HC Deb 29 June 1971 vol 820 cc319-20
Mr. Noble

I beg to move Amendment No. 48, in page 54, line 32, leave out from 'If' to 'may' in line 34 and insert: 'the report last made in pursuance of section 39 of this Act includes a statement that in the opinion of the Board either of the corporations should be dissolved, the Secretary of State'. The Amendment reflects the intention of an Amendment put down in Committee by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan). The Clause empowers the Secretary of State, after consulting the Airways Board, to make an Order dissolving either of the Corporations and transferring its property rights and liabilities to the Board. Such an Order is exercisable by Statutory Instrument subject to approval in draft by affirmative Resolution of both Houses.

The Amendment has the effect of denying the Secretary of State any power to make such an Order unless the Airways Board has reached the conclusion that either of the Corporations should be dissolved, and has so stated in the last report made to the Secretary of State under Clause 39(1)(b). This limitation seems appropriate, in view of the intentions of this Government and their predecessor to allow the Airways Board's studies from within the industry to reveal whether some closer integration between B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. would be desirable, and, if so, how far and how fast integration should go. But if the Board were to pronounce against dissolution of either Corporation, it seems unreasonable that the Secretary of State should have the power to force a dissolution against the Board's judgment. I therefore commend the Amendment to the House.

Mr. Millan

This is an important Amendment and I thank the Minister for bringing it forward in consequence of an undertaking which the Under-Secretary gave in Committee.

As the Bill is drafted, it would be possible for the two Corporations to be dissolved even if the British Airways Board was against that, and without the formal review [...] snder Clause 39. This seemed objectionable to us and the Government accepted in Committee that they could conceive of no circumstances in which the Minister might wish the complete merging of the Corporations, which is what Clause 57 is about, unless the Board had recommended this to them.

The Amendment therefore represents— although one cannot envisage circumstances a number of years hence—a considerable limitation of the Secretary of State's power in favour of the Board. I welcome it very much. It is very much in line with our own thinking in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

Forward to