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Civil Aviation

Volume 440: debated on Wednesday 16 July 1947

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Boac Atlantic Services (Base)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in view of the operational facilities available in this country for U.S. aircraft, which are equal to, if not greater than, those in European countries already operating such aircraft successfully, if he will now consider issuing a direction to B.O.A.C., in accordance with his statutory powers and in the national interest and to save dollars, to transfer its operational base for the Atlantic services from Montreal to England.

No, Sir. The desirability of transferring this base to the United Kingdom at the earliest possible date is, however, fully appreciated, and I can assure the hon. Member that this question is receiving very close attention, in consultation with the corporation.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary realise that R.A.F. "C" type hangars are perfectly capable of accommodating Constellation aircraft? Can there not be co-operation between the Parliamentary Secretary and the Secretary of State for Air, to ensure that a suitable aerodrome is made available immediately? Further, is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the real cause of the present disinclination of B.O.A.C. to move the base to England is that senior staff whose opinions are asked do not wish to give up their luxurious living in Montreal at the present time?

Perhaps I might deal with the second part of the supplementary question first. It contains an unfair imputation upon the staff concerned, and so far as I have been able to ascertain there is no evidence to support it. So far as the first part of the supplementary question is concerned, there is a very close co-operation between the Secretary of State for Air and my noble Friend. The hon. Member was good enough to suggest one aerodrome where these operations might take place. Consultations took place and the Air Force were prepared to make arrangements. It is equally true that if a large number of workmen are concerned they must have housing accommodation. In the case of the Kemble aerodrome, there was no housing accommodation for the workmen.

Scottish Advisory Council


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation who is the representative of the Scottish Members of Parliament on the Scottish Advisory Council on Civil Aviation.

Scottish Members of Parliament, as such, are not represented on this council.

Viking And Dakota Aircraft (Operatingcosts)


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation the operating cost of the Viking aircraft and that of the Dakota, shown so as to draw a proper comparison, having regard to their different carrying capacities.

The cost of operating either type of aircraft depends upon the routes concerned and the operating conditions. The Viking has only been in regular operation for a comparatively short period, but experience already shows that the Viking carrying 24 passengers does not cost more per aircraft mile to operate than a Dakota carrying 18 passengers over a similar range.

Are we to assume from that answer that the Viking is not a very expensive aircraft to operate, and that the allegation made by an American representative a short time ago is without foundation?

I am not quite certain to which American statement the hon. Member refers. It is true, and it is no good hiding the fact, that the Viking is an adaptation of a wartime machine which was not altogether suitable for transport purposes. It is more costly to operate than one would desire. It is an interim type of aircraft.

Argentina (Passports, Retention)


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Argentine immigration authorities take British passports away from British subjects entering employment in the Argentine Republic and retain these passports for 12 months; and what representations he proposes to make to the Argentine Government to prevent the continuance of this irregularity.

I am informed that the Argentine authorities retain the passports of all persons who enter Argentina with tourist visas and do not return them until the tourists leave the country again. Persons who enter as tourists, but who decide to remain, can only regain their passports if they can produce a permanent residence permit, which, I understand, they can only acquire after spending twelve months in Argentina. His Majesty's Government regard as open to grave objection the practice of retaining the passports of British subjects, and representations have been made to the Argentine Government.

Can the hon. Gentleman say when those representations were made? Is he aware that the practice has gone on for some considerable time and that British subjects are being deprived of their passports for the whole 12 months?

Without notice, I cannot give the date of the representation. We are not satisfied with the position and we shall continue doing what we can.

If British subjects have been deprived of their passports, are they receiving any assistance during that time from the Embassy?