HC Deb 27 March 1985 vol 76 cc463-4
4. Mr. Beggs

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he plans to introduce measures to promote the growth of the United Kingdom aerospace industry; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Pattie

I have no plans to add to those measures which already exist to help promote growth in the United Kingdom aerospace industry. The Government have given considerable assistance to the industry in recent years. It is our intention to increase further the international competitiveness of the industry by returning to the private sector as soon as possible those parts of the industry which remain under state control.

Mr. Beggs

I thank the Minister for that answer. Does he accept that equality of opportunity exists in the Short Bros factory in Belfast? Does he also accept that, as Shorts has made a commitment to use a small site in west Belfast, that site should be used by the company for future apprentice training?

Mr. Pattie

I am sure the hon. Gentleman will accept that that is really a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

As to the first part of his question, in awarding the contract for the United States air force aeroplane — known as the Sherpa — to Shorts, the United States Government satisfied themselves that no discrimination was practised by Shorts. The contract was awarded not only on merit, but on the fact that the United States Government were satisfied on that point.

Mr. Robert Atkins

Does my hon. Friend agree that the growth prospects for the United Kingdom aerospace industry as a whole would be enhanced if the Ministry of Defence were encouraged to make the attrition order for Tornados to keep the lines going throughout the country, and that every encouragement should be given to ensuring that the European fighter aircraft project gets off the ground so that the United Kingdom benefits throughout the length and breadth of the land? Will he use his considerable influence with the Ministry of Defence to put that into effect?

Mr. Pattie

I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that he seeks. I am sure he will be aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will read this exchange tomorrow.