HC Deb 17 January 1972 vol 829 cc16-8
20. Mr. Sheldon

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

Mr. John Davies

The first pre-production aircraft flew from Filton on 14th December. I flew in the prototype on 10th December. As hon. Members know, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh made a flight on 12th January. The Government are giving the project their full backing and support and my right hon. Friend will be meeting our French colleague within the next two months to review progress.

Mr. Sheldon

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm the statement made by the French Minister of Transport on 11th January that an offer has been received from the Soviet Union and the United States to co-operate in the building a second generation of supersonic aircraft? Will the Secretary of State also inform the House why we have to wait for our information from the French Minister on this as well as on costs and other matters?

Mr. Davies

I do not think that is quite right. The fact is that the remarks to which the hon. Gentleman referred were made at the Paris Air Show and were not at all positive suggestions made by responsible people to Ministers.

Mr. Nicholas Edwards

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people will be anxiously awaiting an early statement that regular supersonic flights over this country will be banned, and that many of us who have experienced the noise from these aircraft will find it impossible to support the continuation of this project without such an announcement?

Mr. Davies

I take due note of that remark. The matter, of course, is very much under active consideration by the Government.

Mr. Benn

May I congratulate the Secretary of State and other members of the Government on their decision to fly in the aircraft, and say how glad the people who make it are that the Government appear to be giving it such full support? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that there is likely to be a gap before orders come in, even if Air France and B.O.A.C. and others order, and that there is a serious possibility of short-term redundancies in Bristol which would not be sensible with the build-up of the programme which is likely to go forward? Without regard to second generation aircraft, which I agree will have to be looked at separately, it would be a great mistake if the project were in any way endangered by this gap between development and ordering.

Mr. Davies

The right hon. Gentleman can be very sure that this matter is under very careful study by the Government.

Mr. Sheldon

In view of the continuing unsatisfactory nature of the reply—and as Ministers fail to answer Questions—I wish to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.

22. Mr. Palmer

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will next meet the French Minister of Transport to discuss airline contracts for the Concorde aircraft.

Mr. John Davies

A date has not yet been fixed, but my right hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace expects to meet M. Chamant some time within the next two months. The point mentioned by the hon. Member will be one of the subjects discussed.

Mr. Palmer

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that in Bristol we are anxious to know when the national arlines of Britain and France will place orders for a significant number of Concordes? Could he give us any hope in that respect?

Mr. Davies

This question of any contracts with Air France and B.O.A.C. is clearly the next crucial issue in the future story of Concorde. It is clearly a matter which will bedeveloped as a result of the meetings between my right hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace and M.Chamant.

Mr. Dalyell

What is the latest international position of the overland flying rights of Concorde?

Mr. Davies

The question of supersonic flights over land has already been raised in the course of Questions, and I sai dthat the matter was under careful consideration by the Government.