HC Deb 05 May 1965 vol 711 cc1332-3
6. Mr. Bence

asked the Minister of Aviation what is the value of current investment in the British aircraft industry.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

The shares of the British Aircraft Corporation and of Bristol Siddeley Engines are not quoted on the Stock Exchanges, and assessment of the value of the share capital of the industry must therefore be hypothetical.

It is, however, thought that for the more important firms in the industry together it might be of the order of £200 million.

Mr. Bence

Is my right hon. Friend aware that since 1st January the £1 shares of the Hawker Siddeley Company and Rolls-Royce have increased in value by 11.5 and 16.5 per cent. respectively? Is it not clear, therefore, that in the eyes of the investing public the action taken by my right hon. Friend in regard to the aircraft industry has not had the disastrous effect on the value of the stocks of the industry foretold by the Opposition in irresponsibly exploiting the present situation politically?

Mr. Jenkins

I should not like to say that Stock Exchange prices provide the answer to all our problems, but it certainly suggests that investors take a rather more balanced view of the position of the industry than some of its so-called friends opposite. It is also undoubtedly the case that some of the leaders of the industry have been glad to have decision rather than indecision, even if they do not welcome all the decisions.

Mr. Marten

Is not Hawker Siddeley a greatly diversified company with interests overseas, and is not aircraft a very small part of its interests?

Mr. Jenkins

It is true that the company is widely diversified. It is also true that it has very important aviation interests.