HC Deb 19 November 1991 vol 199 cc125-6
1. Mrs. Mahon

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what he plans to do with the aircraft taken from the front-line strength of the Royal Air Force under "Options for Change".

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Alan Clark)

Some will be used in fleet management or as long-term reserve; others will be disposed of.

Mrs. Mahon

Will the Minister give a categorical assurance that surplus aircraft will not be supplied to the evil dictator of Indonesia? Will the discussions between the Secretary of State and that dictator on 19 September about military co-operation now be ended in view of last week's massacre in illegally occupied East Timor?

Mr. Clark

I know that the hon. Lady would like to get rid of every aircraft in the Royal Air Force if she could. However, that view is not shared by the House or, I believe, by the hon. Lady's management committee. All export controls of armaments and all our customers are subject to the most rigorous control and scrutiny, as she knows. I certainly do not intend to reveal any of the discussions between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the leader of another state, as they would have to be confidential.

Mr. Wilkinson

My right hon. Friend will know that reserve aeroplanes cannot simply be trundled out of a hangar and launched into the air. What provision is my right hon. Friend making to ensure that there will be enough reserve air and ground crews to fly and maintain those aeroplanes in an emergency?

Mr. Clark

There are three categories of readiness: one month's recovery, three months' recovery and six months' recovery. As the reduction in the strength of the Royal Air Force in terms of air frames proceeds, there will be a number of crews on whom we can call should it be necessary to reactivate those aircraft.

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