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Aircraft Manufacturing Licences (Foreign Countries)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 28 June 1954

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asked the Minister of Supply what steps are being taken to ensure that no further British aircraft are made abroad under licence involving patents held or financed by Her Majesty's Government while there is uncertainty about employment prospects among workers formerly engaged on Comet manufacture.

None, Sir. A general refusal to grant manufacturing licences to foreign countries would be likely to reduce rather than increase employment here.

As there is some concern among the workers in the industry who have been working on the Comet, can the Minister make a statement which would make it clear to them just what employment advantages there are in having about 600 British aircraft being made at present in Holland and Switzerland under licence?

We would all prefer to see British aircraft made in Britain rather than in other countries, but I think we may be quite sure that the companies concerned do not grant manufacturing licences for their aircraft to be made abroad unless they are fairly well satisfied that by refusing them they would not obtain orders to make the aircraft in this country.

Is the Minister aware that on 3rd May he gave an assurance that so far as Short Bros. and Harland, Ltd., of Belfast are concerned he was trying to find alternative contracts to the Comet contracts? Is he now in a position to make any further statement about this?

Is it not a fact that some wings of aircraft destined for the Royal Air Force are now being manufactured in Italy and brought back to this country for assembly? While that may have been all right at one period, have not the circumstances changed?