HC Deb 06 July 1959 vol 608 cc888-9
47. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Supply when he expects to take delivery of the Avro 748 aircraft; to what use it is proposed the aircraft should be put; and what financial return there will be to his Department in the event of further sales of this machine.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

I expect that delivery would take place in the first half of 1961. The aircraft would be made available to a United Kingdom operator for proving and introduction into regular service. The financial return to my Department would be dependent on the number of aircraft sold to other customers.

Mr. Beswick

Can the Minister say which operator will prove and develop this aircraft and which operator has stated he has a requirement for it? Are we to understand that an order has been given without any consideration as to the requirement or what the financial recompense will be to the country?

Mr. Jones

I am not in a position to say which United Kingdom operator will operate this aircraft, because I am now in negotiation with United Kingdom operators, and I cannot anticipate the outcome of these negotiations. As for the export market, it may interest the hon. Member to know that the Indian Government have decided, in principle, to adopt this aircraft for the Indian Air Force, subject to the negotiation of a satisfactory contract.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Can my hon. Friend tell us why he is backing two aircraft of similar performance when he has repeatedly told the House that he wants to eliminate competition in our own aircraft industry?

Mr. Jones

This question was raised some weeks ago. It was done because interest in both aircraft was expressed abroad.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the Minister say whether he is satisfied with the position of the aircraft industry at present? In view of the vast sums of money expended, or about to be expended, would it not be better to order an inquiry into the position?

Mr. Speaker

That is a very much larger question.