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Ministry Of Aviation

Volume 641: debated on Friday 5 May 1961

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Blue Streak


asked the Minister of Aviation what is the present monthly cost of the Blue Streak programme of development.

But would not the Minister of Aviation agree that this is no reduction on the monthly total over the long period, and that even this figure probably does not take into account all the costs which might fairly be included in this programme?

It is not meant to show a reduction. The idea is to get some useful work done. This work has been going on so that if a general European scheme comes forward it will be in a good position to go forward.


asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will now set a date for the abandonment, if favourable replies have not been received by then to his request for co-operation from allied countries, of the Blue Streak development programme.

Would not the Minister agree that, while it may be desirable to achieve this co-operation if it is possible, it is time that he told the German and other allied Governments concerned that we cannot go on indefinitely with this large monthly and annual expenditure without arriving at some conclusion, and that a date ought to be set when these negotiations must be brought to an end one way or another?

I fully appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's point about trying to reach a conclusion, but as I am expecting the decision of the Federal German Government following upon their technical evaluation of the project very soon now, I should prefer to await it before taking any further decision.


asked the Minister of Aviation what reply he has received from the West German Government to his proposal that West Germany should co-operate in the development of Blue Streak as a satellite launcher.

Has the Minister told the German and other European countries that if they do not co-operate with us we are quite able and willing to do this project by ourselves and shall continue to produce it and that if they do not join in they will be missing a very great opportunity? Will he not be put off by my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), for whom I have the very greatest admiration, but whose rather gloomy approach today befits neither him nor the position in which he is sitting today?

We all have a great admiration for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey), but I can assure him that I am by no means put off by him.

Will the Minister realise that most of us, at any rate, on these benches do think that this is one thing or the other—either we get European co-operation in this venture, or it is one which should not be pursued?

Tsr2 Aircraft


asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement on the progress which has been made in the development of the TSR2 aircraft.

No, Sir. I have nothing to add to what has already been said on this subject, and I doubt whether periodic statements on projects of this kind serve any useful purpose.

Surely, the right hon. Gentleman realises that since we first heard of this aircraft in December, 1958, a great deal has been said about this machine, which has pursued a very ragged course, since the development order was submitted last October? Can he tell us when we may expect to see the prototype? Secondly, can he say how much the aircraft will cost now as compared with the estimated cost when it was first projected?

The Russians do not inform us about the progress of their tactical bombers, and I do not see why we should announce ours.

On the second point raised by my hon. Friend, could not the Minister inform the House what was the estimated cost three years ago, and to what extent it has varied recently?

No. The Question does not refer to the cost. If the hon. Gentleman likes to put a Question down about the finances he can do so, but I do not give any guarantee as to the kind of answer he will receive.

Would not the Minister agree that the Russians do not enjoy a Parliamentary form of Government, and that there is something to be said for the British Parliament being kept informed about this very costly development, which it is very difficult to bring under Parliamentary control?

I accept that there is some distinction to be drawn between the two systems, but at the same time I ask the House to ponder well before pressing for information about the exact progress made with regard to important weapons. This, I think, is wrong.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Question was originally put down to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air and transferred to the right hon. Gentleman because it was assumed that he had all the knowledge about the costs and progress of the aircraft? Can he tell us how the original estimated cost compares with the figure which is now expected for the completion of this aircraft?

No. This Question asks about progress which is being made upon it. As I said, I do not wish to make a statement on it.

Boac And Bea Employees (Union Membership)


asked the Minister of Aviation what general directions he has given to the British Overseas Airways Corporation and the British European Airways Corporation with regard to membership by their employees of appropriate trade unions.

None, Sir.

In view of the fact that damages were rewarded to an employee of B.O.A.C. who was recently sacked with the co-operation of the trade unions and the Board of B.O.A.C., could I ask for an assurance that in future there will be at B.O.A.C. a strong Board which will not allow itself to be involved in political controversies? Is my hon. Friend aware that I do not think the Board of B.O.A.C. had any guts?

These are, of course, matters for the day-to-day management of the Board.

I am aware of the circumstances of the case to which my hon. Friend refers, but that would not justify my right hon. Friend in issuing any general directions.

Is my hon. Friend not interested in freedoms? Is it not a fact that the Conservative Party is attached to individual and collective freedoms?

I shall be very happy to discuss freedoms with my hon. Friend at any time she likes with particular reference to this case.

Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that a very important freedom is freedom of association in trade unions, which is involved in this?

Executive And Business Aircraft (Airfields)


asked the Minister of Aviation which airfields will be made available both in the London area and elsewhere for use by executive and business aircraft.

The Air Pilot lists 159 aerodromes, including 11 within a radius of 25 miles of London, as available for use by business and executive aircraft. The possible use of other aerodromes is being discussed with representatives of business and private fliers.

Can my hon. Friend say how soon he expects to be able to come to a decision on sites such as Croydon and other airfields close to the centre of London?

The decision about Croydon is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government.

Terminal Buildings, Abbotsinch


asked the Minister of Aviation whether he has yet appointed an architect for the terminal buildings at Abbotsinch.

Yes, Sir. I am glad to say that Basil Spence and Partners have accepted the appointment.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that answer, but could he tell us just a little about the architects who have been appointed? Would he arrange for the architects to meet the people in authority at Renfrew before their minds have been conditioned by his Department?

The House will be aware that the head of the firm is Sir Basil Spence, and he is personally taking a principal part in the design of the buildings. They will be starting work at once. I am sure they will bear in mind all relevant considerations.

Air Transport Licensing Board (Deputy Chairman)


asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will make a statement with regard to the deputy chairmanship of the Air Transport Licensing Board.

Yes, Sir. Mr. A. H. Wilson, C.B., C.B.E., who only agreed to act temporarily as Deputy Chairman, will relinquish this position at the end of July but remain a member of the Board. I have appointed Mr. J. J. Taylor, O.B.E., as Deputy Chairman from 1st August, when he retires from his present employment. Meanwhile, Mr. Taylor will join the Board as a part-time member. His salary as Deputy Chairman will be £3,500 a year.