HC Deb 23 March 1970 vol 798 cc948-9
3. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the latest position in the discussions currently being held with Rolls-Royce concerning loan financing for the development of aero-engines.

The Minister of Technology (Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)

The evaluation of Rolls-Royce's request for aid for the RB211–50 engine is continuing and discussions with the company are well advanced.

Mr. Biffen

In view of the immense significance of this decision, ought not the Minister to give some indication to this House of the Government's thinking on the negotiations that they are having with Rolls-Royce? Will he indicate whether it is the Government's hope that whatever settlement is concluded will include a Government director on the board of Rolls-Royce?

Mr. Benn

I do not think that the latter part of that question arises on this proposal. The House is familiar with the thinking of the Department and of the Government on the launching of major projects—namely, that the market demand is a big, though not the dominant, factor in helping us to reach decisions.

Mr. Robert Howarth

Is my right hon. Friend prepared to say whether the difficulties of the Lockheed Company, on which Rolls-Royce depends so much, are in any way influencing his thinking?

Mr. Benn

It is generally known that there is already a possible application for the RB211–50 engine for the Lockheed long-range Tri-Star, and there are other possible applications. We are keeping a close eye on all potential development opportunities.