HC Deb 04 December 1961 vol 650 cc903-5
4. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Minister of Aviation what action he is taking to avert the actual and imminent redundancy in the aircraft industry by placing suitable Government orders for civil and military aircraft.

19. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he is aware of increasing concern about future employment in the aircraft manufacturing industry; and whether he is now in a position to make a full statement about future Government orders.

Mr. Thorneycroft

Government spending on aircraft production is running at this moment at a rate of well over £200 million a year. With this pressure of demand any redundancy must be regarded as a natural consequence of reorganisation and rationalisation within the industry. As to future work, I have already reaffirmed the pledges to the aircraft industry announced by my predecessor and am in urgent consultation with the relevant Government Departments on the complex problems involved.

Mr. Chetwynd

Has the Minister any target in mind for the future shape of this industry? If it means any reduction, will he see that adequate planning takes place in order to avoid any undue hardship?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have ideas, which I am discussing with the industry and with my colleagues, but the point here is that the present pressure of demand is very high indeed. It is to the future that we ought to look, and to what kind of shape this industry may have, not today, but in three, four or ten years' time.

Mr. Diamond

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what views he has on the total labour force likely to be engaged in the industry in three or four years' time, as he has been indicating?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I would rather not. I have heard so many forecasts of labour positions falsified in this House that I would rather not add to them.


Mr. Hale

On a point of order. I have certainly not heard the Minister answer Question No. 19 or say that it has been dealt with with another Question.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is unfortunate. He entered the Chamber while the Question with which Question No. 19 was dealt was being answered. I called the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Diamond), amongst other reasons, to give the hon. Member time.

Mr. Hale

I am very grateful to you for that explanation, Mr. Speaker. I think the whole House will agree that the answer which was given seemed to have no relevance to my Question.