HC Deb 10 April 1940 vol 359 cc549-50
18. Lord Apsley

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in view of the fact that civil aviation is now much restricted and centralised in the hands of one combine, he will, in the interests of economy and efficiency, consider the abolition of the Department of Civil Aviation so that the corporations concerned in the combine may pursue their activities unhampered by restrictions except those imposed by military or naval exigencies; and whether, in order to secure speedy and complete co-operation between the military and civil authorities, he will appoint Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm liaison officers to sit on the boards of the corporations concerned?

Sir S. Hoare

No, Sir. It would not be practicable to adopt my Noble Friend's suggestion. The Department of Civil Aviation has many important responsibilities, including the administration of statutory orders and regulations under the Air Navigation Acts governing the flight of all civil aircraft to, over and from this country, and of United Kingdom aircraft wherever they may be. The Department is also charged with the administration of the British Overseas Airways Act, 1939, and the various conventions and agreements to which this country is a party relating to international air navigation. I should add that the staff has already been reduced in proportion to the diminution of work falling on the Civil Aviation Department since the outbreak of war.

Lord Apsley

Is it intended to keep on this Department in spite of the fact, from what my right hon. Friend has said, that it appears to be somewhat redundant? Would it be possible to give it a constructive role instead of the role it has had up to now, which is mainly destructive?

Sir S. Hoare

I would always wish that every part of the Air Ministry's organisation should be constructive and not destructive.