§ 4. Mr. Palmer
asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the future of the Concorde aircraft project.
§ 8. Mr. Sheldon
asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the Concorde project.
§ 20. Mr. Barnett
asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the future of Concorde.
§ 27. Mr. Cronin
asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the progress of the Concorde.
§ The Minister of Technology (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)
As I said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Woking 1118 (Mr. Onslow) on 6th July, development of Concorde is continuing as planned.—[Vol. 803, c. 300–1.]
§ Mr. Palmer
Yes, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his answers last week were thought in many quarters to be decidedly evasive? Is he aware that in Bristol, at any rate, a firm answer on what his intentions are is awaited with great anxiety?
§ Mr. Sheldon
Since the meeting with M. Mondon, which will probably be in September, will decide the fate of Concorde, whether it should be cancelled or go forward, will the right hon. Gentleman, before this meeting, consult all the airlines which have placed these very tentative orders to make sure that he fully understands their disillusionment with the whole project?
§ Mr. Rippon
I do not have that impression. With regard to my discussions with M. Mondon, I cannot anticipate the results.
§ Mr. Barnett
Is the right hon. Gentleman's policy any different from that of his predecessor? Does he find the treaty which was signed by his predecessor the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) irrevocable?
§ Mr. Rippon
I will consider the matter on its merits. It is a great project. I shall know rather more about how it is proceeding after flight tests have taken place in a few weeks.
§ Mr. Cronin
Will the Minister bear in mind that the next few months will be particularly crucial for Concorde because matters like pay-load, range and price will be established and it is likely to receive firm orders from airlines during that period? Would he reassure the House that, in spite of some pessimistic suggestions made by hon. Gentlemen, it 1119 will not be prematurely cancelled and will be allowed to survive on its merits?
§ Mr. Rankin
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is the nature of the penalty to which we shall be liable if we reject the agreement with France?
§ Mr. Rippon
I have not thought in those terms at all. I do not think there is any difficulty so far as that is concerned. We must wait for the flight tests at cruising speed before we can judge some of these matters which have arisen.
§ Mr. Judd
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that negotiations and a statement are urgently needed because rumours continue to grow all the time, even in official circles on the Continent, the latest suggestion being that even if the aircraft were given to the airlines, they could not afford the loss in operating them? Looking back over the whole saga of Concorde, is it not extraordinary that the Conservative Government, which negotiated the agreement, made no provision for a break clause?