§ 38. Mr. Beswick
asked the Minister of Supply what practical steps have now been taken to maintain the firm of Short Brothers and Harland as a fully-balanced aircraft design and production unit.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
The various contracts which Short Brothers and Harland now hold for the design and production of aircraft and guided weapons do employ them as a balanced unit. For the rest, I have nothing to add to what I said in reply to the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Clackmannan and East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn) on 2nd December, 1957.
§ Mr. Beswick
The Minister will probably recognise these words as having been used by the Parliamentary Secretary in a recent debate when he said that all practical steps would be taken to maintain this firm as a fully balanced unit. Can the Minister say what those words meant and what practical steps have been taken?
§ Mr. Jones
The practical steps clearly must consist of contracts placed. I would ask the hon. Member to appreciate that any Government—he would be in the same position as I hold—is the victim of a conflict of authorities here; one is the owner and the other is the customer. What one would like to do as owner one might not like to do as customer in the light of past practice and delivery times quoted.