HC Deb 17 April 1957 vol 568 cc1894-5
1. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is now in a position to make a statement concerning the proportion of defence requirements which will be met by industry in the United Kingdom.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

After stags and wild birds, I will answer Question No. 1.

Almost all of them will be so met.

Miss Burton

As the Minister knows, Armstrong-Whitworth Aircraft in Coventry was told that skilled men are to be turned off because of defence cuts, and, as there is little prospect of their being absorbed in present production in Coventry, will the Minister, in accordance with what he said yesterday about the skill of such technicians becoming an appreciable addition to the strength of our economy‥"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 16th April, 1957; Vol. 568, c. 1776] lighten our anxieties in Coventry by saying that alternative contracts will be sent to us?

Mr. Sandys

The original Question dealt with the country as a whole. It never occurred to me that the hon. Lady would wish to raise the subject of Coventry. If she wishes for information about Coventry in particular, perhaps she will put down a specific Question. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour will be dealing generally with this subject, but, of course, it does not mean that because a defence contract is cut the Government have to find some other form of expenditure to take its place.

Mr. Beswick

Yesterday the Minister of Defence said that all sides of the House would be prepared to agree to some compensation for officers who were declared redundant. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that throughout industry there is a good deal of uncertainty and unsettlement, especially among the skilled staffs, about their future, and will he see whether it is possible, with his right hon. Friends the Minister of Supply and the Minister of Labour, to make some statement as to what the future is for these people?

Mr. Sandys

My right hon. Friend will, I hope, be giving some information about the general position, but I really think that with the present state of industry and the demand for labour there is not going to be very much difficulty, except in very rare cases, for men with special skills, to whom the hon. Member referred, to find useful alternative employment.

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