HL Deb 16 March 1949 vol 161 cc385-6

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask His Majesty's Government how many modified Viking air liners referred to in paragraph 95 (a) of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General on Civil Appropriations Accounts, 1947–1948, were ordered by the Government; how many were in excess of operators' final requirements, and how the excess numbers have been disposed of.]


My Lords, eighty of the modified type (Mark 1B) of Viking were ordered by the Government in February, 1946. Thirty of these proved to be in excess of the final requirements of operators. Of the fifty aircraft completed, forty-four were required by British European Airways Corporation, and the manufacturer sold the remaining six, one to the Ministry of Supply and five to private operators. Manufacture of the remaining thirty was not proceeded with, and the redundancies, consisting largely of partly fabricated components, are being disposed of by the Ministry of Supply.


My Lords, arising out of that reply, can the Minister say whether the Government or the potential operators were responsible for the error in the calculation of requirements; and, secondly, what the cost of the redundancy will be to the taxpayer?


My Lords, I cannot agree that any blame attaches to anybody. With regard to the second part of the Question, I would emphasise, as I think the noble Lord appreciates, that the only loss is the sum involved in payment for the thirty aircraft not completed. It has been agreed that the manufacturer shall be paid £533,812. From this must be deducted the sum received from the sale of the partly completed component parts, which is not yet known. Of the net sum, it has been arranged that my Ministry will bear one half and B.E.A. the other.