§ 28. Mr. M. BEAUMONT
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now add to the information given to the House as to the probable cost of the defence programme?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
I understand that it will be possible to present a Supplementary Estimate for the Navy shortly after the Easter Recess, and that this Estimate will include the 1936 new construction programme. I am not in a position to add at the moment to the information given to the House concerning the probable requirements of the Army. In the case of the Air Force, I anticipate that the additional requirement for 1936 will be in the region of £10,000,000, though thus figure must be regarded as provisional at this stage. Supplementary Estimates for the Army and the Air Force will be presented as soon as circumstances permit. A preliminary review has been made of the requirements of the Air Force for aircraft, ammunition and other equipment needed in the immediate future to fulfil the vital functions of the Force which were defined in paragraph 36 of the Command Paper relating to Defence. Additional sources of supply for these re- 2937 quirements must be established, and these sources will in turn constitute a reserve source of supply in the event of emergency. To constitute these new sources, and to ensure adequate production on the most economical basis possible, it will be necessary to enter at once into a number of important contracts of considerable duration, which may amount to three years; but, in order to preserve the flexibility of the programme, these long contracts will contain a carefully considered break clause. I anticipate, as the result of the review, that the Air Estimates for 1937 and 1938 will substantially exceed the aggregate of this year's original Estimate and proposed Supplementary Estimate.