HC Deb 05 May 1965 vol 711 cc1338-9
19. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Minister of Aviation what percentage of British European Airways routes are now competitive in that they are not the subject of pooling arrangements.

Mr. Stonehouse

It is not practicable to express in percentage terms the comparatively small part of British European Airways international routes which are not the subject of pooling arrangements, but I have sent the hon. Member a list of the services concerned.

Pooling arrangements are essentially matters within the Corporation's commercial judgment; they do not exclude competition.

Mr. Shepherd

Is it not clear that almost the whole of B.E.A. routes are now subject to non-competitive conditions? Does he not think that there is a connection between this situation and overstaffing, buying of expensive aircraft, perhaps in advance of needs, and other factors which are the logical consequence of having a purely monopolistic situation on B.E.A. routes?

Mr. Stonehouse

We have gone into this with very great care. I do not accept that a pool excludes competition altogether. There is competition between the airlines in the same pool, and having pooling arrangements can lead to an increase in efficiency. I accept that there may be some routes where standards could be improved. We shall continue to look into this and bring what influence we can to bear on B.E.A., but I do not accept the basic point which the hon. Member has put forward.