HC Deb 17 January 1996 vol 269 cc734-5
13. Mr. David Evans

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what proportion of the total export of the United Kingdom is accounted for by the aerospace industry. [7899]

The Minister for Industry and Energy (Mr. Tim Eggar)

The best currently available estimate of the proportion of the UK's total manufactured exports accounted for by the aerospace industry in 1994 is about 7 per cent.

Mr. Evans

Does my right hon. Friend agree that a strong home market leads to a strong export market? Does he also agree that it is a bit rich for that lot over there to start talking about cutting the defence budget by £6 billion and about making things that nobody wants, as they did in the 1970s? Is it not about time that we told them straight that we have the best defence industry and have spent £6 billion more on defence than they would have done? When that lot opposite stop talking about stakes in Britain and start talking common sense, it will be better for all of us.

Mr. Eggar

I could not have said it better myself.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Is the Minister in a position to say whether there are any concerns at the moment in the aviation or aerospace industry? What is the latest on the future large aircraft?

Mr. Eggar

I think it is fair to say that in the civil aerospace industry, including the sector that is covered by Shorts, demand is generally more buoyant now than it has been for a couple of years, and expectations are rising. British companies, Rolls-Royce and BAe in particular, have had some spectacular orders over the past few months. It is an internationally competitive market. We have to continue assisting our aerospace industry to keep costs down and to stay in the forefront of technology. The Government are totally committed to that.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Would my right hon. Friend congratulate Avro International Aerospace, a subsidiary company of British Aerospace, on its great success with its RJ series which it is selling not just in Europe but in many countries, including America? Is my right hon. Friend's Department assisting British Aerospace with any future developments of aircraft which are so vital to this country's manufacturing capacity?

Mr. Eggar

I certainly join my hon. Friend in congratulating Avro International, which won a particularly important order in August from Sabena. I pay tribute to everybody in British Aerospace who has transformed that company. There is no doubt that in manufacturing it is a world leader and it is accepted as such by aerospace companies throughout the world. My Department is working extremely closely with that company. One of the encouraging signs is that BAe is working not just with the Government but with its suppliers and engine manufacturers to present to the world a better integrated UK capability in the whole aerospace supply chain. That is in the interests of BAe and the whole country.