HC Deb 30 June 1959 vol 608 cc243-4
47. Mr. Awbery

asked the Prime Minister if he will, in view of the growing importance and extension of aviation throughout the world, consider the creation of a separate Ministry of Civil Aviation for the purpose of dealing exclusively with questions of civil aviation.

The Prime Minister

The problem of the correct organisation of Government is of course a difficult one. But the best time for change is at the beginning of a Parliament and not towards its end.

Mr. Awbery

Is not the Prime Minister aware that aviation has grown to such proportions and such importance that it has become necessary that there should be two departments instead of one? Would he give further consideration to this problem?

The Prime Minister

I am quite aware of all that, but I still say I do not think this would be a particularly good moment to embark on such a change.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the sequence of events has placed the aircraft industry in a very difficult position? Would my right hon. Friend give an assurance that, when he comes back as Prime Minister after the General Election, perhaps something can be done for the industry?

The Prime Minister

I recognise the problem. Like many others, we are trying to deal with it by committees of Ministers and by the Cabinet itself; but I fully realise that, just as we have sometimes made amalgamations of Ministries, conditions might change and it might be desirable to make further groupings. All that requires much study to which I have given a great deal of preliminary work.

Mr. H. Morrison

Would the Prime Minister agree that civil aviation is a form of transport and therefore it is not unnatural that it should be part of the Ministry of Transport? There are constitutional and Parliamentary objections to the needless multiplication of Ministers. Therefore, would the right hon. Gentleman be careful—I am sure he will—about a needless multiplication of Ministers which would upset the balance of things in proceedings in this House?

The Prime Minister

I agree with that, but what we have done in recent years has been rather in the opposite direction—an amalgamation of Ministries. There may be conditions where, owing to changing circumstances, a result which is produced is not altogether satisfactory and in that case, of course, it would need looking at again.