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Civil Aviation

Volume 499: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1952

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asked the Minister of Civil Aviation if he will name those employed as civil air attachés and the countries to which they are attached; and if he will increase this number, in view of the necessity of increasing the export of British aircraft.

I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a list of those officers employed as civil air attachés and of the countries to which they are accredited. The answer to the second part of the Question is: "No, Sir"; measures for increasing aircraft exports are primarily the responsibility of the aircraft industry and not of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but the Ministry's overseas representatives have instructions to assist the aircraft industry so far as they can in the course of their normal duties.

In asking a supplementary question, may I, on behalf of the whole House, be allowed to congratulate my hon. Friend upon his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] While I thank my hon. Friend for his reply, may I ask whether, when he has had more time to consider the matter, he will bear in mind that our American friends have representatives in great numbers all over the world selling their own products of their aircraft industry; that if he will follow their example it will, I am sure, pay good dividends; and will he look at it again?

I am sorry that my maiden answer to my hon. Friend should be rather a dusty one. The fact is that the aircraft firms and the Society of British Aircraft Constructors are well represented abroad at the moment. In the circumstances, I do not think it would be justifiable to have further attachés for this purpose.

Following is the list:

  • R. S. S. Dickinson, United States of America and Mexico.
  • Air Marshal D. Colyer, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
  • G. S. Hill, Argentine, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
  • R. M. S. Rayner, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey.
  • B. G. Barnard, Iraq, Persia and the Persian Gulf.

Policy Review


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation whether he will give an assurance that in all future associate agreements between independent air operators and the corporations, the terms and conditions of employment of persons employed by the associates will be not less favourable than those contained in agreements negotiated through the machinery of the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport, and that all pension rights will be transferable.

My hon. Friend is considering this important point as part of his general review of civil aviation policy.

Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that in any future arrangements that may be made pilots will be transferred with their pension rights?

I cannot give that assurance, but I can assure my hon. Friend that before any announcement is made of the new policy for civil aviation the Minister will consult the trade unions on the National Joint Council which are concerned.

Will the hon. Gentleman also bear in mind the necessity to safeguard wages and conditions of work in factories to which independent operators sub-contract the maintenance and repair of their aircraft?


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation if he has now concluded his review of civil air service policy.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that tomorrow the bus service recently run under the control of the nationalised service in Scotland passes into the hands of private enterprise? Can he tell us what effect this will have with regard to the displacement of the men already in the service, and if jobs are assured to them under the private enterprise company that is now taking over this nationalised service?

I find it a little difficult to connect the hon. Member's supplementary with the review of civil aviation policy which is now under discussion.

Surely all the services associated with the nationalised air transport system are part and parcel of the review of civil air policy now taking place. Can the hon. Gentleman say if there is to be a basic change and if the nationalised aircraft are to be passed over to the hands of private enterprise?

I cannot anticipate the statement that my hon. Friend will make in due course on the general question of aircraft transport policy.

The hon. Gentleman has said that the trade unions will be consulted before his hon. Friend introduces any new policy. Can he give an assurance that the House will have the opportunity of discussing this matter before the Government finally make up their minds on any definite new policy?

Can the hon. Gentleman tell us how he defines "in due course"? When can we expect a statement on civil air policy?

As soon as a satisfactory statement can be made. My hon. Friend the Minister is well aware of the importance of making a statement on this matter, which is complicated and important, at the earliest possible moment.

On a point of order. While we have been getting these assurances changes are taking place.

On a point of order. Should there not be some penalty, Mr. Speaker, when an hon. Member claims audience by using the words "point of order" when he is not raising a point of order?

Points of order are, of course, very useful to the Chair when they are points of order, but if they are not points of order, it really is abusing the Rules of the House to get in debating points.

State Airports (Passenger Charges)


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation under what authority the proposed charges on passengers leaving this country by air at State airports are to be imposed.

With effect from 1st May a charge is being imposed on the operators of international air services calculated on the number of passengers leaving this country by air from State airports. The payment of this charge will be a condition of use of the airports in accordance with Article 49 of the Air Navigation Order, 1949.

Services, Scotland—England


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what schemes have been submitted to him for approval recently for expanded summer services between Scotland and England.

New connections have recently been introduced by British European Airways linking Orkney and Aberdeen directly with London and Manchester, and Glasgow and Edinburgh with Manchester.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that these improvements go far enough? On looking at the timetable, I was rather disappointed. May I ask my hon. Friend to make his presence felt by giving us something better?

The Question was: "What schemes have been submitted?" and the answer, I am afraid, is that no schemes of this nature for extending summer services have been submitted, but we shall be very glad to investigate the satisfactory or unsatisfactory nature of the services.

While not wishing to prevent any expansion of air services in Scotland, will the hon. Gentleman take note that we on the North-East coast have nothing at all, and will he give some attention to that?

The position on the North-East coast, like the position in Scotland, will be constantly under the review and care of my hon. Friend.

Will my hon. Friend assure the House that something will be done for my part of the area of Scotland between Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen in the West, which is entirely without air services of any kind though these were faithfully promised by the Socialist Government.

Helicopters (Water Tests)


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what tests over water of helicopters for civil aviation have been carried out; how far these have proved satisfactory; and what further similar tests are proposed.

Existing civil helicopters of the single-engined type are not suitable for public transport operations over water and, therefore, no tests have been made. None is contemplated until a suitable type of helicopter becomes available.

I am looking ahead a little. In view of the fact that islands like the Hebrides and Shetlands are places which desperately need helicopters because other aircraft are unable to land there, would the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that early tests will be made as soon as a suitable type of helicopter is available?

I can assure the hon. Member that my hon. Friend is aware of the importance of investigating the possible use of helicopters for this service as early as is practicable.

Has the hon. Gentleman considered the use of helicopters for civil aviation generally for the North of Scotland, quite apart from their use over water?

The use of helicopters for all civil aviation purpose is very much in the mind of the Minister at the present moment.

Rapide Aircraft (Barra Service)


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what provision is being made to maintain a reserve supply of Rapide aircraft and spare parts until a type of aircraft suitable for such landing strips as that in the Isle of Barra is available.

I am not aware of any suggestion that the Rapide service to the Isle of Barra will be withdrawn.

I think that the hon. Gentleman has rather missed the point. Is he aware that the Rapides are, of course, becoming exhausted both in respect of numbers and spares, and that so far no replacement is really in view that can be applied to places like the Isle of Barra and various other places dependent upon natural sand strips for landing aircraft? Can he make any statement about, or is there any investigation taking place of, the problems confronting places like the Isle of Barra, which have no replacement aircraft in prospect and where the Rapides will very likely, in the near future, have to be withdrawn?

The Corporation concerned have this matter very much in mind, and the hon. Member can be assured that so long as there is no suggestion—and there is not at the moment—of withdrawing this service, the Corporation will ensure that adequate and satisfactory supplies of the aircraft which are operated are available.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Scottish Civil Aviation Advisory Council have been considering this question for a number of years? We have got no further towards a solution of this problem of replacement and even the Heron, which is a possible replacement type on some of these services, is not suitable for places such as Barra.

Can the hon. Gentleman give some assurance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] I hope that it will be a point of order, Mr. Speaker, if I ask you to intervene to ensure courtesy from hon. Members opposite. Will the hon. Gentleman give me an answer to the part of the Question which asked for a reserve supply of Rapide aircraft and spare parts in order to ensure the continuation of the service, for which there are no replacements at all and none contemplated?

I appreciate the hon. Member's concern for this very important service. The Corporation are responsible for maintaining it and, as I have said, they have considered this question of the type of aircraft very closely, and so long as they are responsible for maintaining the service they will also be responsible for maintaining adequate supplies of aircraft for that service.

North Uist


asked the Minister of Civil Aviation when the regular passenger service to the Isle of North Uist will be resumed and island air mail facilities be extended to this district.

I am afraid that the cost of providing these services would be unjustifiably high in present economic circumstances.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a similar reply was very severely criticised when it was given by the previous Government—quite wrongly, I think—and while appreciating the high cost involved, may I ask him if he is nevertheless aware of the need to improve the air service to this island, which is by far the worst served for transport by sea or air of any of the islands in Scotland?

I appreciate the importance of communications to this part of the United Kingdom, but the fact is that both the high operating costs involved and the cost of bringing the airfields back into operation would, in the present circumstances, not be really justified.

On a point of order. You will have observed, Mr. Speaker, that there are several Questions referring to air services as such. When hon. Members have tried to put down Questions relating to rail services and time-tables those Questions are refused. Can you tell me why Questions are allowed about air services and not about rail services?

The answer about rail services is that the position with regard to Questions on nationalised industries has been referred to a Select Committee, which has not yet reported, and at present a provisional system is being worked. That does not apply to these air services.