HC Deb 08 July 1964 vol 698 cc397-8
21. Mr. Dance

asked the Minister of Aviation what contribution his Department makes to the provision of air services to remote areas of the country which would not otherwise be served by modern means of communication.

Mr. Marten

We provide airfields in the Scottish Highlands and Islands and in the Scilly Islands. Assistance has also been given indirectly by help with the development of aircraft suitable for use on feeder services or in less densely populated areas.

Mr. Dance

I thank my hon. Friend for that very helpful reply. How many modern aircraft are used on these services and roughly how many passengers a year travel on them?

Mr. Marten

On the Highlands and Islands route there is the Herald, into which the Government have put £1,100,000, and on the Scilly Isles route there is the S61 helicopter, which is costing the Government up to £75,000. About 6,000 people used the Scilly Isles service in the first six weeks of operation and B.E.A. estimates that about 40,000 people will use it over the whole year. In the past year about 129,000 people used the Highlands and Islands services.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the remote parts of the country mentioned in the Question include the north of Aberdeenshire, which is suffering from the ravages of Dr. Beeching's closures? What steps is he taking to ensure that communications in these areas are maintained as they have been heretofore?

Mr. Marten

I have every confidence that the right steps will be taken, because my right hon. Friend is going there next weekend.