HL Deb 22 November 1978 vol 396 cc980-1

2.53 p.m.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what stage negotiations have reached between British Airways and British Aerospace on the intended purchase of BAC 1–11s, how many aircraft are to be ordered and when is the expected date for the aircraft to come into service.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, British Airways and British Aerospace have not yet reached any agreement on this matter. The aircraft could be taken into service in 1980, but I cannot yet say how many will be ordered.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, while I thank the noble Baroness for that reply, may I ask her whether she can indicate at this stage whether the present negotiations are likely to be finalised in the next few weeks? If these negotiations break down, can the noble Baroness indicate whether the Secretary of State would intervene as an arbitrator? Lastly, in view of the importance of this order for British Aerospace, may I ask the noble Baroness whether it is known now how many aircraft are to be ordered by British Airways, in view of the precise figures that they gave so far as the American order was concerned?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, the information at the moment is that British Airways are negotiating for three to six BAC 1–11s. So far as we know, negotiations are still continuing concerning price and numbers, but I am quite certain that I can give the assurance that, should there be any breakdown or any deadlock in the negotiations, both of my right honourable friends will be willing to step in to try to help out.


My Lords, can the Minister say whether there is a clause in the contract for the sale of these BAC1–11s to British Airways relating to British Aerospace and saying that at the end of a certain period of time they will buy them back if British Airways do not like them? So why are British Airways delaying? Surely it must be British Airways' fault, not that of British Aerospace?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, at this stage I cannot confirm or deny what the noble Lord has said. This is a matter for negotiation between British Airways and British Aerospace.

The Earl of SELKIRK

My Lords, is the noble Baroness able to say how long it is proposed that the BAC 1–11s will continue to be manufactured? The chairman gave a very encouraging statement some time ago. Can the noble Baroness make it more definite and say for how many years it is proposed that the production of BAC 1–11s will continue?

Baroness STEDMAN

No, my Lords, but the BAC 1–11 is a very good aircraft and we expect it to remain in production for many years yet.