HC Deb 04 August 1965 vol 717 cc1691-3
33. Mr. Heffer

asked the Minister of Aviation, in view of the need to develop and expand existing nationalised industries, if he will give a general direction to the British Overseas Airways Corporation, in the public interest, not to enter into arrangements with private catering firms for the creation of joint catering and hotel enterprises.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I see no need to object in principle to co-operative arrangements between the nationalised Air Corporations and private catering firms, but I think that all concerned will need to consider such proposals carefully on their individual merits.

Mr. Heffer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the joint shop stewards committee—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]——of B.O.A.C., which has made representations to a number of people on this issue, is deeply concerned, and takes the view that as this is likely to be a profitable business it could well be conducted by the nationalised industry itself?

Mr. Jenkins

I will, of course, take account of what my hon. Friend says on this matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly, I will, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the point, which is an important one. If what was involved here were a new proposal equivalent to that of setting up B.O.A.C.-Cunard, I would be most opposed to doing so, but I do not think that one wants to rule out an extension of the business of the airline Corporations into certain catering fields, where the combination of the expertise of a Corporation and of a catering firm might lead to a useful development in that respect.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Would not the Minister agree that the time, effort and skill of B.O.A.C. would be much better devoted to running the business of an airline and not to getting involved in other people's business?

Mr. Jenkins

I do not understand whether the hon. Member objects to the proposal or not.

Mr. Maude

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that in his view the consideration here is that the travelling public using the airport should get a proper catering service?

Mr. Jenkins

I am greatly concerned, in all these matters, in looking after the interests of the travelling public as well as with the legitimate interests of the Corporations, in which a great deal of taxpayers' money is invested.

Mr. Tilney

Will the Minister bear in mind that private enterprise risks its own money and usually makes a profit, whereas, so often, public enterprise loses the taxpayers' money?

Mr. Jenkins

Public enterprise sometimes appears to lose taxpayers' money because of the restrictive conditions under which it was forced to operate by the party opposite.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a growing feeling among members of the travelling public at Prestwick Airport, and other sections of the public, that they are being exploited by the high charges of the caterers?