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Polaris Missile

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 17 May 1961

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34.

asked the Minister of Defence if he is aware that eight out of 18 underwater tests of the Polaris missile have now failed; and, in view of this fact, if there is now to be any revision of plans for the Polaris base in Great Britain.

I have seen certain Press reports to which the hon. Member is no doubt referring. The answer to the second part of his Question is, No, Sir.

Does the Minister accept as correct the statement by an American Navy spokesman on 14th April that eight out of 18 such tests were failures?

I am not responsible for what American Navy spokesmen say, but I would comment in this way. It would not be at all surprising that in the test programme of a new missile a certain number of failures occurred.

Would my right hon. Friend agree that we should welcome very much the concern of the hon. Gentleman about the maximum possible efficiency in the defence forces of this country and the West?

Is not ten successes out of 18 in the initial programme of a rocket very satisfactory indeed and in fact far above average, certainly in the American ones which we know and, more than probably, in the Russian ones which we do not know?