HC Deb 02 June 1960 vol 624 cc1645-9

Lords Amendment In page 6, line 40, at end insert— () for the making of representations to the Minister by the Government of the Isle of Man or by the States of Jersey or Guernsey as respects any such decision of the Board as is mentioned in the last foregoing paragraph, and for applying in relation to those representations, with such modifications as the Minister thinks fit, any provision relating to appeals contained in this Act or in any regulations made thereunder;

Mr. Rippon

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

The purpose of the Amendment is to meet certain views expressed to my right hon. Friend on behalf of the authorities in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The Government of the Isle of Man, and the States of Jersey and Guernsey, have the necessary powers, as sovereign authorities, to overate their own system for licensing civil aviation if they wish, but by agreement the existing arrangements for regulating civil aviation have been applied to these Islands by Order in Council. It is now proposed to extend the new system by Order in Council to these Islands.

In the course of our discussions with the Island authorities about the application of the new system there has been general agreement on the form of consultation that ought to take place with the Board. Where, however, the views of the Island authorities are not upheld by the Board, I think the House will agree that it would not be appropriate for these sovereign authorities to have to appear as appellants in precisely the same way as ordinary appellants—for example, a disappointed applicant for a licence.

The Amendment ensures that their representations can be dealt with without their having to go through the ordinary formalities of making an appeal. In practice the Minister will deal with their representations in exactly the same way as if there had been an appeal, but it seemed to my right hon. Friend reasonable to accede to the views of the Island authorities on these matters of procedure.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)

One thing that astonishes me is that during the Second Reading debate, and also during the Committee stage, the Government Front Bench, with all the advice and aid that it had—and I presume still has—passed over what appears to be a fairly important matter.

I do not object to the Amendment which has come from another place. I suppose that is one justification for its continued existence. It keeps a watchful eye on the Government Front Bench. During the discussions in Committee, we were accused of prolonging—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is confined strictly to the proposition before the House. We cannot discuss the constitutional value of the House of Lords on this Amendment.

Mr. Rankin

I was merely seeking to make the point that it might be said that the Opposition did not fulfil its duties properly when it allowed these things to pass, but we do not have the help and guidance that the Government have, and it is perhaps as well that another place keeps a watchful eye on what happens.

Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)

We do not disagree with the object of the Amendment. I only ask why it was not noticed before so that we could have dealt with it in our own way in this Chamber?

Question put, and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 6, line 41, leave out from "payment" to end of line 46 and insert: to the Board in connection with air service licences or applications relating thereto of such fees determined in such manner as the regulations may with the approval of the Treasury provide;

Mr. Rippon

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

I think that it has been accepted from the outset that the fees payable in respect of licences will cover the cost of the Board. The Amendment has been introduced to provide greater flexibility in the manner in which fees may be determined. As originally drafted, there was no provision, for example, for any fees for transitional licences or for annual fees and it is felt that we should have the Bill in a sufficiently wide form to enable the case to be brought in the most equitable fashion. There are, of course, to be discussions about the fairest way in which fees can be levied, and in any event the regulations will be laid in draft.

Mr. Rankin

I presume that we are carrying out this procedure today because to some extent we failed in our duty during the Committee stage of the Bill. The Government mast bear the respon- sibility for that, and hon. Members opposite ought not to make dissatisfied noises when I seek to deal with Amendments that have come from another place.

I hope that we on this side of the House will not commit ourselves on the Amendment for the simple reason, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, that we will not know the implications of this until we see the regulations. While it may possibly be that more flexibility will be brought in, I suggest that we await the regulations before we say anything further about the Amendment.

The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Duncan Sandys)

The regulations cannot be made until the Bill has been passed, because the regulations will be made under the Bill.

Mr. Strauss

We appreciate that that is the case. It is still rather puzzling why the original words did not cover all that the Government required. The Parliamentary Secretary said that they did not cover transitional or annual licences. I assume that the Government receive advice from legal people, which is not available to us. To the layman it appears that the original words are all-inclusive because they are on the question of granting licences. If the Government assure us that that is not so, and that the Amendment is necessary to tighten up the thing, we have no objection to it, but it still rather puzzles us.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In page 7, line 7, at end insert: () as to the liability of any of the persons heard by virtue of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section at any meeting of the Board in respect of costs or expenses incurred in connection with that hearing;

Mr. Rippon

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

There is already provision in the Bill in respect of costs on appeal. On reconsideration of the position of costs it seemed right to enable regulations to be made to cover the possibility of awarding costs on original hearings. It might be that normally no order for costs would be made, but I think the House will agree that there might be cases when the need would arise, for example, in connection with applications to the Board for another operator's licence to be varied, revoked, or suspended. That might put a defendant in the position of incurring considerable costs with no remedy against a frivolous action.

Question put and agreed to.