HC Deb 17 April 1996 vol 275 c705
11. Mr. Wilkinson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what request his Department has received for launch aid from aircraft, aero-engine or aerospace equipment manufacturing companies in the United Kingdom towards participation in the Airbus Industrie future large aircraft project. [23926]

Mr. Eggar

No such request has been received. Launch aid is granted under the Civil Aviation Act 1982 and is not available for military projects.

Mr. Wilkinson

I am reassured by that answer, as the market to which the FLA could be directed is already dominated at the one end by the C130J, in which British industry has a large stake, and at the other by the C17 McDonnell Douglas transporter. Would not launch aid be much better applied to Airbus Industrie's construction of a new jumbo jet, preferably in collaboration with McDonnell Douglas, which also wants to build such an aircraft, so that we can take on Boeing and fill the last remaining gap in Airbus Industrie's inventory of aircraft at the top end of the range?

Mr. Eggar

I take note of my hon. Friend's views. With regard to the future of Airbus Industrie, it is the Government's view that the highest priority is the rationalisation and increased competitiveness of Airbus Industrie, thus enabling it to compete effectively with Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers.

Mr. Cousins

Will the Minister make it clear that there will be no question of support for Airbus Industrie's jumbo jet project if it continues to have exclusive agreements with General Electric of the United States to build aircraft engines, to the disadvantage and exclusion of British aircraft engine manufacturers?

Mr. Eggar

Certain of the Airbus Industrie aircraft already use Rolls-Royce engines, but clearly it is important that if Airbus Industrie is to add to its existing range of aircraft, it should do so in a commercially sensible way, producing the highest quality aircraft at the lowest cost, thus giving a return both to shareholders and to Governments.