Mr William Taylor: I have no desire to be discourteous to the hon. Member or to The House, but I am not prepared from this Box to confirm or deny anything of that kind.
Mr William Taylor: I was referring to a supplementary question put by the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) which referred to evidence given before a United States Senate Committee which I did not feel was a matter for me.
Mr William Taylor: I have nothing to add to what I have already said.
Mr William Taylor: I do not think that the House needs reminding of that. I did not check whether my office had been in communication with No. 10 Downing Street, but the answer I have given seems to be perfectly clear.
Mr William Taylor: That is another question. The right hon. Gentleman can put it down.
Mr William Taylor: None of these matters is for me to reply to.
Mr William Taylor: There are strict standing instructions about assistance by male attendants to women patients in R.A.F. hospitals. I know only of the one minor breach which my hon. and gallant Friend has himself brought to my notice.
Mr William Taylor: As my hon. and gallant Friend has said, we use some National Service men because at present we have not enough Regulars. Male attendants are never employed in the maternity or gynaecological departments. Since we are short of female attendants, we cannot debar male attendants from all work in wards for females. They are, however, on duty only during the day and always in conjunction with the...
Mr William Taylor: None, Sir. This unit is fully occupied in meeting the ceremonial commitments of the Royal Air Force. I see no scope at present for reducing it in size.
Mr William Taylor: I regard it as important that the Royal Air Force should be seen, and seen at its best, on major public occasions of this kind. No one who saw the standard of the unit's performance during General de Gaulle's visit or the Royal wedding could really think that it was wasting its time.
Mr William Taylor: I am not prepared to forecast the exact date, but development is well advanced.
Mr William Taylor: The hon. Member must have misunderstood what my right hon. Friend said. Blue Steel will play an important part for a worth-while period in maintaining the validity of the deterrent.
Mr William Taylor: I have already said that there is some misunderstanding of what my right hon. Friend said. Blue Steel will be valid as part of the deterrent during the period named.
Mr William Taylor: I have not said that the weapon would not be ready for five years. If the hon. Member has any specific question about the progress and the timing, he should address it to my right hon. Friend.
Mr William Taylor: It is difficult to estimate precisely what effect the cancellation of Blue Streak will have on the technical man-power requirements of the Royal Air Force. Blue Streak would have required eventually 3,600 technicians, but the actual technical man-power requirements of the R.A.F. for the second half of this decade will depend upon certain defence policy decisions which have yet to be taken.
Mr William Taylor: The capital cost to the United Kingdom so far is about £6 million. No exact figures are available of running costs during the build-up, but we estimate the annual cost for the whole force at between £4 million and £5 million.
Mr William Taylor: I do not accept the feeling of the hon. Gentleman with regard to the better use of this money. The fact is that this missile will be effective during the period of its deployment.
Mr William Taylor: I agree with that. The Thor is operational now, and is a useful and valid part of the deterrent, as I have just stated.
Mr William Taylor: The Special Signals Unit at Kidbrooke employs 123 established civilians. In the last year there have been 11 applications for transfer. Two have been granted. There have been no resignations with forfeiture of establishment rights.
Mr William Taylor: We always do our best to meet our employees' wishes, but we must have regard to Royal Air Force needs. Established terms give an employee considerable benefits, and it is surely reasonable that in return he should accept that his continued employment on those terms should be subject to some consideration of the public interest. We are very short of instrument makers at Kidbrooke. They are...