HC Deb 25 November 1958 vol 596 cc218-9
46. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Prime Minister the nature of the communications he has recently received from local authorities in Ayrshire on the future of the aircraft industry in the country and its effect on local employment, with particular reference to redundancy of employees of Scottish Aviation Limited and if he will state the nature of his reply.

48. Mr. Nairn

asked the Prime Minister if he has yet had an opportunity of considering the letters he has received from Ayr County Council, Ayr Town Council and Prestwick Town Council on the subject of Scottish Aviation Limited; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I have received letters from Ayr County Council and from the Town Councils of Ayr and Prestwick about the possibilities of encouraging further orders for the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer. In my reply I have pointed out that financial assistance has been given in the development of this aircraft, that thirty-two of them have been ordered for the Royal Air Force, and that four more are now to be ordered. The Government will continue to assist the company in their efforts to sell this aircraft overseas.

Mr. Hughes

Is the Prime Minister aware that local authorities are gravely concerned because not sufficient attention is being devoted to the problem of providing alternative work for this industry and that the orders for the Air Force are not likely to solve the problem? Is he prepared to accelerate what the Secretary of State for Scotland has called "keeping a close watch on the situation," because it is becoming the worst spot of unemployment in the west of Scotland?

The Prime Minister

We are in close touch with the company and will do everything we can to help, but at present I think it is in the overseas market that the best hope lies for further orders for this aircraft.

Mr. Nairn

I thank my right hon. Friend for the personal interest he has taken in this matter. May I ask whether he has seen the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Farey-Jones) and others about the future of the aircraft industry, and whether he thinks that the key to the solution of this problem lies in that Motion?

[That this House is of opinion that, in order to safeguard the future of the British aircraft industry and civil aviation generally throughout the Commonwealth, Her Majesty's Government should at the earliest opportunity make available to the aircraft industry the capital necessary to preserve within the Commonwealth and thereby to prevent their sale to foreign powers of certain outstanding new inventions in the field of aeronautics, which are of most vital and revolutionary importance in the development of aviation throughout the world and can, if maintained in the United Kingdom, safeguard a high and stable level of employment in the British aircraft industry for many rears ahead.]

The Prime Minister

The Motion certainly raises these problems, and they are very difficult and complicated. But we will certainly pursue this with all our power. As everyone knows, there are great problems in the aircraft industry because of the character and types of aircraft and the length of time of development and other technical matters of that kind.

Mr. Ross

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since the local authorities wrote to him further dismissal notices have been issued to 600 men? Will the right hon. Gentleman treat this matter as urgent?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.