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Civil Aviation

Volume 414: debated on Wednesday 17 October 1945

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Internal Air Lines


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he is aware that the development of internal air lines is at a standstill pending the Government's announcement on the re-organisation of air transport; and what steps he is taking to enable these air lines to start work without delay.

:The policy of the Government for the future organisation of air transport is one of several factors on which the future development of internal air lines depends, but I am not in a position to add to the replies I gave to the hon. Member last week on this subject.

:Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the delay is prejudicing employment of ex-R.A.F. personnel, and that as a result of one advertisement for one pilot, an air line company received over 80 answers?

I cannot admit that there has been any delay, but there is a procedure for seconding R.A.F. men for civil flying.

Is the hon Gentleman aware that there is the greatest indignation in Scotland at the lack of any sort of policy in this connection?

:The Scottish position is well understood, and I have made it clear that an early statement of policy may be expected.

Airport Facilities (London)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he can make a statement of present plans for the provision of airport facilities, to serve the London area.

Considerable progress has been made with London civil airport policy and my Noble Friend will make a further statement soon.

Has my hon. Friend come to any decision about allowing Northolt to be used for civil aviation?

It is not for me or for my Noble Friend to come to a decision, but discussions on the subject are proceeding satisfactorily.

Who is to come to a decision? Surely my hon. Friend agrees that this is a matter on which he must fight the Air Ministry on behalf of civil aviation?

My hon. Friend is now announcing a very strange constitutional doctrine. We have found the Air Ministry very co-operative in this matter.

Eire (Discussions)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he can make a statement on the recent conversations between his Ministry and representatives from the Government of Eire in regard to civil aviation.

In the course of a recent visit to this country of Mr. Lemass, Eire Minister of Industry and Commerce, the opportunity was taken to engage in preliminary discussions about the arrangements to be made between the two countries for the operation of our respective air services. It was agreed that Aer Lingus Teoranta should operate services between Eire and this country, and that reciprocal rights should be enjoyed by United Kingdom airlines. The use of the Shannon airport for transatlantic services of United Kingdom airlines was also discussed and it was agreed that the existing temporary permit to British Overseas Airways Corporation authorising the use of Foynes and Rineanna should be renewed, pending the conclusion of a long-term agreement.

Can my hon. Friend say whether any progress has been made towards providing a transatlantic airport in Northern Ireland?

The question of a transatlantic airport in Northern Ireland has been considered, but such an airport as an alternative to Rineanna would involve operational difficulties and would place United Kingdom airlines at a disadvantage with the transatlantic operators of other countries using Rineanna. An airport of inter-continental standards will however be necessary in Northern Ireland in order to provide air connections between Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom and Continental countries.

Severn Services


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he is yet in a position to state when the air services over the Severn will be restored.

I regret that I am not yet in a position to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 23rd August.

Dominion And International Conferences (Reports)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he will publish a report of the conferences, with the agreements and conclusions reached, on Inter national Civil Aviation, which took place in Canada in the latter part of 1944 between representatives of His Majesty's Government and the Dominion Governments; and whether he intends to publish a report of the proceedings of the Inter national Conference on Civil Aviation held at Chicago in 1944, including all the protocols, drafts and other documents agreed upon at that Conference.

In answer to the first part of the Question, I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by the then Secretary of State for Air on 1st November last year about the conversations held in Montreal before the Chicago Conference and to the statement made by the then Minister of Civil Aviation on 16th January last summarising the results of the second series of conversations held in Montreal after the Conference.

In answer to the second part of the Question I refer my hon. Friend to the account given in another place on 16th January last, by the then Minister of Civil Aviation, who led the United Kingdom Delegation at Chicago. Copies of the Final Act of the Chicago Conference, which includes the resolutions and agreements of the Conference, together with copies of the minutes of all the plenary sessions and of the meetings of the main Committees are available in the library. The Final Act, Part I, but not Part II, which contains the technical annexes, has been published by His Majesty's Stationery Office. In addition, I am arranging for a copy of the report of the Conference, prepared by the United Nations Information Organisation in co-operation with the United States Office of War Information, to be placed in the library. This report contains, inter alia, a day-to-day summary of the proceedings of the Conference and summaries of all important documents placed before it for consideration.

Is my hon. Friend aware that it is approved by the final act of the Agreement reached at Chicago that all these documents should be published by the United States Government? A number of them have been published. Will my hon. Friend take steps to represent to the United States Government that these should be made available in this country, and that they should get on with the job of publishing the remainder?

I cannot answer for the United States Government, but to the best of my knowledge they have fulfilled all the obligations which they have undertaken in this matter.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the minutes of the conference proceedings are not enough? We want to see the debates and the reasons for which the New Zealand and Australian proposals were turned down.

A full report of these debates and all the arguments used is, in fact, in the Library of this House. They are contained in Items 4 and 9 of the Volume placed in the Library. The only arguments used came at the second Plenary Session of the Conference and in the meeting of Committee I on 8th November. At the first meeting to which I have referred, the Plenary Session, the Australian and New Zealand delegates put the points of view of their countries. [Hon. Members: "Speech."] I hope the House will allow me to continue; it will save a lot of time if I can clear away once and for all this point which has taken up a good deal of the time of the House. At the Committee meeting speeches were made by the New Zealand and Australian delegates. They were supported by two speeches by the representatives of Afghanistan and France and opposed in a speech by the Brazilian representative, which was formally supported by a representative of Ecuador. The only other speech was one by Mr. Berle, the leader of the United States delegation. Lord Swinton did not speak.

Arising out of the last supplementary question and answer, might I ask whether the hon. Gentleman now thinks that the question concerning New Zealand and Australia has been resolved for good and that in future Debates we shall not hear that argument again?

The reason I asked for the indulgence of the House for a longer answer than I like to give, was in the hope that it would clear that point away.

Transatlantic Aircraft (Baltimore Base)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what number and type of civil aircraft engaged on trans-Atlantic operations are based at Baltimore; what is the number of air and ground personnel involved in these operations; and what is the cost of operation involving expenditure of American dollars.

Three flying boats of Boeing 314A type are employed by British Overseas Airways Corporation on trans-Atlantic operations and are based at Baltimore. I am informed by the Corporation that the flying staff employed numbers 85. It is not possible to state the number of ground staff directly employed on the operation of the flying boats throughout their route, but the number of all grades so employed at Baltimore is 305. The dollar expenditure on the operations is merged in the expenditure of the West Atlantic Regional Headquarters at Baltimore, and it would not be possible, without undue labour, to arrive at the dollar expenditure attributable to the operation of the flying boats.

As my information is that £480,000 is the cost of running these three flying boats, can the Minister give me an assurance that at an early date they will be based in this country, thereby saving dollar exchange?

I do not think that my hon. and gallant Friend's information can be correct, because I am assured the sum cannot easily be broken up. The other part of the supplementary question is a separate question, but I shall certainly be glad to look into it.

British Overseas Airways Corporation


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what steps he takes to ensure that Government policies are efficiently carried out by the chosen instrument, B.O.A.C; if he is aware of the widespread discontent amongst all grades of the flying and ground staff and what steps he is taking to eliminate the causes.

It is the responsibility of my Noble Friend as part of the day-to-day administration of his Ministry to ensure that the policies of His Majesty's Government as laid down in the British Overseas Airways Act, 1939, are carried out by the Corporation. Inquiries and representations regarding specific matters arising from discharge of the Corporation's duties are made by the Department whenever such action seems desirable. In the unlikely event of representations regarding the carrying out of Government policy proving ineffective, my Noble Friend would consider what further action should be taken, including, if necessary, the exercise of his power to terminate the appointment of any member of the Corporation. With regard to the last part of the Question, I am not aware of widespread discontent among employees of the Corporation, but I would remind my hon. and gallant Friend that under the provisions of the British Overseas Airways Act the functions of management are entrusted to the Corporation.

If I am able to produce a list of some 200 names of those who are showing this discontent, or introduce my hon. Friend to some 15 members of the senior staff who also feel this discontent, will he undertake to look further into the matter, and will he also see that there is no victimisation?

We will, of course, look into specific cases, but they must be specific, and in this particular instance I should require not only the names but letters from the persons concerned before I should feel authorised to undertake such an inquiry.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.