HC Deb 05 August 1965 vol 717 cc1876-7
Q5. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Prime Minister whether he will seek to call a Commonwealth Conference of Ministers responsible for the aircraft industry to co-ordinate and unify plans for the aircraft industry throughout the British Commonwealth.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the Communiqué issued at the end of the recent meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers.

Mr. Tuck

Bearing in mind my right hon. Friend's heartening statement to the House on 29th June, 1965, which appeared in column 309 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, that he envisaged meetings between representatives of Commonwealth countries to deal with questions affecting aviation and aircraft, will he give an assurance that he will at least consider the great advantages to be derived from developing the aircraft industry on a Commonwealth basis, with particular reference to Australia and Canada, and does he not agree that there might be a great saving in cost, in particular with reference to research and development?

The Prime Minister

We ourselves took the initiative in this matter. The reason was that I thought it was highly desirable that there should be Commonwealth consultation because we have found cases in the last year—before last October and since—where we missed out on possible big Commonwealth orders for civil and also military aircraft because we came too late into the field. We thought it essential that when planes are being designed there should be discussions with Commonwealth countries to see what their needs are so that we can take account of those needs and make long-term plans. With regard to an organisation to co-ordinate plans, we discovered that there was the Commonwealth Air Transport Council, which last met in 1956 and has got into a state of desuetude, and so we decided to revive it and make it a reality.

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