HC Deb 29 April 1968 vol 763 cc781-2
44. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Technology when he expects a revised date for the first flight of the Concorde 001 to be announced by the manufacturers.

Mr. Benn

The French-assembled prototype is not now expected to fly before August, and it may be later. First flight of the British-assembled prototype remains planned for September. It will be some weeks before the manufacturers can give more precise indications of first flight dates.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

The right hon. Gentleman said that the French aircraft may fly later than August and that the British aircraft will fly in September. Can he assure the House that, if it is ready, nothing will prevent the British aircraft from flying before the French one?

Mr. Benn

I should remind the hon. Gentleman that there is no French aircraft and there is no British aircraft. Both aircraft are identical, one being assembled in Toulouse and one being assembled in Bristol. It is a great mistake for this to be regarded as a race between two companies which are assembling each other's components into one aircraft. But 001 has had priority, and it is our wish that this should he handled between the two companies on the basis of what is most sensible.

Mr. Edelman

Can my right hon. Friend say when he will take a firm decision on the question of putting Concorde into production, especially in view of the industrial consequences which may follow?

Mr. Benn

As my hon. Friend knows, production finance has been made available and some parts of a production aircraft are now being constructed. If he asks, "When will the way be clear for the full production programme?", this to some extent inevitably depends upon the airline orders.