HC Deb 04 March 1963 vol 673 cc2-4
2. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will now announce particulars of the plans to replace the Beverley and Hastings aircraft.

7. Mr. McMaster

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he is now in a position to make a statement relating to the order which is to be placed for the design and production of a British short take-off and landing transport aircraft to meet tactical requirements.

18. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the contract which he intends issuing for the OR 351.

19. Mr. Hocking

asked the Minister of of Aviation whether a decision has now been taken with regard to the planning of an order or orders for an aircraft to fulfil OR 351; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Julian Amery)

I expect to make a statement tomorrow.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Can my right hon. Friend say whether it will be good news for Messrs. Short Bros and Harland?

Mr. Amery

Perhaps my hon. Friend will be good enough to await tomorrow's statement.

Mr. McMaster

In making his statement tomorrow, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the whole question of Messrs. Short Bros. and Harland and the valuable research and development work that has been done by that firm in the past? Will he also bear in mind the particularly high level of unemployment in Northern Ireland and the valuable apprenticeship training that is being done by Short's in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Amery

I can assure my hon. Friend that all these factors have been and will be taken into consideration before I make my statement.

Mr. Jay

Have the Government fully taken into account the fact that this is of the utmost importance to Northern Ireland, which now has a higher rate of unemployment than anywhere in the United Kingdom—the highest rate since the war?

Mr. Amery

I think that if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the record he will see that seven or eight of the leading Members of the Government have personally been to Northern Ireland to see for themselves what the problem is like, in particular to Messrs. Short Bros. and Harland. Of course, this problem is extremely clear to us and is in all our minds now.

Mr. Edelman

To end the agonising uncertainty, will the right hon. Gentleman's statement tomorrow be a clear and definite one? Can he say in what form he will make it and, when making it, will he say something about the interim work which will have to be put into the factories in Northern Ireland, and Coventry as well, to hold the labour force together?

Mr. Amery

I take all those points, but perhaps the hon. Member will be good enough to await the statement I shall make tomorrow.