Harrier Aircraft

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th November 1972.

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Photo of Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles , Winchester 12:00 am, 30th November 1972

asked the Minister of State for Defence how many Harrier aircraft have now been ordered for the United States Marine Corps and how many for the Royal Navy.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

The United States Marine Corps has ordered 90 aircraft. There have been no orders for the Royal Navy.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

I do not think that I have to explain to my hon. and gallant Friend, of all people, the difference between the Royal Navy and the United States Marine Corps. The American Marines are using their Harriers largely in a ground support rôle, which is not a rôle for which the Navy would use its Harriers.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in the interests of the morale of the Fleet Air Arm it is essential that as soon as possible there should be a clear-cut indication from the Government about their future policy for the Harrier with the Navy?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

I appreciate that, but the hon. Gentleman knows the difficulties, and he heard what I said in reply to an earlier Question.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

May I link the Question about Harrier Aircraft with Question No. 16, tabled by the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Cronin) who criticised, or had comments to make, about the safety of Royal Air Force flying? May I make it quite clear that he was referring to operational aircraft, and not to Transport Command, which is based in my constituency and which has an excellent record of safety?

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

I am sure that that is true.