HC Deb 26 January 1982 vol 16 cc738-9
10. Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance he is giving to British Aerospace in its search for private funding of the P110 project.

Mr. Pattie

Through ministerial and other contacts the Government are helping British Aerospace to promote the P110 with potential customers who, it is hoped, will contribute to the cost of this private venture development.

Mr. Atkins

Is my hon. Friend aware of the critical importance to the Warton division of British Aerospace of an early decision on the P110 project, the so-called Jaguar replacement, because if a decision is not taken soon about whether it should be privately or Government funded the research and design teams there will effectively be broken up? That will be very detrimental both to British Aerospace and to Britain's manufacturing capacity.

Mr. Pattie

My hon. Friend knows that British Aerospace has said that it will continue to fund the project at least until midsummer and possibly to the end of this year. I agree with him about the urgency of attracting some foreign interest so that the money necessary to fund the development is forthcoming.

Mr. Stan Thorne

Does it ever disturb the Minister that he is involved in the immoral and destructive pursuit of armaments manufacture? Does he not believe that he might be better employed generating improvements in the National Health Service?

Mr. Pattie

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's constituents who work in the British Aerospace factory at Warton would take it somewhat amiss that the comments that he has made to me can be equally applied to them. It is a fine company and a fine work force doing an important job to safeguard Britain's defences.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that Ferranti Ltd., which employs several thousand people in and around my constituency, regards the success of the project, in which it has an interest, as being of the utmost importance both in terms of technological development and employment?

Mr. Pattie

We are very much aware of Ferranti's involvement in the project and of its excellent contribution to this and other projects.