HC Deb 18 November 1964 vol 702 cc409-11
2. Mr. Hale

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will make a statement on the proposals of Her Majesty's Government for securing continuity of employment in the aircraft manufacturing industry.

The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Roy Jenkins)

No, Sir. I am unable to anticipate the results of the review of the aircraft industry which I am about to undertake, but I can assure my hon. Friend that, in this review, the need for continuity of employment will be taken fully into account.

Mr. Hale

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am grateful for that undertaking, which I expected? There was increasing anxiety about employment in the industry under the last Government, and the assurances which my right hon. Friend has already given have been of value. While we are reviewing the question of contracts for the sale of aeroplanes abroad, will my right hon. Friend discuss with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for the Royal Air Force the question of outstanding contracts for the purchase of planes abroad?

Mr. Jenkins

I will certainly keep in touch with my right hon. Friend on all these matters.

Sir KNOX Cunningham

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the order for Buccaneers for South Africa would be of very great value in securing continuity of employment in the aircraft industry?

Mr. Jenkins

The question of Buccaneers for South Africa is another question.

3. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Aviation what official consultations with outside bodies he intends to have in connection with the future size, programme and projects of the aircraft industry.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave my hon. Friend on 11th November in answer to a similar Question.

Mr. Edelman

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in the meantime there is grave and deep anxiety among aircraft workers engaged in projects like the Concord, TSR2 and HS681 that the abandonment of those major projects is likely to lead to a major redundancy? Is he further aware that there are many apprentices and aeronautical students, too, who will hesitate to enter what they might regard as being a disintegrating industry? In those circumstances, will my right hon. Friend announce a decision very soon as to whether it is the Government's intention to continue with these projects?

Mr. Jenkins

Many of these projects are matters not only for myself but for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Defence. I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall try to give stability to the aircraft industry as soon as possible, and I hope that he and others, too, in the meantime will do nothing to give currency to the view that this is, as he put it, a disintegrating industry.

Mr. Fell

Did I understand the Minister to say that he was about to conduct an inquiry into the aircraft industry? If so, is it not a little odd after the difficulties which have arisen, to put them no higher, over the Concord and the Buccaneers, that he did not start the inquiry the moment he started making inquiries into the Concord?

Mr. Jenkins

I gave the House the reasons the week before last why I thought it necessary that we should have an urgent review of the Concord project. I hope to make an announcement about the review of the industry as a whole in the fairly, but I am sure that the hon. Member would not wish the terms under which this review is to be conducted to be rushed unduly.