HC Deb 17 March 1965 vol 708 cc1256-7
17. Mr. Peel

asked the Minister of Aviation what stage has been reached in regard to the projects in the aircraft industry being jointly carried out with Continental partners.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

As there are a number of projects and countries involved, any informative Answer is necessarily lengthy. Therefore, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Peel

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the projects which are now under consideration are spread widely over the European countries as a whole, and not just confined to one or two countries? Secondly, is he satisfied that any projects which he now has under consideration will prevent a very considerable amount of unemployment which the cancellation of British aircraft has threatened?

Mr. Jenkins

There are 12 projects touching six European countries—France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Turkey. Should these projects seem worth while, as many of them do, we will pursue them extremely vigorously. It is possible to exaggerate substantially the amount of unemployment likely to be caused by any cancellations that we have so far announced.

Mr. Maude

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he expects to make a statement about an agreement on the jet strike trainer?

Mr. Jenkins

That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

Following is the information: We are participating with France and Germany in the joint development of the RB162 lightweight jet lift engine, and with France in the development of a tactical air-to-ground missile. With Germany and the U.S.A. we are evaluating the P1127 aircraft and the operational and logistic problems associated with V/STOL. We are studying with Germany the problems of applying V/STOL to transport aircraft. We are also co-operating with the Netherlands in the development of a medium-range ship-to-air guided weapon, and with Norway and Denmark as well as Turkey in the production of the American Bullpup air-to-surface guided missiles. These projects are proceeding satisfactorily. As recently announced, discussions are taking place with the French authorities to align national requirements for light strike/ trainer aircraft. The two countries are also studying new airborne early warning systems to a jointly agreed specification. We are exploring with the French and German Governments, and with others of our European allies, the possibilities of collaboration on a number of other projects. including tactical air defence missiles and military helicopters. In the civil field the U.K. is, of course, in full partnership with France on the Concord project. In our joint communique of 16th February M. Jacquet, the French Minister of Transport, and I noted the excellent technical progress being made and reaffirmed our intention of pressing on with the programme. We also recorded our exchange of views on the possibility of Anglo-French collaboration in the design and development of a subsonic passenger transport for shorter routes and our agreement to study the matter further. Through European Launcher Development Organisation we are developing the first stage of the launcher; two successful firings of Blue Streak have already taken place in Australia and a third firing is due to take place shortly in Australia.