HC Deb 05 May 1965 vol 711 cc1329-30
2. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Aviation what directives he will give to the consumer director on the board of British European Airways; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I shall make it clear to the member on appointment that, in discharging the normal functions of a board member, he will be asked to pay particular attention to the interests of the domestic passenger. I do not wish to circumscribe this duty by more detailed directives.

Mr. Marten

But is it not a fact that a large part of B.E.A.'s work has been devoted to studying the interests of the consumer and that to appoint a director to do more than this is really a bit of a slight on B.E.A.?

Mr. Jenkins

No, I do not think so. I think that there is a special position on the domestic front to which hon. Members opposite—indeed on both sides of the House—have drawn attention. While I would not wish this particular appointment, when it is made, to bear the main weight of responsibility for B.E.A.'s duty to serve the public, which it fully recognises, I think that such an appointment would be an advantage.

Mr. Shepherd

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that this is a most retrograde step and that the proper way to ensure service to the public is via competition? It is on this that he wants to concentrate, not on appointing one director who should have the same view as the whole board.

Mr. Jenkins

We debated the question of competition very fully on a previous occasion. I do not think that experiments on transport undertakings as a whole, as conducted by different political parties over a very long period, suggest that in transport as opposed to many other things competition is the right answer.