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Civil Aviation Bill

Volume 78: debated on Thursday 9 May 1985

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4.21 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I refer you to question 179 on today's Order Paper, tabled in the name of the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale (Sir F. Montgomery):

"To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Civil Aviation Bill."
I have from the Library a copy of the reply. It says:
"I undertook not to proceed with the Civil Aviation Bill until decisions had been taken on the inspector's report on the Stansted/Heathrow terminal 5 planning inquiries. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Housing and Construction and I will not be in a position to announce those decisions in time for the Bill to complete all its remaining stages this Session. I am therefore withdrawing this Bill."
Is it in order to announce such decisions via a written reply when the Committee deliberating on the consequences of the Bill is due to meet again on 14 May further to discuss this matter? Is it not a gross discourtesy to the House to sneak through such decisions without notifying those hon. Members on both sides who were appointed to the Committee as long ago as December last year?

Is it not sadly typical of the Secretary of State for Transport that, having flouted the London Regional Transport Act and tacked undebated legislation on to the Local Government Bill, he should seek to conceal the depth of his latest self-inflicted defeat in this shabby manner?

I have not seen the answer to which the hon. Gentleman draws my attention, but, as the hon. Gentleman kindly gave me notice that he was to raise this matter, I have had an opportunity to think about it. If he checks "Erskine May", he will find that it is in order for an hon. Member in charge of a Bill in a Standing Committee to give notice at the Table that he proposes to withdraw it. I note that transport questions will be answered on Monday, and there will be an opportunity then to discuss the matter.