HC Deb 05 February 1973 vol 850 cc24-5
24. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he proposes to have with other European Governments in order to safeguard the future of Europe's aerospace industry.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Cranky Onslow)

We shall continue to take every opportunity to discuss with other European Governments the steps needed to ensure a strong European aerospace industry.

Mr. Adley

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. I wonder whether in future when European companies have to buy aerospace equipment from outside the EEC he would consider with our partners in the Common Market whether, rather than impose tariff arrangements, a percentage of the production of aerospace work for these purchases could be undertaken within the EEC area.

Mr. Onslow

I shall see that my hon. Friend's suggestion is given due consideration. I agree that one means of achieving our aim is to try to make the maximum effective use of the purchasing power of the European area.

Mr. Edelman

In order to ensure the future viability of Concorde with its central rôle in the European aerospace industry, will the hon. Gentleman consider enlarging the discussions to include the United States with a view to making a Concorde project a tripartite rather than a bilateral one?

Mr. Onslow

The top priority is to ensure that the Concorde sales programme negotiations go ahead, and the Government are giving the manufacturers the maximum support in this.

Mr. Benn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that to speak about the Government's support for the sales programme does not convey the sense of strength by the Government that is needed? Will he assure the House that in thinking of a European aircraft industry policy—whatever that could mean—he is not contemplating the possibility in respect of Concorde of a single assembly line at Toulouse?

Mr. Onslow

The right hon. Gentleman will understand, and indeed he has expressed in these words, the importance in this situation of keeping one's nerve. I hope he is not doing anything to suggest that the Government are losing theirs.

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