asked the Minister of Aviation whether he will give an assurance that the Government will support the proposed extensions to the runway at Manchester Airport; and what financial assistance will be given to the Manchester Corporation to carry out these works.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that both in freight and passenger traffic Manchester Airport has been developing at an extraordinary rate in recent years, and that his reply will cause the greatest disappointment not only to people in Manchester but also to the aircraft operators? What does he propose to do about supporting any application in that area for facilities, including the provision of proper landing facilities for modern four-engined jet aircraft on the trans-Atlantic route?
I appreciate that any refusal to support additional investment expenditure must necessarily cause disappointment. I have a great respect for the energy and skill with which Manchester has pressed on with its airport; nevertheless, if I were to say "yes" to everything it would not be possible to contain expenditure at all.
Would my right hon. Friend undertake not to give permission to extend this airport south into the Bollin Valley area? Apart from the fact that the filling in of this valley would be a very expensive operation, would it not also destroy agricultural land and a famous beauty spot in Cheshire?
My hon. and gallant Friend raises a further point. I have not even got as far as that, because I am not supporting the extension at all.
Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that this is not a question of not saying "yes" to anything? This is a question of the transport facilities available to several million of Her Majesty's subjects who feel that Manchester has been gravely discriminated against in the past and that expenditure in London is out of all proportion to the expenditure that is applied to this very large and important industrial area?
I can well understand the pressure to extend this runway for trans-Atlantic jet aircraft, but there are substantial facilities at Prestwick and Heathrow, and I really would be throwing away public money if I were at present to say "yes" to any other airports which claim that we should support them in extending their runways.
Will my right hon. Friend disregard what my hon. and gallant Friend and constituent the Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) has said? How can the Minister possibly refuse this application, bearing in mind that Ringway serves 10 million people in a radius of 40 miles? How does he reconcile this decision with have pumped millions of pounds into Gatwick which handles only a few hundred movements a year, while disregarding what Manchester has asked for in respect of this vast enterprise which is an example of what can be done by leaving these matters to local government, and saying that passengers should go to Prestwick?
I share my hon. Friend's appreciation of what Manchester has done in this matter. At the same time, I know that my hon. Friend is as firm as any of my colleagues in wishing to contain Government expenditure.