HC Deb 14 July 1975 vol 895 cc1054-5
26. Mr. Guy Barnett

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what discussions he has had with Signor Spinelli about future co-operation in the aircraft industry in the EEC.

Mr. Kaufman

My right hon. Friend has not yet had the opportunity of meeting Signor Spinelli, but the Department maintains close contact with the Commission.

Mr. Barnett

Has my hon. Friend seen plans for the Nine of the Community to pool their aircraft industries under a single central authority? Have Her Majesty's Government given approval to these proposals? Does he expect the subject to be on the agenda of the summit which is to take place in September of this year?

Mr. Kaufman

I congratulate my hon. Friend on a safe return from Strasbourg. The Press report to which he has referred in the Financial Times is only speculative. We have had no proposals of this kind. As I pointed out earlier, to the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), a resolution has been passed by the Council of Ministers. There are now proposals coming forward from the Commission, but no paper has yet been received by the Council. When the proposals have been received, Her Majesty's Government will consider them.

Mr. Warren

When the proposals are received, will the Minister ensure that the strongest representations are made on behalf of the British aerospace industry to Signor Spinelli, bearing in mind that more than half of European capability in the industry, nationalised or not, lies within this country?

Mr. Kaufman

Of course, I accept what the hon. Gentleman says. When the aircraft industry becomes publicly owned my right hon. Friend will be in a much better position to make representations on its behalf.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

Has the Miniser read the admission made by Mr. David Nicholson, Chairman of British Airways, that his airways are looking for a replacement for the VC10 by 1980? Is not that an ideal proposition for Europe to consider? Why does not the Minister take the initiative?

Mr. Kaufman

As I have told the hon. Gentleman, a resolution has been passed by the Council and the Commission is preparing a paper on it. When that paper has been published, Her Majesty's Government will consider is so that our representative on the Council can contribute validly to discussion on these matters.

Mr. Dalyell

In view of the problems of Panavia and other examples, should not the proposals from Signor Spinelli be treated urgently as soon as they arise?

Mr. Kaufman

I certainly accept what my hon. Friend says, and that is what we shall do. I have no doubt that from his new position he will be able to add an influential voice.

Mr. Tebbit

Can we hope that between now and the ocacsion when the Minister meets Signor Spinelli the Minister might conceivably have a proposal in his mind to put to him, thought up between now and then?

Mr. Kaufman

I shall pass on that representation to my right hon. Friend. We always take full account of the hon. Gentleman's constructive suggestions.