HC Deb 08 December 1965 vol 722 cc400-1
14. Mr. McMaster

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will take steps to fill the employment gap created for Short Brothers and Harland by the cancellation of the HS681.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

The future workload of this company and its place in the aircraft industry are among the matters on which the Plowden Committee has now reported. I am considering this Report, and hope to make a statement about Shorts within a few weeks.

Mr. McMaster

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the jobs of two or three thousand people in Belfast depend on this gap being filled rapidly, that men are drifting away from the company, and that it is urgent that Government work be directed to Belfast? In spite of many promises before the election, no Government work whatever has been directed in over a year to Short Brothers and Harland.

Mr. Jenkins

I am aware of the difficulties of this company and I am very anxious to provide employment on useful work in Belfast, but we must not underestimate the difficulties, which I have never disguised from the hon. Gentleman or the House.

Mr. R. Carr

What has been the result of the work of the consultants appointed by the First Secretary of State?

Mr. Jenkins

The consultants reported to my right hon. Friend. The report is a matter for him, of course, but I think that I can go so far as to say that the report is extremely useful, though from the longer rather than the shorter-term point of view.

Sir Knox Cunningham

When will the right hon. Gentleman persuade the Government, as the majority shareholder, to take some action about employment at Shorts?

Mr. Jenkins

We are most anxious to deal with the position of employment at Shorts, but I do not think that it would be right to deal with this or any other employment situation by providing work which is not of importance.