asked the Secretary of State for Industry what work on the Concorde project is currently being funded by his Department.
Work on the Concorde project currently being funded by the Department is mainly for the support of the aircraft and engines in service with British Airways and Air France, including, in particular, in-service development, continued fatigue specimen testing, the meeting of warranty claims, and the manufacture of spares.
Because £800 million of taxpayers' money is being spent on the project, will my hon. Friend tell the House whether the Government are seeking to persuade American manufacturers to become interested in the advanced technology developed by ourselves and the French, so that this vast sum will not cease to exist in practical terms when the aircraft ceases to fly? Will he do that to ensure that we shall have a stake in the second generation of supersonic aircraft that will fly within the next decade or two?
Discussions on the matter are continuing between British Aerospace and American manufacturers. There is nothing more that I can add this afternoon.
Is the Minister aware that about 20,000 people turned out yesterday to see Concorde on its first appearance at Edinburgh airport? What is the extent of the warranty claims? Has the Minister figures in his brief?
I cannot answer that question without prior notice. I shall write to the hon. Gentleman.
As this is the supreme example of State entrepreneurship to date, will my hon. Friend contemplate establishing a Select Committee to examine the whole ludicrous story, together with the enormous sum of public expenditure that has been wasted for no purpose whatever?
My hon. Friend is aware that the question of Select Committees is one for the House itself. If he wants a more detailed exposition on the matter, I suggest that he consults his own splendid book.