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Civil Aviation Authority

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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18.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he will meet the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when next he expects to meet the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.

I met the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority on 25 February and have no immediate plans for a further meeting.

Will the Minister indicate what discussions he had with the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority concerning the rejection of the Plessey-GEC-Marconi bid for long range primary radar in favour of United States equipment? What consideration, in particular, was given by the Civil Aviation Authority to the long-term disadvantages that will be sustained by the British industry as a result of having lost that home bid?

The hon. Gentleman says "having lost it". No company has yet received an order for that radar. I should, however, tell the hon. Gentleman that the Civil Aviation Authority did its best to steer this order towards an appropriate British contractor. It gave full, fair and open notice of what would be needed. Unhappily, it looks as though the British industry would have the gravest difficulty in meeting the requirement within the time-scale.

Is not the Civil Aviation Authority at least 11 months behind the times'? When my hon. Friend next meets the chairman, will he remind him that we now have a Conservative Government pledged to free competition and private enterprise? In the context of that new climate, should not people like Sir Freddie Laker, who have done so much for the air travelling public in this country, be given much more support and encouragement than hitherto.

I am sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will give further encouragement to the private sector of the industry as well as the public sector. However, I would not like to go too far in any comment about Sir Freddie Laker's applications. Many of them may come to my Department shortly on appeal.