Lucas Aerospace

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12 February 1979.

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Photo of Mr Leslie Huckfield Mr Leslie Huckfield , Nuneaton 12:00, 12 February 1979

I said that the working party had completed its examination. I cannot tell at present to what extent it intends to go further. The further development of proposals in the report will be studied at the meeting on Wednesday. It would be premature for me to comment further until we have received a report from the management and unions on the progress that they made last Friday and in other discussions that they may have had.

I emphasise to my hon. Friends that I do not want to prejudice anything that they may want to say. I and my right hon. Friends want only to facilitate constructive discussions between the management and the unions on the future of the company.

There is no doubt that the new civil aircraft programmes that have been launched over the past six months—for example, the Boeing 757 and 767, the British Aerospace 146 and the Airbus 310, as well as the launch of the Rolls-Royce RB211–535—have significantly changed the immediate prospects for the equipment industry. When these prospects must be seized rapidly, companies like Lucas must be involved. If they do not secure business on some of the new programmes that I have mentioned, the longterm outlook for them must be bleak. The workers know this. It is a question of grasping as firmly as possible the opportunities in the aerospace and aero engine industries.

I thank my hon. Friends for raising this subject tonight. Because of the short notice, I have not been able to give my reply the kind of thought that my hon. Friends deserve. However, I have tried to answer all their points.

The tripartite meeting on Wednesday will discuss the comprehensive report. I look forward to that meeting, and I shall bear in mind the need for other Departments to be involved. Now that the meeting has been arranged, let us look forward to it, let us look forward to progress being made from it, and let us try to take forward the spirit of the initiative of the shop stewards' plan.