrow? Will he assure the House that the benefits to be derived from this high technology demonstrator will be fully incorporated in the European fighter aircraft programme?

Mr. Lamont

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating British Aerospace and its partners. The intention is to use the experience and the technology that has been developed in this aircraft for further use in the European fighter project. I am sure that the valuable experience that has been gained will be used.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Royal Air Force has a particular requirement for the European fighter aircraft, that this experimental aircraft has been designed around the needs of the Royal Air Force and that this must be remembered fully when we order the European Fighter aircraft?

Mr. Lamont

I note what my hon. Friend says, but it is important to emphasise that the idea behind the European fighter project is to produce an aircraft that suits the needs of several air forces, not just to build it around the requirements of one nation. It is important to stick to the requirements on weight and size that are essential if the project is to go ahead on a collaborative basis.

Mr. McNamara

Is the Minister of State aware that we on the Labour Benches join in congratulating British Aerospace on this achievement and look forward to seeing the roll-out of the aircraft tomorrow? Is he aware of the disturbing statements that were made on television over the weekend about the possibility of secrets being leaked to the Czechoslovakian Government by a junior official at the DTI? Is the Ministry of Defence satisfied that highly sensitive military information concerning aircraft of this nature is now properly safeguarded at the DTI, and is no longer able to be purloined by junior officials?

Mr. Lamont

As the hon. Gentleman well knows, I cannot comment on that situation at this moment. That matter, I understand, is being investigated.