HC Deb 14 November 1960 vol 630 cc28-30
42. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Aviation what consultations has has had, or proposes to have, with British European Airways about the use of Prestwick Airport for internal services.

Mr. Thorneycroft

British European Airways has told me that in its view the interests of internal passengers are better served by using an airport nearer Glasgow.

Mr. Rankin

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that there used to be feeder services at Prestwick but that, for no obvious reason, these have been discarded for a number of years? In the interim, by the advent of the jets, the speed of transit across the Atlantic has been reduced to 6½ hours. Is it not important, therefore, that when passengers make that crossing—and an increasing number are doing so—they should be transported to their other destinations in Scotland, or the nearest places in England, by a much speedier service than now exists? Surely that is the reason why we ought to have feeder services available at Prestwick for the purpose?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is always open to any operator to apply for a licence—indeed, I think that one such application is under consideration at present—but the question here is what advice I have received from British European Airways, and I have answered the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Ross

Has the Minister consulted people in Ayrshire about the desirability of having such services? Not everyone in the west of Scotland will find it convenient to go to Abbotsinch—indeed, not everyone in Glasgow will find it so convenient. Will not the right hon. Gentleman consider the idea of having some services from Prestwick run by B.E.A.?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I went to Prestwick on Thursday last, and I had some very fruitful discussions with the Ayrshire County Council. I was very glad to have its views, and I should like to pay tribute to the county council's initiative in developing this magnificent international airport.

43. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Aviation what was the nature of the communication regarding Prestwick Airport, dated 3rd November, which he received from the Ayr County Council; and what was the nature of his reply.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The letter reiterated the council's view that Prestwick should be chosen as the substitute for Renfrew. I was glad to have the opportunity of meeting the representatives of the council at Prestwick last Thursday, and discussing the question with them.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister realise that he is making a very short-sighted decision in developing this potty little airfield at Abbotsinch when such a large amount of money has been spent on Prestwick? Is his mind absolutely closed on the matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

My mind is absolutely clear.

Sir T. Moore

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In order that I might further clear the mind of my right hon. Friend, I will raise the matter on the Adjournment at some convenient date.