HC Deb 26 March 1968 vol 761 cc1137-8
19. Mr. Boston

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government what form the inquiry into the third London airport will take; when it will be set up, and when it is likely to start taking evidence.

Mr. Boston

Can my hon. and learned Friend give any indication when the inquiry will be ready to start taking evidence, how long it is likely to spend doing so, whether its terms of reference will include areas other than the South-East, and whether the member or members of the inquiry will include people other than aeronautical experts?

Mr. MacDermot

I cannot say how soon it will be ready to start. That may depend to some extent on the form that the inquiry is to take. Nor can I predict how long the inquiry will last. As to its terms of reference, it is certainly our intention that they should be wide enough to cover all the relevant factors, planning, surface transport and defence, as well as aviation matters. As to the composition of the Commission, our objective is to get a balanced and authoritative Commission, whose views would be likely to be generally accepted by the public. I am not sure whether I have covered all of the points raised. I hope so

Mr. Younger

Can the Minister say, apart from the question of where the air port should be, whether the Commission will be able to investigate the position of those people whose homes will be made uninhabitable through noise if the airport is located in their area?

Mr. MacDermot

Naturally the effect of noise on the amenity of the areas considered will be one of the primary matters which will have to be taken into account by the Commission. My hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Boston) asked whether the inquiry would range outside the south-east area. As has been indicated by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, our view is the need for a third London airport is generally accepted, but the timing of that need will be a most relevant factor in the inquiry.

Mr. Mapp

Will my hon. and learned friend ensure that a census is held in the neighbourhood in respect of traffic and passengers destined for or coming from the industrial areas of Britain, some distance from London?

Mr. MacDermot

Yes. All the latest information that is available and collected about traffic patterns will be made available to the Commission.

Sir J. Rodgers

Would the Minister give a categoric assurance that Stansted has not been ruled out of this inquiry?

Mr. MacDermot

That has been made clear from the start.