HC Deb 03 April 1990 vol 170 cc1018-9
5. Mr. Flannery

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what decisions have been taken on basing the FI5E aircraft in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

None, Sir.

Mr. Flannery

Despite that monosyllabic, negative answer, is not it a fact that the United States has surveyed RAF Bentwaters between Sizewell and Bradwell and that work will begin in June? Is not the FI5E—a new nuclear strike bomber—being planned at a time when east-west tension is falling and defence cuts are occurring in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? Why do we need another bomber of that nature after all this time and when tension is decreasing? Who is ordering it and why?

Mr. Hamilton

The United States air force may have surveyed the site with the intention of putting a simulator there. No decision has been taken to build the simulator and work will not start in June. That report is incorrect. Consideration is being given to the deployment of FI5Es at that site because we are looking to reallocate our resources in the light of flexible response, which has served us well in the past and, I am sure, will continue to do so.

Mr. John Marshall

Does my hon. Friend notice a degree of hypocrisy in calls for value for money from well-known tax-dodgers in the Opposition?

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is for the Minister to answer, but such questions do not lead to good relations in the Chamber.

Mr. Hamilton

I do not wish to follow that sentiment too far, but hypocrisy is a problem that we have always found with Opposition Members.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Minister must withdraw that allegation.

Mr. Hamilton

I withdraw it at once.