HC Deb 18 November 1970 vol 806 cc1220-1
29. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Aviation Supply what advice his Department has given to Messrs. Rolls-Royce Limited in connection with its technical and financial management.

Mr. Corfield

My Department has kept in continuous close touch with the company and has endorsed its proposals to strengthen its technical and financial management.

Mr. Edelman

Will the right hon. Gentleman say at what time he first became aware of the form of the financial and technical difficulties from which Rolls-Royce was suffering? Were they all concerned with the development of the RB211, or were they also concerned with overloading the company with projects which it was incapable of supporting?

Mr. Corfield

As far as I recollect, the first time I became aware of this was on 20th August, but the previous Administration had warning lights about a year ago, as a result of which the then Minister of Technology asked the I.R.C. to intervene. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are commissioning a firm of accountants to give accounting advice. The troubles are almost exclusively tied to the development of the RB211–22. That is all I can say at the moment, but I will keep the House informed.

Mr. Nott

Would it not be normal to ask accountants to investigate a company before money is invested in it rather than after, and what, precisely, will Cooper Bros. be doing?

Mr. Corfield

As a counsel of perfection, I would entirely accept my hon. Friend's advice, but at this stage of the development of the engine the contractual situation is such that time did not allow for that exercise. The accountants are to give us a final—we hope—check on the figures, which have varied from time to time and have given us cause to believe that an outside check would be valuable.