HC Deb 18 June 1952 vol 502 cc1180-1
23. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation when a decision will be made about the extension of London Airport over the Bath Road, which is estimated to involve the destruction of 650 residential properties and 15 other properties, including churches, schools, business and industrial premises.

Mr. Maudling

A final decision on the extension of London Airport must await practical experience in the use of the dual runway system, which will not come into full operation until late in 1953. While I regret the inconvenience this must cause to residents in this area, I cannot say when a decision will be reached. In any case no property will be disturbed before 1955.

Mr. Beswick

While I appreciate that this is a most complex problem and not one on which we should try to score party points, may I ask the Parliamentary Secretary if he is aware that there are some hundreds of families involved here who just do not know what to do with their homes? There are millions of pounds of constructional work involved, and there is grave disquiet that the present Government appear to be treating this as a spare-time problem for Ministers. Does not the Parliamentary Secretary think that he would be better employed studying this matter rather than taking over the Finance Bill for the Treasury?

Mr. Maudling

I can assure the hon. Member that we are well aware that this must cause grave inconvenience to the people living in the area but, as he is himself well aware, it is impossible to predict with certainty the development of air traffic. We are anxious to reach a decision as soon as possible, but it would be most unwise to reach a premature decision which would be a wrong one.

Mr. Nabarro

There is general agreement in regard to the necessity for a substantial enlargement of London Airport, and in those circumstances is it desirable that normal housing development should continue in the immediate proximity of the sites scheduled for airfield development? Has that aspect of the matter been considered?

Mr. Maudling

Undoubtedly there must be development, and there is a good deal of development going on at London Airport, but this Question refers to the extension over the Bath Road to take in properties on the other side of the road, and that is rather a different point.

Mr. Rankin

When the party opposite were on this side of the House they made a great song and dance about all these matters. Why are they so quiet about them now when they have an opportunity of going ahead with them?