HC Deb 14 October 1968 vol 770 cc17-8
26. Mr. Barnett

asked the Minister of Technology what discussions he has had with the major British aircraft manufacturers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

My Department and I keep in constant touch with the major British aircraft manufacturers. If my hon. Friend has a particular point in mind, perhaps he would care to write to me.

Mr. Barnett

As no British aircraft company can be a viable proposition without taxpayers' money in large sums and without Government co-operation, was it not a gratuitously offensive and stupid action to appoint a Chairman of B.A.C. whom the Minister himself has dismissed from all public offices? How can he now expect the sort of co-operation that is needed to create a viable aircraft industry?

Mr. Benn

The appointment in question was made by the firm and I have no comment to make.

Mr. Corfield

Will the Minister bear in mind that there are inevitably feelings about personalities between the Government and the industry, and that the Government are not in a position to stand in a white sheet on this?

Mr. Benn

If the question is to be broadened out into one of relationships between the Government and the industry, I think that the new arrangements on post costing and equality of information will reduce the risk of a repetition of some of the episodes that we have had in the past.