HC Deb 02 March 2000 vol 345 cc541-2
7. Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

When he will announce his decision on Government aid for the new Airbus project. [111536]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Alan Johnson)

Discussions with BAe Systems on launch investment to secure UK participation in the Airbus A3XX project are well advanced.

Mr. Pike

The Minister will be aware that the project is of importance not only to British Aerospace, but to the aerospace industry in my Lancashire constituency and, indeed, throughout the whole country. It is important that the project should go ahead; the industry is waiting for a decision on that and on two major military projects, which are essential for its future success.

Mr. Johnson

My hon. Friend is right. I have met representatives from BAe Systems and from the work force and am well aware of the ramifications, and of the fact that 20,000 jobs depend on the success of Airbus. Incidentally, last year the company secured more than 55 per cent. of the market for large, civil aircraft. We hope to make an announcement soon. We are well aware of the valid points made by my hon. Friend.

Miss Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

Will the Minister join me in paying tribute to Airbus and its contribution to employment and to the aviation industry? Will he please make an early decision on support for the new Airbus project? Will he also condemn practices pursued in other countries—notably the US, where the fly American policy means that all American personnel have to fly on American carriers?

Mr. Johnson

I agree with the points made about the value of BAE Systems and the success of Airbus. Last October, we announced DTI funding of £2.45 million for an important competitive initiative of which Airbus is an important part. There should be fair competition rules and we hope to make an announcement on the Airbus project soon. We realise that A3XX is crucial to the future of Airbus and to BAe Systems.

Madam Speaker

Questions 8 and 11 are deferred until 12.30.