HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc478-9
19. Mr. Fortescue

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he now expects to publish the White Paper on the proposals of the Edwards Committee.

Mr. Crosland

I am proceeding with the consultations to which I referred in my answer of 30th April. I aim to publish a White Paper as soon as possible but I now think it unlikely that this will be before the summer recess.

Mr. Fortescue

Can the President of the Board of Trade confirm or deny that the delay in discussing the future of the multi-million pound aircraft industry is due to the fact that 170 warehousemen have been on strike and, therefore, 10,000 copies of the Edwards Report have been locked in a warehouse for many weeks? If this is the chief reason for delay, would it not have been better to print a few more copies?

Mr. Crosland

This is not the chief reason for the delay. We have ensured that, despite the strike, which created difficulties, copies of the report have gone to all persons and organisations closely affected. The main point is that the Edwards Report, as hon. Members who have read it will know, is a very complex and very controversial document. There are passionate feelings about it in different sections of the aviation industry. I wish to be absolutely certain that every section of the industry has the fullest opportunity to make its views known before the Government take action.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that all that he has just said is completely true?

Mr. Corfield

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that a decision on many recommendations in the Edwards Report is very urgent. Will he consider making his decisions known, if necessarily, piecemeal when they are important, rather than wait until he is in a position to take a decision on all the recommendations?

Mr. Crosland

We might consider that in particular cases. But I must insist that, given how complex and controversial the report is, it is much better for hon. Members on both sides of the House to know in detail the views of all parts of the industry before we finally make up our minds.