As the House is aware, a study was made in 1965 by the Economist Intelligence Unit for my Department of the market for a long haul version of the VC10 of about this size. Experts from my Department took part earlier this year in an international study of the market for short/medium range aircraft around this size, i.e., of the so-called "airbus". Versions of the VC10 suitable for short haul use have been proposed recently to B.E.A. by B.A.C., and are being evaluated.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be a great tragedy if this very successful aircraft in its present configuration were not to continue in a larger size, and can the right hon. Gentleman foresee that if the European airbus is not likely to be built, as appears only too probable, this might fill a great market need?
In view of the fact that Question No. 18 deals with a 250-seater version, and that in Question No. 26 I am thinking of the 170-seater version recently put forward by B.A.C., can my right hon. Friend say at this stage to which size of aircraft he is inclining?
I am sorry if I misunderstood my hon. Friend's Question. I thought that the long-range civil aircraft which he had in mind was the VC10. The BAC211, as I think it is called, is a stretched version of the BAC111. It is a short and medium-range aircraft, and not a long-range one. It is not for me to form a view about this. Both aircraft are currently before B.E.A., and the Minister now responsible for the activities of B.E.A. is my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.