Helicopters

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action he proposes to take to provide the necessary helicopters for the three Services subsequent to the cancellation of French participation in the WG13 helicopter.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made on the three helicopters under joint Anglo-French development.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the three helicopters included in the Anglo-French military helicopter agreement.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology gave a full report on the progress of the Anglo-French helicopter programme in a written answer to the hon. Member for Hal-tern price (Mr. Wall) on Monday, 1st December.

I have nothing to add except that I am confident that this programme will provide the three Services with the helicopters they require.—[Vol. 792, c. 185.]

Photo of Mr Patrick Wall Mr Patrick Wall , Haltemprice

While welcoming the statement that the right hon. Gentleman referred to on Monday, may I ask the Minister if it is a fact that the French have cancelled some part of the programme of the WG13 helicopter, and whether that will affect the total order and the cost of the aircraft?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

The French, for budgetary reasons, had to cancel their requirements for the so-called "Attaque" version of the WG13. They are continuing, with us, to develop the aircraft and their requirements for the naval variant. We have reached an agreement with the French about the next stage of the programme.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

Can the Minister say whether it is a fact that the original estimate for the WG13, for research and development, was £18 million but that this has now been revised to a level of £30 million? Does this not make nonsense of the Secretary of State's claim to have got his estimates right and realistic?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

I cannot give a detailed comment on the figures involved, but there has, as the hon. Member knows, been some cost escalation for a number of reasons. Some of these are inflation, changes in exchange rate and also some underestimation of the task. I am confident that the present arrangements for the whole of the programmes are under control.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

Can my hon. Friend say whether there is to be a change in the orders placed by the British Defence Ministry for the French part of this helicopter deal?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

The position as regards numbers is that because of the increase in costs we have had to revise our orders. As regards the SA341 the initial order for 250 for ourselves and 200 for France stands. I cannot give the figures for the WG13 at present.

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South

Does the Minister appreciate that this is the only one of six collaborative projects with France in which Britain has the design leadership? Will he bear this very much in mind when negotiating further collaborative projects with France?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

The fact that the French are continuing with the variant that they require is an indication of the confidence they, too, have in the WG13.