HC Deb 20 October 1954 vol 531 cc1213-4

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

124. Sir G. TOUCHE

To ask the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether the Government has now reached a decision regarding the report made by Sir Colin Campbell about the proposed development of Gatwick Airport; and whether he will make a statement regarding the future of this airport.

At the end of Questions

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I will answer Question No. 124.

Yes, Sir. Her Majesty's Government, after full consideration of the Report of the Public Inquiry into the proposal to develop Gatwick Airport for the purposes set out in Command 8902, have decided that this development shall proceed forthwith. A White Paper on this subject will be in the Vote Office this afternoon.

Sir G. Touche

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a considerable body of opinion to the effect that owing to the development of the helicopter this new airport will be redundant very soon after it is built? Would it not be far wiser to spend this large sum of money on the development of helicopters, in which field we are at present so far behind the Americans?

Mr. J. Boyd-Carpenter

We are anxious to make the best possible progress with the helicopter, but I really do not think that the development we hope to make in that direction affects in any degree the need for this airport. The helicopter may well develop traffics in addition to, not in substitution of, the services operated by fixed-wing aircraft. As the White Paper will, I hope, make clear, the situation with respect to flights into London Airport will in any event become very acute by 1958.

Sir G. Touche

Do the Government propose to carry out the recommendations in the Campbell Report with regard to hardship and compensation?

Mr. J. Boyd-Carpenter

We have taken note both of Sir Colin Campbell's recommendations and of what was said by my right hon. Friend the present Colonial Secretary to the people directly concerned. I would rather not summarise the proposals we have for dealing with possible hardship. They are dealt with in some detail in paragraph 15 of the White Paper.

Mr. Beswick

I understand that the right hon. Gentleman says that London Airport will be unable to cope with the traffic by 1958. Are we to understand that the new airport will be in operation by that date?

Mr. J. Boyd-Carpenter

We have every intention of having it in operation by the spring of 1958.

Mr. Gough

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the main causes of apprehension is the noise and vibration coming from the present maintenance unit? Will the new maintenance unit increase or decrease that problem?

Mr. J. Boyd-Carpenter

The new maintenance area will be further from the main Crawley industrial area than is the existing maintenance area at Gatwick Airport. Though the work will probably be on a larger scale it will be much further away from that substantial body of property.