HC Deb 05 November 1976 vol 918 cc742-3W
Mr. Ronald Brown

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on the talks held with the French Secretary of State for Transport in London on 2nd November.

Mr. Kaufman

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Trade—the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Davis)—and I met M. Marcel Cavaille, the French Secretary of State for Transport, on 2nd November 1976 in London to review progress on the Concorde project and to discuss further the possibilities of collaboration on civil aircraft projects

On Concorde we noted with satisfaction the very successful entry into service of the aircraft, and its wide acceptance; we affirmed our determination to complete to schedule the 16 aircraft programme, while maintaining production facilities in the best possible condition; and we looked forward to the opening of further routes, notably to New York, Melbourne and Tokyo. Noting the manufacturers' decision on a joint promotional effort we agreed to carry further current work on an active commercial strategy.

On subsonic aircraft, we agreed that, as part of the review of the options open to the two countries in this field, we would urge our industries, in consultation with our officials, to pursue as a matter of priority investigations into the possibility of collaboration on the 200-seats medium range aircraft—in the Airbus family—and the 160-seats short- to medium-range aircraft. The studies should cover, among other things, prospective profitability, financing, and sharing of design, development and production work, as well as market prospects We will be asking our industries to try to conclude their studies within two months.

We also reviewed the scope for an aircraft of approximately 100 seats, and noted that this was a field in which the United Kingdom would appropriately seek the lead in a single collaborative European project; it was one in which the French Government, without committing themselves, would be prepared to consider partnership. We agreed that this issue would also be pursued urgently.

We then discussed the prospects for an advanced supersonic transport for the 1990s in the light of the technological advantage acquired through collaboration on the Concorde project. We agreed that, in principle, the co-operation in this area should continue on a basis of mutuality between the two countries. The British Government considered that it should consolidate the knowledge and experience gained on Concorde. The French Government agreed, and intend to explore, through their manufacturers, the conditions on which this matter should be pursued. We agreed that we would continue to keep in touch on developments in this field. We decided not to proceed with the manufacturers' proposals for a derivative of the Concorde, for production in the 1980s, to he developed.