The Secretary of State will recognise my interest in Short Brothers because the company has plants in Newtownards and Castlereagh. We welcome Bombardier to Northern Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman's statement is better late than never; the delay associated with the whole matter has created great unrest within Northern Ireland and has certainly hit the morale of the company's staff. The damage done by delays and by the Ministers responsible during the past year is deplorable.
The lack of investment by present Northern Ireland Office Ministers in recent years has been one of the main reasons for the decline in the fortune of Short Brothers. It can be fairly said that when another Government were in power the losses were not as bad and there was investment. The problem at Short's in recent years has been lack of investment, yet today we learn that £700 million and more is being spent to get rid of the company. Delays have also cost the loss of another 700 jobs in the past four weeks. We must not run away from the facts of the situation created by the Minister responsible for handling the future of Short Brothers.
What are the commitments to Short Brothers and to Northern Ireland? Will the company's three main sectors remain in Northern Ireland? If so, is there any time limit? What about the plant in Newtownards? What guarantee is there that Short's will continue to maintain a separate plant in the borough of Ards? What about the successful Belfast city airport which Short Brothers developed in recent years? Is it included in the sale or is the intention to hand it over to the monopoly control of the Northern Ireland Airports Authority? Can the Secretary of State guarantee that Belfast city airport will continue to exist as a separate entity? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm also that Short Brothers will not only be involved in the design of the regional jet but its manufacture and that the FJX is herewith abandoned?