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British European Airways (Trident 3-B Aircraft)

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th March 1968.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South 12:00 am, 13th March 1968

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give an outline of the compensation arrangements agred with British European Airways arising from the refusal by the Government to sanction the aircraft of their choice.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the position regarding the second half of British European Airways' proposed re-equipment programme.

Photo of Mr Stanley McMaster Mr Stanley McMaster , Belfast East

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now make a statement on the aircraft re-equipment programme of British European Airways.

Photo of Mr Tim Fortescue Mr Tim Fortescue , Liverpool, Garston

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the present position of the aircraft re-equipment programme of British European Airways.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

B.E.A. has sought my approval for the purchase of 26 Trident 3-B aircraft, with an option for 10 more. I have informed the Corporation that the Government approves the purchase of a fleet of Trident 3-B aircraft and have suggested that it should enter into negotiations with the manufacturers. Detailed approval must await the outcome of these negotiations. Meanwhile, I am discussing with the Corporation the financial arrangements required to implement the undertaking given by the then Minister of Aviation on 2nd August, 1966.

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South

While welcoming the news that B.E.A. is at last in a position to place an order, may I ask for an assurance that no further delays will be caused by unnecessarily prolonging the negoiations on compensation?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

I can give that assurance completely. We are as anxious as B.E.A. to speed matters up as fast as we can.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

This is good news to those hon. Members who have been hoping for an early decision on this, the second half of the re-equipment programme of B.E.A. Will my right hon. Friend accept that it brings satisfaction in view of the constant statement, particularly by hon. Members opposite, denigrating a very fine aircraft which, in its Mark 1 and Mark 2 versions, has given excellent service to B.E.A?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

I wholly agree with my hon. Friend's comments.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what the estimated deliveries of this aircraft are? Has he looked into the commercial prospects of selling it abroad? Such prospects must come into the deal with B.E.A.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

As the hon. Gentleman will recall from the exchanges following my statement before Christmas, we have considered the export prospects for this aircraft and we think that, following devaluation, there are some prospects and possibly even more of import saving. But it would give a false impression to pretend that there was a huge export market for it. I should like notice of the point about delivery dates.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Did not the previous financial agreement to which my right hon. Friend has referred comprehend a decision that, if B.E.A. were compelled to buy an aircraft not of its own choice, it would be compensated operationally by the Government? Does that still stand?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

Yes, Sir. We stand by the statement made by the then Minister of Aviation that the Government will take steps to ensure that B.E.A. can operate as a fully commercial undertaking with the fleet it acquires. That still stands.