HC Deb 06 May 1968 vol 764 cc14-5
10. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Minister of Technology when he expects to sign fixed-price contracts for the Harrier and Nimrod aircraft on order for the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Stonehouse

A fixed price contract was placed for Nimrod aircraft on 19th January, 1966. Negotiations with the aircraft and engine contractors for the Harrier are not yet completed, and I am not therefore in a position to announce the form these contracts will take.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there have been very encouraging signs of interest among foreign air forces, particularly in N.A.T.O., in the Harrier aircraft but that it is impossible for the manufacturers to quote figures and prices until the Government reach a decision? Can the right hon. Gentleman say what effect on the fixed price of the Harrier there would be if his Department were to double its order for this aircraft?

Mr. Stonehouse

To answer the first part of that supplementary question, I agree that there are very encouraging signs of export potential here. I should remind the House that it takes two to make an agreement. The firm was given an opportunity to make an agreement on a firm contract some time ago, but it did not see its way clear to do that and, therefore, negotiations have had to continue. I am hopeful that agreement will be reached and I think that it will enable efficient production to be maintained.

To answer the second part of the supplementary question, that is a matter that would more appropriately be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.