HC Deb 17 November 1966 vol 736 cc629-30
Q6. Mr. Marten

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the future of the Ministry of Aviation.

The Prime Minister

I have as yet nothing to add to the Answer I gave on 25th October to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin).—[Vol. 734, c 159.]

Mr. Marten

As it would appear from certain informed sources in the Press that a decision is very soon to come, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that he will take the opportunity of the reshuffle to appoint one Minister to be responsible for all aspects—I emphasise all aspects—of space, satellites and so forth?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has long enough experience of the Ministry of Aviation to know that one does not, under any Government, believe everything one reads in the Press in the form of speculation about that Ministry. I hope that I shall be able to make a statement about this in a few days. In case, as I understand is possible, the Opposition may wish now to have the debate on aviation which was postponed from this week, I think that it might be helpful if I were to try to make the statement before that day.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

In view of the many developments now going on in civil aviation, will my right hon. Friend consider whether the abolition of the Ministry had better be postponed for some time?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir; I think that these considerations provide the strongest argument for what is now proposed—with which I hope to be dealing in a day or two—for ensuring that the aviation industry is properly linked with all the developments of research, particularly electronics research, which will be available to the Ministry of Technology.

Mr. R. Carr

Is not the Prime Minister aware of the very strong feeling even among those who do not in principle object to his decision to abolish the Ministry at some time or other that this is the very worst time to do it? The distraction of the last few months has caused serious delay in important decisions. Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many people both inside and outside the House who beg him to postpone this action?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right; there are many hon. Members who take this view. The need to end uncertainty in this matter, which I certainly accept, suggests that we ought to take a quick decision and implement it.