§ 4. Mr. Edelman
asked the Minister of Defence whether his attention has been drawn to the failure of certain experiments in the release of inter-continental ballistic weapons in the United States of America; in view of the agreement for ballistic missiles to be supplied to this country by the United States of America, if he will make a statement on the liaison maintained between the British and American experimental work on this subject; and what reconsideration he has given to his proposal to curtail the production of supersonic bombers.
§ Mr. Sandys
We maintain close liaison with the United States on rocket development; and I am kept informed of the progress of American projects in which we are interested. I see no reason to revise our policy on supersonic bombers.
§ Mr. Edelman
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that on 11th June in Florida there was a conspicuous public failure of a ballistic weapon on which he appears to be relying for our defence? Is not the right hon. Gentleman in danger of getting the worst of both worlds if he relies on unproved missiles while at the same time allowing to run down the capacity of factories like Armstrong Whitworth at Coventry, which are capable of making the best sort of supersonic bomber?
§ Mr. Sandys
It would be impossible to introduce a new supersonic bomber in under ten years at least. There is little doubt that during that time we and the Americans will have developed efficient ballistic rockets. It is also probable that in those ten years the Russians on their side will have introduced a system of guided missile defence which would make even the supersonic bomber exceedingly vulnerable.