HC Deb 16 November 1961 vol 649 cc659-60
25. Lieutenant-Colonel Cordeaux

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, as a result of his recent discussions with Gambian Ministers, it will shortly be possible to proceed with the modernisation of Yundum Airport; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maudling

The recent discussions did not involve decisions on the airport. The Gambia Government are at present considering a report on the subject.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that, owing to its geographical position, Bathurst could become a most important international airport? Can we have an assurance that help in modernising Yundum would not be limited by reluctance on his part to upset any other nation by the possible diversion of air traffic to Yundum?

Mr. Maudling

This is a difficult problem. There are considerable attractions in having a better airport in that part of the world. However, it would be near to the existing and important airport at Dakar, and we must consider this matter on grounds of competition as well as on grounds of economics. Whether there is need for two international airports so close together in this part of Africa, I do not know. All these matters need careful study.

Mr. Marquand

The present state of the airport is deplorable. I say that as one who has recently been there. It undoubtedly needs improvement and repair. While considering that matter and looking to the future, will the right hon. Gentleman look perhaps 25 years ahead and do a good job now?

Mr. Maudling

Yes. There are two separate issues here. First, the state of the airport for local needs is open to considerable criticism because conditions are not all they might be. Secondly, there is the separate question of whether this should be the site for an international airport with all the enormous capital outlay involved.

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