asked the Minister of Aviation what was the value of research and development contracts placed by him during the past 12 months, or any ascertainable period; and how many of these were placed with firms in the north region.
The value of research and development contracts placed by the Ministry of Aviation during 1961 was approximately £125 million; my Department's records are not kept so as to show the number of contracts placed in particular regions.
Why was so little of the work placed with the North-East firms, especially when they are so efficient and could, perhaps, do the job more cheaply? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this type of contract could overcome the unemployment position in the North-East much better than anything else?
The hon. Member's Question referred to the Northern Region. I am aware that the electronics industry in that region is mainly concentrated in the north-eastern part of it, but it is only a small proportion of the electronics industry in the country. Since our practice is to allocate contracts by judgment of technical competence and financial consideration rather than by geographical location, it is inevitable that only a small proportion of the contracts will go there.