HC Deb 26 February 1962 vol 654 cc926-7
24. Mr. Grimond

asked the Minister of Aviation, in view of the deterioration which will take place in air services to the north of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland under the proposed schedules for April, May and June, whether he will institute an inquiry into the future of the Scottish air services.

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. I understand the right hon. Gentleman has written to the Chief Executive of British European Airways, which I am sure is the right course to take, and I suggest that he awaits the reply.

Mr. Grimond

I am obliged to the Minister for the trouble he has himself taken over this matter. In view of the great anxiety which exists throughout the north of Scotland regarding the reduction in the services and the new timing, is he aware that I hope that he will be constantly in touch with B.E.A. with a view to seeing whether we can have better services, particularly during those three months?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that my purpose will be to study the reply.

Mr. John MacLeod

Is the Minister aware that there is no morning service out of Inverness and that an inquiry for which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has asked is urgently needed? Would not he agree that if we are to develop these areas, we must surely have modern communications?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I doubt whether a series of inquiries would necessarily serve the end which the hon. Gentleman has in mind.

Mr. Manuel

Will the Minister pay some attention to the financial deficit on these routes? Would not he agree that if the services are to continue the Government should subsidise the deficit and not the domestic accounts of B.E.A.?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Government are not exactly looking for new opportunities for subsidy just at this moment.

Mr. Cronin

Is not this deterioration a direct result of the Civil Aviation (Licensing) Act, 1960? As the Government have taken away large sections of the profitable routes from B.E.A., surely they cannot fail to deal with the non-profitable services?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I doubt that. I think it the task of B.E.A. to try to run the services in Scotland on an economic basis. That should be the objective of any commercial airline.

Mr. Cronin indicated dissent


Mr. Thorneycroft

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I think it should attempt to do so.