HC Deb 05 May 1965 vol 711 cc1336-7
16. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will issue a general direction, in the public interest, to British European Airways to conduct an inquiry into the prices charged for items of aircraft equipment and to take steps to secure substantial reductions in these prices.

Mr. Stonehouse

As this is a commercial matter between the Corporation and its suppliers there is no case for such a general direction.

I understand that British European Airways and British Aircraft Corporation engineers are jointly studying ways of reducing costs without impairing service.

Mr. Hamilton

Has my hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the remarks of Mr. Kenneth Wilkinson, the chief engineer of British European Airways, a few weeks ago, in which he indicated some of the extraordinary prices that B.E.A. was paying the lavatory manufacturers—for example, £17 for a lavatory bolt for a Vanguard? Surely that must be the most expensive lavatory in the world. Will my hon. Friend ask B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. to consider manufacturing small components themselves to get rid of this gross exploitation by private enterprise?

Mr. Stonehouse

I am very well aware of the reports, but I believe that some of the Press comment on these remarks was very much exaggerated. I am arranging for some details of the fuller report to be made available so that hon. Members can inform themselves about this subject. However, I must say that where an exceptionally high standard is required and there is a need to maintain a stock for what may be a very small demand, the cost is found to be higher than for similar components which are used in the home. I believe that B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. and, indeed, all the other airlines are considering ways in which the cost of these components can be kept down.

Mr. Younger

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether competitive tenders were obtained for these items which were apparently so very costly?

Mr. Stonehouse

I should like to look into that point.