HC Deb 23 March 1970 vol 798 cc951-2
7. Mr. Onslow

asked the Minister of Technology if he will now make a further statement on the BAC3-11 project.

22. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Technology if he will now advance the British Aircraft Corporation £75 million to help launch its BAC3-11 aircraft having regard to the recent further information he has received as to this aircraft's commercial merit.

Mr. Benn

The British Aircraft Corporation's latest proposals for the BAC3-11 reached me only a few days ago. The Corporation are asking for approximately £100 million of Government assistance, and I am not prepared to rush a decision on an investment of this size.

Mr. Onslow

Although the House will understand that the Minister does not wish to be rushed on this matter, is it too much to hope that the Minister will come to a decision before it is too late and make an announcement while the House is still sitting?

Mr. Benn

There is no question of my announcing a decision before the end of the week. I got these proposals last Tuesday and they involve a sum of £100 million. I will not be urged by the hon. Gentleman into actions of total irresponsibility.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

In view of the large amounts of public money which have in the past been involved on this project, and which will obviously be involved in future, will my right hon. Friend say what further plans he has to extend the public sector and public ownership in this industry?

Mr. Benn

That raises a separate question. As the House knows, we have arrangements for the recovery by a levy on sales of money invested by the Government in aircraft projects. There are other possibilities, but I think I should not answer them at this moment.