HC Deb 11 May 1966 vol 728 cc391-2
23. Sir J. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Aviation, in view of the facts that conditions are imposed upon retail concessionaires at airports requiring a minimum price at which duty-free cigarettes are to be sold and that these conditions have resulted in 200 cigarettes of British manufacture being sold at a price 6s. 6d. above the price for which they are sold in European airports, if he will give a general direction, in the public interest, to the Airports Authority not to make similar conditions in future contracts.

31. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will give a general direction to the Airports Authority to provide competing retail outlets for the sale of duty-free spirits and tobacco.

Mr. Snow

No, Sir. The matters referred to are not appropriate to a general direction under Section 2(6) of the Airports Authority Act, 1965.

Sir J. Langford-Holt

Is the Minister aware that virtually by contracts which his Ministry signed and which are merely being extended under the new dispensation British cigarettes are sold not, as is said in the Question, for 6s. 6d. more but for 7s. 4d. more than on the Continent of Europe? Is he aware that he is handing over a monopoly situation and telling the House that he proposes to do nothing about it? Would he look at it again?

Mr. Snow

London Airport has the distinction of being the only major international airport in Europe which is not heavily subsidised, and we want to keep it that way.

Mr. Ridley

Is the Minister aware that this is a restrictive practice of the most flagrant nature, being supported and endorsed by the Government? Will he have a word with the President of the Board of Trade with a view to referring the whole situation of the Monopolies Commission?

Mr. Snow

On the face of it, I should not think that that was desirable. These matters are entirely within the commercial competence of the Authority.