HC Deb 29 October 1956 vol 558 cc1040-1
4. Mr. Barter

asked the Minister of Supply how many aircraft, civil and military, it is anticipated will be exported from this country during 1956.

Mr. Maulding

It is expected that a total of 727 aircraft will be exported during 1956. Inclusive of aircraft engines, and aircraft parts and equipment, this will represent a value of some £105 million, or an increase of 64 per cent. over the corresponding figure for last year. I am sure my hon. Friend will agree this is a most creditable achievement on the part of the aircraft industry.

Mr. Barter

Can my right hon. Friend say how this compares with our Continental competitors?

Mr. Maudling

The best calculation I can make is that our industry exports rather more in a fortnight than any Continental country does in a whole year.

9. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply what proportion of the total exports of the aircraft industry relates to military aircraft supplied under the United States Foreign Aid Programme.

Mr. Maudling

During 1956 the aircraft industry has not exported and is unlikely to export any military aircraft procured by the United States Government under their Foreign Aid Programme.

Mr. Beswick

Although what the Minister has said is technically correct, is it not also true to say that many of the exports to foreign countries have been paid for by the Americans directly to the importing countries? When one subtracts this quantity, does it not put a very different light on the export figures about which the right hon. Gentleman is rather boastful?

Mr. Maudling

I know that the hon. Member delights in minimising the achievements of British industry, but the fact is that none of the exports this year is based on offshore purchases. It may be, of course, that the Americans have helped financially some of the countries ordering some British aircraft, but if that is so, those countries are perfectly entitled to order from elsewhere, as the help is in no way tied to British machines.

Mr. Beswick

May I put the question this way : is the Minister satisfied that the quantity of aircraft which has been exported and paid for, directly or indirectly, by the United States Government is not one reason why the industry has been overloaded, with the consequent result of so many delays and disappointments to British operators?

Mr. Maudling

The size of export orders has contributed to the load on the industry which, I recognise, has been excessive. But we are all delighted that the load of export orders has been so large.