My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the inspector has now reported to the Secretary of State following the public inquiry concerning Terminal 2 at Gatwick Airport.
My Lords, the Answer is, not yet. The inspector hopes to present his report to my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and Trade very shortly.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. I note the words "very shortly". Is my noble friend aware that there is the Stansted public inquiry coming up in September, and it is clearly important that a decision is made before then?
Yes, my Lords, we are indeed aware of that very point. I am hoping my right honourable friends will be able to ensure that those who are interested in the Stansted inquiry will have information as to the decision on the Gatwick proposals on their hands.
My Lords, can my noble friend do anything to expedite these public inquiries into airport matters? Is he aware that, in a judicial phrase, many of them go beyond time and encroach upon eternity?
Indeed, my Lords. I am grateful to my noble friend for saying that in that way. It obviously is a matter of much concern. On the other hand, I think it must be recognised that, whereas in this particular instance the inquiry has had to take in so many far-reaching matters of such concern to so many people to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make his point, that is one of the prices that we have to pay in the system that we have. Nevertheless, a quicker outcome of these inquiries would be desirable. Clearly no one would quarrel with that.