§ 19. Mr. Dodds
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what progress has been made in preparations for utilising helicopters for inter-city travel; and, in view of the importance of making early decisions with regard to landing sites in London on or in the vicinity of the River Thames, what consideration has been given to this aspect of the matter, and with what result.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. John Profumo)
We can make little further progress without more knowledge of the operational and economic characteristics of the twin-engined helicopters now under development. My right hon. Friend is studying, with the Chairman of British European Airways, how best to obtain this.
The South Bank Air Station remains "on call" till the site is required for development, but little use has been made of it since the B.E.A. scheduled service came to an end. A design for a floating platform to accommodate single-engined helicopters has been discussed with the Port of London Authority and the London County Council, but the demand has not justified our putting this costly project in hand.
§ Mr. Dodds
I thank the hon. Member for what he has just said, but is it not regrettable that when so much progress has been made in provincial cities there is so much dither and indecision in London, where it is vital that something should be done? Cannot the hon. Member do something to get some plans for the present instead of fine dreams for the future?
§ Mr. Profumo
It is not a question of dreams for the future. I do not think that Her Majesty's Government would be right to expend large sums of money on a permanent air-stop for London until we really know how much space is required and what the characteristics are. I know that the House is interested in this matter, and I would point out that there does remain an "on call" site where helicopters can land in the centre of London.