HC Deb 19 July 1961 vol 644 cc1221-2
19. Mr. Mayhew

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he proposes to place orders for the Vickers Vigilant.

Mr. Profumo

I am considering the question of a production order for this or some other light anti-tank guided weapon.

Mr. Mayhew

While, obviously, it is not possible to judge this particular weapon without special knowledge, is it not clear that the Army is very short of weapons of this type, and that our forces in Kuwait would have been stronger for anti-tank weapons of this type? Can the Minister say when it first became available, and when he intends to take a decision?

Mr. Profumo

We need this, because we want a light anti-tank weapon, but we already have anti-tank weapons, and the troops which went into Kuwait were armed with anti-tank weapons. This is something which we feel would be useful, partially for air transportability. We have started trials, and some of the trials have been finished, but we have to assess this weapon against other light anti-tank weapons, and l cannot give any undertaking when we will be able to make a decision. It will be a matter of weeks before we can do so, and it would not have been any good if we had selected this weapon before Kuwait, because there is no "head" for it yet.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the Minister give us any indication of what the Vickers Vigilant costs, and why he should be pressed to go in for more of these weapons when we are told that we are facing a financial crisis?

Mr. Profumo

So far, the Vickers Vigilant has cost us nothing, because it was a private venture by this company. If we buy them, it will depend on how many of them we buy, and we have not yet been able to settle any price. Our responsibility is to try to see that the Army is armed with the weapons which it requires for modern warfare, and there is a requirement for a light, wire-guided, anti-tank weapon of that type. When the time comes, perhaps I can tell the House more about the cost.

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