HL Deb 23 February 1984 vol 448 cc845-6

3.8 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any plans for providing the Queen's Flight with up-to-date aircraft.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy (The Earl of Avon)

My Lords, I hope that an announcement will he made shortly on a replacement for the Andovers of the Queen's Flight. There are no plans to replace the Wessex helicopters.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, in thanking my noble friend for that reply, which is a great deal more encouraging than previous ones I have received from him, may I ask him whether he can interpret with a little greater precision the word "shortly"?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, as already announced the Royal Air Force is evaluating two British Aerospace 146–100s, and trials are going well. There is little reason to doubt that this excellent aeroplane will graduate to use in the Queen's Flight.

Lord Beswick

My Lords, may I also express approval of the position as outlined by the noble Earl? Does he agree that it is a good thing that the prejudice against having modern aircraft in the Queen's Flight now seems to have been dissipated? Does he not agree that it is cost-effective to have very busy public servants transported by modern aircraft? Does he not further agree that if the 146 is purchased, as I hope it will be, this will be a tribute to the remarkable serviceability of this aircraft in airline service?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, I have pleasure in agreeing with all three points that the noble Lord makes.