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Princess Flying Boats (Use)

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Supply if he has yet made a decision about the future use of the Princess flying boats.

No. Sir. The discussions with airline operators, who are interested in acquiring the Princess flying boats, are not yet concluded.

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that it would be quite intolerable if these machines were not used, and that if they are to be used the sooner the decision is made the better? Is there nothing he can do, with his personal charm and by other methods, to see that someone makes up his mind on this matter?

Can the Minister say what is holding up a decision about these aircraft? Is it difficulty about delivery of the right type of engine, or is it an absence of decision in the discussions with the Corporation?

Only a limited number of concerns are prepared to take on a novel enterprise of this kind and there is the problem of facilities at overseas bases. There is also the problem, about which I have spoken before to the House, that engines of sufficient power to run these flying boats economically on a commercial basis are not yet available. There are, therefore, elements of uncertainty in the whole proposition and that is why the discussions are, perhaps, taking longer than some of us would like.

Is it not a fact that the engines have not been available hitherto because of the decision of the right hon. Gentleman's Department? Although there may be better ones in the future, will he see that priority is given to these flying boats?

I cannot agree to give priority to these machines—for which there is as yet no definite user—over machines which are urgently required for the Services and for the civil airlines. I am not at all anxious to authorise the expenditure of large sums of public money on the development of special engines exclusively for use in those three flying boats. However, I am glad to say that among the range of new engines being developed by the aircraft industry for aircraft of various types there is one which appears to offer every prospect that it will be suitable for use in the Princesses.