HC Deb 05 April 1971 vol 815 cc8-9
10. Mr. Leslie Huckfield

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a further statement on the transfer of routes from the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways to Caledonian/British United Airways.

18. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will now make a further statement on the routes to be taken from British European Airways and given to the second force airline Caledonian/British United Airways.

Mr. Noble

I announced on 29th March that Caledonian/B.U.A. will take over B.O.A.C.'s services to Tripoli, probably this summer, and will start to serve Paris—le Bourget—towards the end of this year or early next year.

Mr. Huckfield

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for that answer, but will he tell the House what revenue he expects from these transfers, and what profits he expects from them? Will he not accept that since the financial situation of the two corporations is obviously deteriorating, to transfer routes at this point would obviously be putting both corporations' finances into considerable jeopardy?

Mr. Noble

As I said in the debate on 29th March, the route revenue is within the limit set out in my original statement on 3rd August. Profits must obviously depend on how the second force operates. As the hon. Member has said, the profits of B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. have dropped considerably in the last year. It is therefore impossible to forecast future profits.

Mr. Sheldon

Why does not the Minister answer the question rightly put to him by my hon. Friend? Why does not he state what estimate he has made—he must have made one—of the revenue to be obtained in this way, and his estimate of the capital value, so that the House can know the amount of money being filched from the public companies and handed to private operators?

Mr. Noble

The answer that I gave indicates clearly the level of the amount involved. In my statement on 3rd August I said that the revenue transferred would be 2½-3 per cent. of B.O.A.C.'s total route revenue. It is within that figure.

Mr. Benn

Did those calculations go to the Central Policy Review Unit?

Mr. Noble

No, Sir.

Mr. Benn

Why not?