asked the Secretary of State for Defence what fuel economies have been achieved in the RAF during the past 12 months.
Notwithstanding the extra flying necessitated by the Cyprus emergency, it is estimated that some 125,000 tons of fuel will be saved over the 12 months ending 31st March 1975.
Can my hon. Friend be a little more specific about the areas where savings are taking place? Will he confirm that it remains Government policy that the effective air defence of the United Kingdom shall be an essential ingredient in preserving a free and decent society?
I assure my hon. Friend that the area in which economies are primarily being sought is in the transport force. These aircraft are being tasked to about 88 per cent. of their former level. Operational flying is not being interfered with.
Is my hon. Friend aware that last February the Conservative Secretary of State told me that in December 1973, 2·8 million gallons of fuel oil had been saved by the Services, or roughly 10 per cent.? Will he confirm my calculation that on the basis of those figures we are using for the Forces, in peace time, approximately 336 million gallons of fuel oil a year? Is not that rather a heavy cost for the country to bear?
I should not dream of trying to confirm or deny my hon. Friend's calculation, since my arithmetic is notoriously weak. The fact is that we are using only such supplies of fuel as are necessary for the defence of this country and are contantly reviewing our requirements to see that no unnecessary fuel is used.
Can the hon. Gentleman say how much of this is used on the Beira patrol?
That is a question which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Royal Navy is better equipped to answer than I.