HC Deb 21 November 1960 vol 630 cc749-51
24. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the Minister of Aviation what steps he is taking to expedite the traffic of incoming passengers at London Airport.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

A new passenger building for long distance traffic is being constructed. Plans are being prepared for an extension to the Domestic Section of the existing short-haul building and for alterations of the layout of the International Arrivals Section to speed the flow of passengers. In addition the transfer of some traffic from London to Gatwick is being discussed with the airlines.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my hon. Friend say when the intercontinental centre will be completed and when the improved facilities will be available for domestic traffic, since present facilities are now very overcrowded?

Mr. Rippon

The first part of the long haul building should be in use in the late summer of 1961 and the remainder early in 1962. I do not think that I can give any precise dates about modifications which are being made in the short-haul building.

25. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will state the reasons for the proposed increase in landing fees at London Airport.

The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)

Landing fees at all State-operated civil aerodromes in the United Kingdom are to be increased by broadly one-third as a step towards making them self-supporting.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the consequences of this step will be that other countries will follow suit and air landing charges all over the world will increase? Will he seriously consider handing over the operation of London Airport to a body similar to the Port of London Authority so that it can try to break even?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Two questions are involved. One is who should run the aerodrome, which is a separate question which one could try to answer in a debate some other time. However, I am certain that airlines have to pay their own terminal charges. We cannot make them part of the Welfare State, and even if they are to be run by a Port of London Authority they must make both ends meet.

Sir J. Barlow

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it would much more satisfactory to run it on the lines of Manchester Airport at Ringway, which, I understand, is both efficient and economic?

Mr. Thorneycroft

There are various points of view about every airport, and I do not want to be drawn into commenting on every one, but I think that that is rather a different question.

Mr. Strauss

The right hon. Gentleman is new to this post, but will he agree that the Opposition have urged that the airport should be self-supporting? Does he not agree that there is no reason why the Government, directly or indirectly, should subsidise British or any other airlines?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am very happy to see this atmosphere of happy accord between us.

Mr. John Hall

Will my right hon. Friend tell me why the landing charges at London Airport are among the highest in the world?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not believe that they are. It depends on how the cash is collected. Many airports charge for petrol—they make a sort of special levy on petrol. If I were charging a levy on the petrol sold at London Airport, I should do quite well. There are various ways of charging, and if all the methods are compared, I think that it will be found that the charges at London are not higher than those at major airports.