HC Deb 14 July 1975 vol 895 cc1033-4
3. Mr. Pattie

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he plans to pay an official visit to Weybridge.

The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Gerald Kaufman)

My right hon. Friend has no plans to do so at present.

Mr. Pattie

Does the Minister accept that his answer will cause great disappointment in Weybridge, especially among the work force of the British Aircraft Corporation establishment in that town? Will he ask his right hon. Friend whether he will agree to see delegations from the work force at BAC and, if he will, whether he will also agree to see staff association members and not simply members of the trade unions? Perhaps the Minister would also like to take the opportunity to express his appreciation of the record aerospace exports achieved in May this year and tell the House how he thinks that the situation could be improved by nationalisation.

Mr. Kaufman

My right hon. Friend will have his attention drawn to those various requests which have been made by the hon. Gentleman. I have paid tribute to the excellent export record of the aerospace industry. Nationalisation will ensure that the industry is rationalised and that the £550 million poured into the aircraft industry by the taxpayer over the past five years will in future have some kind of satisfactory return.

Mr. Heseltine

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, in view of the Chancellor's statement last week in which he asked the whole country to make sacrifices, the very least sacrifice that the Government could make would be to abandon this legislation which will cost in the region of £500 million, to enable the industry to continue to make the exports to which he paid tribute and which it has managed to do without any degree of Government ownership whatsoever?

Mr. Kaufman

To abandon nationalisation would be a sacrifice not for the Government but for the country. We require a publicly-owned aircraft industry to ensure rationalisation and answerability by the industry to the taxpayers who in the past five years have paid out £550 million without getting anything back.