§ Mr. McMaster
asked the Minister of Supply (1) if he will give an assurance that the delay in finalising the order for the Britannic air freighter will not cause redundancy at Messrs. Short Brothers and Harland in Belfast;
(2) if he will give an assurance that with regard to the order for the Britannic air freighter, the decision as to the number and specification of type required will be finalised at the earliest possible date, in order to enable Messrs. Short Brothers and Harland to pursue their sales negotiations with potential overseas buyers.
§ Mr. Aubrey Jones
I am happy to be able to assure my hon. Friend, that, although a contract has not yet been placed, Short Brothers and Harland are well aware of the R.A.F. requirement for freighter aircraft and have taken it into account in determining the size of their labour force. Current redundancies are due to other causes and could not be avoided by hastening the negotiations on the Britannic order. At the present time about 200 technicians are employed on the project and this figure should rise to about 500 by the end of the year. As the programme gets under way, the172W number of men engaged on the project will, of course, be substantially greater. Meanwhile, the process of translating broad design proposals into the detailed specification required for contract purposes is nearing completion.