HC Deb 22 July 1963 vol 681 cc1048-9
35. Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Aviation what further steps he intends to take to increase the competitive efficiency of the British Overseas Airways Corporation.

Mr. Amery

I am considering in the light of the Corbett Report what action the Government should take to further B,O.A.C.'s own efforts in this direction.

Mr. Cronin

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that B.O.A.C. made a further large loss during the last financial year and that the Corbett Report has been in the Minister's hands for several weeks? Should we not have had a statement already and also an opportunity to debate this serious subject before the House rises?

Mr. Amery

I do not think so. I have had the Report in my hands only about a month. I was, as the hon. Gentleman knows, in the Soviet Union until late in June, and it was on my desk only a few days before I came back. I have been studying it, but, as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, although the Ministry of Aviation has to take the lead in matters of this kind, we have to discuss them with other Government Departments. I am not in a position to make a statement, let alone give the House information on which to base a debate.

Mr. Lee

Unless we know the contents of the Report, how can we judge whether the measures which the Minister will take are sufficient to deal with the problems revealed by the Report? Does he not agree that until such time as the House and the country know the content of the Report, any action which he or B.O.A.C. may take cannot be judged effectively against the size of the problem?

Mr. Amery

No, Sir. I think that the House will need a good deal of information and advice from the Government before it debates it, but not necessarily in the form of the Corbett Report itself.

Sir A. V. Harvey

As no secrets are involved in this nationalised industry, would it not be better for the House and the country to know the worst? It cannot be much worse than it is today. The sooner the House knows about the matter and debates it, the better.

Mr. Amery

I think that the best thing would be for me, in due course, to lay the information before the House in the form of a White Paper, which would serve as the basis for a debate.