asked the Minister of Aviation when he expects to complete his negotiations with the British Aircraft Corporation and the Hawker Siddeley group for the merger of their airframe interests; and whether he will make a statement about the nature and timing of any legislation which will be required to provide the necessary public funds.
May I ask two questions? First, can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any idea of what sort of profit turn the Government will be expecting on the public investment in this industry? Secondly, on the question of timing, can he confirm the promise clearly made in this House by the Prime Minister on 16th June that his, the Minister of Aviation's, office will not disappear until the major recommendations of the Plowden Committee have not only been decided upon but implemented? In other words, will he be there until this is finished?
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for seeking to save me from redundancy—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shake out."]—but the employment of all Ministers and the organisation of Government are not matters for me, and I think it unlikely if, as I expect, the Ministry ends early in the New Year that these negotiations will have been concluded, although obviously our attitude to the Plowden Committee recommendation has been decided and announced and the planning has been done.
On the question of profit turn, I do not think that anyone can answer a question of this sort until we know the sums of money involved in more detail, because neither of these companies is a public company in the sense that one can draw a value from its shares from the published figures. Each is a subsidiary of other companies.
Has my right hon. Friend had drawn to his attention an interesting article in this week's Economist which says that the nationalisation of the aircraft industry is the only solution to our problem in this field? Can he say whether the Government have seriously considered this, and whether they have any future plans in this direction?
As I announced during the debate last week, this is the basis on which the Government's reorganisation of the industry is proceeding. Naturally, before coming to this conclusion all possible alternatives were carefully considered.