asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why it is proposed to continue the air lift to Berlin after the date on which it has been agreed on both sides that all existing restrictions on transport into and out of the city shall be lifted.
I would refer the hon. Member to the remarks I made on this subject in the course of my statement on 5th May. I indicated then that the air lift would continue in operation until the situation had been further clarified. It is particularly important to convey supplies to Berlin by air as well as by surface routes in order to restore stocks in the city to a satisfactory level as quickly as possible.
As the Americans have had the decency to recall General Clay, would it not rather help to ease the situation if we played our part and assisted by calling off the air lift?
No, sir. I am a trade unionist, and I never call off the strike until I am sure there is no victimisation.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in what way he proposes to show the appreciation of this House for the part played by civil aviation in the Berlin air lift.
I am grateful for this opportunity of paying tribute to the contribution which the British civil air charter companies have made to the success of this great operation. No less than 26 of these companies have participated in the air lift at one time or another during the past 10 months. Official figures provided by the Air Ministry show that almost a quarter of the total supply tonnage borne to Berlin by British aircraft operating in the air lift was carried by these charter companies. Another fact which is perhaps not sufficiently known is that the entire quantity of liquid fuels, including petrol, diesel oil and kerosene which the Western sectors of Berlin have received by means of the air lift, was carried in British civil aircraft. In the month of April, for example, supplies of this kind amounting to over 400 tons per day were carried in a fleet of civil air tankers specially adapted for the purpose. I feel sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish me to express their thanks for what has been done by the crews and staffs of these civil companies who have so ably assisted the Service organisations in the achievement of the air lift.
I rise only to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his broad expression of appreciation for the work done.
Does my right hon. Friend realise that the charter companies will greatly value this statement as a supplement to the very considerable profits they have made out of the operation?