asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the proposed purchase of an aircraft carrier from the United States of America.
No, Sir. We have not yet decided what part aircraft carriers should play in our plans for the 1970s, or whether the inclusion of an American carrier in them would be helpful. It is, however, one of the many options which we are studying.
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether approaches have been made to the United States Government, and will he confirm that the object of the exercise is to provide an aircraft carrier capable of operating Phantoms until the new British carrier can be built?
We have been in consultation with the American Government to the extent necessary to enable us to clear our own minds about what would be involved in terms of cost, performance, and so on. I cannot at this stage say what are the various purposes which the purchase of an American carrier, if it were decided to purchase one, might serve.