HC Deb 11 February 1942 vol 377 cc1525-6
46. Mr. Simmonds

asked the Minister without Portfolio what are the names of the members of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Civil Aviation; and whether this Committee has now completed its work?

The Minister without Portfolio (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)

The Committee, which sits under the chairmanship of Lieut.-Colonel Sir Francis Shelmerdine, late Director-General of Civil Aviation, is composed of representatives of all the Departments concerned. It would be contrary to the usual practice for me to state the names of the members of such a Committee. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the negative.

Mr. Simmonds

Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the position of this Committer? Is it desirable to have a Departmental Committee investigating a matter of such wide importance, and will he not consider concluding the activities of this Committee and appointing a public Committee that would give more confidence?

Mr. Greenwood

I think the House must await the report which the Committee presents before expressing confidence or otherwise. As a matter of fact, all the members of the Committee have been actually engaged on some aspect of civil aviation, and at this stage I should have thought that very large questions of public policy might arise with which this form of Committee would best be able to deal.

Mr. Garro Jones

When the report is published, shall we know under whose authority it is issued and who were the members of the Committee, and is it not a fact that the members of the Committee are the same close associates of the Imperial Airways monopoly which made such a mess of civil aviation from the national viewpoint before the war?

Mr. Greenwood

I cannot for one moment accept the statements in the hon. Member's question.

Mr. Maxton

Does the Minister say that it is the usual practice to withhold the names of members of Committees of this description?

Mr. Greenwood

When they are Civil servants it is the usual custom; otherwise they might be put in a difficult position.

Mr. Granville

In view of the fact that most of the civil aviation will be flying on Empire air routes, has the Empire been consulted on this matter?

Mr. Greenwood

Certainly, the Committee was set up with their full approval, and the Dominions Office are represented on it.

Mr. Simmonds

In view of the unhappy nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.