HC Deb 06 July 1959 vol 608 cc890-1
50. Sir T. Moore

asked the Minister of Supply whether his attention has been called to the drop in orders for the Prestwick Pioneer aircraft; and what possibility there is of further orders on behalf of the Services he supplies.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Yes, Sir; but I am sorry to say that there is no further Service requirement for these aircraft in prospect at the moment.

Sir T. Moore

I appreciate to the full the help which my right hon. Friend has already given in this matter, but does he realise that about 600 craftsmen and others have been discharged by this company in the last few months, and that another 400 men are under notice today? Will he undertake to do anything he can to save the company, and to put it back into full production?

Mr. Jones

I fully realise the difficulty of the state in which this company finds itself. It is in a very sad state. On the other hand, I have no command over either export or Service orders.

Mr. Wigg

Is it not abundantly clear that what is wrong with the aircraft industry is that there is too much "Sandys" in the works?

Mr. Beswick

The Minister has refused to give any assistance or to place any orders with the firm to which the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) referred. On what basis does he decide to give orders? He has given orders for three Avro 748 aircraft, simply to help a company build an aircraft for which there is no order in this country. What is the basis of his discrimination?

Mr. Jones

I place orders corresponding to Service requirements. In respect of the Pioneer aircraft, with which we are now concerned, and which is not the same as the previous one, there are no Service orders in prospect.

Mr. G. Brown

In view of the Minister's statement that the state of the industry can give cause for no satisfaction in the breast of anyone, and also in view of the vast sums of money which are being spent in the industry, what proposals has he to deal with this unsatisfactory state of affairs?

Mr. Jones

That supplementary question goes far beyond the Pioneer.

Mr. Ross

Does the Minister appreciate that this is the only part of the aircraft industry in Scotland? In view of the vast sums of public money expended in this industry, can the Minister wonder that questions are being asked in Scotland about the fairness of the Minister in dealing with this company in respect of orders for this aircraft?

Mr. Jones

I understand that this is the only airframe manufacturer in Scotland. It can be said that the Ministry of Supply, in the last few months, has done everything possible to help this manufacturer. In the last resort, however, the Ministry has no command over export or Service orders.