§ Mr. James Stuart
(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, why Government policy with regard to Prestwick Airport included no indication of the rent to be charged to Scottish Aviation Ltd., or of the arrangements he had in mind on the arbitration procedure and if he will now make a statement on these two important points.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Mr. Beswick)
My noble Friend announced yesterday that he has decided to confirm the compulsory purchase Order with regard to Prestwick Airport and he has informed Scottish Aviation, Limited, that he is prepared to give them a lease for 99 years, subject to settlement of terms, of the premises which they occupy. The rent to be charged will be a matter for negotiation with the company and would not be facilitated by my mentioning any figure in advance. In the event of any difference of opinion my noble Friend is prepared to accept the decision of an arbiter and he is considering how best an arbiter can be appointed.
I do not think I can usefully say more except to add that my noble Friend is hopeful that the terms of the lease can be so framed as to relieve Scottish Aviation, Limited, of any anxiety they may have expressed in the past as to the security of their general tenure or as to their freedom to make long-term plans. I hope that outstanding questions will be speedily settled, as, with good will, I am sure they can be.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore
While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary and his Minister for their well-meaning efforts to bring this long-drawn- 840 out matter to a conclusion, may I ask whether they will appreciate that Prestwick airport has now become a symbol to Scotland of her part in Scottish aviation? Will they sympathetically and swiftly deal with these questions of rent, direct orders to the airport, and feeder services, and so help to settle the problem of these four-and-a-half years of frustration?
§ Mr. Beswick
I do not think I can quite accept the word "frustration" unless it refers to the efforts of my Department to get this matter settled in the past. I hope that outstanding problems will be speedily deal with. I hope that we can then set aside an unused portion of this airport in which to bury the hatchet good and deep.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does my hon. Friend appreciate that the news that this airport, in which the nation has invested so much money, is to be compulsorily acquired and to become public property for the benefit of the nation will be welcomed all over Scotland?