HC Deb 10 June 1953 vol 516 cc192-3
1. Mr. Beswick

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation when he expects to be able to start work on the development of Gatwick Airport as the alternative airport for London.

The Minister of Civil Aviation (Mr. Alan Lennox-Boyd)

Since I announced in the House last July the decision to develop Gatwick as the southern alternate for London Airport, certain points which arose out of subsequent discussions with local authorities have been under consideration, together with certain technical problems connected with the lay-out of the aerodrome. Until these are resolved I have nothing to add to the statements previously made.

Mr. Beswick

Does the Minister appreciate that there is a certain amount of misunderstanding as to exactly what is the position now? Do I gather from what he has just said that the decision announced in July last year is not a fast and firm decision and that the whole question is still being reconsidered?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The present Government suffer from some difficulties not altogether of their own making, and one of my problems in this matter is the assurance given by the late Socialist Administration that they did not propose to develop Gatwick as a major airport. I think that after having given that assurance, as in many other fields, they speedily regretted it. But it has created a problem for me and I have nothing to add to the answer that I have given.

Mr. Beswick

Was the Minister not aware of all undertakings given by his predecessors when he made his statement last July?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am certainly aware of all that has passed Ministerially, both under this Government of which I am a member and under our predecessors, but inferences have been drawn from statements made by my predecessors, of which naturally we must take account.

Mr. Gough

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the obvious care which he has taken over this involved problem has given great satisfaction and is appreciated by the local authorities?