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Civil Aviation

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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London Airport (Road Transport)

1.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation why, in view of the fact that London Airport is under his control, he does not provide a rapid and direct transport service between the airport and the Central London area.

Responsibility for surface transport between the airport and Central London rests with the air line operators, in conjunction with the licensing authority for public service vehicles and the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolitan Area as to the routes to be followed.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have pointed out in the Question that he is responsible for London Airport, and that I require to know whether he is satisfied that the present arrangements are satisfactory, and whether he has any future plans, because at present it takes passengers travelling between the airport and the centre of London as long as a third of the time it takes to fly between London and Paris?

The transport of passengers between the centre of London and the aerodrome is the responsibility of the operator, and not of the aerodrome owner.

Flying Clubs

2.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, if he will now make a statement regarding the Government?s policy in connection with flying clubs.

Is not a statement to be made about the flying clubs by the hon. Gentleman?s Ministry, in view of the fact that we were promised a statement in two months? Nothing is being done about the flying clubs.

If the hon. Gentleman will look in the OFFICIAL REPORT of yesterday?s date, at col. 2011, he will see the report of a statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air.

As presumably the hon. Gentleman and the Government trust the chief executive of B.O.A.C., and as two years ago that chief executive recommended that aid should be given, is it not about time the Government decided to follow that advice?

This is a Government decision, not the recommendation of an individual.

Why should it be left to the Secretary of State for Air to make a statement about flying clubs, when they are the responsibility of the Minister of Civil Aviation? When is the hon. Gentleman going to make up his mind about this? We have been waiting now for two years.

Boeing Stratocruisers

5.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what is the nature of the financial arrangements with the United States for the payment for the six Boeing Stratocruisers on order.

The financial arrangements are embodied in a contract between British Overseas Airways Corporation and the Boeing Aircraft Company. The details of this contract are a matter of management reserved to the Corporation.

Could the hon. Gentleman say how much of the purchase price has already been paid? Is there an escape clause in the contract in case the aircraft do not come up to the specification required?

Nearly 6,000,000 dollars have already been paid. I really could not answer the second part of the supplementary question without notice.

Stansted Airport

8.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how soon it is proposed to open Stansted Airport in order to provide facilities for charter operators; and what will be the position of residents in the huts at present on the airport.

Progressively from 1st April, as accommodation can be made available. The huts will be needed for those employed on the aerodrome, and I am afraid that the present occupants, not so employed, will have to move elsewhere.

Would the hon. Gentleman be ready to receive a deputation accompanied by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden on this subject, in order that the full case may be put to him of the circumstances of those on the airport?

We are already in very close consultation, and I am happy to acknowledge the close co-operation of Bishop Stortford Urban District Council; but we should be happy to receive a deputation headed by the right hon. Gentleman.

Would the hon. Gentleman also acknowledge that he has had the co-operation of Saffron Walden Rural District Council, which is intimately concerned in this matter?

Would the hon. Gentleman also receive a deputation about Errol Airport, which has been waiting for three years, on the same terms?

Vikings

9.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, how many Vikings have been sold by the British European Airways Corporation; and how the selling price compares with the price paid for them.

I am informed that British European Airways Corporation have not sold any of their Vikings.

May I ask how it is that a statement to the effect that they have been sold appears in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, who censures the Government for what happened when the sale took place; and is it not extraordinary that a high public official should make a statement which is now denied from the Government Front Bench?

I am only responsible for the correctness of my own statement. No doubt the Comptroller and Auditor General can justify his.

Surely, the Auditor General would never make a statement without having evidence before him. He must have taken evidence, and does the hon. Gentleman deny the evidence which he must have received before he made up his mind?

In view of the highly-conflicting and unsatisfactory answer, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

York Aircraft

10.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many York aircraft have been disposed of by the air Corporations; what sum was paid for these York aircraft; and for what price were they sold.

I am informed that no Yorks have been disposed of by the Corporations.

Corporations (Amalgamation)

11.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in view of the excessive losses accruing, what is the future policy of his Department regarding British South American Airways and the other two Government Corporations.

14.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if, in view of operating difficulties, he will amalgamate the British Overseas Airways Corporation and the British South American Airways; and to what extent legislation will be necessary for this purpose.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement that I made yesterday.

Why did the hon. Gentleman make the statement yesterday? Why did we have to receive a premature statement here because a statement happened to be made in another place? These Questions were on the Order Paper for seven days, and it is generally the practice when Ministers have Questions put to them to answer them in this House. Are we subordinate to another place?

I am at the direction of Mr. Speaker whether a statement is made. If the hon. Gentleman has any supplementary question, I will deal with it.

Is it a fact that this amalgamation is taking place, and, if so, is the new corporation—B.O.A.C.—going to assume responsibility for B.S.A.A. as regards aircraft which have already been ordered by B.S.A.A.?

I answered both questions yesterday, and the answer again to both is,?Yes, Sir.?

On a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman has now said that whether or not he makes a statement is at your discretion, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday when a statement was made, and the matter was put to you on a point of Order, you, I think, said that it was not a matter for you, but it was entirely a matter for the Minister.

Further to that point of Order; when an occasion arises and we try to put down a particular Question on urgent private business, if a Question happens to be on the Order Paper relating to it, however remotely, we are not allowed to ask it as a Private Notice Question. On the other hand, a Minister can come in here and make a statement at any time.

It was surely obvious that when a statement was to be made in another place, as I gathered was the case yesterday, there would have been complaints if the statement had been made in another place and not made here as well. Therefore, in spite of the Question on the Order Paper, the Minister was entitled to make his statement. If a statement is to be made—and I am no judge on that— and it must be made in both places, I think it is only courteous to this House that it should have a statement at the same time as the statement in another place.

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for that explanation, but that is not the point that I raised. The hon. Gentleman said just now that whether or not he made a statement was a matter for your decision. If I remember rightly, you said yesterday just the contrary, and that whether the Minister made a statement or not was for him to decide.

I was looking up Erskine May this morning, and actually the Minister who wants to make a statement has to ask my permission. I am informed that a statement is to be made. I cannot say whether it is a good or bad one, but unless it seems to me to be quite unreasonable, I have no reason for withholding my consent.

I have seen a lot of this happen in this House. A Minister can make a statement to the House by permission of the House. It is the House that has to give the permission, and the Minister yesterday did not even have the courtesy to ask the House for permission.

The hon. Gentleman is in error. The Minister has the right to make a statement, subject, as I have said, to my consent, but, apart from that, a Minister on domestic affairs or on foreign affairs has, I think—I am speaking from memory—the right to make a statement. I think that if Ministers abused that right, the House would soon let them know.

Gliders (Registration)

12.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation when he intends introducing the compulsory registration of gliders.

Is there any pressing reason why this regulation should be brought in on 1st April, 1949? If there are to be fees prescribed for these flying clubs and gliding clubs I hope that they will not be too high.

The regulation comes in under the new Air Navigation Order and Regulations which become operative on that date. There will be fees charged, but the whole question of regulations and fees charged has been discussed with the British Gliding Association and the Royal Aero Club who feel quite happy about them.

Boeing Stratocruisers

13.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation what are the delivery dates for the six Boeing Stratocruisers on order for the British Overseas Airways Corporation; and when are they expected to be in service.

I am informed that, according to the latest information received from the manufacturer, the first of the six aircraft on order for the British Overseas Airways Corporation should be delivered in September and that delivery should be completed by the end of November. If these dates are maintained a limited North Atlantic service should commence as from 1st January, 1950.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Western Airlines of America are disposing of this type of aeroplane, as are also other international airlines, and is he still satisfied that this aeroplane will come up to specifications and do what is required?

As to the first part of the question, I was not aware of that. As regards the latter part, that is not a question for my noble Friend or myself but for the operator who is to operate the aircraft.

Surely, dollars are required for these aircraft and that comes within the purview of the Government?

That decision was given in 1946 when the hon. Gentleman then held my position.

When Mr. Peter Masefield returned from the South West Pacific conference he made a report to the Minister of Civil Aviation which contained a great deal of useful information with regard to stratocruisers, and can that report be made available to Members of this House?