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Belfast Aircraft

Volume 641: debated on Sunday 7 May 1961

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Air when he anticipates the Belfast aircraft will come into service.

As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Aviation told the House on 21st December last, the Belfast is due to come into service in 1964.

Does the Minister still think, in view of the time that it has taken to get this aircraft into service and the fact that originally it was to some extent intended to be a commercial proposition as well and also in view of the other prototypes which are now emerging, that it is still likely to be anything other than obsolete when it comes into service?

No, Sir. We do not think that it will be obsolete at all. We think that it will fulfil the task allotted to it.

Is it not clear that there are not sufficient freighters for Her Majesty's Forces and that when this plane comes into effect there will be the need for a great many more? Will my right hon. Friend consult his right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation about placing more orders for this plane?

I see my hon. Friend's point, but he will realise that the number of planes which we order is related to staff plans and other considerations and that it is not just a number drawn out of a hat. We think that this is the number we need. It may be that subsequent events will show that we need more. If so, I have no doubt that we shall take the right course, but, at the moment, it is the number that we need.

If this aircraft is to have some commercial potentialities as well, surely the number of ten is rather small to be of real value?

It is not for me to discuss the commercial potentialities of the aircraft. The military requirement is for ten.