HC Deb 11 May 1966 vol 728 cc373-5
3. Mr. Lubbock

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make his permission for an order by the British Overseas Airways Corporation for the Boeing 747 conditional upon the British aircraft industry receiving substantial orders for sub-contract work on this project.

54. Mr. Hamling

asked the Minister of Aviation if he intends to authorise the development of the VCIO Superb to meet the British Overseas Airways Corporation's requirement for large long-haul jets.

Mr. Mulley

B.O.A.C. has not as yet submitted to me proposals for investment in large long-haul jets. In view of the time needed to develop aircraft, I have had, nevertheless, to consider meanwhile whether the Government could support the VC10 Superb. The whole cost of developing this aircraft would have fallen on the Exchequer, and the market prospects were not such as to hold out any prospects of recovering this expenditure over the limited number of sales foreseen. In all the circumstances, despite the magnificent reputation built up by the Super VC10, I have concluded with regret that the Government cannot support the Superb. Should B.O.A.C. propose to order the Boeing 747, the prospects of United Kingdom subcontracting and all other relevant matters will be borne in mind.

Mr. Lubbock

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Rolls Royce RB 178 is 120,000 dollars cheaper than the American engine which it is proposed to install in the Boeing 747, and that the value of the contract to the British aircraft industry, if we can get these engines installed, would be 570 million dollars? What action is the Minister taking with the Americans to ensure that there is no discrimination against British suppliers?

Mr. Mulley

I think the hon. Gentleman knows that we have done all in our power, and will continue to do so to support Rolls Royce. It is not a matter for me or for the American Government to determine what engines are used in American civil aircraft. Certainly the hon. Gentleman can rely upon me to do all I can to further the interests of Rolls Royce and this very fine engine.

Mr. R. Carr

Does the Minister's statement mean that it is now a matter of Government policy that Britain should opt out of long-distance civil transport in the future?

Mr. Mulley

The policy statement I have made is that I have not been able to undertake the entire launching and development costs of the Superb aircraft having regard to the very limited market which, on the best advice available, is foreseen for it.

Mr. Rankin

Will my right hon. Friend have another thought in this matter as later today we shall be spending a huge amount of money on military aircraft? Could he not find a copper or two to advance civil aviation along the lines suggested?

Mr. Mulley

My hon. Friend's arithmetic is none too accurate. In fact, the launching costs of this Superb aircraft would be in the region of £40 million on the airframe, with additional cost for development of the engine.

Mr. Robert Howarth

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to say whether B.A.C. was prepared to put any of its own money forward for this project? Is he aware that, according to my understanding, the Boeing 747 project is being financed by the Boeing Company itself?

Mr. Mulley

The fact that the whole cost would fall on the Exchequer means, as my hon. Friend suggests, that the company is not prepared to put any of its own money into the development of the aircraft.

Mr. Onslow

How limited is the Minister's assessment of the market, and how far does his figure correspond with that produced by the company through its researches?

Mr. Mulley

I cannot say exactly what figure the company has, but the kind of figure involved would be between 30 and 40 aircraft by 1975 and from 35 to 50 by 1980.