§ 21. Mr. Mason
asked the Minister of Supply, in view of the heavy losses incurred by his Department on the development of aero engines, what steps he is taking to ensure that aircraft firms do not use this Government expenditure for investment in capital equipment, thereby being enabled to pay out the accrued benefits to shareholders.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
Firms are expected to provide at their own expense the capital equipment needed to fulfil the contracts they undertake. Recovery, through overhead costs, is limited to fair and reasonable charges for depreciation.
§ Mr. Mason
That does not answer the Question posed. Will the right hon. 15 Gentleman explain why we have lost £5 million on the development of the Orion engine and why the original estimate for the Avon R.A. 29 engine rose from £2.2 million to £8.8 million in 1957, and as it is not possible by any means to get this outlay back, can the Minister explain to the House these staggering losses which we have already incurred on engine development?
§ Mr. Beswick
Is the Minister not aware that the Report has been published and it excited a good deal of comment? The public generally would like to know the answer to the Question posed by my hon. Friend. Are we to understand that, as a result of all the experience with the Brabazon, we did not improve our techniques for controlling expenditure?
§ Mr. Jones
The question originally asked was not a general question. It was restricted to the two specific items mentioned in the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Once again, I can only say to him: far be it from me to comment on something which is sub judice by the Public Accounts Committee