HC Deb 04 December 1946 vol 431 cc314-5
11. Mr. Keeling

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in how many cases during the last six months the notice of cancellation of seats booked by Government Departments in outgoing aircraft has been insufficient to enable the seats to be filled; and why Departments are not required, in order to encourage longer notice and so promote the allocation of empty seats to waiting applicants, to pay a fine, like private passengers, when the notice is insufficient.

Mr. Lindgren

As to the first part of the Question I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to him on 27th November last. With regard to the second part of the Question, passages sponsored by Government Departments are paid for by the persons concerned in the ordinary commercial way. If such passages are cancelled, the person concerned has to pay either the whole or part of the passage money, according to how long notice he gives. Where a Government Department obtains a priority passage for a member of its own staff, it very rarely happens that it is cancelled too late to be resold. The question of imposing a "fine" on a Government Department in such circumstances does not appear to have arisen.

Mr. Keeling

Why not impose a fine if there are any cases at all? Does the Minister appreciate that the number of empty seats booked by the Government on outgoing aircraft is one test of the efficiency of Government control?

Mr. Lindgren

The latter part of that question is not in accordance with the facts.

Mr. Scollan

Is it not the case that many Members who have shown such great concern for the new airlines, themselves never use them and thus instil confidence in the public to use them?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Is it not the view of all the travel agencies that if the Government abolished priorities and sponsored applications, there would be a strange decrease in the number of important Departmental missions?

Mr. Lindgren

That is an entirely different question. So far as priorities and sponsored passengers are concerned, 98 per cent. of them are for business men, about 1 per cent. for Government Departments and 1 per cent. for the embassies of foreign countries.

Mr. Usborne

In the case of the apparently rare occasions when a member of a Government Department fails to cancel his passage in time, will the Minister tell us what is the reason for the Government Department not being asked to pay for that seat?

Mr. Lindgren

That is a matter which I think ought to be addressed to the Treasury, because any Government Department which was asked to pay would, in fact, refer the request to pay to the Treasury.

Mr. Usborne

Will the Parliamentary Secretary ask his noble Friend whether that can be done?

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