HC Deb 10 January 1977 vol 923 cc1043-5
27. Mr. Tery Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he proposes further appointments to the board of the Aircraft Corporation; and if he will consider appointing someone from the South-West of England.

The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Les Huckfield)

May I wish you a happy new year, Mr. Speaker, and tell the House that my right hon. Friend expects to announce further appointments to the Organising Committee for British Aerospace in due course. I will keep in mind what my hon. Friend has asked.

Mr. Walker

In thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he does not agree that further appointments to the board are needed, because we very much hope that vesting day will not be long delayed? The interests of the workers in the Bristol area would be protected by someone being appointed from the South-West. The workers feel that because of the undue delay over the Bill their interests are being neglected.

Mr. Huckfield

I wholeheartedly endorse all that my hon. Friend has said about getting the Bill through Parliament as soon as possible and getting the board set up. I am sure the workers in the industry will endorse that as well. In the meantime, I would say that members of the Organising Committee have so far been appointed on the basis of their personal suitability rather than because they represent particular interests or places.

Mr. Emery

I assure the Minister that there is no political motive when I endorse the Question and say that we in the South-West would be delighted to see an appointment made from that area. With regard to the Organising Committee, is it the intention of the Minister's Department to make statements to the House about the way in which it is proceeding? Can we be assured that the functional aspects of management will be properly analysed and appointments will be made to ensure that full managerial efficiency is obtained?

Mr. Huckfield

With regard to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I refer him to what I said to my hon. Friend. With regard to the Organising Committee, I think I am right in saying that the hon. Gentleman was not here on that late evening of 1st December when we had a full debate on these matters.

Mr. Hooley

Will my hon. Friend impress upon the Organising Committee the importance of getting on with producing the HS146?

Mr. Huckfield

We are very much aware of the urgency of what my hon. Friend says. I am sure that all my right hon. and hon. Friends will endorse once again what has been said about the need to get the Bill through and to get the board set up to set about creating a new, prosperous future for the British aircraft industry.

Mr. Adley

While doing my best to ensure that we do not run out of Questions, may I refer the Minister to the fact that the British Aircraft Corporation has already sold BAC aircraft to one East European country? Will he give serious consideration to reallocating part of the funds of the Russian loan and, in consort with the Department of Trade, consider the possibility of financing further sales of British aircraft to countries, be they in Eastern Europe or elsewhere, that may well be attracted to the aircraft by the availability of long-term low-interest credits?

Mr. Huckfield

Although I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his expertise in keeping Question Time going, we do not need it. If he wants an answer to that question, why does he not put down a Question?

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