asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received since his statement on airports policy.
Following the statement by my right hon. Friend on 17 December, my Department has received about 100 letters concerning airports policy.
Will my hon. Friend take early action to assist those people whose properties have been blighted by the Government's decision and which run the risk of being blighted for perhaps another two years until the public inquiry has been completed? Does he agree that some people have been placed in a most unfortunate position and that there ought to be some help from the Government in the meantime?
The best help that can be given to such people is to get the inquiry over, so that the result is known one way or the other, as soon as possible. As my right hon. Friend said on 17 December, it is our aim that owners of property that will be required for the development should have the opportunity of selling to the British Airports Authority at an unblighted price. We are considering how that could be achieved, but it is a matter that will be relevant after the inquiry, rather than before it.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many people who were prepared to support a moderate increase in traffic at Stansted believe that the Government's decision is disastrous, since it provides for a much greater expansion? Is there any possibility that, even after the inquiry, the Government will consider carefully the possibility of putting a ceiling on the development of Stansted, at something like 4 million passengers a year?
I understand well enough the problems faced by the constituents of the hon. Member and of my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Haselhurst), but the hon. Gentleman is asking that we should abandon the policy that we have put to the House and find another site for an airfield, in which case, no doubt, we would find just as many hon. Members and local residents saying "Please take it somewhere else".
As 1½ million people live under the noise shadow of Heathrow, will the Government definitely stand by the decision announced on 17 December not to permit the construction of a fifth terminal at Heathrow, despite the campaigns to the contrary by British Airways, the Civil Aviation Authority and other interests?
We have heard all those arguments. We heard them before we came to our conclusion that it would not be right to go ahead with a fifth terminal. Nothing that we have heard in the 100 or so letters that we have had since then causes us to change our minds.