37. Brigadier Clarke
asked the Minister of Supply if he is aware that skilled workers are leaving certain aircraft factories for alternative employment, due to the possibility of unemployment caused by the cessation of work on Comets; and what plans he has now for placing Government orders with these factories to overcome this situation.
§ Mr. Sandys
Yes, Sir. I have been exploring the possibility of easing the immediate difficulties of aircraft firms affected by the stoppage of Comet construction. In practice, that means giving them more orders for the types of aircraft for which they are already tooled up. Each case has been exhaustively examined. As a result I have regretfully come to the conclusion that we cannot provide these firms quickly with additional suitable work except by ordering more aircraft than the Services require; and I am sure the House would not wish me to do that.
Is the Minister aware that the workers at Airspeed. Portsmouth, will be very pleased with the first part of his answer?
§ Mr. Sandys
As I explained last week, these investigations are not yet completed and I do not feel that it would be a good thing if I made a piecemeal announcement.
Regarding the firm mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend, I understand that the position is that over the last three months or so about 180 people have either been discharged or left of their own accord. That represents a reduction of about 7½ per cent. I am advised that there should be work on other types, apart from Comet work, which will keep the present labour force employed for a number of months.