HC Deb 24 November 1958 vol 596 cc12-3
25. Mr. Mason

asked the Minister of Supply what representations he has made to the Service Ministers with a view to speeding up a co-ordinated decision on the Beverley and Canberra replacements.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I am in close touch with my colleagues on both projects.

Mr. Mason

Whilst appreciating that we are wasting our time in questioning the Minister of Supply at all on these problems, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is not aware that with the contraction of the aircraft industry many aircraft firms are put in an invidious predicament? Is he aware that they are interested in these replacements, are waiting for orders and are specially holding on to skilled labour? This kind of thing cannot go on for ever. What does the Minister intend to do to alleviate the situation?

Mr. Jones

As I have told the hon. Member more than once, any questions on Service requirements should be directed to the Service Ministers.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the specification issued by his own Department to the aircraft industry went out over eighteen months ago? What is the reason for this continued delay when the matter is desperate for so many people who are working in the factories?

Mr. Jones

If my hon. Friend will look at the record, he will find that "eighteen months" is an exaggeration, but again I do not determine the requirements.

Mr. Jay

Does the right hon. Gentleman, as Minister of Supply, not recognise his responsibility, as have all other Ministers of Supply, for the future of the British aircraft industry? In that connection, are not all these Questions relevant to his responsibility?

Mr. Jones

Yes, Sir. I recognise my responsibility for the aircraft industry, but I cannot place orders on the industry merely for the sake of maintaining the industry. I can only place orders on requirements determined by the Services.

Mr. Shinwell

Are not the Minister's answers an implied condemnation of the Government? Is not the right hon. Gentleman in some difficulty, and could we not help to extricate him from that difficulty by suggesting that some day, when the Secretary of State for Air is sitting where the right hon. Gentleman is now sitting, the right hon. Gentleman should come over to us and interrogate him?

Mr. Jones

The right hon. Gentleman could certainly help me out of my difficulty by not addressing to me questions which are not properly for me.