HC Deb 14 March 1963 vol 673 cc1513-4
21. Mr. Lubbock

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make representations to the Government of the United States of America about their opposition to the purchase of the BAC 111 by United States airline operators.

Mr. Erroll

No, Sir. The evidence I have seen suggests that the recent decisions of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board were based on financial considerations and not on the nationality of the aircraft.

Mr. Lubbock

Did not the right hon. Gentleman say in a Press conference in New York, which was reported in The Times of 7th Match, that if the Civil Aeronautics Board took such an attitude it would be highly reprehensible, and are not we therefore to assume that there is at least a suspicion that the C.A.B. has based its decision on other than technical considerations?

Mr. Erroll

No, I co not think so. I said that if it were to discriminate against British aircraft I would take up the matter vigorously, and we are continuing to sell aircraft in the United States. Since the Bonanza decision, Braniff Airways has placed a repeat order for six BAC 111s and there are other orders in prospect.

Mr. Jay

As the United States is always preaching free trade to the rest of the world, and as the right hon. Gentleman has visited Washington, did he make representations about some of the obstacles which were put in the way not only of aircraft, but of the wool industry, oil exports, and other things?

Mr. Erroll

As my answer to a later Question will show, I covered the whole field of Anglo-United States trade relations.

Mr. Shinwell

Would the right hon. Gentleman explain what he means by financial considerations? Have they proved an obstacle to the provision of these aircraft? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that there is no money in the United States to buy them, or that our price is too high? Is it not true that our prices are very competitive?

Mr. Erroll

There is no question about the competitiveness or otherwise of our prices. It was a technical question which the C.A.B. had to decide, whether the finances of the airline were such as to enable it to operate successfully jet aircraft of this size.

Mr. Rankin

Is it not the case that the United States Government have already resisted the sales of certain of our aircraft to other parts of the world? Is it not also true that, while the C.A.B. is a research organisation financed by the American Government, more and more that Government are tending to regard it as a sort of control agency with regard to the purchase of foreign-built aircraft?

Mr. Erroll

I think that in this case had there been a comparable United States built jet aircraft the decision would still have been the same in the case of Bonanza.