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Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1943

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asked the Minister of Aircraft Production the reason for the delay in the delivery of dive-bombers?

I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Walton (Mr. Purbrick) on 10th February.

On a point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. May I ask for your guidance? This Question was put down to the Secretary of State for Air, who referred in this House last week to the fact that there had been delay in this matter of dive-bombers. How is it, when I put a Question down to obtain the reasons for the delay, that the Question is transferred by him, and not by you, to another Department, who, in fact, have just given me an answer referring to another Question which has nothing to do with this point at all?

The hon. and gallant Member must be aware that it is the usual practice for Questions to be answered by the Ministers representing the appropriate Departments. Hon. Members cannot really insist upon Questions being put down to particular Ministers.

May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he will state the reasons for the delay which was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman in this House last Wednesday, and why the House cannot be told what the reason is?

Those reasons are given in the answer which I have quoted to the hon. and gallant Member.

Is the real reason for the delay in the delivery of dive-bombers that the Services are not fully convinced that they want dive-bombers?

I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman's Question as to what the Ser- vices think. That is not my Department. Among the reasons which were given—and perhaps I may quote again—was:

"The interval between the dates of the orders for these aircraft and their delivery was occupied mainly in overcoming exceptional difficulties of design, necessitating modifications dictated by operational experience and the solution of problems inherent in the rapid expansion of the production of new types of aircraft."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 10th February, 1943; col. 1294, Vol. 386.]

Is it the intention of the Ministry of Aircraft Production to design a British dive-bomber?

I am afraid I could not answer as to the intentions of my Department with regard to new designs, because to do so would not be consistent with security.

Does not the Minister realise the urgency of this matter and the great public anxiety there is about it?