asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many civil four-engined transport aircraft he could call upon for an emergency airlift without interrupting the scheduled air services operated by the British Overseas Airways Corporation; and how many of these could be provided by private charter operators.
There are 62 four-engined aircraft owned by Ministry of Civil Aviation or British Overseas Airways Corporation awaiting disposal which could be used for the purpose referred to without interrupting scheduled services. In addition, it is understood that 11 four-engined aircraft are in current operation with charter companies, apart from a number which do not have current certificates of airworthiness.
Is the Minister satisfied that this number is adequate for the national safety and that the private charter operators are being given sufficient opportunity to enable them to contribute to this service in an emergency?
The private charter operators, we would naturally expect, to be only too ready to co-operate in an emergency. As regards the total number available, quite clearly, in an emergency, a number of those aircraft now used on scheduled services would be employed for other purposes.
Would the Parliamentary Secretary assure us that he will not dispose of the four-engined aircraft—he used the word "dispose"—to overseas companies? Otherwise, they will not be available for an emergency. Can we have an answer?
In general, the answer to that is, "yes."