HC Deb 29 October 1947 vol 443 cc862-3
37. Mr. W. Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what progress is being made in the construction of a civil airfield in Hong Kong capable of taking the largest types of modern aircraft; and whether he has been in consultation with the Minister of Civil Aviation on this subject.

Mr. Rees-Williams

I regret that I am not yet in a position to make any statement on this matter as it has not yet been possible, having regard to current economic conditions, to make the necessary financial provision for this capital expenditure. The answer to the second part of the Question is "Yes."

Mr. Fletcher

Does the Minister's answer mean that this scheme has been put into cold storage indefinitely because, if that is so, it will arouse great disappointment and will be the ruin of one of the great Empire routes?

Mr. Rees-Williams

The difficulty is that it entails a very large capital expenditure which, up to now, the local government has not felt itself able to bear and which would fall on the British taxpayer. Therefore, we have not been in a position as yet to arrange the necessary financial provision.

Mr. Vernon Bartlett

Would the Minister remember that Hong Kong is now one of the most important, and also one of the most prosperous, Colonies in the British Commonwealth, and that it certainly has the most dangerous airfield?

Mr. Rees-Williams

I am well aware of that, and I am personally interested in this matter. I am doing all I can to arrive at a satisfactory solution.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Will the hon. Gentleman look into this matter again, because Hong Kong is a Colony which earns a lot of dollars, and even if the capital expenditure is great, it would be a valuable investment? Will he reconsider the matter?

Mr. Rees-Williams

I am doing what I can.