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Volume 640: debated on Monday 8 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement about the progress of Skybolt.

No, Sir. I have already said that progress is satisfactory and I consider that the giving of further information could in no way serve the public interest.

Does the Minister still feel as confident about this weapon as the Minister of Defence said he was some time ago?

I am certainly as confident as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, but I think that on the whole we volunteer too much information about our future weapons.

Are we not entitled to know as much as is reasonably satisfactory having regard to security? Can the Minister say whether the aeroplanes themselves are available to take these missiles?

Certainly as much as is consistent with security, but potential enemies do not volunteer such information to us and the House should be a little chary of volunteering it to others.

Will my right hon. Friend agree that the President of the United States has at least shown his confidence in Skybolt by increasing the amount of money allocated to this weapon?

Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the OFFICIAL REPORT, where he will be able to read some of the statements made by the present Minister of Defence and by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air, both of whom on repeated occasions in the House have declared that Skybolt would be ready in the course of a few years? Is he aware that, as I believe, one right hon. Gentleman said it would be ready in 1963?