HC Deb 08 April 1965 vol 710 cc644-5
13. Sir Knox Cunningham

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he has finalised his plans for providing work, other than the manufacture of aircraft, for Messrs Short Brothers and Harland of Belfast; and what is the estimated number of employees who will be engaged on such work.

Mr. George Brown

Consultants will shortly be appointed to advise on the diversification of Short Brothers and Harland's operations. Until they have examined the situation it will not help to make a statement. I am visiting Short Brothers and Harland myself very soon.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the cancellation of the TSR2 and other aircraft has thrown the whole aircraft industry into considerable confusion and anxiety, and will he try to get an early decision on Shorts so that the firm can give some hope to the people employed by it?

Mr. Brown

Knowing both the workers and the management in Shorts, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that they have much more faith and hope in us than they ever had in his Administration.

Mr. McMaster

Nevertheless, is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in view of the hope that this firm would get further sub-contract work from the British Aircraft Corporation on the VC10 and the effect of the cancellation of the TSR2 on this prospect, this matter is extremely urgent and the delay in appointing consultants is not satisfactory?

Mr. Brown

I do not know how the hon. Gentleman can talk about the delay in the appointment of consultants when we are doing it after only six months in office while the party opposite did not do it in 13 years. I would not worry too much, if I were he, for the future is being looked after.

Mr. Marten

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that under the previous Government employment was steady at about 6,000 a year?

Mr. Brown

I would advise the hon. Gentleman to ask the management and workers of Shorts what they thought about that Administration.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will the right hon. Gentleman continue the undertaking to employ 6,000 at Shorts given by our Government?

Mr. Brown

I stand by my original Answer.