Anglo-French Co-operation

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Aviation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th November 1966.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 30th November 1966

asked the Minister of Aviation what progress he has made toward the agreement of an Anglo-French helicopter project.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and I have made a good deal of progress in our talks with M. Messmer. We hope that the outstanding issues will have been settled in time for a further meeting early in the New Year.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that the report that a large order for helicopters is about to be placed is not true? If it is true, can he say what there will be for the United Kingdom aircraft industry as a result of such a contract?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

I can confirm that no part of this proposed arrangement has yet come into force. As it was set out in the communiqué, the arrrangement is that we and the French should jointly develop an airportable support helicopter, a light observation helicopter and a utility helicopter. What we hope to do is to divide the work so that we can provide equally for our joint needs.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

asked the Minister of Aviation what further contracts he hopes will be let as a result of Anglo-French co-operation.

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

The placing of further contracts will be determined by the varying stages of the different collaborative projects.

Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

Would the right hon. Gentleman try and negotiate with the French that, in any further contracts placed, a main contract will be placed either with a British or a French firm with obligations to subcontract to the other country, rather than splitting the contract into two?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

That is the object of the helicopter arrangement—that one company, either in this country or in France, would make the helicopter, and it would be arranged in the kind of way that the hon. Gentleman suggests. However, it is not possible to do that for the existing contracts.

Photo of Mr Maurice Edelman Mr Maurice Edelman , Coventry North

Would my right hon. Friend say whether he has now agreed on a joint specification with the French for the variable-geometry aircraft?

Photo of Mr Fred Mulley Mr Fred Mulley , Sheffield Park

The operational requirements are agreed and, as was announced in the communiqué, the companies both in France and in this country are working further to complete the detailed specifications.