HC Deb 05 July 1971 vol 820 cc918-20
38. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a further statement on Concorde.

Mr. Corfield

I have nothing to add to the reply my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member on 14th June.—[Vol. 819, c. 20–21.]

Mr. Sheldon

What is the right hon. Gentleman's latest estimate of development costs for this aircraft? What is the position now about a decision on full-scale production? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he has promised us such a decision? What is causing the greatest anxiety is that this matter goes on and on, more money is being spent, and the decision is likely to be taken when the aircraft are on the runway waiting for a buyer?

Mr. Corfield

I cannot accept the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's remarks. As I have explained to the House over and over again, the whole problem is that no final decision to give the full go-ahead on the production programme can be given until the market is clearer. I have nothing to add on the subject of total estimated development costs to what I said on the last occasion when I addressed the House on this subject when I gave a figure of £885 million.

Mr. Adley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that United Airlines has just renewed its options on Concorde and that K.L.M. has, for the first time since the cancellation of the United States S.S.T., expressed a serious interest in the plane? Will he ensure that this interest is encouraged over the next few months which are likely to be the most difficult period before the world airlines start to place orders for the plane?

Mr. Corfield

The next few months are likely to be crucial. I entirely accept what my hon. Friend said about the airlines which are showing an interest.

Mr. Benn

When does the right hon. Gentleman expect orders? Do the Government take seriously the Press reports which came from France of an interest from China in the purchase of Concorde?

Mr. Corfield

In so far as there is any interest on the part of China it is at a very early stage and I should not like to commit myself in any way. I do not think that we can expect firm orders at any rate in the next three months.

45. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his latest estimate of the total workforce employed on the Concorde programme in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Corfield

About 25,000.

Mr. Onslow

As my right hon. Friend will have noticed again this afternoon the anxiety of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) and his hon. Friends that this project should be cancelled and all those engaged on it thrown out of work, will he repeat that figure still more loudly, for their benefit?

Mr. Corfield

Yes. Twenty-five thousand currently, rising after full production is reached to 35,000.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Can the Minister give me any idea of the workforce employed on the Concorde project in Coventry today?

Mr. Corfield

No. I have no breakdown from area to area, but about two-thirds are employed in the Bristol area.