HC Deb 22 June 1981 vol 7 cc11-2
12. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on official visits to the Paris Air Show.

The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Michael Marshall)

My hon. Friend and I attended the Paris Air Show where we toured a large number of United Kingdom exhibitors, and where discussions took place with our opposite numbers in the French Government and with French officials.

Mr. Onslow

Will my hon. Friend take the opportunity to congratulate the British aerospace industry on its considerable successes at that show? Will he confirm that that industry stands much more chance of providing the new profits, industrial expansion and the new jobs that the country wants than the dying industries? Will he examine the scale of charges operated by the Ministry of Defence for Service aircraft such as the Sea Harrier, which firms wish to use as demonstrators at such shows? Does he agree that the charges are rather high and anything but encouraging?

Mr. Marshall

I take note of my hon. Friend's last comment. The charges are based on the usual practice. The details are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. I agree that the air show was a success. British aerospace companies announced orders in excess of £400 million at the show. I hope that Opposition Members will talk up the industry instead of engaging in the usual talking down.

Mr. Adley

Is my hon. Friend aware that the new denationalised British Aerospace management and work force have more confidence in its future than they have had for many years? Will he take this opportunity at the Dispatch Box to do everything that he can to talk up and wish well to the British Aerospace 146 and Short's new small 360?

Mr. Marshall

It is a good thought that the prime feature of next year's Farnborough Air Show will be the introduction of both those aircraft. I agree that the privatisation of this major company is showing every sign of success. Naturally, we wish to extend that process elsewhere.

Mr. Les Huckfield

I associate the Opposition with the acknowledgement of British Aerospace's success at the Paris Air Show. Does the Minister recognise that none of those achievements and successes would have been possible without the public support and public money that the last Labour Government put in?

Mr. Marshall

The 146 is an entirely commercial activity and is not related to activity by the previous Government.

Mr. Huckfield

We kept it going.

Mr. Marshall

It is typical of the hon. Gentleman to seek to establish claims which he cannot substantiate. The fact is that the 146 is a highly successful development and the hon. Gentleman should not carp about it.