asked the Undersecretary of State for Air, in view of the fact that a definite date has now been given when civil flying will cease at Northolt Airport, if he can now state the nature and extent of the flying which will be done by the Royal Air Force from Northolt; and whether the United States Air Force also propose to extend their use of this airport.
When civil flying from Northolt comes to an end in October, the airfield will continue to be used by transport and communication aircraft of the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force. The total amount of flying from the airfield will, however, be considerably reduced.
While we hope that the total amount will be reduced, can the Minister give an undertaking that the amount of military flying will not be increased above that done at the moment, and having agreed to give up this airport largely on safety grounds because of its proximity to London Airport, does he not agree that it would be wholly wrong now to develop it for military flying?
I cannot give an undertaking that the amount of military flying which we shall do will be no greater than we do now. Of course, we are naturally very restricted at the moment by the amount of flying we can do by the operation of civil aircraft there, but the total amount of flying will be certainly reduced as compared with what goes on now, both civil and military. As I said, we have been working out details of the flying we are going to do there, but, of course, it will be limited—it is bound to be limited—by the need to avoid interference with aircraft using London Airport.
Will its use by the United States Air Force be confined to transport planes in the same way as Transport Command is using it?
It will be certainly confined to communications and transport aircraft, but as to how many aircraft we shall have there, I should not like to say.
Will the hon. Gentleman resist any development of the airport by the American Air Force, because it would be creating considerable difficulties in the area both in respect of accommodation and air safety?
I can certainly give the assurance that we shall not expand our activities on that airfield beyond the point at which we should be a danger to London Airport, or at which there would have to be new accommodation.