HC Deb 17 November 1958 vol 595 cc828-9
39. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Supply what is his estimate of the prospective decline in employment in the aircraft industry in the years 1959 and 1960 arising out of the readjustment in the military programme.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave the hon. Member on 10th November.

Mr. Edelman

Is it the case that leaders of the aircraft industry have warned the Government that within the next two years there will be 100,000 men in the aircraft industry made redundant because of the switch-over to guided missiles and so on, and, in view of the decline in the machine tool industry, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is now a grave danger of widespread unemployment in the engineering industry? What action has he taken to find alternative occupation for the men who will be made redundant in this way?

Mr. Jones

I think the figure of 100,000 is an exaggeration. I mentioned that figure some time ago, but it is related t o a five-year period and not a two-year period. I agree that there is a prospect of redundancy. I think it is best dealt with by diversification on the part of the aircraft firms themselves, and to some extent that is taking place. For the rest, I have been agreeably surprised by the capacity of other industries to absorb skilled craftsmen made redundant for aircraft work.

Mr. Beswick

Is the Minister aware that, as a result of the action contemplated by his right hon. Friend in closing Croydon Airport, two small but useful firms now making light aircraft are likely to be put out of business altogether? Has he interested himself in this matter, and is he trying to find alternative accommodation for them?

Mr. Jones

I should like notice of that question.