HC Deb 30 May 1945 vol 411 cc198-200
32. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, what air service is available between Scotland and London; and what are the fares.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Mr. Perkins)

There are two air services available between Scotland and London:

(1) London-Liverpool-Renfrew.

The single fare is £9. The return fare is £14 10s.

(2) London-Belfast-Renfrew.

The single fare is £10 10s. The return fare is £17.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that a Scottish firm has issued a booklet advertising a single fare at £3 9s. and return fare at over £6? Is this the best that the Minister can do with his new policy, or is he prepared to allow Scotland to run its own air line?

Mr. Perkins

I am very interested to hear the sudden conversion of the Opposition, so soon after their Party conference, to the virtues of private enterprise. I have seen that pamphlet. It is very attractive, but it is not, in the view of my Department, very accurate. It was produced by a company that has never run an air line, that has no experience of running an air line, and has no aircraft with which to run an air line. I understand that it is the hope of this company to rebuild crashed foreign aircraft. That is opposed to the declared policy of the Government, which is that British air lines should use British aircraft.

Mr. Montague

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that large numbers of Members on that side of the House said, during the discussion upon the White Paper, that it was possible to get the cost of air travel down until it was comparable with the cost of railway travel, and that that was probably a strong argument against our policy on this side of the House?

Mr. Perkins

I am full of hope that we shall get the cost of air travel down in the future, but if the hon. Member is worried about this high figure, there is a simple explanation. At the moment we have only very few aircraft available, and the particular type, D.H.87, carries a crew of two and has five passengers. Consequently, overheads are out of all proportion to the pay-load. Unfortunately, we have no other aircraft available to run this service, but in 12 months I hope that we shall have the Viking, which takes 27 passengers. I am full of hope that we shall then have a reduction in cost.

Mr. George Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman will not be there then.

Lieut. Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

How does my hon. Friend justify the refusal of the Government to permit a Scottish air line to "muscle in" upon the air line monopoly that has been established for England? Why does he accept the B.O.A.C. statement of the cost of air travel as against the costs submitted by the company to which he has referred?

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Minister aware that my information is that the costs are comparable with the costs in America of running similar aircraft, and that public enterprise can be justified only if it is efficient? Is he further aware that this hybrid scheme which is proposed is neither public enterprise nor private enterprise and that if it is not to be more successful than is proposed the sooner he scraps it the better?

Mr. McNeil

If the Minister cannot reduce the fare, can he at any rate cut down the time-table of this company? The journey is laborious and very slow.