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Air Travel (Indemnity Scheme)

Volume 21: debated on Monday 29 March 1982

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10.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has completed his consideration of an indemnity scheme for loss of advance payments by scheduled air travel passengers.

This work is continuing. There are a number of possible approaches, but all of them present difficult problems and I cannot yet say whether a workable solution will be found.

Is not a workable solution absolutely essential? Does not the Minister regard it as totally unsatisfactory that he wrote to me on 12 March about an elderly lady in my constituency who had saved up to travel by Laker Airways and was told by him that the only advice that he could give was that as an unsecured creditor she should make contact with the receiver?

That may be unsympathetic advice, but it is extremely sound. I advise the hon. Gentleman to ask his constituent to follow it.

In view of the importance of early warning in any system, will the Minister tell us whether he or any other Ministers were informed before Christmas of doubts about the financial viability of Laker Airways?

Is there not a general problem about consumers paying in advance for services? Will the Department publish as early as possible the Cork committee report on insolvency, which might give consumers under those circumstances more priority than ordinary creditors?

I do not know the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question, but I shall find out and let him know.