HC Deb 25 February 1970 vol 796 cc1190-1
32. Mr. David Howell

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now take steps to set up a committee of inquiry into the control of aircraft noise.

Mr. Mason

No, sir. The proposed Advisory Council on Noise announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 11th December last will doubtless take an early opportunity to consider the problem generally.

Mr. Howell

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that there seems to be an increasingly confused division of responsibilities on the question of aircraft noise between himself and the Minister of Technology, who now comes into it through the Concorde, and the Secretary of State for Local Government and Regional Planning, who also has an interest because of pollution? Is there not a growing case for a separate agency to represent and protect citizens' rights forthrightly and openly?

Mr. Mason

I do not think that there is any confusion. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology naturally has an interest at this stage, because the Concorde has not yet come into service; it is in its production stage and the question of the operation of the aircraft and whether it goes supersonic comes within his realm of activity.

We in Britain have taken a keen interest in trying to control aircraft noise and gave the lead by convening the first international conference on aircraft noise in Britain in 1966. This question is now under international study. We hope that in four or five years' time quieter engines from the design stage will be produced and, consequently, quieter aircraft.

Mr. Howie

Does my right hon. Friend agree that aircraft noise is much more inconvenient at night? Does he recall that some municipal airport operators have approached him with a view to trying to obtain agreement to limit night flying by commercial operators? Has he anything further to say on that?

Mr. Mason

Not offhand. We limit the numbers of movements at night, and we control the perceived noise decibel range at night. We try to keep the aircraft fewer in number and quieter during the night.