HC Deb 01 July 1957 vol 572 cc688-9
44. Mr. Hunter

asked the Minister of Supply if he will investigate the position in aircraft factories which have been manufacturing military aircraft and where production has been curtailed with a view to these factories being used for the manufacture of civilian aircraft.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Where military aircraft production is declining, it is for the companies themselves to seek other work, including civil aircraft work. They are doing this actively, and I have every confidence that they will continue to do so.

Mr. Hunter

Will the Minister give encouragement and help to these factories, which are seeking the production of civilian aircraft, in view of the slowing-down of orders for military aircraft and the fact that in these factories there is skilled labour which is used to this type of production?

Mr. Jones

Yes, Sir. I am most anxious that production of civil aircraft should expand as the production of military aircraft decreases. My policy is very much directed to that end.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman, I gather, said that where, because defence orders are cancelled, work at these factories is reduced, the Government regard the companies as being responsible for seeking new outlets. Do not the Government accept some responsibility to assist them in this matter?

Mr. Jones

Yes, Sir. I do accept that the Government can help by, for instance, co-ordinating the requirements of Transport Command with the requirements of the Corporations. The main task, however, of seeking orders clearly rests with the companies. For the rest, certainly we will help.

Mr. Mayhew

Is the Minister not aware that, in general, a number of Royal Ordnance factories, including Woolwich Arsenal, are quite capable of taking on civil work on occasions like this? Is it not most unfair that private firms can go elsewhere for their orders but that the R. O. F. s are prohibited from doing so?

Mr. Jones

I do not think that that supplementary is particularly related to this Question.