HC Deb 26 February 1962 vol 654 cc927-9
25. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement on the progress of his talks with the London County Council on helicopter stations.

26. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Aviation what the result has been of his negotiations with local authorities on helicopter stations in the London area.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have arranged to meet a deputation from the London County Council and Metropolitan Boroughs on 2nd March to hear their views on the report of the Committee on the Planning of Helicopter Stations in the London area.

Mr. Rankin

Can the Minister tell the House what difficulties arise in this matter? The L.C.C. has had it under observation for a long time. Does not the Minister agree that at the moment we are losing the time gained in the air from the use of new aircraft on the journey between the airport and the terminal? Ought not it to be the business of the right hon. Gentleman to conserve the time which is gained in the air?

Mr. Thorneycroft

That may be so. The purpose of the meeting, however, is to discuss the report, which refers to three possible sites for a heliport, and it is obviously desirable for many reasons that a decision should be taken as to where a heliport would be if it was decided to build one.

Mr. Lipton

Will it come as a surprise to the Minister if I tell him that not one local authority in the London area wants a heliport anywhere in the London area? Will he, therefore, not succumb to pressure from external sources to have a helicopter station in London? Will he not consider the possibility, which is being put to the Minister of Transport, that the best way of ensuring rapid access between London Airport and London might be by a monorail?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have no doubt that in the years ahead we shall be considering many methods. Nevertheless, it would probably be wise at this stage, for planning purposes alone, to decide where one would be built if and when it was decided to build one.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the privileges of the capital city of a great Commonwealth should be to house a heliport, and that if such a heliport is to be built it should not automatically be at a cost to the State? Will not my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of encouraging a number of private undertakings to develop a heliport should this decision be taken?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I will consider many possibilities, but the House is a little ahead of me. All I am trying to do is to decide at which place it would be if any such decision is ever taken to build by private or public enterprise.

Mr. Driberg

Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to use the phrase on the Order Paper—" helicopter station "—or some shorter term such as air-stop, and not the bastard word "heliport"?

Mr. Lee

Is it not the case that my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) has made a very good point in saying that a great deal of time is lost in coming into the centre of London from London Airport? Whether the outcome is a monorail or a helicopter station, I put it to the Minister that the time is overdue when we should make a decision about how to convey people from London Airport to London.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The time is, perhaps, overdue when we should decide where this heliport or helicopter station should be. As the House may see presently, however, we are some way yet from having an economic helicopter.