HC Deb 23 June 1965 vol 714 cc1735-6
12. Mr. Farr

asked the Minister of Aviation what representations he received from private British airlines before directing the Air Transport Licensing Board to refuse an application for cargo routes to the Far East.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Before I directed the Board to refuse certain parts of the application, I warned the applicants that I was considering such a direction. I was left in no doubt of the importance attached to the applications and I was urged that the direction should be issued quickly so that applicants could consider their position. As the hon. Member will be aware, the Board, with agreement of the parties concerned, deferred the hearings so that this could be done.

Mr. Farr

Is it not quite wrong that the Minister should refuse an application of this nature even before it has been submitted and the evidence heard? Further, would not he agree that, admirable though the service is provided by B.O.A.C., Air India and Qantas, in order to assist British exporters there is a real need of a specialised freight service to Australia and the Far East?

Mr. Jenkins

No, Sir. It was made absolutely clear by the right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), when he introduced the Air Licensing Bill which became the Air Licensing Act, 1960, that the power to refuse applications submitted to the Board remained with the Minister and was an essential power when the Minister was convinced that to try to obtain the foreign traffic rights would be inexpedient and against the interests of British aviation as a whole. I was convinced in this case that it would have done grave damage to the future of the B.O.A.C.-Air India-Qantas pool, apart from other difficulties. In these circumstances, I would merely have been wasting the time of a great number of people by allowing the applications to be put to the Board.