asked the Minister of Aviation what support the Government are giving to the development and production of the Hawker P1127 vertical take-off and landing aircraft.
Money and a development programme shared with Germany and the United States.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that this is the biggest development in aviation since the invention of the jet engine, and is it not, therefore, necessary that there should be some intensive, urgent Government support for this project, particularly as this country possesses the only aircraft of this type which actually flies? Would it not be desirable to put a squadron of these aircraft into service as soon as possible in order to obtain operational experience?
I would agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is one of the most interesting and, perhaps, far-reaching developments in aviation research, and all those concerned in it are to be complimented. In addition to the two P1127 aircraft which have already flown and four experimental aircraft under construction, at least a further nine aircraft will be ordered. The whole approach is being done under arrangements which we are seeking to make with Germany and the United States of America, so we have been far from idle in this and there are good prospects for this particular form of development.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that for the sake of very small orders, which are welcome, in the United States and Germany, in two or three years' time they will finish up with the engineering "know-how" which has given Hawkers this present three-year lead?
Yes, Sir, but I think it would be a short-sighted view not to seek to interest others in this particular type of development. The converse of what my hon. Friend has said—and I realise the force of it—is that if we choose to develop this on our own it might be that no one will take the slightest interest in it.