HC Deb 27 November 1968 vol 774 cc475-6
17. Mr. Galbraith

asked the Minister of Technology what tests he is carrying out to determine the effect of sonic boom on ancient buildings.

Mr. Bean

My Department, as I informed the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) on 19th November, has been conducting an investigation into the effects of sonic bangs on cathedrals. It is planned to extend this survey to include other buildings.—[Vol. 773, c. 266.]

Mr. Galbraith

Does the existence of this decision mean that the Government seriously intend to allow aircraft to fly at supersonic speeds across Britain? If so, has the right hon. Gentleman any idea how many flights will take place daily and how many people will be affected? If it is right to test buildings to see how they stand up to strain, what about testing people? What about having a test to see how right hon. and hon. Members stand up to it? Even better, what about a test to see how the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues stand up to it?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Long supplementary Questions make sonic booms.

Mr. Benn

Whether we make supersonic airliners or not, someone will do so and some British Government will have to decide whether to allow them to fly over land. To help with that difficult decision some tests are necessary involving buildings, and of course they must be public tests. This is why I held some early tests last year of a preliminary character.

Mr. Onslow

Will not the tests be more useful when we know what sort of boom the Concorde will make?

Mr. Benn

The Church authorities have shown great enthusiasm for the tests because the tests are telling them something about the safety of the cathedrals with or without supersonic aircraft.