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British Airports Authority

Volume 15: debated on Monday 14 December 1981

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he expects to bring forward proposals to privatise the British Airports Authority.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the view held by many Conservative Members, that early privatisation of the British Airports Authority will be in the interest of airline operators, airport operators and, above all, the personnel, who could buy shares if such privatisation were to go through? Does he recognise that implicit in that demand is no criticism of the general management of the British Airports Authority—indeed, quite the reverse—but that urgent action in this sphere would be greatly appreciated?

I am glad that my hon. Friend made those remarks about the management of the British Airports Authority, with which remarks I completely agree. I am aware of the strong feeling among certain of my hon. Friends, and I draw attention to the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in c. 42 of Hansard of 16 November, which says all that needs to be said at present.

If they had, it would not arise on this question, and if it did, it would not be me who would answer.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is great scope for the use of private contract services in many of the activities undertaken by the British Airports Authority? Will he consider issuing a circular—as my hon. Friend the Minister for Health has done to health authorities—urging the use of private enterprise wherever possible?

The British Airports Authority already uses many private enterprise companies within the airports and draws substantial profits and benefits from the duty-free franchise. I shall ensure that its attention is drawn towards examining what more can be done in that regard.