HC Deb 22 July 1968 vol 769 cc24-5
29. Mr. Onslow

asked the Minister of Technology if he will now make a further statement on the A300 Airbus project.

Mr. Benn

A report by officials of the three Governments has now been submitted in preparation for the international Ministerial meeting planned for the end of the month.

Mr. Onslow

Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that if the airbus is to keep to its programme of certification by 1972 and entry into service the following year metal must be cut and orders must be placed by the end of this year? Does he see any real prospect of that happening?

Mr. Benn

The object of a project definition stage is to give an opportunity for partners and firms to look at these projects very carefully. As has been made clear by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General and myself, our interest in aircraft which we build or in which we participate is that there should be a good economic return on them. That is why the project definition stage takes place, and that is why there is to be the meeting at the end of this month.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a few weeks ago we were assured that this project was proceeding? Is that still the case? Are there now other thoughts about the future prospects for the airbus?

Mr. Benn

My hon. Friend will recall that what we said was that the project definition stage was proceeding, but we have always said that the object of that stage was to allow the partners involved to decide whether or not the aircraft was a proposition in which they should invest and advance with us. That has always been the reason for the project definition.