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Aircraft And Missiles (Expenditure)

Volume 645: debated on Wednesday 26 July 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for Air what percentages of his expenditure on new aircraft and missiles in the financial year 1960–61 and in the current financial year have been for Bomber Command, Fighter Command and Transport Command, respectively.

The estimated cost of new airframes, engines and missiles, expressed as a percentage of the net Vote for aircraft and stores was, for Bomber forces 11 per cent. last year and 13·5 per cent. this year; for Fighter forces, 9·5 per cent. and 9·5 per cent.; and for Transport forces 4·5 per cent. and 6 per cent.

Do these figures not disclose the inadequate state of Transport Command, and in view of the increasing necessity for preparing for possible limited war action as distinct from global war, should not the Transport Command allocation be very substantially increased?

I think the hon. Gentleman has to realise that the figures are, naturally, influenced not simply by the programme but by the dates on which the bills for the aircraft acquired fall due. Thus, in 1959–60 the Transport percentage of expenditure was higher than the Fighter. It is a question of when the actual bill is presented by the firm concerned for the aircraft supplied.

While I understand the difficulties of accounting and the rest of it, might I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman does not realise that the important thing is what planes are actually in service with the Royal Air Force at this moment?

Yes, Sir, and the planes in service with the Royal Air Force at the moment do not bear a direct relation to the percentage of expenditure incurred in one year.