HC Deb 17 March 1965 vol 708 cc1261-2
21. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Aviation what British radar and control systems are to be installed in the Phantom and C130 aircraft to be purchased from the United States of America.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I cannot at present add to the Answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) on 10th March in reply to a similar Question.

Mr. Hastings

Is it not a fact that firms such as Cossor and Marconi do not even know yet what components or systems to tender for? Has he had any encouragement whatever from the Americans in this regard, and, if so, can we be told exactly what was said? Lastly, will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that, unless orders are found, there is a real danger that the design teams in this vital industry will be dispersed in the same way as the design teams in the aircraft industry?

Mr. Jenkins

I do not accept that the hon. Gentleman seriously expects me to tell him what was said in the course of exchanges with the American Government on the matter, apart from the desirability of getting on with Questions, but I am very anxious, subject to price and delivery date, to see as much British electronic equipment as possible included in these aircraft.

Mr. Maude

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is possible for British firms to hope for any of this business, or was there a package deal done to include all American electronic equipment, including flight simulators, when the original agreement was signed?

Mr. Jenkins

Certainly not. It was a question of cost and delivery dates. Firms may hope, and I hope that the way in which they are able to contract will turn their hopes into reality.

Mr. Snow

Is it not a fact that the previous Government seriously neglected the development of aircraft electronic equipment in this country, and is it not a fact that our exports of aircraft are prejudiced as a result of that sorry record?

Mr. Jenkins

Yes, Sir.

Mr. David Price

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the evidence for his confirmation of his hon. Friend's Question?

Mr. Jenkins

I have given a good deal of evidence on these matters, and I shall be happy to do it in subsequent debates which no doubt we shall have.

Mr. Hastings

How can the right hon. Gentleman accuse the industry of that when it has not had the chance to tender for equipment in these American aircraft?

Mr. Jenkins

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I was not accusing the industry, but agreeing with my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) in accusing the previous Government.