F111 Aircraft (Offset Agreement)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th April 1967.

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Photo of Mr Mark Woodnutt Mr Mark Woodnutt , Isle of Wight 12:00 am, 12th April 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total value of orders received to date from the United States of America by British manufacturers to offset the cost of the F111; and what efforts he has made to include machine tools in the list of approved equipment.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

130·87 million dollars. Milling machines are included in the U.S. Air Force's Shopping List, and several British firms have shown interest in tendering. We are pressing the U.S. Navy to include machine tools in their list. The U.S. Army does not buy significant quantities of machine tools.

Photo of Mr Mark Woodnutt Mr Mark Woodnutt , Isle of Wight

I congratulate the Minister on the progress which he has made. Could he not try to have the whole range of British machine tools included? There are many machines which we make for ordnance factories in Australia and Canada and which are not included in this list.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

I will certainly look into that.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

Is the Minister still satisfied that the F111 is a good buy for this country?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

If the hon. Gentleman peruses the initial Question, he will see that it is in relation to the offset and not particularly to the aircraft itself.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

On the subject of offset sales, how can we hope for early decisions on subjects like machine tools when only on 6th April we were told in another place by the Minister without Portfolio that matters like the automatic testing equipment which belong to the aircraft itself are still under consideration?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

That is a different question from obtaining orders under the offset agreement.

Photo of Mr Mark Woodnutt Mr Mark Woodnutt , Isle of Wight

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the agreement to offset the cost of the F111 exempts British quotations from the provisions of the Buy American Act.

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

Provided that the item concerned has been identified by the two Governments, and the British bid is in all respects competitive, the U.S. Defense Secretary will normally waive the provisions of the Buy American Act.

Photo of Mr Mark Woodnutt Mr Mark Woodnutt , Isle of Wight

Is the Minister aware that the provisions are only waived for machine tools for contracts in excess of 100,000 dollars at any one time, building up to 500,000 dollars in a year? This is a very large figure for small items like machine tools, and it should be lowered. Can he give an assurance that he will try to do something?

Photo of Mr Roy Mason Mr Roy Mason , Barnsley

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct. I hope that there will be a review in the near future.