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British Aerospace

Volume 961: debated on Monday 22 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to meet the chairman of British Aerospace.

My right hon. Friend meets Lord Beswick frequently.

Does British Aerospace accept that its sale prospects both at home and for export would be much enhanced if it concentrated on the manufacture of quieter aircraft, which would also benefit those who live below the flight path? What is being done on this topic?

The British Aerospace Corporation takes such matters into account, and obviously must take into account the future impact of aircraft noise regulations in various parts of the world. However, I am sure the hon. Gentleman appreciates that the subject of noise is more appropriately one for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade.

Has my hon. Friend had an opportunity of discussing with Lord Beswick the threats raised by some of our Community partners internationally against the HS146 aircraft? What action are the Government taking to counter those threats?

I appreciate that there is concern on this issue, and I assure my hon. Friend that all these matters are being kept constantly under review in partnership with British Aerospace.

What consultations has the Minister had with the chairman of British Aerospace about the future prospects of Concorde? Does he agree that the welcome findings in the United States to the effect that this aircraft is quieter than any comparable jet should encourage us to think about the future of Concorde? What is happening in this respect?

I note the hon. Gentleman's enthusiastic comments about Concorde. I only hope that his comments will be echoed by his Conservative colleagues. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the subjects of routes, purchasing and leasing are kept under constant review.

Will my hon. Friend ask the Secretary of State for Industry when he meets Lord Beswick to discuss future collaboration with the airbus consortium? Following that, will he make a statement about this matter before long because many people want to know the details of the programme of collaboration with Europe?

I note my hon. Friend's concern. He will be pleased to know that the proposal to inject £50 million into the airbus project will be discussed by the Standing Committee during the week after next.