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Re-Armament Contracts

Volume 497: debated on Monday 10 March 1952

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asked the Minister of Supply what proportion of re-armament orders are at present being placed with the S.A.L. design and manufacturing unit at Prestwick Airport.

It would be contrary to established practice to give information about the value of contracts placed with particular firms.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that even if 1 per cent. of the Government's orders which are allotted to England were diverted to Prestwick, it would put that factory on a satisfactory basis? Surely he is not going to follow the precedent of the previous Government in pursuing a vendetta against Scotland.

There is, of course, no question of any vendetta against Scotland. This firm is particularly suited to subcontract work. We have a recognised procedure for helping firms to obtain subcontracts, and we are doing what we can for that firm as well as for others in a similar position.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this was one of the smaller firms which suffered when the aircraft programme had to be cut down, and that there is a very valuable staff there, whose energy is not fully employed? Will he look into the possibility of making use of this factory in Prestwick, as there is a great deal of feeling that Scotland has never really had a proper share of our aircraft development work?

We are well aware of this firm's facilities, to which the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) has drawn the attention of successive Governments, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that, in so far as we can, we will see that it gets its fair share.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall take an early opportunity of raising this matter.

Mr. Speaker, have I no rights? May I not resist the claim put forward by the hon. Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes)?


asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the dissatisfaction in the northern region about the allocation of contracts to the engineering firms in connection with the re-armament programme; and if he will give an assurance that this region will, in future, receive its fair share.


asked the Minister of Supply what steps he is taking by way of placing Government contracts to avoid redundancy in factories in the Sunderland area administered by the North Eastern Trading Estates Limited.

Contracts are not allocated to any particular region and I am not aware that there is dissatisfaction in the North. Firms on the Ministry of Supply trades lists have an equal opportunity of tendering for contracts and any firm can apply to be included in the lists. Firms on these lists who occupy factories administered by the North Eastern Trading Estates Limited, receive the preferential treatment given to firms in all Development Areas.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that by answering two Questions together he has completely omitted to answer my Question? Will he be kind enough to send for the report of the Northern Engineering Bureau, which exists to help the Government in its re-armament programme and to help the North of England, and see the dissatisfaction expressed in that report? Also, may I have an assurance that he will take some action about it when he has read it?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the past few months some 700 workpeople have been laid off in Sunderland factories and that the late Government gave preference to the Development Areas in the allocation of contracts?

We are continuing to give exactly the same preference as the late Government to the Development Areas. I will certainly study the report to which the hon. Lady refers.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that when he says that preference is given to firms in Development Areas, there is one such area in Lancashire, which I have the honour to represent—Westhoughton—which has received no preference whatever in the past seven years? They have not even had a new factory in that time.