HC Deb 28 January 1970 vol 794 cc1541-2
27. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has not yet reached a decision regarding a ban on supersonic flight overland by civil aircraft, in the light of the fact that other Governments have decided to impose such a ban.

34. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet come to a decision as to whether the Concorde aircraft can be permitted to operate at supersonic speeds over Great Britain.

Mr. Goronwy Roberts

We have not yet completed our assessment of the technical, social and economic factors involved in imposing any restrictions on supersonic flights over the United Kngdom. A decision will be announced long before commercial services begin.

Mr. Jenkins

In spite of what was said the other day from the Opposition Front Bench by the hon. Member for Bournemouth about the interests of the individual in these matters being unimportant, are not the interests of individuals in amenity questions extremely important to the Government? Will the Minister make representations and hold discussions with the Minister for Regional Planning and Local Government with a view to ensuring that in all circumstances the environmental interests of the citizen are preserved?

Sir A. V. Harvey

On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman referred to the hon. Member for Bournemouth. I think that he is mistaken.

Mr. Roberts

I assure my hon. Friend that these considerations are fully borne in mind by all Ministers concerned in this decision.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

As the economic viability of this project in which so much public money has already been invested is very much tied up with the question whether it will be permissible to operate this aircraft supersonically over land, is it not essential, now that the aircraft exists, to carry out the tests and come to a decision very quickly?

Mr. Roberts

I do not accept the implications of the first part of the supplementary question. But I agree that the tests are necessary to help to decide the operational capabilities and therefore the commercial capabilities of the aircraft. I hope that a decision will be reached in the next few months. As I said, the commercial flights are some years ahead.