§ 6. Mr. McMaster
asked the Minister of Aviation if he will place a contract with Short Brothers and Harland for a development study of a jet version of the Belfast freighter aircraft.
§ 3. Mr. Stratton Mills
asked the Minister of Aviation if he will place a contract with Short Brothers and Harland for a development study of a jet version of the Belfast freighter aircraft to fulfil a dual strategic and tactical rôle.
§ 40. Mr. Pounder
asked the Minister of Aviation if he will initiate a development study, to he conducted by Short Brothers and Harland, into a jet version of the Belfast air freighter.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation (Mr. John Stonehouse)
At present, there is no requirement for an aircraft of this kind. In these circumstances we would not be justified in placing a development study contract with the company.
§ Mr. McMaster
Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that 10 strategic Belfasts are sufficient to meet the strategic transporting needs, particularly in view of developments in the Far East and our commitments there? Is he aware of the long time taken to plan and develop a new aircraft? Will he, therefore, think again about this project and couple the large configuration of the Belfast and its advantages with a British engine rather than order an American aircraft?
§ Mr. Stonehouse
I am very well aware of the long time required to develop a 1252 new aircraft, but the question of military needs is for the chiefs of staff of the Royal Air Force.
§ Mr. Pounder
Am I to assume from the hon. Gentleman's Answer that the current aviation policy to buy American is long-term rather than short-term? Otherwise, why does he refuse to consider further a worth-while project such as a jet version of the Belfast?
§ Mr. Stonehouse
If a requirement of the type referred to is discovered, the Belfast will be considered.