HC Deb 28 March 1984 vol 57 cc283-4
12. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the latest state of the orders and options for the A320 Airbus and the total cost of the project.

Mr. Norman Lamont

To date, 51 firm orders and 45 options for the A320 have been obtained from five airlines. The total development cost of the project is currently estimated at around £1,800 million.

Mr. Colvin

I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that those figures show that the Government have backed a potential winner by approving launch aid for the A320. Might not the order book look a little better if Airbus Industrie adopted more aggressive marketing policies, along the lines of its American competitors? Is there not room for making the consortium more accountable both to its partners and the public who, as taxpayers, provide the largest slice of AI's funding?

Mr. Lamont

I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend means by more aggressive marketing policies. Airbus Industrie has been very aggressive in its marketing, and extremely successful. I agree with what my hon. Friend says about internal management. The undertaking is large, so it is important that AI's management should be strengthened and that the organisation is equal to the enormous task that it has taken on. We are discussing that matter with the industrial partners.

Mr. Carter-Jones

Will the Minister approach his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, with his undoubted charm, and ask him to persuade British Airways to buy the A320? Will the Minister take into account the need to increase the British share in the high technology of the V2500 and the need for a larger part of the avionics for the aircraft to be built by people in areas of high unemployment?

Mr. Lamont

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman spoke of my charm, although his question was ambiguous. I assure him that British Airways will give full consideration to the A320 in assessing its future aircraft requirements. I know that it will consider it. With regard to components, we have been pressing the case with Airbus Industrie because we believe that the British components industry, which is very competitive, as is demonstrated by its record in America, might well play a greater role in the Airbus project. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the Airbus will be offered with the superb V2500 engine, which will add to the quality of the aircraft.

Mr. Gerald Howarth

Can my hon. Friend tell us whether one of the factors to be taken into account by British Airways is the availability of the V2500 engine? Will he assure the House that he is putting pressure on Rolls-Royce to bring forward the engine's development so that it can be offered for the first aeroplane that comes off the production line?

Mr. Lamont

Rolls-Royce needs no pressure from the Government. The engine has already been launched. It is for the airline to decide which engine to use, but, as my hon. Friend knows, British Airways has been a large customer of Rolls-Royce.