HC Deb 02 November 2000 vol 355 cc835-6
14. Dr. Doug Naysmith (Bristol, North-West)

If he will make a statement on the role he envisages for regional development agencies in promoting innovation and investment in the aerospace industry. [133902]

The Minister for Competitiveness (Mr. Alan Johnson)

Among the statutory purposes of the regional development agencies is the promotion of business efficiency, investment and competitiveness in their regions. In those regions in which the aerospace industry is significant, we envisage a close relationship between the RDA and companies in the sector on those issues.

Dr. Naysmith

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware of the importance of the aerospace industry not only to my constituency but to greater Bristol, and, indeed, to the whole of the south-west? Is he prepared to say that he will encourage the RDA to support and to encourage not only firms such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, but smaller firms in the supply chain, which need that assistance and encouragement just as much?

Mr. Johnson

I am, of course, aware of the historical importance of Bristol and the south-west in the development of the aerospace industry. It would be perverse if the RDA in that area did not address the very issues that my hon. Friend has raised. As a result of our support for the A3XX, we expect 22,000 new jobs to be created and 62,000 existing jobs to be safeguarded. That is a very important development for manufacturing industry in this country.