HC Deb 19 November 1973 vol 864 cc935-6
14. Mr. Sheldon

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

Mr. Michael Heseltine

As I informed the House on 22nd June, the manufacturers have been studying possible future improvements and the associated production programmes. The studies have just been received, and I and my French colleague will review the position again when their implications have been fully analysed and presented to us.

Meanwhile development is proceeding with the aim of introducing Concorde into service at the earliest practicable date, and we are continuing to support the manufacturers in their sales activities.

Mr. Sheldon

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the changes that he is now talking about will affect the final development cost of the Concorde and what subsidies on sales he is considering?

Mr. Heseltine

The whole question of the selling price is a matter on which the manufacturers are making representations to us and we shall have to consider it in the light of what they say. As to future development costs, I made clear in my last announcement of the current estimates of the development costs of Concorde that there were one or two areas still under consideration. If we should decide to proceed in these areas, that would be additional to the costs already announced.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Leaving aside the technical changes, will my hon. Friend say what further progress may have been made on the leasing arrangements between the North American and South American airlines and BAC?

Mr. Heseltine

I have no firm information about the leasing arrangements. It is for the manufacturers to discuss these ideas and I should be only too pleased to consider anything they might wish to say.

Mr. Bishop

Has the Minister forgotten the almost contemptible way in which he brushed aside requests for a Select Committee by my hon. Friends and myself on the Second Reading and subsequent stages of the Concorde Aircraft Bill? Some of the justifiable concern and fears and some of the misrepresentations which have now been made about the future of Concorde are due to the Minister's failure to publish the kind of information that people want. In view of the more recent views and criticisms of the Public Accounts Committee, will the Minister reconsider his decision not to set up a Select Committee so that we may be assured on Concorde and have the kind of replies which may justify its future and its viability?

Mr. Heseltine

Misrepresentations and allegations have been made about Concorde for many years, and the Labour Government never thought that a Select Committee should deal with them when they had the chance to set one up.

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