§ 2. Mr. Robert Atkins
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the current Government funding for the experimental aircraft project.
§ The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Geoffrey Pattie)
We are continuing to provide substantial financial support for the experimental aircraft programme in accordance with the terms of our contract with British Aerospace.
§ Mr. Atkins
Is my hon. Friend aware of the great importance of making up the loss of funding on the experimental aircraft project caused by the withdrawal of Messerschmitt Bolkow Bloehm from participation in the programme, especially as it is vital to give the future European fighter aircraft a flying start from a British base?
§ Mr. Pattie
Yes, I assure my hon. Friend that I am aware of the importance of that project. I have no doubt that British Aerospace will be in touch with my Department in the near future about that matter.
§ Mr. McNamara
When British Aerospace comes knocking on his door, will the Minister give a favourable reply and be rather more generous compared with the 265 niggardly support for the project that has been given hitherto and with the support that the French industry has received from its Government for the ACX?
§ Mr. Pattie
All requests from British Aerospace will be considered sympathetically, as they have been hitherto. The hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is extraordinary when set against the substantial amounts of aid that have been announced over the past few weeks.