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I am not aware of any suggestion that the Rapide service to the Isle of Barra will be withdrawn.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which have no replacement aircraft in prospect and where the Rapides will very likely, in the near future, have to be withdrawn?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.