Commons appeal for Yorkshire aircraft factory

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THE battle to save almost 900 jobs at a Yorkshire aircraft factory has reached the Commons, with renewed calls for the Government to consider bringing civil aviation projects to the site.

The 899 posts at the BAe Systems plant in Brough, East Yorkshire, have been under threat since the company announced plans for widespread cuts in its military aircraft division last month.

The losses would end almost 100 years of aircraft manufacturing at Brough.

But last week, Government procurement adviser Prof Christopher Bovis told the Yorkshire Post the Government could save the site by placing an “emergency” order for the maintenance of civilian or military aircraft until long-term contracts could be secured.

Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson pressed the point in a debate with Business Minister Mark Prisk.

Mr Johnson said: “He will know that I and the Right Honourable Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) and all other local MPs are determined to stop the closure of a plant that has manufactured aerospace equipment for 100 years. Will he agree to consider imaginative proposals, which may include the civil aerospace industry, to keep that manufacturing plant open?”

Before offering his sympathy to workers affected by the announcement, Mr Prisk said it was up to the company to make the business case for the cuts during the 90-day consultation period.

He added: “Members, particularly those with the experience that the Right Honourable gentleman has, are well placed to challenge that business case.

“The Government needs to ensure that we strike a balance so that we are ready to act if, at the end of the 90 days, it turns out that we have the problems that he has described.

“I will not get drawn into the pros and cons now, because I will want to see the business case, as will the Secretary of State.”

The Brough site has become known as the “Home of the Hawk” because of its long association with work on the successful trainer jet, but Mr Johnson said there was a “suspicion” this would now be built abroad.

Commenting on the exchange, Roy Cartwright, works union convenor at Brough, said: “If we can get some civilian aircraft work, with Government support to do that, it keeps us going.”