HC Deb 29 June 1931 vol 254 cc864-6
8. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Secretary of State for India, in view of the proposal to stop further expenditure on civil aviation in India, whether he can state what effect this will have on imperial air-mail routes beyond Karachi; and what arrangements are being made for the continuance of the meteorological services in India?


asked the Secretary of State for India whether it is the intention of the Government of India to continue the work of raising the level of the landing ground at Juhu, Bombay, so as to enable the ground being employed throughout the year; and whether it is still the intention of the Government to institute at some early date an air-mail service between either Bombay and Jodhpur or Bombay and Karachi, thereby enabling Bombay to take fuller advantage of the present air-mail service between Karachi and London?


asked the Secretary of State for India whether he has any information as to the obstacles placed by the Government of India in the way of a continuous air route between Great Britain and Australia; and what steps he is taking to persuade the Government of India to assist flying over imperial air routes?


I have received the following telegram from the Government of India: The policy of operating a State air service across India has been referred to the Retrenchment Committee which may be expected to report in 3 or 4 months. In the meantime, all action in connection with the State air service has been suspended, except that the construction of aircraft, for which orders have been already placed, will proceed. No decision has yet been taken with regard to wireless and meteorological organisation. With the question of the State air service will have to be considered that of reducing expenditure on the ground organisation, including the possible closing of wireless and meteorological stations. Investigations in this connection are now in progress. The stations required for the Karachi-Delhi chartered service will be maintained until the expiry of the charter agreement. The organisation at Karachi will be maintained for the operation of the England-India service. The Imperial Airway Service to India will not be affected. No alternative for the operation of an air service east of Karachi has been considered. I have no further information, and cannot say to what extent the work at Juhu will be affected. As regard's the last part of the question of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Wight, the Government of India are of opinion that in the present state of their finances they cannot spend more on civil aviation during the current year than is strictly necessary.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this "decision, if persisted in, will have a deplorable effect on Imperial air communications, and, in view of the very heartening announcement of the Prime Minister last Friday, will this matter be reconsidered with the Government of India?


The hon. and gallant Member is overlooking the fact that it has been referred to the Retrenchment Committee. I should make it perfectly plain that the first object of the Government of India is a stable financial position.


Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the statements made to the effect that the Government of India have placed every obstacle in the way of the Australian air service?


I have not seen that statement. If it has been made, it is founded on a misapprehension.


Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the Government of India have certain obligations under the International Convention for Aerial Navigation, and that under that Convention it is their duty to provide air ports and certain facilities, if not for themselves, at any rate for other countries? Is there not a grave risk of these obligations being compromised by the action which the Government of India threaten to take?


That matter is not included in the question on the Paper. If the right hon. Gentleman will put it down, I will have the matter investigated.


Does not the decision of the Government of India hinder the possibility of a reconsideration of the passenger service of the cross-India Service of Imperial Airways?


If the hon. and gallant Member means that they will have to find more money, I have already answered that point. If he has anything in mind which does not involve expenditure of money, perhaps he will bring it forward.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

What has happened to the air stations beyond Delhi?


I have dealt with that in my reply.