§ Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he is aware that hovercraft, air cushion vehicles, made in Great Britain, but carrying United States armour, their numbers being 004, 015 and 017, are being used in Vietnam; and whether this is in accordance with Her Majesty's Government's policy on the supply of arms to Vietnam;168W
(2) how many more air cushion vehicles are to be constructed for the United States armed forces by Bell's under licence from the British Hovercraft Corporation; and if he will consider abrogating the licence in view of his statement on the conditions for arms sales.
§ Mr. Healey
I am aware that three hovercraft incorporating British-made hulls have been used by the U.S. Forces for operational trials in Vietnam. These hulls, which were not specifically designed for military use, were among 7 supplied to Bell Aero systems by Westland Aircraft Limited for evaluation purposes under a licensing agreement made in 1963. The modifications were carried out by the U.S. Services.
I do not know how many more air cushion vehicles are likely to be bought by the U.S. Forces since this is a matter for the U.S. Government. The manufacturing licence granted to Bell Aerosystems applies to hovercraft used for both civil and military purposes. This was a normal commercial arrangement and Her Majesty's Government's approval was not required.
The export of all types of hovercraft and components is now subject to licensing control. Any applications for an export licence will be considered in the light of Her Majesty's Government's policy on the export of defence equipment.