30. Mr. Lee
asked the Minister of Aviation whether he is aware of the concern and uncertainty which now pre- 20 vails among employees in the aircraft industry; and whether he will make a statement as to future prospects and the size of the labour force.
§ Mr. Amery
I am in close touch with both sides of the industry and am, of course, aware of their views. Some of the concern that has been expressed is, I think, exaggerated. It is true that the labour force has fallen somewhat during the last year, but it is still larger than three years ago. Government expenditure in the industry is likely to remain high and I am confident about the future prospects of the industry although, of course, these must depend to a substantial extent on its success in gaining export orders.
While we are pleased to hear the right hon. Gentleman's optimism, might I ask him whether he would agree that we are now in a difficult period in which such issues as the decision on Skybolt as against Polaris and the whole question of the V-bomber force itself are causing great apprehension? Will he at the earliest possible moment give us a more considered and detailed statement, which would probably help people on both sides of industry?
§ Mr. Amery
I will certainly do my best. Meanwhile, I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will recall that at least we have during the last six months placed military orders for the VC10 and project studies for the P.1154 and have had the Concord project accepted, and there has been a good deal of forward movement across the board.
§ Mr. Rankin
The right hon. Gentleman attributed some of the difficulties to the lack of export orders. Could he tell us what his Department does in helping, for example, the sales of the Trident against the Boeing 727?
Could the right hon. Gentleman use this occasion to say anything 21 about Blue Steel? We are all wondering what the Government's attitude to it is. It concerns this Question very much in relation to employment on the project.