HC Deb 19 July 1967 vol 750 cc2122-3
19. Mr. Marten

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement about the special review being carried out concerning the performance of United Kingdom air operators.

35. Mr. Onslow

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to publish the report of his inquiry into British air safety standards.

42. Mr. Barnes

asked the President of the Board of Trade by what date he will be able to make public the results of the special review of British airlines, which he has initiated.

46. Mr. Kitson

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the special review of the performance of United Kingdom air operators announced on 5th Jun will be made public.

Mr. Jay

I have nothing to add to the reply given on 28th June to the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow). I then indicated that I would make the conclusions of the review available to the House. I am concerned that the review should be thorough, and I cannot yet indicate when it will be completed. —[Vol. 749, c. 98.]

Mr. Marten

Who has been appointed to conduct this review? If the airlines are being operated in a substandard condition, is this not a serious reflection on the capacity—not the ability, but the capacity—of his own Department to carry out the task set for it by various Governments?

Mr. Jay

The first point arises on a later Question. On the second, I have already made it clear that I would not like it to be assumed from any evidence which is available at present that the operators are not carrying out their obligations properly.

Mr. Onslow

Who will be able to give evidence at this inquiry? Will the right hon. Gentleman particularise this and also accept that there is some suggestion that his own Department is short of staff to carry out its essential functions in regard to air services?

Mr. Jay

I would not agree with that, but anyone who wishes may put forward evidence for representations to the Director of Aviation Safety.

Mr. Barnes

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the question which many people want answered is whether or not they are putting their lives at any greater risk by flying on certain charter flights or from certain poorly-equipped continental airports? Surely they can have this answer before they start to make their holiday plans for next summer.

Mr. Jay

As I have said, I do not wish it to be assumed that any airlines operating in this country are not carrying out their obligations, but I would not like to make any further statements in advance of the conclusions of this review, which is precisely intended to inquire into these matters.

Mr. Kitson

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that this will not be a whitewashing exercise for his Department?

Mr. Jay

Yes, Sir

Mr. R. Carr

Would the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, providing the regulations and their enforcement are adequate, all airlines should be equally safe to fly on?

Mr. Jay

I do not think that this is a world in which anything is ever perfect, and I would therefore not like to comment.