§ Alan Johnson
This Government have a track record of providing significant support to this important sector. For example, we have committed nearly £1 billion in launch investment support over the past five years for major new airframe and aero-engine programmes.
In addition, support for civil aircraft research and technology currently runs at about £20 million a year. And, as large investors in R&D, aerospace companies will benefit from the recently announced tax credit scheme for larger firms.
We are working closely with other Government Departments on how best to address a wide range of problems faced by the UK aerospace industry. For the longer-term, this embraces a wide range of complex, cross-cutting policy issues—for example, support for research and technology, launch investment, export financing arrangements and defence procurement matters. For the nearer term, we are looking at how to make the 1082W most of our generic supports for productivity and competitiveness and the way they are deployed in the regions.
To help with this process, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, announced on 16 May the formation of the Aerospace Innovation and Growth Team, lead by Sir Richard Evans. This will enable key stakeholders to work together to produce a shared vision and strategy for the future success of the industry. I expect Sir Richard and his team to report by the end of March 2003. This will enable an informed debate to take place followed by an agreed action plan to take the industry forward.