HC Deb 03 December 1941 vol 376 cc1114-5
13. Mr. A. Edwards

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether he is aware that on the civil air-line between Lisbon and this country available space has recently been allocated to people who are making no direct contribution to the war effort, whilst important officials are unable to obtain space; and whether he will explain what system of priorities is in operation?

Captain Balfour

Priority is given in the civil air service between Lisbon and the United Kingdom to persons who are certified by the appropriate Government Departments to be travelling on business directly connected with the war. Nobody unless so certified can obtain a priority passage. Nobody can obtain a place if there is any priority passenger who requires space in the aircraft. Sometimes there are seats which are not required for priority travellers. Passengers are then given seats who, although not travelling for official purposes, have compassionate or other urgent private reasons or public reasons not directly connected with the war for using air transport. Similar opportunities for such passengers occur from time to time when there is a last moment cancellation of a priority passage.

Mr. Edwards

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman seen a Press cutting in which it was stated that while men on important official business were held up for several weeks at Lisbon, an Ambassador's butler was allowed to travel on the plane? Would he say further whether, in view of the necessity of keeping very close and rapid contact with America, any steps are being taken to provide extra facilities?

Captain Balfour

As regards the first part of the Question, I did receive a Press cutting. I will make inquiries as to the particular case to which the hon. Member refers, but I have endeavoured to give a general picture, which is administered rigorously and without favour. As regards the second part of the Question, we are seeing what can be done with the limited resources which are available for the manufacture and acquisition of civil aircraft. We are also seeing whether we can get greater frequency of services out of present aircraft. Both of these will help the existing facilities.