The 1966 Defence White Paper described the Government's military aircraft procurement plans as far ahead as can be foreseen. In the civil field, the initiative rests with the manufacturers to put forward any proposals for new projects which they think worthwhile, seeking Government support if necessary. Through the Transport Aircraft Requirements Committee the industry, operators and the Government maintain close liaison on the prospects for all significant future transport aircraft.
As the core of the future defence programme—and I use the Government's own words—seems for the moment to be more synthetic than real, does the right hon. Gentleman really think that the Defence White Paper and what he said about civil aircraft constitutes the sort of long-term programme of specific objectives which this industry must have if it is to be efficient or if the brain drain is to be halted?
I think that the right hon. Gentleman must understand that the programme consists not of vague generalities but of specific projects, and it is these specific projects which we have to examine, and, following the advice which the right hon. Gentleman gave as long ago as February, when he said that for every project we must judge the market, we must be satisfied of the economic viability of the project. We are always prepared to examine any such projects which industry brings to us to promote. It is not the Government's job to initiate civil aircraft requirements.