HC Deb 29 April 1968 vol 763 cc782-3
46. Mr. Hastings

asked the Minister of Technology whether he is satisfied with progress on development of the A300 airbus; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

Yes, Sir. The purpose of the project definition phase is being realised with the progressive refinement of the design. We should be in a position to decide about further commitments to the project this summer as planned.

Mr. Hastings

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there are areas where the A300 will have to compete with the DC10 and the Lockheed, and that the delays likely to result from international collaboration are at present unacceptable to this country; and will he hurry things up?

Mr. Benn

The case for international collaboration is not only on the production side but also from the point of view of getting an assured market. The hon. Gentleman will know that the reason for the Government's European aircraft policy is that if one can get an assured market before one begins this is what justifies the effort. All international projects may tend to take rather longer in some respects than national ones, but this is the justification for what we have done.

Mr. Corfield

In view of the announcement over the weekend that Boeing is determined to go ahead with an airbus which will be directly in competition with this airbus, what information has the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the attitude of Lufthansa, which, I understand, has a tie-up with Boeing and is absolutely vital to the European effort?

Mr. Benn

The question of airline commitment is looked at individually in each country. It is not unknown for our airlines to take a view which does not correspond exactly with that of our own aircraft industry. However, we believe that the Lufthansa commitment to the airbus will go forward. Although Boeing has been making noises about its new aircraft, we still think that the A300 airbus will continue to be a proposition worthy of support.