It would be contrary to established practice to disclose the contract prices of these flying boats. The development expenditure of the bases, including Southampton, which was directly attributable to Solent operations, is about £250,000.
Would my hon. Friend agree that the whole policy of B.O.A.C. in the past with regard to its aircraft has been hesitant, muddled and unnecessarily costly, and is he satisfied that the same line of policy is not being pursued at the present time?
I agree that their operations have been costly, and that is because they have had to be carried out with the aircraft available. At the time the Solent services were started, the Solent was the only aircraft available for those services.
Why is it against the public interest to tell the House the cost of developing and purchasing the Solent flying boats? After all, they are civil machines and not war machines.
It is quite true that the Solent is a civil machine. This is a civil commercial contract as between a buyer and a seller. It is a commercial transaction between the Corporation and the manufacturer and it is not, therefore, of advantage to publish the price.