HC Deb 26 October 1971 vol 823 cc1470-1
Q2. Mr. Adley

asked the Prime Minister when he expects to take a flight in Concorde.

Q8. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a flight in Concorde prior to the Christmas Recess.

The Prime Minister

I am looking forward to a flight in Concorde at an appropriate time, but no specific arrangements have yet been made.

Mr. Adley

Would my right hon. Friend accept that many of us look forwards, as he does, to the imminent arrival of this date? Would he not also accept the reason for my Question, that many of the world's airlines would regard his taking this flight as an indication that the Government are purposefully and seriously backing the Concorde project?

The Prime Minister

The Government are providing £1 million a day for the Concorde: I should have thought that that was very plain evidence of our backing for it. We have authorised them to go into production for 10 aircraft: that is further evidence of our backing for it. My hon. Friend has touched on the real point of the airlines' position—that whether the aircraft is bought or not will depend on their assessment of its possibilities. I am glad to say that this is what they themselves are investigating.

Mr. Dalyell

In the interests of all concerned, not least those who work in the British aircraft industry, has not the time arrived for a decision one way or the other?

The Prime Minister

This is the situation which was agreed with the French Government—that there would be a review when it was possible to make a better judgment on the commercial possibilities of the aircraft and its final flight performance. This remains the position.

Mr. Jessel

When decisions on Concorde are finally taken, would my right hon. Friend please bear in mind the effect of noise upon people living under the flight paths?

The Prime Minister

This of course is one of the matters to which very great attention is being given.

Mr. Harold Wilson

But is it not a fact that all the signs are that Concorde's noise factor looks like being better than those of a number of aircraft already in service? Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm what was stated in the Press this morning, that the manufacturers, French and British, are now within a week or two of being able to give the airlines the specifications which they need to know before their decision, and that the specifications appear to satisfy earlier hopes of what Concorde would be like?

The Prime Minister

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that many of the criticisms of noise made about Concorde are not justified. I would not like to commit myself to the information being available in the next week or two, but it is certainly hoped to have it available at an early date.