§ 17. Mr. Dalyell
asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the order for a through-deck cruiser.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. Antony Buck)
As my hon. Friend announced on 17th April, in answer to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall), we have now placed the order for HMS "Invincible" with Messrs. Vickers of Barrow. We expect the ship to enter service towards the end of the decade.—[Vol. 855, c. 240–42.]
§ Mr. Dalyell
Does it make operational sense to order one through-deck cruiser without ordering three?
§ Mr. Judd
Is there any impact on this in terms of the recent announcement of cuts in defence expenditure? Are there break clauses in the contract, or shall we go ahead come what may? Will the hon. Gentleman look again at the question and realise that the morale of naval aviators demands that we have a convincing and comprehensive policy statement as early as possible?
§ Mr. Buck
The matters announced yesterday do not affect this project. The whole of our NATO commitments and so forth are unaffected by what was announced yesterday. As to VSTOL, we are conscious of the need to make an early decision about this and we are pressing on with our studies of that which has been delivered to us by industry.