HC Deb 25 February 1963 vol 672 cc892-3
32. Mrs. McLaughlin

asked the Minister of Aviation if he is aware of the recent announcement of pay-offs in the design team of Messrs. Short Bros. and Harland; and what steps he is taking to ensure that this company is maintained as a balanced design and production unit.

Mr. J. Amery

I understand that the company has warned its staff that some reduction in the design team is necessary having regard to the work available. As to the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to my statement on 8th February about the financial assistance we are giving to the company in connection with the Belfast and Sea-cat programmes.

Mrs. McLaughlin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of members of the design staff have already been paid off and that that has caused a great disturbance among the workers of Messrs. Short Brothers and Harland? Although he made a statement in the past to the effect that he and the Government are very anxious to maintain Shorts as a balanced design and production unit, up to date there has been no forthcoming statement or action to prove that that is so. Is he aware that the company and the workers are very disturbed and are, therefore, anxious that something should be done?

Mr. Amery

I am very well aware of the problems facing Messrs. Short Brothers and Harland, but, as I said, we have made a substantial injection of capital to enable the completion of the Belfast and Seacat programmes to be carried out.

Mr. McMaster

While financial assistance will be welcome, is my right hon. Friend aware that what the design staff would really like is further work? Is he aware that they have done some valuable research and development into vertical take-off aircraft and have proved their ability to handle any work which the Air Ministry may give to them?

Mr. Amery

I am aware of those points and I should be glad if I saw the opportunity of using this skill.