§ 5. Mr. Onslow
asked the President of the Board of Trade when he now expects to receive the report of the Edwards Committee; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. William Rodgers)
By the end of March. But we have discussed with Sir Ronald Edwards whether there would be any possibility of advancing this date and he is aiming at the earliest possible moment consistent with a full and complete report.
§ Mr. Onslow
That is welcome news, but is the hon. Gentleman aware that so long as this report remains unpublished damaging uncertainty must effect the future of the independent airlines, and will the hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to give an assurance that he sees these airlines as playing a major part, where they are sound, in the future British civil aviation industry?
§ Mr. Rodgers
I think that the hon. Gentleman has less confidence in the independents than they have in themselves at the moment. I refer the hon. Gentleman and the House to a most interesting letter from the Chairman and Managing Director of Caledonian Airways, which recently appeared in The Times, I confirm that we have no doctrinaire views about the future of the industry.
§ Mr. Dobson
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important to give adequate and proper time for this Committee to pursue its very important work, and is it not a bad thing when hon. Gentlemen opposite continually deploy tactics which make the uncertainty in the independent airlines even worse?
§ Mr. Rodgers
Certainly we should avoid any damaging speculation. This must be a report which covers the many matters within the Committee's terms of reference. Certainly the sooner the better, but we would not wish any hasty stop gap measures meanwhile.