§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ The Minister for Trade (Mr. Michael Noble)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
As the House knows, the aviation industry in this country, and, indeed, in the world, has been going through a period of very rapid change, some of which is reflected in the various Clauses in this Bill. In particular there has been a blurring of the distinction between scheduled and charter services. At this particular moment we seem to be in a period of the cycle when capacity has got ahead of demand in international airlines, and thereby has provided a strain on their profits. This is one of the matters we have to take into consideration.
Because the United Kingdom is one of the few countries which has a multiplicity of airlines and in this much regulated industry there are problems of regulation, there is the need for the industry structure and the regulatory machinery to move with the times. We have had for the last few years, particularly since the completion of the Edwards Report, a period of uncertainty in civil aviation which I believe both sides of the House would now like to see brought to an end. We have had an occasion earlier to thank Sir Ronald Edwards for the very considerable help he and his Committee gave in dealing with these problems. The Committee produced three main recommendations. First, the Civil Aviation Authority; second, the Airways Board—and this Bill deals with both of them; the third recommendation which it made was that a second force airline should be established. I made a statement on 3rd 1173 August on this subject, and a second force airline is now in being, but I shall come back to this no doubt rather controversial subject during my speech.
In the civil aviation context the Civil Aviation Authority has two main aspects. It reflects the fact that airlines are increasingly operating in a single environment. There are, indeed, very close links between the economics and the financial health of the airlines and the safety of their operations, and between operational safety, airworthiness, air traffic control, and navigational services. It does not, I think, make sense to try to regulate all these different things in different compartments and this is why the Civil Aviation Authority is, I believe, very much needed at this moment.
It is, of course, a constitutional innovation. The key point perhaps is that we are in this Bill hiving off a regulatory function. Ministers remain responsible to Parliament for policy, but detailed decision rests with the Authority. Clause 3 is the key to the new relationship because it sets out the broad objectives which the authority should pursue, and provides for more detailed guidance to be given from time to time in writing, subject to approval by Parliament on affirmative Resolution.
There are three broad objectives. The first brings together four elements, the importance of satisfying all substantial sections of the market, the importance of low fares so as to bring air travel within the reach of the widest public, the importance of safety, and the importance of an economic return for a sound industry.
The second of the three objectives provides for opportunities to be given to the second force airline, these opportunities to be defined more precisely in the guidance.
The third objective is, of course, the balance of payments and the contribution to our national economy, and in this I include the importance of the regions within that framework, but this third objective is, I think necessarily, subordinate to the other two, and the balance of payments cannot override safety.
In the opening words of Clause 3(1) and (2) I think it is made perfectly clear that the authority will have discretion in following the objectives and the guidance and this, I think, is correct because it 1174 is essentially a task of balancing and reconciling different strands of policy which may sometimes pull in different directions. It would, perhaps, be attractive to some people if one could resolve every conflict in advance, but if we were to try to do that we would in effect be putting the industry in a straitjacket and it would be quite impossible even for the collective wisdom of Parliament to foresee today what the situation may well be in a year or two or three years' time, and, therefore, the only alternative to allowing the authority this discretion is for the Government themselves to do the job and I believe that this is not the wish of Parliament at this stage.
It also follows that the objectives and the guidance, which will be in general terms, mainly about economic considerations, are not suited to ultimate decision by the courts. Appeals, therefore, must lie with the Secretary of State, and I think here with the last Administration, we depart from Sir Ronald Edwards Committee's own recommendation.
§ Mr. Noble
It may be unfortunate, but I think that when one is dealing with appeals on economic grounds these are things with which the Secretary of State can deal and with which the courts find it very difficult to deal.
Nor can the grounds of appeal be limited to consistency with policy since, as I was saying earlier, to try to give policy sufficient precision for this to operate would inevitably be almost impossible. However, it is not the Government's intention that they should regularly substitute their decision for that of the authority. We have seen perhaps rather too much of this in aviation history recently. The Secretary of State's policy, when considering appeals, will be to uphold the decision of the authority unless there are clearly major reasons for departing from it.
Then on the question of guidance, this will be mainly about economic matters. I do not mean, in saying this, that safety is unimportant. Far from it. The intention both of the Bill and, I think, the House is that safety is absolutely fundamental; but it is also relatively straightforward as far as policy is concerned. 1175 I do not find it conceivable that the authority would allow economic considerations to override safety.
The guidance will be set out in writing, probably in a White Paper, nearer the time when the Authority is set up in the early part of 1972, and time will be allowed for discussion. It may, however, be helpful to the House if I say now what sort of guidance the Government have in mind to give when the time comes.
There can be no argument about the guidance that should be given on safety matters. We shall stress the need for safety standards—whether of airlines, aircraft construction and maintenance, or in the operation of aerodromes—matching the highest standards achieved anywhere in the world.
In running the National Air Traffic Control Service, which under the Bill becomes the joint responsibility of the Authority and the Secretary of State for Defence, the Authority will be required to have due regard for the interests of military and civil users, including general aviation interests, so as to ensure the best use of our limited air space.
The guidance which will apply to the granting of air transport licences and the regulation of fares and charges is of particular importance. The Authority will be asked to allocate licences so as to bring about the greatest benefit to the nation in terms of the objectives set out in Clause 3 of the Bill. We want to see the industry increasing its share of the world's civil aviation air transport market in so far as this can be done profitably. The industry has a great part to play in fostering the development of our export trade, including the bringing of tourists to this country.
In licensing I do not consider the Authority should reserve any particular type of service, whether scheduled or chartered, exclusively to public or independent airlines, or indeed impose any set balance as between the public and private sectors. We do, however, want to see more than one British airline engaging, or at least being ready to compete, in each type of operation, even though the entry of additional airlines may sometimes need to be carefully controlled in order to avoid wasteful fragmentation of effort. It follows, therefore, that airlines, whether public or 1176 independent, should where possible be given the opportunity of developing both their scheduled and non-scheduled services in line with the development of the market. This is just as important to the Air Corporations as it is to the independents, since most of their major foreign competitors have this freedom.
We want to see the rules covering the sale of seats on a bulk or wholesale basis, whether on scheduled or non-scheduled services, brought up to date and simplified. Our guidance will, therefore, be that restrictions should be kept to the minimum necessary to ensure that there is reasonable capacity for those who wish to buy individual seats on scheduled services at the public fare.
The guidance will set out the opportunities that should be given to the second force airline in rather more detail than was done in the statement of 3rd August, 1970. The Government, in making certain routes available to Caledonian/B.U.A., have had to do what the Edwards Report intended should be done by the Civil Aviation Authority. But once the Authority is set up it will take over the task of deciding the future pattern of routes that will be needed to keep abreast of traffic growth.
Nobody would dispute that the Air Corporations should continue to be the principal providers of scheduled services. What has now been established is that Caledonian/B.U.A. should be the principal independent scheduled airline. The need to ensure that these airlines have the strength to compete effectively in the world civil air transport market must in general limit, at least for some years to come, the grant to other British airlines of licences to operate international scheduled services that they do not already operate.
There are severe practical limits to the scope for double designation. In the shorter term the opportunities will be confined mainly to the routes mentioned in the Edwards Report—the North Atlantic and perhaps a few places in Europe. Within these limits, however, the Authority should license more than one British airline to serve the same scheduled service route wherever in its judgment, first, the traffic will be sufficient to support such competing services within a reasonable time; second, the choice and standard of services available to the public are likely to be improved; and, third, 1177 in the case of an international route, the aggregate share or the total traffic that is secured by the British airlines is likely to be increased to an extent that will more than offset any lasting disadvantages.
The Authority should accord to Caledonian/B.U.A., where practicable, a measure of preference over other airlines in the allocation of licences for new scheduled service routes, for routes on which double designation is desirable, or for charter operations where the number of British airlines needs for the time being to be restricted. The Authority should, however, in every case also take into account the effect of its decisions on the development of other airlines; it is not the Government's intention that there should be an automatic or complete preference.
The route patterns served by British airlines have grown to some extent haphazardly and do not always lend themselves to the greatest efficiency. This is especially true of regional air services within the United Kingdom. The Authority should examine from time to time, with the airlines concerned, whether scheduled service routes at home and abroad should be adjusted or reallocated among British airlines in order to rationalise any of their route networks. But routes should be transferred between airlines only where this would be likely to promote our main objectives.
In regulating domestic air services, the Authority should have regard to their place in the total internal transport system, and will keep in close touch with the Department of the Environment, so as to avoid competing investments that have no prospect of proving profitable. The Authority must take account of the contribution which air services may make to regional development. The Authority will also have the task of advising the Government and others concerned on the provision and development of aerodromes to match the development of air services.
The Bill sets out certain limitations as to the disclosure of commercially confidential information, but within these limits the Authority should publish promptly full statistical and other information about the industry and enterprises within it. In so far as it is for the Secretary of State to determine whether information should be disclosed, 1178 he will favour the widest possible disclosure.
The functions which the Authority will assume are not at present financially self-supporting, but the intention is that they should become so, so that the annual grant in aid can be progressively reduced and finally dispensed with. This means that the Authority will be required in due course to recover from the airlines and other users the full cost of the navigational and ground services it provides. There are certain limitations to the progress that can be achieved: in particular the charges for certain navigational services are subject to international agreement. But within this limitation and bearing in mind that the Authority will be providing some services to the Government against payment, the Authority should as soon as possible recover out of its revenues the whole of its costs including the cost of capital, without further subventions from public funds. Provided agreement on navigational services is reached with the other countries concerned, the Authority should be in a position to be self-supporting not later than the financial year 1977–78.
The Bill to some extent sets out the division of functions between the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority, and it may be of help to the House if I summarise them shortly. The Government will remain responsible for international relations and also for matters concerning the environment, especially for aircraft noise.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
The Minister says that the Government rather than the Department will be responsible for aircraft noise. Does this mean that this responsibility could be exercised by the Department for the Environment rather than by the right hon. Gentleman's Department?
§ Mr. Noble
I do not want to be drawn on a subject which we have already debated in this House. The question of the environment spills over into two or three different departments. I am not at this stage trying to give hard and fast rules about which particular department deals with which particular problem of the environment. We feel this method to be right because both the matters I have mentioned involve considerably 1179 wider interest than simply civil aviation. It is, after all, only governments which can sign treaties.
There is then the problem of accident investigation.
§ Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston upon Thames)
Before my right hon. Friend turns to another matter, could he clear up one point? In using the term "international relations", does he include the negotiation of landing rights abroad as a matter for the Government or for the Authority?
§ Mr. Noble
Yes, that will be a matter for the Government. On the question of accident investigation, we accept the recommendation of the Edwards Committee that this should be kept separate from control of safety. I understand that this was the intention of the previous Government. The Government must be responsible for making any subordinate legislation which may arise. These are mainly questions of safety. The Government must retain the responsibility for the public bodies which already exist in this field, namely, the Authority itself, the British Airways Board and the British Airports Authority. The Government must also retain responsibility over matters of land use planning. Again, as with other problems involving the environment, a number of Ministers are often involved. Last of this catalogue, the Government clearly must remain responsible for policy formation.
It therefore follows that the Government must have powers of direction over the Authority in matters for which the Government remain responsible, but these essentially are reserve powers. The power of general direction contained in Clause 4(3), common to public body statutes, cannot override the general objectives in Clause 3(1); in other words, it cannot be used to upset what Parliament decides the objectives to be. The powers of particular direction in Clause 4(4) should not need to be used often, if at all, because the Authority and the Department will be working closely together.
Clause 20 provides for particulars of directions given to be published in the Authority's annual report so that we can all see how often—or, we hope, how rarely —these powers are used.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
I find it difficult to grasp all the authorities mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Could he tell me whether, when these authorities become effective, their presence at the airport will slow down the entry of passengers into the aircraft or whether they will slow down the exit of passengers at the journey's end?
§ Mr. Noble
I cannot say that is a promise. I cannot make a promise on behalf of a board that does not exist, but since the whole purpose of the Bill is to streamline an already considerably complicated system, one can hope with considerable confidence that this will be the result.
I should like to say a few words about the Air Registration Board which is being rechristened the Airworthiness Requirements Board. The fact that we have retained the initials A.R.B. at the specific request of Lord Kings Norton is a tribute to the success he and his fellow members have had over the last decade or more in creating a standard which is not only very high indeed in this country, but which is regarded internationally as most important. We hope that those concerned in future with airworthiness will be able to make an even greater contribution within the broader framework of the Authority.
A word or two about staff. When one undertakes a hiving off operation, inevitably there are some anxieties. The staff numbers 8,000, of whom about 7,500 are civil servants, and I should like to recall the undertakings which have already been made. Their conditions of employment will be at least as good as they are at present and we shall encourage development within the Civil Aviation Authority of a comprehensive system of staff consultation. This system has been provided for in Schedule 1 to the Bill.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
Could my right hon. Friend say something about the composition of the new Airworthiness Requirements Board? 1181 In the past the members of the Air Registration Board were drawn from people in aviation who had rendered great service to the country. Will this practice continue?
§ Mr. Noble
I agree with what my hon. Friend says. I believe that the composition of the Board will be, if not exactly the same, drawn in a very similar way. It has been a great success story and we hope that it will so remain. The Department of Trade and Industry will retain only a small nucleus dealing with civil aviation and we do not intend to duplicate the Authority's activities.
In regard to the Airways Board, since our time for debate is short, I will simply say that this was a recommendation of the Edwards Committee which has been accepted broadly on both sides of the House—
§ Mr. Noble
And perhaps a few others. I said "broadly"; I did not say "totally". It is the result of a long debate which has been going on for a number of years about whether it would be more efficient and effective for B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. to merge into a single line. Sir Ronald Edwards, who looked into the matter with great care, felt—and I agree with him—that the only way of deciding this problem was to study it carefully for some time from the inside. Clause 39 requires the British Airways Board to look closely into the group's organisation and report its findings. It can if it wishes propose a complete integration of the Corporations, but this would need the approval of Parliament before any change as drastic as this were made. Any substantial changes in group organisation will in any case require the Secretary of State's consent and the Secretary of State may also give directions about group organisation.
I wish to pay tribute to the Boards and staffs of the Air Corporations, with whom we have discussed details of this Bill on which there has been a large measure of agreement. I am confident that when these provisions come into operation we shall have the wholehearted 1182 support of all the people involved in the new organisation.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)
Could my right hon. Friend assure the House that this proposal will not mean that there will be such large numbers of people employed by the Board that this will cause difficulties to the Air Corporations in that there will be a heavy weight of bureaucracy interfering all the way down the line?
§ Mr. Mikardo
May I raise a small and simple point, but one that intrigues me? As far as I know, this is the first Measure setting up this sort of public organisation in which there are Schedules —Schedules 1 and 8—laying down the composition and method of operation of the board and, in one case, the Authority, in which no qualifications are laid down for membership of the board. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why that is so?
§ Mr. Noble
I suspected that the hon. Member's small and simple point might not be quite so small and simple. He has much more experience than I have of studying Schedules to nationalised industry Bills. I do not know why the qualifications were not set out, but if the hon. Member is interested I am sure that my hon. Friend will be able to answer him at the end of the debate.
§ Mr. Noble
I told the House on 15th December that the major part of the routes to be transferred to Caledonian-British United Airways, in accordance with the statement of 3rd August, 1970, would consist of B.O.A.C.'s route to West Africa. Caledonian-B.U.A. will start to serve this route next Thursday, 1st April. The balance of the transfer will comprise B.O.A.C.'s service between London and Tripoli, together with the introduction, at a later date convenient to Caledonian-B.U.A., of services between Gatwick and Paris-Le Bourget.
1183 In addition, the Government will no longer require the imposition of restrictions on the carriage of first-class traffic on Caledonian-B.U.A.'s services to East Africa. The effective dates have yet to be settled but it is likely that Caledonian-B.U.A. will start to serve Tripoli this summer and Paris either towards the end of this year or in the early part of 1972. The French and Libyan authorities have been informed. British United Airways have held for a number of years a licence permitting two services a day to Paris but this could not be used without a corresponding reduction in B.E.A.'s services. When Caledonian-B.U.A. is ready to start its service, B.E.A. will make way for them by relinquishing up to four daily frequencies to Le Bourget. The House will appreciate that this arrangement contributes not only to the strengthening of the "second force" airline, as envisaged in the statement of 3rd August, 1970, but also to an increase in competition in circumstances that should benefit the public by providing a choice not only of airlines but also of airports for travel to Paris.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
Can the Minister tell the House the total amount of route revenue transfer that is now envisaged, involving the route transfer from B.O.A.C. and B.E.A.? What is the total amount?
§ Mr. Noble
There are other routes which we looked at which would have been even more attractive to Caledonian-B.U.A. than those which have now been selected, but the impact on the Air Corporations and on the total national interest would have been disproportionately great. The measures which have now been decided are within the terms of the statement of 3rd August, 1970, including the value figure defined in that statement.
The Government do not intend any further transfer of routes in this context, and the powers under which the transfers are being made will be repealed by the Bill now before the House. Thereafter, only the Civil Aviation Authority will have the power to transfer a route from one airline to another—from any airline 1184 to any other airline—in accordance with the objectives in Clause 3 and with the guidance given to it from time to time under subsection (2) of that Clause. This is a power that the Air Transport Licensing Board has had throughout, and I think that it is accepted on all sides that it is a necessary power to meet all manner of circumstances. This is in no way inconsistent with the assurances that I have given that no further transfers will be made from the Air Corporations to Caledonian-B.U.A. as part of this exercise.
All these measures are designed to strengthen our civil aviation industry for the difficult and perhaps highly competitive years ahead. We can look forward with great confidence to the part that they are able to play, based on their success in the past. I am sure that the House will wish the Bill well, and I therefore commend it.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)
I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman, although in a very low tone, introduced the highly controversial topic of the hiving-off of more routes from B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. to the second force. The right hon. Gentleman must know that in introducing a major Measure of this kind it would be sensible to try to get a consensus of the House and not purposely to introduce this highly controversial topic, on which most hon. Members will now focus their minds and spend some time debating this afternoon, which will mean that in terms of the House's fully understanding and appreciating the contents of this major change the debate will not have served a useful purpose.
Is it not true that although the second force is now in being it has not yet legally received the routes? Is the question not subject to affirmative Orders of the House? The right hon. Gentleman has laid before the House an Order transferring routes to Kano, Lagos and Accra to Caledonian-B.U.A. from B.O.A.C., but that is subject to an affirmative Resolution that has not yet been debated. In that case, how is it that Caledonian-B.U.A.—as the Minister suggested—can commence operating on Thursday, 1st April?
1185 Secondly, having announced that he is taking another route from B.O.A.C.— namely, the London-Tripoli route—when it was understood at the outset that the B.O.A.C. routes had all now been taken, and what remained was the possibility of a transfer of B.E.A. routes, from London to Paris, is not this really akin to a kick in the groin for B.O.A.C. when its position is already, to say the least, financially disturbing?
The right hon. Gentleman said that the total change, in terms of the routes to Kano, Lagos and Accra, and the Tripoli routes, including Paris—Le Bourget, to be transferred from B.O.A.C. to the second force is well within the £6 million annnal route revenue. That is not the point; the point is the profitability that flows from the routes.
Only last weekend B.O.A.C. announced that the routes taken from it accounted for a profit of £1½ million per year. I hope that I shall have time to deal with the question of the second force more fully in the context of the Bill.
The industry has waited a long time for this legislation. We established the Edwards Committee in July, 1967, and it reported in May, 1969. We then introduced a White Paper—Command 4213— in November, 1969, and the House and the aviation industry has had to wait until this Monday for the Bill. It is likely that four years will have elapsed from the first probe to the legislative act.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
When discussing the long waiting period, will the right hon. Gentleman say why the House was not given the opportunity to discuss the Edwards Report?
§ Mr. Mason
I cannot take any responsibility for that. As the hon. Member knows, matters debated in the House are usually agreed through the usual channels, and I was not one of the spokesmen of the usual channels at that time.
The fact is that it will have taken four years for the recommendations to get on the Statute Book, and for all concerned— the Corporations, the Air Transport Licensing Board, the Air Registration Board, the thousands of civil servants, the independent airlines and the many workers whose future is dependent on this 1186 vast industry—it is time for this uncertainty to be ended. Also, because of the many imponderables confronting our civil aviation industry, the debate is timely, and the creation of the new Civil Aviation Authority and the Airways Board fits into a time scale which may well enable all the expertise jointly and more quickly to tackle some of the major issues troubling the industry.
In that context we have only to think of the future fleet requirements of B.O.A.C., B.E.A. and the independent airlines; the introduction of the 747s; the wrangles taking place about the airbus; the TriStar and the Concorde; the Rolls-Royce problem; the dilemma of the third London airport; the increasing traffic movements, especially over London; air traffic control problems and, within a decade, the advent of short takeoff and landing aircraft.
Fortunately, and credit is due to them, the Corporations have both had good years, but the worries of the future appear in their latest annual reports. The June, 1970, report of B.O.A.C. seems to sum it up best. It stated:Industry-wide costs of production are rising, revenue yield falling, both trends being likely to continue for some time to come. It is thus an industry faced with over-production, rising unit costs and falling revenue rates.In view of the statement at the weekend, how right the report has proved to be. There are others, both on the Continent and in America, faced with similar and in some cases more worrying futures. So, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested, the fact must be faced that air transport generally is entering one of the regular cycles when there is every probability that capacity will exceed demand for quite an appreciable period.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to mislead the House. Therefore, will he accept that B.O.A.C. has made it plain that the profit fall-off it has recently had is largely due to such factors as troubles with the cargo centre, the non-operation of the 747, with consequent loss of revenue, industrial troubles of various kinds, and a massive loss of revenue resulting from the postal strike; and that, however farsighted he may consider the Corporation to have been, some of these factors could not have been foreseen six months ago?
§ Mr. Mason
I do not think that the hon. Member is being fair to B.O.A.C. It did not then visualise that the 747 would be grounded for so long, with loss of revenue. It did not visualise the trouble in industry at the time, the continuing depression in the United States market and, above all, the recession which has been brought about here since the return of the present Government. So the hon. Gentleman is not being fair to B.O.A.C.
One cannot help but be struck by the pace of change in civil aviation. The industry has moved through the era of turbo jets, pure jets, and then the wide-bodied aircraft. It is an industry which, during the last decade, has been doubling its output every five or six years. This has been quite exceptional expansion. Now the cycle is on the downturn—and, paradoxically, with the advent of jumbo-jets and, possibly, TriStars and Concordes. All these aircraft necessitate heavy investment at a time of some hesitancy about the future.
It is also an amazing industry, as is witnessed by the changes every decade technologically, commercially and even the changing face of the airlines. The periodic sizeable investment decisions, too, have a frightening aspect when one realises that a factor of consumer appeal or disapproval, which cannot be so easily appraised, can determine the payload, and hence the success or failure of the investment. As Ronnie Edwards suggests, the industry exists to serve the consumer, who by his choice lets the industry know in no uncertain fashion if he was or is being ignored.
Speaking of the consumer, we have noticed recently that the battle for long-haul bulk travel and long-haul inclusive tours has begun. Both of the Corporations, Caledonian-B.U.A. and the other independents are all competing. It is a big market, and fierce competition has now developed between our own carriers within Europe and beyond. As this fight grows for the overseas holidaymaker and the exploitation of bulk travel, it will be incumbent on the Civil Aviation Authority to protect the consumers and see that they benefit. Licensing the inclusive tour operators should increase the protection for the public against any unscrupulous or financially unsound firms, and I hope that that will be done.
1188 Speaking more specifically about the Bill, I want, as did the right hon. Gentleman, to praise Ronnie Edwards and his Committee. We have done this many times before, but it must be most gratifying to them all to see so much of their work coming to fruition and so many of their recommendations being accepted. Their Report was thorough and comprehensive and they certainly had scope in the terms of reference. The Committee produced a survey in depth, including recommendations for sweeping constitutional changes. This was followed by our White Paper, which embodied most of the Committee's proposals.
Command 4213 is a charter for the fuller development of all our civil aviation forces, and the Bill is modelled to some extent on that charter. We visualised a new major powerful regulatory authority covering the whole of our civil aviation transport, and an airways board strong enought to marry the kith-and-kin services of the Corporations, with powers, if necessary, to effect a merger. That was the aim of our White Paper, and I hope that we shall get an assurance from the Government that they, too, have that goal in mind.
With regard to the Civil Aviation Authority, the need for more purposive regulations is clear. Our record of safety in the air is quite good. The British Airline Pilots Association has some reservation about safety being subject to economic pressures and would like the Government to consider the creation of a separate aviation authority. That is a point that might well be worth considering in Committee.
We are pioneers in dealing with the problem of aircraft noise. In 1966 I chaired an international conference at Lancaster House, when we managed to get an agreement to develop less noisy aero-engines and to grant airworthiness certificates only if the aircraft complied with the new perceived noise decibel rating—and, of course, the RB211 was the engine which we hoped would start to make that break-through.
The record of the Corporations for stability and regularity of air services is unquestionable and compares with the best in the world, but this is an international industry necessitating diplomatic contacts at all levels in Government and in the industry itself in order to establish 1189 a network of regular airline services throughout the world. This subject therefore requires some Government involvement.
Our licensing system has been much criticised, and I do not blame the Air Transport Licensing Board. The Board has been hamstrung from its inception with restrictive terms of reference, and successive Ministers have caused havoc with various appeals. Licensing, therefore, is urgently in need of reform.
The Air Registration Board—a body possibly without parallel—built up a fine national and international reputation for airworthiness. Lord Kings Norton has a magnificent team, but it is right to say that the Air Registration Board—now being newly named the Airworthiness Requirements Board—should be under the umbrella of the Civil Aviation Authority. It is still keeping a measure of independence within the Authority, but I know that it is expressing concern at its loss of autonomy. It would be good for the A.R.B. to be under the umbrella of the Authority.
All the independent airlines must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority, and must give that Authority the fullest information of their finances and all their operations.
The Authority, with all these regulatory powers, is a major constitutional innovation and is bound to be a new form of corporation—8,000 persons and a board of mainly, I would hope, aviation personnel led by a strong chairman. There is now a chance for many within the Civil Service to cease shuffling and gradually settle within the Authority and develop aviation expertise, a chance for many who were previously compartmentalised in their respective aviation boards and councils to encourage cross-chance to regulate all our civil aviation fertilisation and make the Authority all the richer because of it. There is a transport industry for the first time.
Having said that, it must have power. At the moment the Bill is riddled with Ministerial interference; and if it stays that way the Authority will be stifled and frustrated from the outset. What real authority is to be granted to the Civil Aviation Authority? To what extent, how easily, and in what spheres, can it be politically overruled'? Time after 1190 time the Secretary of State may "order" or "require", may give general directions. There is interference and interference throughout the Bill. Much of that will have to be curtailed; and this will be one of our objectives in Committee.
Second, one of the Civil Aviation Authority's tasks will be, as the Minister suggested, the allocation of routes, because now it is the licensing authority. Will paragraph 33 of the Civil Aviation White Paper apply when it comes to reallocation of routes, when it comes to licensing the second carrier on a scheduled route? I hope that the Minister who winds up the debate will particularly answer this question, because in paragraph 33 we laid down certain conditions that had to be met.
I quote from that paragraph:… the Authority will need to satisfy itself that three conditions are met.This is dealing with licensing a second carrier on a scheduled route.First, the applicant airline should have the skill and resources needed to mount an effective service and make it viable within a reasonable period. Secondly, the designation of an independent airline on a route already served by B.O.A.C. or B.E.A. should not unduly impair the Corporations' services, or their capacity to meet the financial obligations laid upon them by the Government. Thirdly, the net increase in traffic gained by the two carriers together and the resulting benefits to consumers and to the balance of payments should more than offset any diseconomies.I hope that the hon. Gentleman will let us know whether that will still apply.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the statement which he made towards the end of last year when he said that a once-for-all transfer of routes to Caledonian-B.U.A. would be effected and that there would be none after that. I take it from what he said during the course of his opening remarks that that is true, that that will bind the Authority, and that there will be no more transfer of routes from the Corporations to the independent airline.
§ Mr. Noble
We have made this point often, but I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to misrepresent anything I have said. I have consistently said that this is a once-for-all operation on this exercise. If the right hon. Gentleman studies the Bill he will see that it is also true that the Civil Aviation Authority may in the future want to rationalise 1191 routes at home or overseas and it has this power. The Secretary of State has made this point quite clear on a number of occasions.
§ Mr. Mason
It was pleasing that the right hon. Gentleman got to his feet, but it was not so pleasing that he started wriggling in his reply. I hope that the Minister who winds up the debate will spell out particularly to what extent that once-for-all transfer that the Minister so specifically mentioned and stood by in past debates may effectively bind the Authority—that there will be no transfer of routes by the new licensing authority from the Corporations across to Caledonian-B.U.A.
This new-found second force of Caledonian-B.U.A., based on what we described as a disgraceful, despicable act, may have a very limited life. These pinched routes from the Corporations— £6 million worth of route revenue now and we already know from B.O.A.C. that £1½ million of profit per year is involved —have been taken away without compensation. We have already decreed that these routes will be transferred back to the Corporation on our return to office and, because they have profited in the meantime, they will be transferred without compensation.
The Minister had better clear the air about this force. The second force is not to work against the Corporations. We accept that some competition is inevitable, but it would be farcical and ridiculous to allow a war to develop which would weaken all. The Authority and the Board are being established with a view to stablising and strengthening the whole industry and not to create a war between the two.
Also, I hope that the Civil Aviation Authority will, under its powers of licensing all the independents, take note of paragraphs 8 to 11 on pages 4 and 5 of the last Report of the Air Transport Licensing Board, dealing with pricing policy and traffic regulations. The A.T.L.B. strongly recommends that the… authority should require the licensed airlines to produce financial results for individual routes (or groups of routes) and types of traffic on a common accounting basis which the authority should determineandthat this financial information, on which1192 the tariff decisions will be largely based "should be made public". So far the independent airlines in particular have refused. The Civil Aviation Authority must remove that impediment.
The Report also spells out in paragraph 15 why there is dissatisfaction with the appeals procedure. The Minister mentioned this. In paragraph 31 the Board describes the "lamentably confused situation" and uncertainty of planning for the future by the airlines under the present licensing system.
Therefore, we hope to see disclosure of all information, a better appeals procedure, and a licensing technique which is designed to further the developments of British civil aviation.
On 18th March, when dealing more fully with our White Paper, I said this in the House:The other main thing that the Government will do to strengthen the industry is to set up a Civil Aviation Authority that will bring together all aspects of the regulation of the industry under a single roof … By bringing the various regulatory functions together in this way, we hope to establish a body"—
§ Mr. Mason
No—1970; I am sorry. I continue reading:By bringing the various regulatory functions together in this way, we hope to establish a body that will build up a breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding of the industry such as will enable it to guide and assist the industry's development in the best possible way. Under the broad guidance of a statement of Government policy, which it will be bound to observe, the Authority will have a considerable discretion in its day-to-day decisions, and our intention is that it should be left to get on with its job.I emphasise the last sentence—"to get on with its job", not to be, as the Bill suggests, subject to constant Ministerial interference.
Within that broad guidance we would hope that the Authority would benefit the interests of the consumer, obtain an economic return on investment, have rational pricing policies, conduct safe operations, provide good working conditions for those in the industry, obtain greater earnings from abroad and so 1193 strengthen our balance of payments and make a greater contribution to the national economy.
We want an Authority with the freedom, within a broad Ministerial directive—that is, a formal statement of policy—to plan all our civil aviation services, have authority to co-ordinate all the participating bodies in the industry, and make a greater assault upon the rich and expanding opportunities in the world markets. These, therefore, generally are the guidelines that we would like to see, to allow the Civil Aviation Authority the powers to plan for sensible growth of the whole of our civil aviation industry —the Corporations, the independents and our regional services.
What of the British Airways Board? Again, on 18th March last year I said:In the public sector, we propose to set up an Airways Board whose task will be to strengthen B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. in every way, including all forms of co-ordination up to and including complete merger if that turns out to be in the national interest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th March, 1970; Vol. 798, c. 438.]Sir Ronald Edwards suggested a holdings board over the two Corporations, operating a light rein. We visualised a stronger board that would force the pace of marrying common services. I hope this is what the Government have in mind. Sir Ronald Edwards levelled a few criticisms against the Corporations, especially mentioning their low productivity record and also pointing out that although their foreign earnings were high, they could be higher. Above all—and this was stressed in our White Paper—there was too much overlapping and duplication of common services.
So whilst one recognises that the Air Corporations Committee has been paving the way, it would seem that there is great scope for examining the possibilities of central administration marketing, publicity, catering, transport and hotels, the handling of inclusive tours, computer development and industrial relations, route rationalisation, the planning and operating of the route networks of the two Corporations in a more integrated manner, and, flowing from that, common equipment purchasing, common engineering services and maintenance.
On the latter point, the airlines on the Continent are perhaps making more 1194 progress in this regard than we are. Two consortia—K.S.S.U. covering K.L.M., S.A.S. and Swissair, and the Atlas consortium of Air France, Alitalia, Lufthansa, Sabena and Iberia—are already perfecting these procedures.
One worrying aspect of this question is the likelihood of rationalising and integrating the fleets of the Corporations because not many, if any, new British airframes are evident, and it may well mean in the future that the Corporations will always have to buy foreign aircraft, and, with the mess that the Government have landed us in with the RB211, it may be with foreign engines as well.
The possible exception is Concorde. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends will not thrust this down the throat of B.O.A.C. against their commercial wisdom, particularly at a cost of more than £12 million per aircraft and doubtful commercial viability. I hope also that they will not ask B.O.A.C. to take it at that price, anticipate refusal and give the Government an excuse to cancel and blame the Corporation for it. If in B.O.A.C's judgment it is a commercial risk, and if the Government think it is important to get Concorde in commercial service, then the Government must be prepared to take that into consideration when settling their financial objectives and their rate of return on net assets.
On the British Airways Board, once more it would appear from the Bill that this Board, like the Authority, will be subject to too much Secretary of State interference. The Secretary of State is mentioned on more than 50 occasions in the section dealing with the Board. There is no clear indication in the Bill of the powers of the Board—the light rein or the powers to control—or is it that the Government are waiting until the whole of the Corporations' services have been reviewed before they determine that?
What is also most disturbing is that within the Civil Aviation Authority's functions in Clause 3 there is a duty to recognise the second force but no such duty to recognise the Corporations. Does not that seem foolish to the Government? Why is it? Also, although it is enshrined in the Bill that the Chairmen of the Corporations are to be members of the 1195 Board, do I take it that no other member of the Corporations will be on the Board?
What also of consumer interests and trade union representation on the Authority and the Board? I hope the Government will also take note of the chapter on human relations in our White Paper and that when the Civil Aviation Authority is satisfying that an airline has adequate financial resources, competent management and the ability to operate safely before a licence is granted, it will also be satisfied about industrial relations and will not grant a licence unless there are also proper negotiating procedures and consultative machinery established.
Once the Civil Aviation Authority is in being, it will be necessary to have a national trade union and management forum of equal importance. This should be the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport. This, as we all know, is not fully representative of the industry at present. But if we are to have planned orderly growth of all our civil aviation transport, then the Civil Aviation Authority should be advised at the outset to recognise the National Joint Council and decree that all its airlines become members of it.
I note that the Government will retain certain powers—the right hon. Gentlemen went through them briefly—of investigating accidents, the international negotiations on traffic rights, the exercise of control over aircraft noise, pollution and the siting of aerodromes. That is enough. Within the context of our White Paper and what I have said today, we hope that the Government will lay down the objectives and policy for the industry as a whole and see that the Authority carries them out with the minimum of interference.
Finally, many airlines of the world are in difficulties at the moment. Four American carriers between them have lost £72 million and have laid off nearly 10,000 staff. This downturn of the aviation cycle may not yet have reached the bottom of the trough. Fortunately, because of a forward planning and good management, our major carrier, B.O.A.C., and, to some extent, B.E.A., may just avoid such a calamitous position. Above all, we have to stop this fragmented and 1196 at times buccaneering approach in our civil air transport industry. The Authority and the Board should enable us to do this.
With that in mind, we shall do all we can to make them both effective, powerful and, for the prizes there are to be gained in the expansion of civil aviation, also help them both to succeed.
§ 5.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)
If I may start as I shall not necessarily continue, I should like to express agreement with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary and with the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) that there has been too much uncertainty in civil aviation for far too long. Indeed, I well remember the morning of 26th July, 1967, when the then President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) came and told us that the Edwards Committee was to be set up. It fell to me to greet this announcement with modified rapture from the then Opposition Front Bench—rapture which was qualified partly by the fact that there had been an all-night sitting the night before and also because it seemed to me, as it still seems, that the Committee had been given very negative terms of reference, and I feared—events have now borne this out—that much time would be wasted as a result.
I should now like to say to my hon. Friend—though he may not detect it from all that I may say—that I welcome this Bill and, if I may give an unqualified welcome to anything, I give it to his statement that the transfer of routes to Caledonian-B.U.A. is now complete. I do not understand the churlish objections which the right hon. Member for Barnsley put forward. If there is any logic in the point that he seems to be adopting, it is that he would like the route pattern to be frozen for ever and no transfer made in the name of rationalisation from Caledonian-B.U.A. to another operator. I do not believe that is what he means, and I feel sure that on reflection he will see that his attitude is a bit silly.
My hon. Friend will know that his Bill has not been greeted with roars of applause throughout the industry. I hope he will not take it amiss if, in some 1197 respects, we regard it as a basis for negotiation. I take as an example Clause 4(4), which, to my relief, my right hon. Friend said was unlikely to be much used. Anyone who has read Clause 4(4) will, no doubt, say "Hear hear" to that, for it really is one of the nastiest bits of terminological sludge that I have seen for a long time. It reminds me of the good old days of the Post Office Bill. Here is what it says:The Secretary of State may, after consultation with the Authority, give to the Authority directions requiring the Authority to secure that a particular thing which it is doing is no longer done by it, or that a particular thing which it has power to do and is not doing is done or not done by it, if the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to give such directions …Without inflating my own powers of draftsmanship, I reckon to be able to offer the Secretary of State a more economical set of words which will achieve much the same purpose—something along these lines:The Secretary of State may, after consultation with the Authority, and if he considers it appropriate, give the Authority specific directions …Here and there throughout the Bill— I mean no offence to the draftsman—one comes across other little monsters from the black lagoon of parliamentary sludge, and I very much hope that we shall be able to get rid of some of them in Committee. But that is by the way; it is not my main grievance against the Bill, though I thought it right to mention it.
Now, some questions for my right hon. Friend, the answers to which, I think, will be helpful to the House. Again, on terminology, we find in Clause 3(1)(b) the curious phrase "charter and other terms". What does that mean, and why is it phrased in that way? Is it because there is some difficulty in defining "schedule"? Indeed, why are those words necessary at all?
Now, a more substantial query, perhaps: Why is there so little mention in the Bill of operational safety? I can find no reference to the A.O.C. Is it because the 1949 Act powers are thought to be sufficient to cover the present situation, or is there some other reason which has escaped me?
Again, on terminology, what is meant by the words in the sidenote to Clause 26, 1198provision for persons of accommodation in aircraft"?Is there some curious idea behind it that people might live in the disused hulks of unwanted jumbos or something of that kind, or is it a somewhat oblique reference to travel organisers or tour operators? If the latter, what is wrong with just those words?
Dodging about a bit, I now take up a point raised by the right hon. Member for Barnsley regarding the attitude which the Bill reveals—or, rather, conceals—on the publication of statistics. There seems to be a lot of power to call for statistics and some limitation regarding what statistics may be released to anyone, whether a private person or a public body, but there is little to indicate precisely what positive approach will be adopted to the publication of statistical material. I do not necessarily believe that the more statistics are published the wiser people will become—I see no direct connection between the two—but it is generally recognised that more statistics could with advantage be made public.
Next, am I right in thinking—I apologise if I heat the blood of the right hon. Member for Barnsley by asking this —that under Clause 40(1)(b) there are powers which could be so used as, in effect, to denationalise the Air Corporations, one at a time or both together, on a B.P. basis or in some other way? I only want to know, and I hone that that notion will not overheat the Front Bench opposite.
Finally, what is the situation now as regards the B.E.A. second tranche, the £12½ million—if I recall the figure aright—which it was entitled to claim if it found that, in operation, it was unable to secure the return on the Trident which might at one time have been hoped?
I come now to a major omission from the Bill which worries me, namely, the very sparing reference to airport policy. I recognise at once that policy in major areas must be made by the Government, and it may well be that airport planning and location is one such, but I should have thought that the Civil Aviation Authority could make an important contribution to the Government's chances of getting a national airport plan right. Ought there not to be a duty put upon the Authority to take part in that?
1199 If the rumours circulating at the weekend about "No airport for Cublington" are right—I should welcome that—and if the decision is to be taken in stages in this way, I should not necessarily say that that was wrong, but I should very much hope—I hope, also, that the Civil Aviation Authority might be able to help in a process of this kind—that those responsible for taking decisions on which a national airport plan will be based would first recognise that there is no reason to suppose that the statistics on which the planners have been working hitherto are wholly accurate. There is considerable evidence of a falling away in the rate of growth of both passenger movement and freight movement by air, and the pattern of passenger movement may well alter if the United States and the North American continent open up as a major holiday outlet, replacing, perhaps, the Costa Brava and the Mediterranean. This could happen, and it would have considerable relevance to national airport planning.
To take a broader point, it would seem wrong to take any action, if not absolutely unavoidable, which would have the effect of shifting this country's centre of gravity further to the east. We have lived far too long with the great weight of national attention, effort and growth on the South-East. If we have an opportunity to do anything to redress this imbalance, we should take it. There is a strong case for saying that the further to the west of London a new international airport is built, the more likely it is to be in the right place.
Further, if we are to economise in projects for which enormous sums of money are needed, it is very much to everyone's advantage that we should take what profit we can from the infrastructure which exists. Not to dwell on it at length, but to make the point briefly, I suggest that my right hon. Friend, if he went to Severnside, would find in that area roads, houses, schools and all the infrastructure which a workforce needs virtually already established within a radius of 20 or 30 miles, and little need for the massive public investment in building it up such as there could be if an airport were ever to be established at some such place as Foulness. There could be considerable 1200 potential economy in investment in that way, and this at a time when we certainly have not enormous sums of money to spend on aviation or anything else.
§ Mr. Burden
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out the difficulties and problems associated with Foulness, and I am sure that the people concerned there and in North-West Kent will be grateful to him, too.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am obliged to my hon. Friend.
Another unfortunate small omission to which I draw attention—I hope that we can put it right in Committee—is that there is nothing in the Bill as it stands which has the effect of strengthening the consultative machinery which was widened by the Civil Aviation Act, 1968. The time has come for a statutory requirement on aerodrome managers to satisfy the Secretary of State that they are providing adequate consultative machinery for the benefit of local residents, and they should be at risk of losing their aerodrome licences if they fail to meet that requirement. I hope to persuade my right hon. Friend to accept an Amendment on this point.
§ Mr. Michael Grylls (Chertsey)
My hon. Friend knows Fairoaks aerodrome in Surrey very well. The lack of consultative machinery there has caused a great deal of concern among the local residents. I imagine that that was the sort of point which he had in mind when calling for adequate consultation.
§ Mr. Onslow
I am one of my hon. Friend's constituents, I can see that aerodrome from my window, and I rely on him to advance my interests in every possible way.
I find myself now in the rather unaccustomed position of agreeing, without too many reservations, with the right hon. Member for Barnsley. I think that Part 1 of the Bill is by far the most important. Whatever the provisions and consequences of the Clauses dealing with the Airways Board, we have to some extent to reserve judgment on them because the powers therein make sense only if it is determined that there should be a merger between the two Corporations, and they are powers which we can well do without if, on inquiry, it is found that 1201 a merger is unnecessary and inappropriate. That, to some extent, is something we can come to much later.
The Civil Aviation Authority is a very important step forward, but as the Bill is worded it appears that whatever the intention of the Clauses may be their effect is likely to be restrictive. So much depends on the nature of regulations we have not yet seen, and on the terms of guidance, which my right hon. Friend has been able only to outline to us. I understand, of course, that one function the Authority would have had—the transfer of routes, though not significant routes—to a second force, in the words of the White Paper and the late Government, has been superseded by events, by the keenness of the directors of British and Commonwealth to find their way round the proposals to which both the Government and Opposition were committed. But I still do not understand whether a satisfactory answer has been given to the proposition that if the A.T.L.B. have been set up right and staffed right and left alone it might have done the job as well as we expect the C.A.A. to do it.
The weakness of the A.T.L.B. seemed to centre all through on the fact that it was always possible for anyone to appeal against its decisions, that its attitudes were never clearly known, which was partly its fault, and that its members all seemed to be old gentlemen—I do not blame them for that—who did not necessarily last a full day very easily. I do not know whether other hon. Members present have attended a session of the A.T.L.B., as I have. It seemed to me a potentially very workable machinery if it was allowed to take decisions which had effect and stood, if it was prepared to formulate attitudes instead of retreating from them, and if its members' ages could be somewhat reduced.
My right hon. Friend and I had some correspondence on this subject. I complained to him that the latest appointments had not succeeded in reducing the average age of the Board below threescore years. He wrote me a comforting letter saying that when the C.A.A. was formed it would be possible to introduce younger executive types because the opportunities would be that much greater, the scope would be correspondingly larger, and it would offer a job content 1202 and remuneration attractive to younger men. I hope that my right hon. Friend is right. We must test this in Committee. So far it does not seem to me to be proved beyond a doubt that the functions of the Authority in its licensing sphere will necessarily be such as to attract the men of ability, imagination and drive without whom it will not work at all. It will make a home for many civil servants who are doing a splendid job, but it does not yet seem to me to be so constructed as to make certain that it will attract new blood into the industry and give the drive which the operators have a right to expect of the licensing system which controls them.
I find much sympathy with the editorial in the last week's edition of Flight, the burden of which is that the restrictions that the C.A.A. appears to be going to be placed under will be still greater than those which now exist and which have been applied for a long and not necessarily very happy period in British aviation. That is the real burden of my complaint.
This is a civil servants' Bill, inevitably drafted by civil servants, and, I have some suspicion, drafted for civil servants. Just because it is non-political, it is not necessarily non-controversial. I hope that we can persuade my right hon. Friend to follow the important precedent of civil aviation Bills in Committee of accepting the Committee's help to improve the Bill.
We all—many more of us than those who are here this afternoon—understand the importance of aviation to our economy. There is no sense in pretending that the aeroplane has not been invented. There is no sense in pretending that civil aviation does not face considerable difficulties through prejudice, ignorance and competition of a kind that is not always fair. It is affected perhaps more than most industries by momentary hiccups in the economic circumstances surrounding it. The House has been reminded of evidence of that. If it is to flourish, as we must all wish it to flourish, and if the House is to play the right rôle in enabling it to flourish, it is most important that we should create the maximum conditions of certainty and the maximum of confidence on the part of those who earn their living in it. By that I mean nationalised bodies, independent bodies and every man who depends on civil aviation for his livelihood. I hope that we 1203 shall not forget that in the end the profits and successes in civil aviation will be won by the operators, not by the regulators.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Mikardo (Poplar)
During the period in which the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) and I have been in the House together there have not been many occasions or issues on which I have found myself in agreement with him, but on this occasion I agree very much with three points he made. First, I agree that airport users' consultative committees must be strengthened. The reason why they are not very strong was elicited by the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries in its examination of the British Airports Authority.
The fact is that those bodies are not in the real sense of the word independent, because they have no resources. They must rely on the British Airports Authority to give them a room in which to meet, and in some cases to provide other facilities, including the calling of meetings. In at least some cases—I do not know whether this applies in all cases— the chairman receives some sort of honorarium from the Authority. I am not saying that on these grounds the chairman or members of the committees will say, "Because we get an odd cup of coffee and a biscuit from the Authority, we shall not be critical." But it is pretty obvious that if we want to create a situation of conflict, as we do here, because the committees must look after the interests of the consumer against the Authority, then we must give them some resources of their own. To do so would not cost much, and I invite the Minister to think about it. A few thousand pounds a year would go a long way to satisfy the perfectly proper demand of the hon. Member for Woking in that regard.
Second, I agree that the Bill is stodgily worded. I have been following through a number of Measures with broadly similar objectives, and it is funny to note how they get longer and longer and more and more wordy. They start by having belt and braces and finish up by having belt, braces, suspenders, safety pins and the whole lot. The hon. Gentleman is quite right. I wish that he had carried further his examination of the beautiful wording of Clause 4(4), part of which 1204 says that if the Minister discovers that the wicked Authority is not doing something he can tell it not to do it. That is going a bit far.
Third, I agree with the hon. Gentleman on the ineffectiveness of the Air Transport Licensing Board, though I am not sure that my diagnosis of the reasons for that are the same as his. The evidence given by witnesses from the Board to the Select Committee when it examined British European Airways, which is published as an appendix to the Report, is one of the choicest pieces of comic literature ever published by the Stationery Office. The way in which those venerable gentlemen, as the hon. Gentleman rightly described them, milled around under what was really a modest, gentle, kindly and charitable cross-examination of what they were up to revealed that the Board could not have worked in the way in which it was supposed to be working.
Much more than I agreed with the hon. Member for Woking, I agree with a great deal of what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason). Because I shall say one or two things about him in a moment or two with which he may not find himself in the most enthusiastic agreement, I should like at this stage to pay my tribute to the many constructive elements in his speech.
The Bill is bad—I will vote against it and if I were the only hon. Member to feel this way, I would still vote against it—because it contains measures for weakening, and potentiality for destroying, two of the safest, most efficient and most successful airlines in the world which, between them, constitute a piece of British enterprise that brings great credit to this country wherever they operate.
I find myself in a different position from my right hon. Friends over this, and I do not intend to mince words about it. I am concerned to save B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. and not to save the faces of former Ministers of the last Labour Government who opened the way for the introduction of this bad Bill.
I very much agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley that the Caledonian-B.U.A. merger was bad and 1205 a carve-up. It would not have taken place had he not stopped the B.O.A.C.B.U.A. merger. I can, therefore, be somewhat more expansive than he can in expressing my indignation.
The Bill totally ignores the lessons of the history of British civil aviation. I have followed this history for a long time and I am grateful for my right hon. Friend's reference to the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport, of which I am a member. The Joint Council is approaching its 25th anniversary and I discovered to my horror the other day that I am the only surviving founder-member, which makes me feel very ancient indeed and tends to impel me to write a letter of resignation.
By that means, and elsewhere, I have been following the history of British civil aviation for a long time, and there has been a constant thread running through it. It is that whenever the industry suffers, as it has several times, an act of fragmentation, it starts to go downhill and within a few years that act of fragmentation must be reversed to put the industry on its feet again.
The story starts way back in the 'thirties, when we had British Airways and Imperial Airways. They were fragmented and represented a duplication of effort and a waste of resources. They cut each other up. The facts were so obvious that even a Conservative Government had to merge them under public ownership. Thus, B.O.A.C., the first publicly-owned airline in Britain, was not the creation of some red, rabid, revolutionary Socialist Government but of a Conservative Administration because the facts of civil aviation life at that time were inescapable.
The Cadman Report was, in my view, a much better document, allowing for the difference in time, than the Edwards Report, nearly 40 years later. It exposed all the nonsense of trying to have double designation for British civil aviation. It was as a result of that exposé that the fragmentation of that time was reversed and B.O.A.C. was formed.
In 1946 the then Labour Government stupidly hived off South American routes to a separate corporation, and a few years later that had to be reversed. The British South American Airways Corporation was integrated into B.O.A.C. 1206 Later still, under a Conservative Government this time, we had the third act of fragmentation when B.O.A.C. was compelled, by one of the most shabby commercial manoeuvres I have ever come across—a manoeuvre which, if it had been perpetrated in the City, would have landed somebody in court for fraud—to pass over some of its business to Cunard.
Again, it was a failure. This double designation across the Atlantic had to be put into reverse. The two pieces had to be merged and the fragmentation brought to an end, simply because British aviation will not work in this humpty-dumpty fashion. Successive acts of fragmentation have proved a failure and have had to be reversed and there are five reasons why this has been so.
The first is the obvious one; that the duplication of services cuts into the profits of both bits. It does not matter whether the two are private or public or whether one is public and one is private. The two cut into each other because the laws of economics operate in that way. Duplication means higher sales costs and higher overheads per unit. No philosophy, Labour or Tory, can get away from that.
Secondly, such duplication, double designation or fragmentation represents a serious waste of scarce resources, and there are some very scarce, advanced and sophisticated skills in this industry. When there is fragmentation and there is a disparate organisation the rich butter is spread too thinly on too many slices
Thirdly, the private sector in civil aviation has never been able to offer its employees proper standards of pay and conditions. In fact, the private sector had never been able to compete fairly with the Corporations. Compared with the Corporations, it has always underpaid, and this is bound to cause trouble.
Fourthly, perhaps because of lower criteria in pay and conditions—perhaps for other reasons also—the safety standards in the private sector, as the Edwards Report clearly shows, are substantially lower than those of the Corporations. The incidence of accidents in the private sector is correspondingly substantially higher—
§ Mr. Mikardo
—and if that is on this point that the hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene, I hope he will save his trouble by reading the Edwards Report, where he will find all the figures.
The fifth reason for the failure of every act of fragmentation concerns double designation.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I will give way to the hon. Gentleman after I have made my fifth point.
Because of the delicacy and sophistication of reciprocal rights between the aircraft flag carriers of different countries and because of the complexities of pool arrangements, the effect of double designation has always been that, overall, there is less for British airline operators, public and private, and more for their foreign competitors.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I promised to give way shortly. The bloke must think he has some act of genius to bestow on the House.
It is idle my right hon. Friend and the Minister talking about double designating where it will not hurt the Corporations and where there will be an increase in the totality of traffic. The whole history of civil aviation shows that double designation benefits the competitor, and the real beneficiary on the London-Paris route will not be B.E.A. or B.U.A. Caledonian but Air France. Now I am delighted to give way to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Wilkinson
Is the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) aware that his remarks imputing lower standards of safety among the independents were unjustifiable and most irresponsible, because they will affect the confidence of thousands of passengers throughout the country? If he had looked at the Edwards Report thoroughly, he would have found that the number of notifiable accidents per 100,000 stage flights of British United Airways was significantly lower than that for B.O.A.C. I would say that that was not a significant fact, but he should not draw such monstrous conclusions from the statistics.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I guessed that that was what the hon. Gentleman wanted to inter- 1208 vene about, and I have answered it. I rest on the Edwards Report, which has been quoted with approval from both sides of the House. I rest on the annual reports published over the years. I take no pleasure in it and I am not saying it for pleasure or to make any political point—I am sad about it. The only accident record I should like is accidents in the public sector and in the private sector, nil; but the sad fact remains that all the evidence goes to show that the incidence of accidents is substantially higher in the private than in the public sector, and the hon. Gentleman cannot get away from that fact.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield
It is interesting to observe that the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson) has quoted the best figure for the independents. If he had quoted the figure for dear old British Eagle, with which the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) was associated, he would have found that its record was twice as bad as that of British United Airways.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I am sorry, but this is my speech. No doubt the hon. Gentleman can speak later, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If he wants to use figures in the House, he must learn to do one thing—to compare like with like and average with average, not the best of one group with the average of another.
§ Mr. Mikardo
No, I am not giving way again. The right hon. Gentleman can repeat himself later, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
§ Mr. Mikardo
I was quoting the average of one against the average of the other. I will spell it out for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman in short sharp words of four letters, so that he can take his L-plate off if he likes: the average incidence of accidents of both Corporations on all routes is substantially lower than the average incidence of accidents of all private operators on all routes—"That ain't me, that's Edwards".
I am sorry to have been a little diverted. I was arguing that the whole 1209 history of civil aviation showed that wherever the industry was separated out, it went wrong, and I have tried to analyse the reasons.
Yet Clause 3(1)(b) repeats the mistake of the past, but makes it more dogmatically and outrageously than ever before. It says that, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what changes may take place in the pattern of demand, no matter what changes may take place in civil aviation as a whole, or what differences there may be in the economics of the industry, regardless of circumstances and merit, there must always be a private airline.
If it loses money we have to have it; if it is grossly inefficient, we have to have it; if, as inevitably it must, it cuts into the profits of the Corporations and thereby costs the taxpayer money, we have still to put up with the taxpayer providing money in order to make profits for the shareholders of the private airline. If employment standards are lower, as they have been in the past—and this is the first ever Civil Aviation Bill not to lay down employment standards, and we have had many—the poor employees must put up with that. If it results, as all past experience shows that it must, in our losing traffic to foreign airlines, we must go on doing that in the sacred name and the sacred interests of a private airline.
Hon. Members opposite sometimes use the word "doctrinaire" as though it were a club to beat their opponents, but what can be more doctrinaire than that? We must have a private airline even if it loses money and costs the taxpayer money and results in a foreign airline taking business from us. The idiotic thing is that the Bill sets up a Board specifically to avoid duplication and the waste of resources between the two Corporations, but then specifically creates duplication and waste of resources between the two Corporations on the one hand and a private airline on the other. This is a brilliant manifestation of Conservative management science.
There are four other respects in which the Bill ignores the lessons of history. They are technical points, not of major importance, but not unimportant. First, the right hon. Gentleman made much of the fact that the Bill contained the time-honoured power to give general direc- 1210 tions. Why does not the right hon. Gentleman read something of the history of the nationalised industries? A dozen or 15 Ministers for up to 25 years have had the power to give general directions to between 15 and 20 public corporations. During all that time, two general directions have been issued, both on small narrow technical points. As anyone knows who knows this history, a general direction by a Minister to a public corporation is an unusable tool. Matters just do not work that way. Relations between a Minister and a chairman of a corporation cannot be run on that basis, and so it has fallen into desuetude.
One can understand that in 1946, when the first nationalisation Measures were being drafted, someone might have thought that it was a good idea, and I may have done so myself, but one has to look at the record, and the record shows that it has turned out to be a boner, a dead stumer. Why, therefore, do we go on putting it into Bills claiming, as the right hon. Gentleman almost did, pride of parentage?
The second ignoring of the history is in the financial obligations which the Bill lays down. Only two are laid down. The first is the old tired 1946 formula of making ordinary revenue balance ordinary expenditure, taking one year with another. It has been abundantly demonstrated that when there is total control of pricing policy, when there is a monopolistic or quasi-monopolistic pricing control situation, it is absolutely meaningless and no guarantee of efficiency. The second is the requirement of a certain percentage on total assets employed. Anybody would think that 1946 was yesterday!
In 1961, the then Conservative Government realised that this was, if not nonsensical, a totally inadequate formula for controlling the economies of public corporations, and so they introduced the 1961 White Paper on the financial implications of the nationalised industries which sought to impose more sophisticated criteria than those blunderbusses of yardsticks, if that is not a strangely mixed metaphor, laid down in 1946 and 1947.
That 1961 White Paper has been ignored. That turned out to be inadequate so there was another White Paper 1211 in 1966 on the financial obligations of the nationalised industries which carried these sophistications a bit further and introduced for the first time into invest-men appraisal of the nationalised industries the technique of discounted cash flow. That was a great improvement on 1961. Since then the Select Committee has analysed that and there has been much more thinking in the Civil Service, the Treasury, in this House, among academics. All of this has gone by the board. All that there is on financial obligations in the Bill is exactly the same as there was in the Civil Aviation Act, 1946—as though 25 years had just run under the bridge.
The third thing on which we have not learned from history is shown in that this Measure is terribly deficient on one point to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley rightly attached great weight, and that is consultation of employees. I rubbed my eyes when I heard the Minister in moving the Second Reading say that the Bill includes "a comprehensive system of consultation with employees". It has nothing of the sort. The right hon. Gentleman admitted in reply to an intervention by me that he had never got down to doing much reading of past Bills on what they provided for qualifications of members of boards. It is obvious that he has not done much reading about what past Bills provided in respect of consultation, because again the obligations to consult laid upon the Authority are exactly those laid down in the 1946 Act.
In one respect they are worse than the provisions of the 1946 Act, because the Authority is not required to consult at all with its employees about their pension arrangements. It can decide about pensions unilaterally. Since that 1946–49 nationalisation splurge we have gone a long way with consultation. More recent Measures have gone much further. The Steel Act does, as does the Post Office Act. The abortive Ports Bill went a good deal further.
None of this has impinged on the consciousness of the right hon. Gentleman who thinks that if he repeats what was done in 1946 he has done all that is necessary. That is for the Authority. As 1212 far as the Board is concerned no consultative arrangements at all are laid down in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman may well say that that is because the Board will only have a small staff, but the Bill envisages the possibility of a very substantial increase. What happens if it absorbs the two Corporations? The employees of those Corporations now have some consultative rights which they will lose under the Bill. Not only is it not a great step forward, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested; it is actually a falling-back.
The last of my points concerns the Airways Board. The Corporations do not like that Board being set up, that is no secret. They have no one to blame but themselves. For the last 20 years I have been warning successive Chairmen of both Corporations that if they did not get together and work together in certain areas this would happen. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley reeled off a list of functions on which it would have been sensible for them to work together. It took them 20 years to set up such an obvious thing as a joint medical service. Even now I am told that if a person goes into the clinic, or whatever it is called, at London Airport, and he is a B.E.A. employee he is more likely to be seen by a B.E.A. doctor than a B.O.A.C. doctor.
It took 20 years to have such an obvious thing as a joint medical service. It is nonsensical that they can have computers which will rationalise aircraft movement at 400 airports and yet have not got a computer that will rationalise bus movements between Cromwell Road and Buckingham Palace Road so that sometimes a person can be waiting for a bus at one place and there is a surplus of buses at the other. Both Corporations do extremely well in staff training, including management training. But it really is a gross waste of resources to do it separately. The two Corporations have always watched each other out of the corner of a wary eye. Each was always afraid of being taken over by the other. When B.O.A.C. was doing well, and B.E.A. not so well, B.E.A. was frightened about being taken over, and vice versa. Because of that, they fenced and edged away from each other all the time. The Chairmen's Committee was generally a bit of window dressing.
1213 I do not feel strongly about the Board, I do not think that it will add much or take much away, but there is one bit that worries me. The right hon. Gentleman talked about this being a streamlining operation. There is one respect in which it will not streamline and that is with respect to Government appraisal and approval of investment programmes of the two Corporations. One of the difficulties from which our nationalised industries suffer is that the chain of command through which they get their investment programmes approved, with or without amendments, by either their sponsoring Minister and/or the Treasury is already too long. It involves too much work and duplication, too much to-ing and fro-ing, too much delay and too much expertise being wasted.
The Corporation gets out its investment programme, it goes to the sponsoring Ministry who vet it and argue for months about it. That is finalised and the whole caboodle goes to the Treasury which talks with the sponsoring Ministry but not the Corporation and all the cabbages are cooked a second and third time. One of the grievances of the chaps responsible for running the outfit, and the investment programmes is a very important part of it, is that they can never talk to the bloke who decides the investment programme, namely, the man at the Treasury. They talk to the chap at the Ministry who in turn talks to the chap at the Treasury. They are always talking to the monkey and never to the organ grinder.
What is worrying now is that we have an extra link in the chain. Now the investment programme will go from the Corporation to the Board to the Ministry to the Treasury. This pattern is too long-drawn-out, and a much too complicated and cumbersome, bungling apparatus is made much longer and much bigger.
I feel very strongly and not altogether without some little knowledge of what goes on in the industry, that assuming this Bill is passed, and I suppose it will be, in five years' time British civil aviation in total, taking public and private together, will be less healthy and prosperous than it is today. It is for that reason that I shall tonight go into the Lobby and vote against the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. James Allason (Hemel Hempstead)
I welcome the opportunity of talking on fresh legislation relating to civil aviation in view of the huge expansion in flying which has taken place and the very great disturbance caused to the public. The Roskill Report has shown that the choice of a site for an airport is a matter of fantastic complication.
Clause 3 of the Bill lays a duty on the Civil Aviation Authority to encourage "a favourable balance of payments". I shall be very interested to learn how this matter will be judged. Who benefits by charter flying? Is it the traveller who spends his money abroad? Is British aviation generally encouraged? Or does benefit arise only when the traveller stays in a British-owned hotel when he is abroad? This will be a most difficult act of judgment which the Authority will have to make when it licenses charter flying. If it results in a certain amount of trepidation about licensing charter flying. I for one shall not he desperately upset.
I wish principally to speak on Clause 4(4) under which the Secretary of State may give direction on noise and disturbance. The Government have been unduly soft about the difficulties which confront them when they have to judge between aviation earning a profit and the intense discomfort caused to people on the ground. Night charter flights cause great harm to people over whose property flying takes place. But the Minister's attitude has been that it is not fair to increase the cost of flights by compelling all flights to take place by day. I have given him the relative difference—£9 on the cost of an average charter holiday of £50. The time has come for us to look into this matter more carefully.
Charter holidays have become extremely cheap and reasonable, but they are so popular that intense discomfort is being caused to the general public. Certainly we in the South-East have enough of them already. It is necessary to have a greater measure of control. But the Government are encouraging night charter flying by permitting a lower cost to the extent of £2 to be charged for a night charter flight as against the cost for a day flight. The Government now have the chance to review their policy.
1215 The Government's policy is to encourage the ownership and management of municipal airports by local authorities in the belief that these bodies are better placed to judge the transport needs of a region and that they can also be expected to be responsive to local factors about matters connected with the airports. The first breach in the Government's confidence was the setting up of airport consultative committees, which are certainly needed. Whether they are effective is another matter.
I wish to take the example of the municipal airport at Luton to show the difficulties under which Luton has to operate and the judgment which is applied in accordance with the Government's intention that the authority shall be mindful of the needs of the area.
Luton is a particularly difficult airport from which to operate. First, when taking off to the west, aircraft must, unfortunately, fly for about 30 miles at a maximum height of 4.000 feet above sea level, taking them right over the roofs of Chequers. A lot of the hilly country in the area is at a height of 800 feet. Therefore, aircraft fly very low for a considerable period, and in very congested air space within the London control zone, very close to the Bovingdon stacking area. They are in an area which is already too congested for flying. They fly over especially fine countryside. The Chilterns are of outstanding beauty.
During the debate on the Roskill Report we heard a great deal about the beauty of the Vale of Aylesbury, but it does not bear comparison with the Chilterns and the National Trust country at Ashbridge. It may be announced that it is quite intolerable to allow an airport to be built at Cublington. It is possible that if expansion at Luton continues as it is at present there will be more flying from Luton before the end of this decade than there would be at Cublington in 2002.
Another difficulty about Luton is that it is sandwiched between two new towns —Hemel Hempstead and Stevenage. They are both considered to be very fine examples of how Britain should be in future, with people having the opportunity of living decent lives and getting away from slum conditions and into fine new town areas. Both new towns are 1216 spreading. It is fortuitous perhaps but their development is taking place towards Luton. A report on this matter has already been issued by an independent expert at Stevenage, and the same will apply to Hemel Hempstead. It is a battle between the expansion of Luton and the orderly development of new towns.
Control should be exercised over the expansion of flying services at Luton. There is a consultative committee at Luton, but the Luton Corporation takes very little notice of it. It just goes ahead with steady expansion of its charter services, trying to draw in to Luton as much business as it can and to make a profit for the municipality regardless of the disadvantages to people much further afield. It is essential that there should be more effective control over municipal airports.
At the moment, all that the Government can do is to say, "If you require further planning permission we shall call in the planning application and hold a public inquiry". But that is not much good. It is possible for a very large number of day and night aircraft movements to take place at municipal airports. The present system of controlling municipal airports is unacceptable.
I believe that the consultative committees need teeth, and I believe that it would be even better that municipal airports should be licensed, possibly annually, by the Civil Aviation Authority, which should be able to lay down the conditions of operation so that it shall not be possible any more for the Minister to write to me and say that he is very sorry and appreciates all the difficulties which there are but the Government have no control over the operations of Luton and that he has every confidence in the good sense of the Corporation of Luton and that he is quite sure that it will do nothing in any way out of keeping with the general policy of aviation in this country. That is just not good enough.
Therefore, I welcome this Bill, if it will effect a very considerable improvement in control over aircraft noise.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I know that there are about 14 hon. Members wanting to speak and that there are about 140 minutes before I shall have to start calling Front Bench speakers again. Hon. 1217 Members are able to draw their own deductions from that, and I hope that they will have regard to the length for which they speak.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
I shall follow the guidance which you have given, Mr. Speaker, and make only a short contribution to this debate.
For myself, I have a lukewarm attitude towards this Bill and its construction. I would say first of all that the objective of the Bill has not been spelt out. Unfortunately, because of air transport delay, I did not hear the Minister's speech, B.E.A. being two hours late from Glasgow today. Nevertheless, the Bill does not spell out the Government's policy clearly enough, if the objective of the Government's policy is as that policy was enunciated at the General Election —to provide for full, fair, free competition. If that had been spelt out, it would have been understandable, and if it is the Government's policy it should have been in the Bill, but it is not the objective as stated in the Bill.
The Bill seems to have a measure of rationalisation as its objective, but also to give benefits to the independents but not necessarily through full and fair competition in the true sense of the word. That is one reason why I take a rather lukewarm view of what the Bill is attempting to do.
I am interested in co-ordination of air services and of transport as a whole in 1971 and in the future, and there ought to be a co-ordinated policy. I cannot envisage Glasgow to London electrification by 1974 or 1975 and competition by rail with B.E.A. or any other air operator from Glasgow to London unless there are signs of a fares structure being applied by the Minister with the right to fix a fares structure. It seems to me, after the experience of seeking to improve rail services between London and Birmingham and then laying down the Ml, so that freight, which might have been of benefit to the railways, suddenly goes back to the roads, that it may be rather a lot to expect co-ordination of rail and air transport in the near future in Britain. I do not find it spelt out here in the Bill.
I come to the composition of the Civil Aviation Authority and its duties as laid 1218 down in Clause 3. Its duties are laid down in subsection (1)(b) as being among other thingsto secure that at least one major British airline which is not controlled by the British Airways Board has opportunities to participate in providing, on charter and other terms…Air transport services to satisfy all substantial categories of public demand at the lowest possible charges. It has always been my contention that nationalised transport should have an opportunity to go in for chartering and for trooping and for a share of that traffic, and I should have thought that the new Authority should have a fair share, and I should think that that would be in the Authority's mind.
It seems to me that the composition of the Airways Board, from eight to 15 members, is a very wide margin, but is the chairman to be consulted about the membership, or will that be subject purely to Ministerial direction with no consultation with the chairman, or between the chairman and the appointees?
Clause 38 is the "general duty" Clause, and I find its wording peculiar in this sense—how does one make this judgment of what would be to the best advantage in terms of investment policy at any given time? Would the Clause prohibit loss making for a year or two years even on essential services? Under that Clause the board has the dutyto exercise its powers in a manner calculated to secure that the air transport services…are developed to the best advantage and the resources…The principle of ownership would come into this matter, as I would view it, and one cannot separate the financial obligations, which the Minister has mentioned 17 or 18 times. I welcome the Secretary of State's having the right to be an interventionist in matters of national concern, and I would hope that the obligations on the private sector are equal to the obligations on the public sector.
I say this especially having regard to the services in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Subsidy for the role to be played in the Highlands and Islands by nationalised services which are a public need should not in any way be weakened by this Bill and the obligations which 1219 are laid upon the public sector, and when the Government talk about things being equal as between public and private enterprise I hope that things are equal, too, in the obligations on the independents in providing public services and providing them in real terms.
I am concerned about another thing. Are the appeals to and decisions by the Air Transport Licensing Board to be a matter of precedent? Is past practice to be the precedent and to be carried over into the new arrangements, and will it apply to the right of appeal? Are the previous precedents abolished, or will they be the criteria for appeals under the new arrangements? Will Ministerial decisions be binding on the new Authority?
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Warren (Hastings)
First of all, I think this Bill is a welcome attempt to step forward in civil aviation legislation. At the same time I find it, as an instrument for promoting the development of civil aviation, one which lacks in many respects the types of detail which are needed, and I think it needs considerable improvement, which, I am sure, will be effected in Committee. I do not find that it stresses customer demand as strongly as it ought. It seems to me to be much more a charter for civil servants than a charter for civil aviation, and I think that it seeks to regulate rather than to encourage.
Here, I think, we can perhaps see the transference of some of the views of the Edwards Report, which, in Chapter 20, says that this is "a regulated industry". I think we can see the word "regulation" being passed over far too easily. We ought to see more of the objectives of the Edwards Report where we have the statement that it was a guide to action, and I would like to see action and encouragement being given to the industry rather than regulation.
In total, I find that the Bill constrains the industry in a way which has become almost a tradition in this country. Since the Second World War this has become almost conventional wisdom with successive Ministries concerned with civil aviation. I should like to amplify these points and, perhaps, identify some solutions.
1220 The right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) regarded the industry as one which has gone over the peak and is now on a downturn. It is on a downturn in terms of the total effect of the results against the budget. The International Civil Aviation Organisation last year forecast a 14 per cent. compound growth rate, which has been traditional over the past few years. The amount achieved was only 12 per cent., but it is still, as we remarked in terms of the debate on the Roskill Report, probably the fastest growth industry in the world. We should not underestimate the demand that exists and our legislation must be just as active as that demand.
I will deal briefly with certain particular points. First, I do not doubt that the Civil Aviation Authority will be welcomed on either side of the House, but in the terms of the Bill it will have less power than the Air Transport Licensing Board in its ability to promote the interests of civil aviation route licensing.
There are many more occasions throughout the Bill when the Secretary of State will now be able to intervene than he has had heretofore under existing legislation. Clause 3 is an example, and one has always to read the small print. Clause 3 states that the Secretary of State will issue to the Authority a statement which will mean that the Authority has to accord with guidance which the right hon. Gentleman gives. This is, therefore, the Department of Trade and Industry telling the Civil Aviation Authority what it has to do. How will that be balanced against the other part of Clause 3, which provides that the Authority has to perform its functionsin the manner which it considers is best calculatedto achieve the objectives?
The question becomes, who is boss? The answer is that the Minister is boss and, therefore, in terms of being able to give guidance, he must achieve priority. Although there is obviously a need in the Civil Aviation Authority and it is recognised that it must be as independent as possible, it is a pity that the Minister has this easy right to weigh in and state, "I am the boss". Under Clause 4, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) mentioned, the Civil Aviation Authority can regulate domestic fares but has no right to discuss international 1221 affairs. Here, it is subject to the Department of Trade. That is a pity, because there is an interface here where all the experience which, we hope, will be put into the Civil Aviation Authority is not there by right of consultation.
Hon. Members have already referred to the lack of normal consultative machinery between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Authority. There should be a right of interchange of opinion both ways, and the one should not be the subject of instructions to the other. This is important, because if one is trying to get a Civil Aviation Authority which will work, it must draw to it because of its authority men of sufficient calibre to make it work. If it is not its own master, I do not think that those men will come forward.
In Clause 21, there is a reference to the type of authority which the Civil Aviation Authority will have. It will prohibit the use of any aircraft for carriage or reward of passengers or cargo on specified flights. It does not say specifically whether those will he United Kingdom-registered aircraft or what happens to aircraft with foreign registration.
I ask my right hon. Friend to look at the situation in the United States, where the Civil Aeronautics Board has the right and the duty to issue foreign carrier permits to airlines seeking to operate into the United States and thus regulates the type of frequency of operation and the type of airline which comes into the United States. There are many instances at the moment where all the airlines in this country, whether the national airlines or the independents, are at a disadvantage compared with many United States operators coming into this country. I hope, therefore, that in terms of policy, the Department of Trade and Industry will not simply make policy and look upon the Authority as a means of implementing it, but will regard this as a joint partnership in which the Department regards the Authority as the true authority on civil aviation.
Clause 1, which deals with the constitution of the Authority, states that it shall consist ofnot less than six nor more than twelve persons appointed by the Secretary of State".I have three questions. First, for how long are those gentlemen or ladies to be appointed? I hope that they will be 1222 appointed only for fixed terms. Secondly, I hope that they will be appointed for overlapping terms, thereby preserving continuity. It is essential to have men of experience and with successful records in civil aviation, and not just wash-outs who happen to be available at the time to fill positions.
My third question is how much they are to be paid. I am sorry to be rather mundane about this, but we are back to the question of getting the right men of the right calibre. If we do not give the right pay, in the terms of the trade union maxim, we shall not get the right job done. One of the pities of the Air Transport Licensing Board has not been so much its age but that it has essentially been part-time and, therefore, it has been able to get only part-time or retired men who have the time available to come and help.
I would like to refer to the change of nomenclature from "air service licence" to "air transport licence". Clause 25 states that there will be this transition. Here again, however, I feel that in the Bill we have not yet got down to the detail which is necessary. I hope that routes will be licensed for certain defined periods—say, seven or 10 years. That is about the right period for the airlines to digest and accommodate if we are to help to keep competition going between one national board and another, and between the national boards and the independent airlines, and keep the adrenalin flowing through the veins of the boards of management. Too often I find them rather asleep on the fact that they have got the routes and they can never change. Some of the argument today has been about the very situation in which change has occurred. This is a pity. Routes should be licensed only for a defined period.
What chance is there for airlines which have ideas and initiative, and which want to open up new markets, if they do not know that they can bid for new routes on equal terms with anybody else? A simple example is that of Lloyd International Airlines, which wanted to open up an all-freight route from London to Hong Kong. It made two applications to the Air Transport Licensing Board and was the only airline which applied. B.O.A.C. objected, and so the application was turned down on both occasions. The 1223 result was that B.O.A.C., which had never thought of it before, started an all-cargo route to Hong Kong. There must be a chance for new airlines to thrive. If they have the opportunity, they can be given encouragement.
I feel that Clause 25 is still weighted towards the protection of the airlines which come under the Airways Board without sufficient recognition that the competition lies not between one airline and another in this country, but between all airlines in this country and foreign airlines. That is the real competition.
Within the context of air transport licensing, I welcome, however, Clause 32, as a result of which we shall be told a lot more about the pooling details in which B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. have engaged with foreign airlines. I must say that I regard the gift to B.U.A. of the Gatwick-Le Bourget route as a little bit of a backhander. Nobody want to go on from Le Bourget. It is due to be closed down in the not-too-distant future and it is impossible to make any interconnection between Le Bourget and any other part of France. I hope that the connection between Gatwick and Le Bourget which is offered to B.U.A. can eventually be transferred to Orly or Paris Nord.
Fourthly, the A.R.B. has been renamed, but this makes no difference to the fact that the Air Registration Board in this country is the finest Air Registration Board in the world. It is acknowledged to be such by the United States and by every other foreign country. This can be seen from the way in which it vetted the Boeing 707 when it was introduced into B.O.A.C. and made it a stable aircraft, completely free of some of the problems which it had had hitherto.
I am disappointed that under Clause 27(2)(c) the Civil Aviation Authority will be required to consult the Air Registration Board. The words needed here are "will be required to accept". The members of the C.A.A. will not have the ability, collectively or individually, to determine whether or not the built-in lifetime's experience and knowledge of the members of the A.R.B. should or should not be accepted. The A.R.B. is sacrosanct in the opinion of everyone in aviation, its credibility has never been in doubt, and I hope "consult" will be changed to "accept".
1224 Two points are missing from the Bill. First, there is no mention of private flying. This is where we are back again to regulation rather than encouragement. Private flying is the base of all aviation, and it has been for too long neglected and depressed. I should like to see it encouraged and not frustrated. We should encourage people to realise that flying is a normal, natural, means of communication which everybody should have the right to take part in and enjoy.
§ Mr. Rankin
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that if the local authorities were encouraged to play the part they used to play in licensing this would help private flying to succeed?
§ Mr. Warren
I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman, whose views on this I respect. He is absolutely right.
The other missing item is statistics, which is an item which must be brought into the Bill as an active ingredient before it can become an Act. Clauses 19 and 20 both identify the possibility that statistics could be produced, but there is a need for something more than the suggestion. There is a need for something parallel to the Civil Aeronautics Board statement in the United States, which is a full monthly statement of air travel usage and route profitability on each and every airline. The statement in the Bill about the Official Secrets Act worries me. People may whistle back behind this and leave us without the information which has frustrated so many airlines for so long. This has landed far too many independents into a market about which they had no knowledge. Although the statistics existed in the Board of Trade they were not made known to the airlines because it was considered not to be in the public interest to do so. It is about time we stopped this nonsense and had a monthly publication telling us who flies where, how often, and whether the route is profiable.
There is nothing wrong about this. Complete disclosure of company information is required by other Acts of Parliament, and it is about time we had this in the air transportation business. The shield of secrecy which has been held over air transportation for far too long has been a disincentive. An example of it can be seen in terms of the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Mr. Small) who arrived 1225 two hours late and has already left the Chamber and who travelled today between Glasgow and London. Over this route in the last ten years the air fare has doubled, whereas on a comparable route from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the same period of time the air fare has halved, simply because it is an air route which stimulates growth and people know how to operate the airline and the passenger demand.
§ Mr. Warren
As my hon. Friend says, it is also an example of competition.
My last point is on the subject of B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. Having spent six years with B.O.A.C., I am conscious of the high standard of operation of B.O.A.C., but neither B.O.A.C. nor B.E.A. has any right to protected routes over an unlimited period of time. I have commented on the need in route licensing to define limits in time. I have in mind not only existing routes but routes which need to be exploited but which are withheld from anybody else's operation, such as routes between this country and the Southern and South-Western States of the United States. I also have in mind the existing haphazard routes between this country and the Middle East, where B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. are the greatest competitors one with the other. One has to be absolutely sure—and I hope B.O.A.C. will take account of this—that these two airlines, when operating in competition one with the other, and when challenging independent airlines on routes, will tender to the Authority accounting procedures which are identical and stated in terms which everybody can understand.
We have had the classic example recently, where B.O.A.C. has said that the Concorde is much more expensive to operate than the Boeing 747, and yet it has disclosed subsequently that the accounting procedures used for each aeroplane were totally different. I do not think, as the right hon. Member for Barnsley said, that we want to subsidise Concorde—it would be quite ridiculous. The Concorde could make a lot of money and certainly the Concorde is not for knocking.
The Bill is a pointer to the way ahead in "the 'seventies" but needs the benefit 1226 of practical civil aviation experience to make it into a sensible, progressive and profitable Act. I am confident that the Government will add the essential momentum to get the Bill airborne as an Act.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham)
There is an old saying in show business—"Try never to follow a good act". Anyone who has heard the act, if I may so call it, of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) will agree that I am following a very good act indeed. He has covered 82 per cent. of the points which I had intended to make had I caught your eye, Mr. Speaker, a little earlier. I have three observations to make, one of a general nature and the other two of a particular nature before I save the time of the House by sitting down a little sooner than I originally intended and thereby earning your gratitude, Sir.
It is fairly well known that I am for my sins one of the people who attempts to speak for the workers of London Airport which immediately adjoins my constituency. Thousands of my constituents, perhaps even tens of thousands, are employed at the airport.
I will not repeat the arguments which I advanced just over a year ago, but one year after the decision of the previous Government to proceed, albeit on rather different terms, with the establishment of a second force airline, there is still great anger amongst my constituents who are employed at London Airport. This applies not merely to the rabble-rousing elements at the bottom of the income scale but also at the top, in both Corporations.
No less vigorous anger is expressed amongst the senior executives, whom I have from time to time to meet in my constituency work, than at the bottom end of the income scale. Almost to a man they feel cheated and let down by the proposal to set up the second force airline, and doubly so when they look at the nature of the proposals advanced by the Government on 3rd August, which have been followed by legislation in accordance with that basic decision to proceed. They take the view, which I agree with, that they have struggled for 1227 more than 25 years against great odds to make these two national enterprises successful, until in recent years each has become an acknowledged leader in its own field. As a result of their success, and the way they have managed to haul the British flag right to the top of the mast, they have made a considerable contribution to the national Exchequer. They are also angry because they know the fierce competition they experience every day of their working lives in international air transport. Anybody who has taken the trouble to study this industry, involving hundreds of millions of £s, knows this to be only too true. This is a tremendously important industry for the economic well-being of the country.
The reason for all this anger nearly a year after the announcement of this decision is that there is a widespread feeling that the present Government in almost unseemly haste have sought to line the pockets of their political friends so that the ability of the two national Corporations to compete successfully in the international airline jungle has been gravely impaired.
Recent news strongly suggests that the whole of the international airline community is about to enter a very frosty period indeed. Already there are indications from B.O.A.C. that its future profitability level will bear this out. These sorts of matters make people fearful for their job security and of the ability of the airlines to provide them with the career opportunities and all the rest which they have a right to expect. If the Government had deliberately set out—I am not suggesting that in fact they have —to destroy these two great national assets, they could hardly have done better than to advance the cause of a second force airline in the way they have.
As a result of these highly politically inspired moves by the Government, morale among both management and workers at London Airport, and no doubt elsewhere in the industry, has already taken a nose-dive. One fears that the relatively peaceful industrial relations which have been characteristic of this industry over the years will before long suffer a serious decline. I trust that this state of affairs is not the sort of thing right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite 1228 are seeking to achieve now that they are in Government.
I should like to say a few brief words about some of the detailed matters in the Bill. I should like first to mention the licensing of air transport, a considerable section of which is dealt with in the Bill. Members will recall that the Edwards Committee was critical of the old Air Traffic Licensing Board procedure whereby appeals to the Minister against adverse decisions were virtually automatic. Indeed, Edwards suggested that many applicants for licences deliberately understated their case at the original hearings so that they could bring allegedly fresh evidence to the appeal and thus favour their chance of success. A major fault of the present proposals in the Bill is that we shall see a repeat of that kind of situation in which the final decision will again be left to the Minister. I anticipate that this legislation will produce all the old faults of the previous A.T.L.B. system.
Finally, I wish to say a brief word about the British Airways Board. I am not as enthusiastic as my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar about this proposal in the Bill. I have spoken to a number of B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. senior officials and nothing I have heard persuades me to believe that it is either necessary or desirable. The case for integration along the lines proposed rests upon largely hypothetical grounds of shared overheads and greater utilisation of aircraft. There is already fairly extensive use of shared facilities; we have heard this afternoon about shared health and medical services, joint pilot training schemes, joint engineering apprentice schemes and so on. I have no doubt that further co-operation along these lines, is possible including perhaps on the hotel and catering services front.
But I believe that the case for a higher level of integration in the optimum use of aircraft becomes very doubtful indeed. Both B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. managements are against the whole idea, which is perhaps not surprising. They point to the fact that there are very big differences as between operating a long-haul service and a medium-haul service since both services require different aircraft types, different methods of sales promotion, different catering facilities, and so on.
1229 A further matter which should be underlined is that if this type of integration is pursued as between medium and long-haul aircraft, one predictable consequence will be the effect on the British aviation industry. For reasons which Swissair and Alitalia have made obvious, we shall end up with an all-American aircraft fleet. And as somebody with considerable faith in the technological and scientific ability of the British aircraft industry and its ability to create breaks-through, I should be very sad indeed to see action by this Government or any other Government resulting in the British aviation industry being forced to use only American aircraft.
If we go in for a mixture of medium and long-haul aircraft, it will inevitably mean that the long-haul machines will have to cover the medium-haul services, not the other way round. We ought also to look at the cost saving which is claimed by a number of people who have spoken on this subject. The idea that there will be certain substantial savings as a result of the marrying together of these disparate airline functions is almost totally fallacious. In terms of the use of long-haul aircraft on European routes, according to the figures I have before me, it can be seen that when the Lockheed 1011–8 operates on routes of 2,000 miles and above, the cost per passenger mile is of the order of 1½ old pence; whereas when operating on shorter routes the cost increases by something like double, to 5 old pence per passenger mile. For purposes of comparison, it should be pointed out that the Trident on shorter routes operates at well above a 15 per cent. saving as compared to the long-haul aircraft route. Therefore, any idea that the Corporations will save money by this mixture of the two types of aircraft should be rejected by the House.
I wish to emphasise what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar, that this Bill is a very bad piece of legislation, not least because of the blanket powers it gives in respect of an extension of the activities of the second force airline. I join with my hon. Friend in asking others of my hon. Friends to vote against the Bill tonight in at least a token demonstration of opposition to one of its main propositions, the creation of the second force private airline.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)
I want to comment briefly on the speeches made by the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr), the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) and the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Roy Mason). Each of them talked about savings to be made by rationalisation, and the previous Minister went further and talked about integration. The hon. Member for Feltham wanted to safeguard the jobs of his constituents and the hon. Member for Poplar spoke for workers in the aviation industry generally. If rationalisation and integration come about there will inevitably be a reduction in the number of jobs. Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. They must face the consequences of what they are saying and realise that their proposition would mean fewer jobs.
It was time that we had a review of the whole of civil aviation. The Edwards Committee, set up by the last Government, carried out such a review, and it is therefore not surprising that the Opposition today generally support the Bill, with reservations that will come out in Committee. The weakness of the old licensing system—which will be repealed by the Bill—was that appeals against the allocation of routes went through the Commissioner and not direct to the Minister. The Commissioner decided the appeal but the Minister gave a final "Yea" or "Nay" to the Commissioner's decision.
That anachronism led to much delay, and when the Minister overruled decisions both of the A.T.L.B. and the Commissioner it weakened the position of both, and especially the A.T.L.B. I am therefore relieved to find it emphasised in Clause 1 that the Authority which will decide on licensing is not to be the servant or agent of the Crown. If the Minister is prepared to face the consequences of that provision and give the Authority the right degree of control he must use any power of appeal that he possesses in a way that will not undermine the Authority. His powers must not be lightly used. If they are, the statement that the Authority will not be an agent of the Crown, although being true in fact, will make little real sense.
Considerable play has been made of the alleged improvement that the Bill 1231 will bring for British airlines. In general, it would appear that apart from the Corporations no real change is made from the A.T.L.B. position. What real improvements are there? The British Airways Board has power to control the activities of the Corporations. It will have power to authorise the dissolution of either Corporation—"either", not "both". That provision is deliberately designed to investigate the possibility of integration—the possibility of there being one great body rather than B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. It goes beyond ordinary rationalisation.
Industrial experience shows that we can have an industry that is far too big, where communications become clogged up and the organisation loses the very soul that it is necessary for big industry to keep if it is to be fully efficient and ensure the wellbeing of its employees. I suggest that although some advantages are to be derived from rationalisation, and from creating one body rather than having two Corporations considerable disadvantages also can ensue. The balance must be weighed carefully.
There would be savings in equipment and in servicing. There would obviously be savings in catering, computerisation, and other services—including ticket offices. But would there be a great overall advantage? The question will have to be considered very carefully over a long period.
The new Authority will exercise considerable power over B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. I hope that the new body will not interfere too much with the general management of either Corporation or both, because that would be fatal. If the general managements of the Corporations were constantly looking over their shoulders at the interpretation placed upon their actions by the British Airways Board it would not be very inducive to good, long-term management.
I have always felt that the essential weakness of the A.T.L.B. was that it was comprised exclusively of lay people. Whatever may have happened in the past the new body, because of its extensive powers, must consist of men with a good deal of experience in the airline business. They must have a wide 1232 knowledge of the industry and also some experience of management in the industry. That is vitally important, not only if the new body is to be successful but if it is to be regarded as the right sort of body by the airline industry itself. It would be intolerable if the new Authority, with its great responsibilities and powers, did not consist of men who knew what the industry was all about.
If control of the private sector must be exercised through licensing I suggest that it should be on a "use-it-or-lose-it" basis. In other words, if licences are issued airlines must be told that they should operate under the terms of those licences within a certain period. If they fail to do so the routes must be taken away from them.
Before the Bill goes to Committee the Minister ought also to consider the question of separately licensing each route and discontinuing multi-purpose licensing. Multi-purpose licensing encourages route-hogging. Many licences now have so many origins and destination points that amount almost to blanket licences. Consideration should also be given to the question of licensing on a minimum and not maximum frequency basis.
The right hon. Member for Barnsley referred to Caledonian-B.U.A. I hope that notwithstanding all that has been said by hon. Members opposite the Government intend to ensure that Caledonian-B.U.A. has a square deal and the possibility of profitability. What amazes me about the right hon. Member for Barnsley is that Caledonian-B.U.A. was his conception, yet every time he speaks about it here, instead of encouraging it he looks at it and says, "You bastard". I am sorry to say that, but that is exactly his attitude. The child being his, he should at least accept some responsibility for its decent upbringing.
§ Mr. Mason
The child was not conceived in such rottenness as the Tory Government introduced when they pinched routes from B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. in order that the conception could take place. We did not agree with that action, and the hon. Gentleman knows it full well, so he had better stop repeating a sentence that he has uttered three or four times. Further, does he not agree that his right hon. Friend seems 1233 to have jumped a step ahead today'? Is it not true that, legally, Caledonian-B.U.A. cannot operate those routes it has pinched until affirmative Orders have been passed?
§ Mr. Burden
That is a matter for the Minister, and I see that he shakes his head in denial. The simple fact is that the right hon. Gentleman opposite refused to allow B.U.A. to be taken over by B.O.A.C., and stated emphatically that it had to be the core of the new second force. He cannot wriggle out by smooth and snide remarks. if the Labour Party is intent on taking away all the routes that Caledonian-B.U.A. now operate, I hope that the whole staff there will realise that their jobs are not only in jeopardy but would be lost completely if the Labour Party became the Government again.
Whereas I have earlier argued against blanket routeing for freight, which I believe will continue to grow, it is essential that freight licensing should be looked at rather differently from that of scheduled service and passenger licensing. It is essential in good freight operation to have the possibility of more ad hoc dropping and picking up than now exists.
The Bill does not mention hovercraft but I presume that this form of transport is still under consideration, because there is no doubt that it will come much more into use. Not a lot is known about hovercraft at the moment, and I presume that as this type of transport develops it will be brought much more into discussion, and the necessary controls imposed.
This is generally a good Bill. It advances much that Edwards wanted. It must be looked at very carefully in Committee. I hope that the Minister will take the view that it will be so interpreted that the Government will interfere in the activities of the Authority and of B.A.B. as little as possible. I am sure that that is the only way of seeing that the people operating them do not feel that their actions are likely to be undermined or inhibited.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
I have never previously intervened in this Caledonian-B.U.A. discussion, for the simple reason that, like me, Adam 1234 Thomson is a good Scotsman, and will be a good Scotsman whether he is running an aircraft, or an aircraft service, or merely serving in some minor capacity. I know him. I have had him in the House. I have visited his headquarters. I assert that Adam Thomson, who has done well in every aviation venture he has touched, will continue to do well, and will discharge with credit the obligation that we have placed upon him.
The debate reminds me to some extent of what has happened in the past. When I have heard criticisms of the aircraft that are being used today I recall that just about 22 years ago I was flying backwards and forwards between Glasgow and London in a DH Rapide at about 90 miles an hour. The sole refreshment was a glass of water, if water was carried, and if the wind did not blow kindly there was no protection such as we now have. That was just over 20 years ago, when five of us who were Labour Members used to make that journey.
On the other hand, on Friday night I flew with my wife from London to Glasgow in less than an hour, at a speed of 400 miles an hour, in a beautiful new aircraft—the third mark of the Trident. In two years there have been three marks of that aircraft, each providing more and more comfort. Most people are fairly well satisfied to make the journey from London to Glasgow inside 60 minutes in conditions that could not be bettered in a top level hotel. What more do we want? Who will deny the progress made in this much criticised service? The increased speed and comfort and all the other improvements have come about as a result of knowledge, of research, and of the ability and determination of the workers to go ahead. We should remember that background in criticising progress in the industry.
§ Mr. Grylls
The hon. Gentleman has talked about the improved service to Glasgow. Does he agree that it was the independents who first introduced jets and started competition with modern aircraft?
§ Mr. Rankin
I am sorry, but I did not grasp one word that the hon. Gentleman enunciated. I heard plenty of sound but was unable to decipher what was said. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will 1235 forgive me if I proceed as I had intended before his interruption.
The Bill provides a British Airways Board to oversee, and later perhaps to merge, B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. The Bill also sets up a Civil Aviation Authority to regulate British airlines.
The most important part of the Bill, however, is that dealing with licensing. So far it has not attracted much attention. The headlines have found a greater attraction in the possibility of a merger between B.O.A.C. and B.E.A.
The proposed absorption of the Air Registration Board has not aroused much interest. Closer co-operation between B.O.A.C. and B.E.A., especially on the investment side, would be acceptable, but not necessarily merger-provoking. Even taking over the A.R.B. is not a priority. The Edwards Committee proposed a Civil Aviation Authority but did not get far. The Bill is giving the Department of Trade and Industry far more power than it presently possesses.
§ Mr. Rankin
The Minister is shaking his head at my assertion. It is my view, and perhaps I will be shown where I have reached a wrong conclusion. The Department will retain control over international fares and traffic rights and exercise both functions without any consultations with other interested parties. If I am wrong about that, I am sure that I shall be corrected. It should be noted that 70 per cent. of Britain's air transport is international. Yet these economic keys will be delegated, not, as suggested by Edwards to the Civil Aviation Authority, but to the Department of Trade and Industry, as decided by the Government.
On the matter of public versus private enterprise, I trust that there will be no attempt to predetermine shares of the total air transport market. It is unrealistic to think of transferring existing routes and opportunities from the Corporations to the private sector. What we should do for the future is ensure that both private and public enterprise have access to the future growth and opportunities available in an industry which I am assured will double in size over the next seven years.
1236 According to paragraph 30 of the White Paper, the suggested Airways Board will have the authority to merge parts of the two Corporations to get the best possible results. So long as the purpose of this move is to reduce costs, provide the public with a better service, with better career structures for the staff, such proposals can be commended and supported. But if there is any attempt to implement the proposals before agreement about them is reached among affected employees, the resulting problems could prevent any advantages being obtained. The advantage to be got in mixing private and public capital in our transport undertakings is most doubtful. For that reason, the public and private sectors should remain separate, and therefore the two Corporations should not invest in private airlines.
The provision of airports and weather forecasting services, communications, and so on is very expensive. Only a body like the State is fitted to bear it, or perhaps some separate body directly accountable to a Government Department. The Board of Trade might fill that bill. Independence is not possible where there is almost complete reliance on public funds, and in any event policy decisions in these areas will undoubtedly be made, despite all that may be said, by the Government of the day.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Grylls (Chertsey)
I warmly welcome the Government's initiative in giving effect in the Bill to one of the most important parts of the Edwards proposals, namely, the encouragement of a second British carrier. I believe that most people will give this proposal full-blooded support and will wish it well. Greater British competition and greater British variety in airlines are definitely in the interests of the travelling consumer. It is in the interests also of the aircraft industry that there should be diversity.
In recent months we have had many debates about the aircraft industry. In and out of the House people always say, quite rightly, that we wish to see a healthy British aircraft industry. But a healthy aircraft industry depends on good orders from British airlines. In this respect the independent airlines in Britain have made a major contribution to the British aircraft industry in continuing to order British. Of course, B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. 1237 have made their contribution, but I believe that orders received from an independent airline which is buying simply on commercial judgment, rather than on any other, carry greater weight. I quote just the example of the BAC111 which is made just outside my constituency but by workers most of whom live within it. The success of the BAC111 has come about partly because B.U.A. has placed very good orders for it and foreign airlines have found this a convincing argument to go on buying BAC111s.
I find the Opposition's policy tonight one of double-talk. Paragraph 10 of their White Paper published in November, 1969 —Cmnd. 4213—says thatthe Government favour the licensing of a second British carrier…".To that extent we are four square. Where they have gone wrong is that they have dodged the issue of exactly how we should be able, in practice, to establish a healthy second force. All we seem to have from right hon. and hon. Members opposite is screams and yells about the rape of B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. I believe that the present Government have faced up to the realities and have shown the right determination in establishing a second force. Whatever may be the political fortunes in future years, I believe that we shall see the second force here to stay.
As the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) said, the public have seen that competition means a better service. I should like to refer to the hon. Member's Glasgow service, a point which I tried to explain in an intervention and for which I apologise. The Glasgow, Belfast and Manchester routes previously were served by traditional aircraft—nonjet aircraft—but when the independents arrived they introduced jets on to these routes. They probably did so in the interests of competition. Subsequently B.E.A. had jet aircraft. Therefore, I believe that one can say that to this extent the independents have contributed to a better service to the public on domestic routes.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that in comparing aircraft he is comparing vessels that are all doing the same speed? Therefore, speed is not such an important competitive factor. What I was dealing with was the total service rendered by the aircraft.
§ Mr. Grylls
I do not think there is much between us on this point. The fact remains that the jet is the modern fashionable aircraft, and when jet aircraft are operating on a route, generally speaking people will choose to fly on that service.
I want to refer to the contributions made by inclusive tour operators. Nearly every day in our newspapers we see advertisements for tours to the Costa Brava or the Costa Blanca at cheaper rates by tour operators. One may or may not approve of this, but the public seem to like it, and to this extent it has been a contribution. Generally speaking, the independent airlines have played an important part, and, thanks to the proposals of the present Government, they will continue to do so.
I should like my right hon. Friend to consider one particular point arising from the Bill. There was an exchange earlier this afternoon between my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) and myself about Fairoaks Airport. I mention this not as a narrow constituency point, but as a general point of principle. Clause 30 relates to byelaws applicable to Authority aerodromes. I have not been able to find any provision for the establishment of byelaws for privately-owned aerodromes. The trouble with Fairoaks and other small privately-owned aerodromes is that they are dependent on a rather woolly general desire that they should have consultative processes, but there is nothing specifically laid down.
What happens is that we have, as it were, expansion by stealth. At Fair-oaks the owner recently signed an agreement with an American helicopter firm for the sole franchise of a particular helicopter. My constituents are horrified at the idea of having helicopters flying all around what is basically a residential area, and I believe that they are quite right. But apparently there is very little that anybody can do about this. Some months ago there was a lot of night flying by private aircraft in the vicinity, and, despite complaints, there was little that could be done.
I hope that my right hon. Friend, when he replies to the debate, will be able to give some assurance that in Committee the Government will consider including in the Bill some provision for control over private aerodromes which I believe 1239 must be giving a lot of trouble to many people. This is not just a political matter. Aircraft can cause a great deal of nuisance and disquiet to people living in these areas, and it is right that provision should be made in the Bill for greater control over this type of flying.
I believe that the Bill generally establishes a sensible and modern framework for the aviation industry. It is, above all, a practical framework which will work. It is the sort of framework which, when it is applied, will ensure that in the years ahead we shall have a healthy and expanding British aviation industry.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)
I intend to speak briefly to allow as many of my hon. Friend as possible to get into the debate.
Clause 3 has been mentioned from time to time, and it is interesting that the Minister said that this Clause is the key to the new relationship. If that is so, it is a pretty biased relationship. Representations have already been made to hon. Members on both sides of the House by B.O.A.C. and B.E.A.
One paragraph in the Edwards Report says:As for the airlines themselves, both B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. have a good reputation among their peers and high standing as innovators in the technical and operational fields.If the Edwards Report can say this in all honesty, that B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. have got this great reputation amongst their equals in the industry, and they are able as innovators, why is it that in Clause 3 there is a tremendous bias in favour of the independents?
I think I know why. I am reminded of the story of Esau and Jacob. Esau was a hairy man and Jacob was a smooth man. The smooth men in the Tory Party are largely responsible for the drafting of Clause 3. Clause 3 does not give the Corporations equality of opportunity with the independents. If we study the wording of the Clause we find that the duty of the Authority is to "encourage" British airlines in respect of the public sector, but to "secure" in the case of major airlines not controlled by the British Airways Board. Clause 3, in fact, will provide the basis for the opposition 1240 to this Bill. I very much hope that it will not provide a licence to steal further property from B.O.A.C. and B.E.A.
In the matter of a second force, the Minister clearly said that this was an once-for-all seizure. When he was asked whether he would put that statement into the Measure he declined. He said he wanted the C.A.A. to have independence and freedom of action. Who is ruling here? Is it Parliament or is it the C.A.A.? In this debate we have to deal with the powers of the C.A.A., and seemingly we shall have to do so when the Bill goes into Committee. The Minister has clearly said without equivocation that this is a once-for-all hand-over. Yet he is not prepared for this condition to be written into the Bill. Will he agree in Committee to consider a provision stating that this is a once-for-all hand-over?
People like myself will spend much of our political lives trying to get this decision reversed, and we want the decision to be reversed without the payment o[...] compensation. The riches which are to be handed over on a plate should be taken back by the public airlines, and I will say why. They will be taken back, I hope, without compensation, for the Under-Secretary of State has said that B.O.A.C. asked for compensation but it has been made clear that air service licences are not a form of property in respect of which compensation could properly be given. At the end of the day, therefore, the same rule should apply in the taking back of these motes by B.E.A. and B.O.A.C.
Many of us who were concerned with the Trade Descriptions Act thought that it would cover a much wider variety of activities than has proved to be the case in practice, and I wonder whether the Minister could tell us whether the Civil Aviation Authority might be asked to exercise a degree of consumer protection within its functions. The C.A.A. will be responsible for overseeing inclusive tours, it will be responsible for package tours, and it will be responsible, I believe, for seeing that the consumer, the holidaymaker on the inclusive tour, has a fair deal. At present, however, under the Trade Descriptions Act, the protection given to the traveller is extremely limited.
There have recently been complaints which have not been dealt with as they 1241 should. I shall name one company. I have approached the company, and I have approached the Board of Trade to ask if it would reconsider the matter, and it says it cannot. The company I refer to in this instance is Clarksons, a reputable tour operator, the largest in the country, and one which from time to time gives very good value for money to a large number of holidaymakers, but it is very weak on this side and extremely reluctant to handle genuine complaints.
Will the Minister ask the C.A.A. to consider establishing as part of its functions—a sub-committee, perhaps, or through part of the Board—to take up genuine complaints from people who have had holidays arranged by air operators? This can be a matter of vital importance, particularly to the individual. The Trade Descriptions Act does not cover it. The small man who has had his holiday ruined has to go to court if he wants to take action, but he intensely dislikes having to go to court; he is frightened by it. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) will get his Small Claims Courts Bill to facilitate such matters, but, until such time as that is on the Statute Book, I should like the Civil Aviation Authority to have power to compel a tour operator to investigate every complaint and try to give the small man a fair deal. I urge the Under-Secretary of State to consider that aspect of the problem.
There have been references in the debate to air safety, and there was something of an altercation between two hon. Members over the fact that Edwards said that the public Corporations had a better record than the independents in this respect. My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) was challenged on that, but what he said is true. On page 265, Edwards acknowledges that there are airlines in the independent sector which have an excellent record, but I ask the House to note what Edwards says in paragraph 1082:Although the Safety Review has indicated that the Independents, taken as a whole, have a less satisfactory safety record than the two Corporations…That is quite clear, and it then points out that certain independents also have a good record.
§ Mr. Wilkinson
I emphasised that one should not be dogmatic in one's interpre- 1242 tation of such statistics as are quoted in the Edwards Report. The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) said that, if one compared the most favourable statistics in the public sector with the most favourable statistics in the independent sector—
§ Mr. Wilkinson
—a significant margin of safety in favour of the public sector was shown. This is not true, if one takes the comparison of B.E.A. and B.U.A. Moreover, these statistics show that the kinds of operation involved are not directly comparable, since the independents often serve into small airfields on inclusive tour and charter work, which is quite dissimilar from the longer and medium-haul operations of the public sector.
§ Mr. Carter-Jones
As an ex-member of air crew, I should deplore the use of any unsafe airfields. All airfields should be equally safe, as far as one can make them, and one should not use an airfield where there is grave risk. I am surprised at the implication of what the hon. Gentleman said.
Edwards said that the independents have a less satisfactory safety record than the two Corporations. As competition develops—some of us are rather alarmed about this—and prices fall dramatically, we should take heed of the warning given in Edwards. As competition intensifies, we must make quite sure that it is not at the expense of safety. In the air, it must at all times be safety first. There is no other way. I ask the hon. Gentleman to refer to that matter also in his winding-up speech.
My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar pointed out that the one thing lacking from the Bill is good industrial relations machinery. Edwards has been extensively quoted today, but I quote him once again, and draw to the attention of the House two points made in the summary on page 243:The development of good human relationships is essential for the future prosperity of the British civil air transport industry.Second,The U.K. airlines should examine ways in which greater staff participation and involvement can be achieved. We commend the 1243 experiments in the field of communications that have been instituted in some airlines.If safety is to be taken into account, and if good industrial relations are to be taken into account, I very much hope that in Committee the Government will accept Amendments to Clause 3 and will give a guarantee that no more of the profitable routes of the public sector are pinched for the sake of their political friends.
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)
In opening the debate, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade said that this was a period of rapid change. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) recalled to us the days when he would hurtle down from Scotland at 90 m.p.h. in a De Havilland Rapide, bringing back memories of my own past. But my right hon. Friend is absolutely right; this is a period of rapid change.
My right hon. Friend spoke of the way in which the Bill would regulate the four departments or functions enumerated on page 1 of the Explanatory Memorandum. It seemed to me that the bringing of three of them under the same roof made good sense, but I am not so sure about the fourth. I take it that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will explain why the Authority will operate some aerodromes. The words are "some aerodromes", and, when one looks inside, one finds that they are Aberdeen and the Scottish Highlands and Islands aerodromes. If that be the fourth department, it seems to me that the British Airports Authority might be coerced—it would have to be coerced because there is a loss in running these airports—into taking over this liability from the Civil Aviation Authority. There are probably very important reasons why that is not so which will come out later.
The question whether Caledonian-B.U.A. will be compensated when it is stripped of its routes, if the Opposition ever form the Government again, is becoming an almost perennial problem. As has been made only too plain in debates, its rights to the routes are licences, pieces of paper. B.O.A.C. was not compensated for the loss of routes, and there is no justification for Caledonian-B.U.A. to receive compensation. I should very much like to have clarification of the 1244 position, because it will obviously be raised time and again in Committee.
In a first-class speech my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) spoke of one or two things that have worried him, including the omission of any airports policy from the Bill. What a wonderful opportunity this would have been to have an overall policy for the United Kingdom!
My hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) also mentioned a lack of consultative machinery. My hon. Friend said that there should be consultative committees for the benefit of local residents. I do not know whether my experience is exceptional, but the Southampton airport company, which runs a private airfield, has set up a consultative committee composed of all sections of residents and industry in the area. The company pays its expenses, and the accommodation is kindly given by the Eastleigh local authority. This shows that it can be done, even where the airfield concerned is a small private one.
I was very pleased to see in the Gallery during the afternoon the three personages responsible for much of the Bill, Sir Ronald Edwards and the two Chairmen of the Corporations. I should like to have said while they were present that I, too, have great praise for the Corporations. I have worked for one. They have an outstanding safety record, and they treat their employees very well. It would have been nice to say that while they were here.
The hon. Member for Poplar spoke about a bias towards the private operator, and referred to Clause 3(1)(b), which speaks of securingthat at least one major British airline which is not controlled by the British Airways Board has opportunities to participate in providing,…It is clear that if we set up a second force we want to make sure that it remains in being. To my mind that is the simple object of that provision—not to give any bias towards a private operator but to make sure that it remains in being.
There has been talk of medical departments. I have heard of one other example where slight merging might be helpful. I heard, I think from the Chairman of B.E.A., that both the major airlines have 1245 separate computer units, neither of which will work from the other's software. I believe that they purchased them at about the same period, so it would have been simple to arrange that the software was the same.
The hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr) said that we were nose-diving. He has all the aeronautical terms. Apparently, most of his constituents work at London Airport. I think that the hon. Gentleman was taking too frosty a view. Aviation is going through a period of self-inflicted injury. We have had a Post Office strike that lost that organisation £2 million, and various other things have happened that I will not repeat.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Warren) rightly raised the subject of private aviation. If we could have written into the Bill an airports policy, we could also have written into it a policy for private aviation, a much-neglected part of aviation. The majority of commercial airline pilots come from that sector, so we should not overlook it.
It is only too obvious that the Bill has been in the embryo stage since 1967. The Chairmen of both the nationalised Corporations must have known from the Edwards Report that the Bill is for the eventual merging of the Corporations. My view, borne out by the Report, is that merging will not create stability and efficiency. We have imagined that mergers of great companies or corporations will lead to more efficiency, but this is not always so, as we have seen. I hope that the Corporations are not pressed along the path of complete merger until the Bill has been given a thorough testing period.
Although the Bill has been introduced to hand over responsibility to the Civil Aviation Authority, the Secretary of State still has many reins and bridles to control the industry in excess of what I believe even he would desire. Perhaps the draftsmen have covered every crevice and crack by giving him the last word. The idea of the Bill is to create a buffer between Whitehall and airline managements, to give the managements the ability to get on with the job without too much Government interference, something in which on this side we firmly believe. If that is so, I hope that in Committee 1246 many of the provisions giving the Secretary of State powers to oversee matters can be removed.
One of the immediately obvious flaws of the Bill is on the financial side. We get back only one-third on our air navigational services and only a one-third return on the operation of aerodromes, while the Air Transport Licensing Board recovers all that it spends and the Air Registration Board recovers two-thirds. I look forward to the day—I think that my right hon. Friend said that it would be in 1977–78—when the Authority will be financially self-supporting and not, as at present, receiving back only one-third of the outlay.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)
I hope that the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. James Hill) will forgive me if I do not continue the debate on the main topics with which he was concerned.
I wish to make it clear at the outset that I am fundamentally opposed to the Bill because the whole history of civil aviation licensing in Britain has been one of capitulation to established interests and particularly to established private interests.
During the 'fifties we saw the springing up and increasing development of what were called "colonial coach services". During the 'sixties we saw the licensing of independent domestic services with catastrophic fares increases. Under the Labour Government—I was totally opposed to the concept of the second force—we saw the debarring of the B.O.A.C.-B.U.A. merger. Now, written into Clause 3 of this Measure, we have a lifelong guarantee that while this Bill remains on the Statute Book, a second force airline must exist.
I therefore fundamentally disagree with the philosophy expounded in the past by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason). I do not accept the need for a second force and I have never accepted the need for a Bill of this kind, particularly when the evidence now before us from the United States and many other countries where a policy of route competition has been applied reveals fares increases, falling load factors and serious financial difficulties. To introduce a Measure like this now, 1247 which fosters more competition, shows a complete ignorance on the part of the Government of international and domestic aviation matters.
We need a strong civil aviation authority which will act as a watchdog over the economic and financial affairs of the industry. If we are to have a combination of the American C.A.B. and our F.A.A., it must be much stronger than it could possibly be under the Bill. I had grave doubts whether the proposed C.A.A. would have become "Mr. Mason's Bulldog". I have no doubt that the proposed Authority under this Bill will become "Mr. Noble's Poodle".
If one looks at the Dowers which the C.A.A. is given one is bound to need convincing that they are strong enough to stand up to the Secretary of State and to stand up against the airlines, particularly in the independent sector. Indeed, it seems a wry comment to have to make that the Civil Aeronautics Board in the United States exercises more strict control over British independent operators than our C.A.A. will do.
When an hon. Gentleman opposite spoke earlier about the vast amount of financial disclosure required by the American C.A.B., particularly for foreign carriers' permits, I could not help thinking that the C.A.B. will be asking for far more financial information than the C.A.A. will ask of both independent and State operators in this country.
The 1960 Act never made it quite clear who was in charge, the A.T.L.B. or the Minister. Nor does this Bill. The Secretary of State and Parliamentary Secretary will no doubt be giving slightly different interpretations of these provisions, but if one looks at Clauses 3 and 4, in which some categorical directives are given to the Authority, and if one goes on to look at Clause 24(2), where the Secretary of State can stop the C.A.A. functioning completely—he can stop it dead in its tracks—then if the Parliamentary Secretary intends to claim that this will be an autonomous body, I must be allowed to beg to differ.
Consider, for example, safety. It is well established that the safety performance of United Kingdom airline operators is worse than that of American and Australian operators. It is about 1248 equal to most of the average European operators. Thus, to say that Britain has in the past had a "No-better-than-average performance record" is fair, and I say that taking into account the Jay and Edwards Reports and other documents and statistics which are available. Unfortunately, when I look at the powers which the Authority will have, I cannot see that situation being improved.
Under Clause 22 the Authority is not told in sufficient detail the amount of information for which it must ask for the granting of an air service licence. There is also no provision in Clause 24 for the Authority to publish the reasons for not granting a licence. The same can be said of the powers to compel disclosure. Not half enough importance is given to the whole procedure by which one applies for a licence. One must give certain financial information and then, if the licence is refused, one cannot find out why it has been refused.
In addition, it would appear that most operators can appeal to the Secretary of State. Thus, to claim that this will be a strong autonomous watchdog over the industry when, first, it has no teeth and, secondly, one can always appeal against its decisions, is to claim the rediculous because one is starting out by creating a weak and impotent body.
§ Mr. Burden
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is extremely interested in safety. Is he aware that one of the relevant points regarding the apparent greater safety, or lesser accident, rate in Australia and America lies in the fact that they are concerned there mostly with long hauls? He will appreciate that there are greater dangers with short hauls. The result is that the general picture in Europe as a whole is likely to show more accidents than are shown in Australia and America.
§ Mr. Huckfield
If the hon. Gentleman is making an excuse for the rather lamentable safety performance of British Eagle, I accept his comments.
§ Mr. Huckfield
I speak in my capacity as Air Safety Adviser to the British Safety Council. The C.A.A. will not have the power to require disclosure. Nor will it be required to publish the 1249 details of licence refusals. There will be virtually unlimited appeals against it. In addition, because of the experimental abolition of part of the first provision, there will be tough price competition. I am not convinced, therefore, that the C.A.A. will have sufficient powers to govern the licensing of this competitive industry.
We have now reached the stage when many of the independent operators are screwing themselves down into ever-tighter contracts with inclusive tour operators. We also have accident reports like the British Eagle Viscount disaster at Munich, and the Donaldson International Airways' flouting of the pilots' hours regulations. I am convinced that we need a tougher body, with much stronger powers to compel disclosure and powers to go into minute financial and other details, including the facts about the management structures of many airlines.
I will only briefly consider the charter sphere, in which I have an interest. It would appear that we are going some way to tighten up on some of the rule benders—but I am not particularly concerned with the rule benders because I regard many of the rules as being foolish, anyway.
I hope that the licensing of tour operators and some of the charter airlines will mean our taking a first step towards completely abolishing Resolution 045, of I.A.T.A. and some of the other more foolish regulations, since we have now reached the stage when charter tickets can be bought over the counter. We should revise and simplify the procedures so as to give the ordinary man in the street a chance to fly to far-away places without making him go through a lot of stupid rules and regulations.
At the weekend we had the case of Laker Airways having a flight stopped at Gatwick. I do not want these flights to be discouraged. If there is to be a stoppage of cheap flights, then I hope the rules and regulations under which the present system works will be altered.
I will be equally brief on the question of the handling of air traffic control services in this country. Under the Bill, this will be done jointly by the Secretary of State and the C.A.A. I have developed a substantial interest in the new system 1250 of air traffic control at London Airport called Linesman Mediator. I have hardly received satisfactory answers to some of my questions about the Linesman Mediator.
It would appear that if we are to have the kind of situation in which we are to have half and half control between the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Trade and Industry, it will be even more difficult to get information about linesman Mediator. For example, I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would like to say something about the meeting at Gatwick last Thursday night between the Guild of Air Traffic Controllers and the Guild of Airline Pilots. I wonder whether he would like to say something about the fact that, despite Linesman Mediator's having been operational since 1st February, the work load on the air traffic controllers is already more than the work load imposed on A.T.C. controllers under the old system.
I wonder whether he would like to say whether he expects Linesman Mediator to be able to cope, with F.P.P.S. or without it, with the Easter traffic load. I can tell him now that there is a great deal of feeling in the industry that unless something is done about this, and particularly the Linesman Mediator part of it, we shall get some serious traffic delays around the London area, particularly over Easter. All the complaints we have had about night charter operations and about the noise and nuisance of the regular and late-night flights will be amplified and multiplied with the increasing congestion and delay which will be nourished by Linesman Mediator. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could come clean on that.
I do not have any too strong feelings about the board which will have the task of examining the possibilities of uniting B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. I have always thought that they were rather different operations, B.O.A.C. primarily a long-haul carrier and B.E.A. primarily a short-haul carrier, with which, so it is always claimed, it is difficult to make comparisons. I suppose that there will be scope for rationalisation between the two charter fleets and room for rationalisation in other sectors, but I hope that the Government will bear in mind the fundamentally different characteristics of the two Corporations.
1251 I finish as I began by saying that I am not sure whether we should have one body for the economic side of the industry and another for the safety side. Whether we have them separate, as in the United States, or together, as is proposed, is a matter upon which I am not prepared to pronounce at the moment. Whatever happens, whether we have a combination of the two or two separate bodies, we have to give more teeth than the Bill suggests. The Secretary of State and the Minister will have to work very hard to convince many of us on this side of the House that it is an authority with sufficient teeth.
Apart from that, as it appears that on most fundamental matters the Secretary of State will be able to over-rule the C.A.A. anyway, we shall have a weak, nibbling and impotent body. I can see why the Government want a weak, nibbling and impotent body. It is because the Secretary of State wants to make sure that nothing is done to jeopardise the future of the second force. If we are to have a weak Civil Aviation Authority just to preserve the second force, if we are to tailor the whole of our civil aviation licensing policy just to suit the pockets and the whims of those who have backed the Conservative Party and helped to build up a second force, that is a bad and shocking reason for a new aviation policy. It is for that reason that I shall vote in the Lobby tonight against the Bill.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. John Wilkinson (Bradford, West)
I wish to speak briefly in support of the excellent speeches that we have had from my hon. Friends the Members for Hastings (Mr. Warren), Woking (Mr. Onslow) and Southampton, Test (Mr. James Hill) who was himself an airline pilot for many years. I particularly welcome the fact that after waiting for two years—it seemed interminably—for Edwards, and then having to suffer even more procrastination because the last Government could not face the ideological consequences of legislating the provisions in the White Paper, we are seeing some action. The reasons for delay by the last Government were hinted at by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) who condemned so wholeheartedly the proposals of his own party. This is a long overdue Measure and I welcome it because uncertainty is 1252 the most damaging feature of all in aviation whether in the manufacturing or transport sectors.
I emphasise the criticisms that have been made on both sides of the House about the appeals procedure and the fact that later the power of the Secretary of State will be over-mighty. I particularly regret that we were not able to follow Edwards and have an independent adjudicator to whom appeals on air route licensing could be referred. My right hon. Friend said that the Government were better able to adjudicate on economic criteria in this respect, but I believe that this could conceivably be opening the argument to charges of political bias against whichever Government are in power. For that reason there is a strong case for an independent adjudicator.
It is a great pity that the Government were not able to bring forward the White Paper in which the guidelines of air transport policy are to be delineated. This would have given us a more comprehensive framework within which to judge the Measure. A number of issues will be raised in this White Paper and we await it with great anticipation. I mention one such issue now, the whole question of airports and airports policy.
The hon. Member for Woking particularly criticised the lack of an airports policy and I think he is right to do so. As a Member for Bradford I have been at the receiving end of what might be regarded as a backlash resulting from the lack of a national airports policy. Without being too parochial I will try to show the sort of dangers that can arise. Both parties when in Government have said that where possible airports should be run on a local basis. In the West Riding at Yeadon we had a local airport that was running well and profitably and which merely needed a small extension to the runway. Because it was thought that at some future date a national airports policy might suggest that a regional airport should be at Thorne Waste, or some other place, our own local claims which were very much based on regional development criteria were set aside.
I welcome the positive stipulation that criteria on regional development will be taken into account in the formulation of airports policy and management of airports. This is an important advance. It 1253 is something only hinted at by Edwards and we are being much more positive in making the suggestions that this legislation will enact.
On the other side of the airports coin there is the question of environment and aircraft noise which are to be a governmental as opposed to a C.A.A. responsibility. I am not entirely sure about that. Questions of aircraft noise are very much a function of operational criteria and therefore the C.A.A., as a most expert body, should adjudicate and lay down the law as far as possible in this respect. Otherwise there is yet again the danger of political considerations entering into it. There is the danger of a particular Secretary of State feeling bound for political reasons to come down in favour of environmental grounds against what could be the best arguments economically.
I come to the question of safety. Hon. Members opposite are very keen to denigrate the performance of the independent airlines. The statistics in the Edwards Report—and they are the only ones I have; I know that they are several years out of date—show that the State airlines, B.O.A.C. and B.E.A., had three notifiable accidents per 100,000 stage flights on average, and the independents, excluding British Eagle—
§ Mr. Wilkinson
By excluding British Eagle I am being slightly unfavourable to my analysis—had 3.2 per 100,000 stage flights on average. That percentage includes British United Air Ferries and British United Airways group. There is a very small statistical margin.
§ Mr. Wilkinson
—as not to be statistically significant. If there is any significance, it derives from the fact that many operators, for reasons best known to themselves, and because their passengers want to go there, operate into airports like Ljubljana or Barcelona and others which readily spring to mind, like Geneva or Innsbruck, which, for geographical 1254 reasons, are difficult to operate into. An hon. Member opposite said that all airports should have the same standard of safety. That is all very well, but one cannot bulldoze mountains into the sea to make them safe. Hon. Members opposite should remember that when they pontificate so dogmatically.
I wish to say a few words about the two important boards which I have not mentioned—the Air Registration Board, or the Airworthiness Requirements Board as it is to become, and the British Airways Board. I am slightly apprehensive about this superimposition of the Airways Board without clearer directions from the Secretary of State on its functions. I see from the Bill that the Board is to report periodically to Parliament on its progress. That is admirable. But I should like a date set by which the feasibility study of B.E.A./B.O.A.C. amalgamation should be concluded by the Board, otherwise its existence will be self-justifying and it could be a hindrance to efficiency and thrustful management in both the Corporations. I suggest that the review must be completed by 1975. I would hope that by then we would have had experience of supersonic aircraft in operation and a long period of operation of wide-bodied airliners. Without a thorough evaluation of the impact of both new developments on the air transport scene we shall not be able fully to comprehend the right pattern of the State sector.
I echo what has been said by the more expert Members on this side of the House about the Airworthiness Requirements Board. I do not entirely see the logic of incorporating the A.R.B. within the C.A.A. It fulfilled its functions superlatively well before. It had a worldwide reputation. Under the new scheme it is to be consulted rather than laying down the final criteria of airworthiness itself. The formation of the Board will not be as entirely professional as it used to be. Only up to half the Board will in future be representative of the various sections of the industry—manufacturing, air transport, piloting and air traffic—whereas in the past more than half was. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to give an assurance that the balance will revert more to the old pattern.
The time is getting late so I shall conclude by saying that, broadly speaking, I welcome this Measure, which is an 1255 overdue one. I particularly welcome the sensible allocation of routes structure between the second force and the public sector and in particular I welcome the designation of two services to the B.U.A. Caledonian Paris route. I know that Le Bourget has its disadvantages, but it will, as in the domestic sector, provide competition which is admirable for the travelling public.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. E. S. Bishop (Newark)
I recognise that by this time of night a great number of points have already been made by my hon. Friends and by hon. Members opposite, and there should be some time left for those who still wish to participate in the debate, but I want to deal very briefly with the contents of the Measure set against the Labour Government's White Paper of November, 1969, where the point was made in the first paragraph that the civil aviation industry is one of the world's fastest growing industries. That, of course, is still true today, and will continue to be true for a great deal of time to come. In this, of course, lie some of the technical and ensuing economic problems with which we shall have to contend.
I want to refer to the objectives mentioned by my right hon. Friend in his White Paper when he said that the industry must for various good reasons be regulated throughout the world. He went on to say that there is need for the highest standards of safety; there is need for control of aircraft noise; there is need for stability and regularity of public services; and there is the inescapable fact that international services depend upon a network of agreements reached with other countries defining traffic rights which airlines may enjoy. This is, of course, what this Measure should be all about.
It is on the last point that I want to make the first observation, and that is, that the problems which we face at our airports at this time, with overcrowding, are because the industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, and these increased demands on our airports raise air traffic control problems and safety problems which were referred to by the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson), but, of course, from the point of view of the public use of our airports, there are problems of access in getting 1256 to and from them which might easily offset the advantages which may accrue later on from S.S.T. when supersonic travel comes to be familiar to ordinary passengers.
B.O.A.C. has worldwide operations and, like other airlines, is concerned with many bilateral agreements which have to be negotiated under the Bermuda Agreement of 1946, on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These treaties are not easily negotiated because of environmental and other problems, to which I have referred, in airport congestion.
There is increasing and natural public reaction to noise and pollution and night jet operation through charter firms and others operating what are scheduled services in all but name, and this problem has not received the attention which it should have received from the Government. There is urgent need to have a national examination of the possibilities and the potential contribution which can be made by S.T.O.L. and V.T.O.L. projects, and it is with these with which we should be mainly concerned at this time.
Undoubtedly the advances in rotary wing aircraft, helicopters, the development of high-lift devices, of S.T.O.L., and the advances in engine design, and V.T.O.L., all these advances made by various manufacturers—and there are a number of them in this country which have done work on these things—make it really imperative that the Government have a comprehensive policy on this matter, because it is not a matter which concerns manufacturers only. It is a problem which concerns civil aviation, which concerns airports on both sides of the Channel, and local authorities, and air traffic control and, of course, air safety rules. It is essential that we now get down to a policy, with all the interests of these people getting together, to make sure that we develop as fast as we can the potential of V.T.O.L. and S.T.O.L. aircraft to make their contribution with the conventional forms.
The most controversial aspect of the Bill, to which my right hon. and hon. Friends have referred, is in Clause 3(1)(b), which states that there is a dutyto secure that at least one major British airline which is not controlled by the British Airways Board has opportunities to participate in providing…services".1257 That seems rather odd. The Minister must explain how he will secure that one major airline provides these independent, second-line services. If he has no power to make it do so, his only way is to attract it by giving incentives and guaranteeing its profits and returns, which are not guaranteed to the publicly-owned airlines, which are referred to in Clause 3(1)(a). This clearly means that the private operators will be in a very much better, stronger and more lucrative position than those who have to carry out the public service of running the State-owned airlines of B.O.A.C. and B.E.A.
It seems clear that the misgivings of my hon. Friends are justified, because in subsection (3)(a) of Clause 3 we have the skimmed milk for the British publicly-owned operators while the cream goes in subsection (3)(b) to the private operators who, without having any duty imposed upon them, will have to be invited with that very rich cream on the milk to take Dart. It is in this respect that some of us will have misgivings about the way in which the private sector makes the profits, even at the expense of running the airline. I would like to think that safety will not be one of the factors which is sacrified to bring this about.
The other aspect of my right hon. Friend's White Paper to which I have referred concerns human relations. Hon. Members, on both sides, have expressed concern that the question of human relations is not as evident in the Bill as it might have been. In his White Paper, my right hon. Friend spoke about the constructive approach to questions of human relations and, in particular, emphasised the value of proper consultations and negotiating machinery. There is no evidence of this being tackled in the Bill.
The previous Government shared the hope of the Edwards Committee that the industry of the future would offer stability of employment and attractive career opportunities and welcomed the Committee's view that high levels of labour productivity were essential, not only to the industry's well-being in an increasingly competitive environment, but also as a basis to afford high levels of pay to skilled and efficient staff. Here again, although the airlines have a fairly good record in human and staff relations, I 1258 should like to think that there was more in the Bill to safeguard those provisions for the future. The previous Administration were anxious to ensure greater employee participation. These are the points to which we shall be looking when the Bill goes into Committee.
I want briefly to refer to future aircraft. We have in mind Concorde, on which very little is at present known concerning the future, although we appreciate that this aircraft has come up to expectations technically and that the specification has been complied with. Those of us who have heard the experiments with Concorde against the VC10 and the Boeing 707 will recognise that from the ground approach angle, the Concorde is certainly no noisier than any of those other aircraft, and we have the assurance that there may be restrictions on flights over land.
In his opening speech, my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) commented on the Government's intervention—or, it may be, interference —in the price aspect of Concorde. Most of us would hope that B.O.A.C. can set the lead to the world's airlines by buying this aircraft. Although one recognises that the Government of the day have an interest in the price to be charged, because the nation has invested a substantial sum in the project, one has to be careful that the Government do not impose a price level which makes it well nigh impossible for B.O.A.C. to set the example, which it ought to do, by buying this aircraft.
I am pleased that the Government have decided to ignore the advice of one backbencher opposite who last week asked that B.O.A.C. should be instructed to buy Concorde. I hope I am not being unduly suspicious, but I can see here a danger that if the Government want to get out of their commitment to the British aircraft industry and to Concorde they can do it quite nicely by not taking the plane and saying that B.O.A.C. has failed to put in an order. This would make the future of Concorde dismal indeed. We shall be looking carefully at the negotiation stage to see that this does not happen.
Concorde is the aircraft of the future, subject to other aspects also being considered. Those of us who have been 1259 fortunate enough to travel long distances, for example between here and New York, to Johannesburg and to Australia—and have taken 32 hours to reach Australia—will appreciate the advantages of being able to get there in half the time and set about our duties sooner. We are told by the scientists not to sign any contract for at least a couple of days after a long air journey, and Concorde can make a substantial contribution there.
The hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), who recently accompanied me to Australia on a round-the-world trip which took a week, will appreciate that Concorde has a potential in that part of the world without some of the environmental problems which my right hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) tried to iron out in the United States. The future there is good.
In discussing airlines, we are discussing not the problem of conveying passengers from one part of the world to another, but the future of the British aircraft industry. We should recognise its substantial contribution to our export trade, to the balance of payments and to home demand. The value per employee in the aerospace industry is twice the figure for United Kingdom manufacturing industry as a whole. The industry earns about £1 million per working day from exporting. B.A.C. alone has exported £400 million worth in the 20 years to date, and supplied £380 million worth on the home market, apart from the spin-off. Undoubtedly, other aircraft manufacturers in this country also have a commendable record.
The aircraft industry needs stability which can only come from long-term planning and increasing public participation. No one in private enterprise can carry the immense responsibilities, costs and risks involved if we are to stay in the industry, as I am sure we must in future.
For these reasons, apart from others which have been mentioned by my hon. Friends, I support the Bill, whilst having the gravest misgivings about the part to be played by private enterprise and the threat which that imposes on those who have to carry out public commitments in the national sector.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Waltham-stow, East)
I wish to give the Bill my general support. The Measure is badly needed and I suspect that most hon. Members, despite what some of them may have said in this debate, realise that it has to come.
I wish to associate myself with the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) about the Bill's drafting. It is not good enough that we should be presented with a Bill which seems to leave so much to be desired in terms of clarity and simplification of language. I remember my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister saying that the one thing he hoped to be remembered for was the fact that he had managed to put Bills into the sort of English that anybody could understand.
I should like to ask my right hon. Friend why Section 37(2)(b) has been included in the Bill, it reads,The Board shall not have power to manufacture air-frames, aero-engines or airscrews except in so far as the Secretary of State provides by order that it shall have such a power.When that information would appear to be self-evident. Then Clause 38 says:It shall be the duty of the Board to exercise its powers in a manner calculated to secure that the air transport services provided by the group are developed to the best advantage and the resources of the group are used to the best advantage.What sort of criterion is "the best advantage"? Should not that phrase be spelt out in more detail? The Bill is full of these vague phrases and statements and one wonders why they were ever included.
The Bill is a fairly momentous step forward in British civil aviation. The setting up of a Civil Aviation Authority means that a new piece of machinery is being created by which the safety of air travel, aircraft and air landing systems is to be governed. If we are setting up such a piece of machinery should we not ask ourselves whether the Civil Aviation Authority as outlined in the Bill will do what we require of such an authority?
The drafters of the Bill have had the advantage of the Edwards Report—that large volume which has been so carefully put together—on which to base the various Clauses in the Bill. Therefore, I am somewhat disappointed that having 1261 produced their Bill they have not considered exactly what function they want the Civil Aviation Authority to have. I agree with those hon. Members who have said that this Authority has been hedged about with ifs and buts and all sorts of recommendations to the Secretary of State instead of being given the teeth and strength it must possess if it is to be able to stand on its own feet and effectively govern civil aviation.
I refer particularly to the question of airports. The drafters of the Bill apparently found themselves wondering whether they could take what seems to be the logical step of setting up a national airport authority, or whether they should leave the curious mixture of ownership which exists at present. We know that the British Airports Authority was set up in 1964. Any authority which rejoices in the name of British Airports Authority might reasonably be expected to control the destinies of the 42 civil aerodromes in this country. In fact it manages only four of them. Therefore it is not a British airports authority. It is at best a London airports authority. As we know from the Bill, the intention is that the Authority should go on looking after these four airports. Only the airports which were under the old Board of Trade will now come under the C.A.A., and its responsibility for them remains more or less the same as the Board's.
Much expert advice has been brought forward to suggest that there should be a national airports plan, a view shared by Edwards and by the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, which has recently been looking at the British Airports Authority. It says on page xxxix of its Report, in recommendation (3):Preparation of a national airports plan should be started in earnest without waiting for the establishment of the Civil Aviation Authority.There is also a reference to the need for either a national airports authority or national co-ordination by the new Civil Aviation Authority of the airports of this country. Finally on page xxxvii the Select Committee says of the British Airports Authority:The origins of the Authority lie more in the chance of history than in the application of any general policy for airports. The absence of a national airport policy at the moment 1262 can…impede the Authority in planning the future development of its airports.A civil aviation authority that does not accept airports as part of civil aviation seems to me to be seriously missing in one of its major functions. I hope the Government will now consider whether they should provide the nation with a national airports authority under the C.A.A. which has overriding authority to manage and plan the sort of airports that we shall require. Many of us who took part in the debate on the third London airport will remember how, over and over again, there was reference to a lack of a national airports policy, and the feeling that, somehow, Mr. Justice Roskill had been asked to provide one—although it was not in his terms of reference.
At a time when aviation is going through a revolutionary period, as the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) said, with V.T.O.L. aircraft, S.T.O.L. aircraft, and Q.T.O.L. aircraft—or quiet-take-off-and-landing aircraft—coming on the scene, we must consider the planning of our airports with much more care. I beg the Government not to regard them as a kind of Cinderella, to be looked after at a later date.
As to environmental factors, we heard at the weekend that the Americans have decided to cancel their S.S.T., because the environmentalist lobby in the United States has won the day. By the same token, I wonder why we are pussyfooting on the subject of noise and pollution from aircraft, as we are doing in the Bill, and why we are not prepared to be more forthright and to give the C.A.A. power to lay down acceptable standards.
I was horrified by a recent answer that my right hon. Friend gave me, to the effect that no legal penalties are inflicted on those who exceed noise limits at Heathrow and Gatwick, and that our only instrument of control is the pious hope that it will not happen again. That is not good enough. Noise is intolerable. We have all said it, and we must be prepared to do something about it. If the Department cannot put up a better showing than it has done in the past we should set up some other sort of organisation to control it.
Even if we cannot give the C.A.A. total control of noise, can we not set up a tripartite control organisation consisting of the C.A.A., the Department of 1263 Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment? As well as aircraft noise let us not forget that smoke from aircraft engines is very objectionable to many people. It is high time that we took further measures, including penalties, to stop that sort of pollution.
I have said on a previous occasion that my company works for the Air Registration Board. It has often been state that that remarkable organisation has proved itself not only in this country but all over the world. It is a remarkable organisation because it represents the whole of the aircraft industry, and it probably has closer contacts with the industry and aircraft users than any other single organisation in the country. It also has an executive function. The A.R.B. is now independent, but I do not disagree that it should be a member of the C.A.A. What does worry me is that under the provisions of Clause 27(2) (c) it can be overruled by the C.A.A. I find it difficult to see why the C.A.A. should need power to override an organisation whose task it is to ensure the safe operation of aircraft. I shall be grateful if my hon. Friend can tell me in what circumstances the recommendations of the A.R.B. might ever need to be overruled.
Finally I am not so sure that we are right to condemn the British Airways Board. We have begun to see the blurring of the edges between B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. on a number of routes. For instance B.E.A. flies to North Africa, which is not in Europe. B.E.A. used to fly to Moscow but it was then decided that the route should be given to B.O.A.C. There is a certain overlapping. The Airways Board may help to clarify and rationalise that overlapping.
I also suspect that we may see a greater similarity of types of aircraft in the future than in the past, and it would not be inconceivable to imagine B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. buying different versions of the Lockheed 1011.
It is a pity that when we are thinking of the Airways Board redefining the rôle of the Corporations we should not also be making up our minds about those routes they operate almost as a social service. I am thinking particularly of the Highlands and Islands route, which 1264 B.E.A. provides as a very major form of social service. The Corporation is not required to provide those routes and it loses £300,000 a year in doing so. Is it not time that we provided B.E.A. with a subsidy to run them rather than lumping them in with their commercial operations.
§ 9.10 p.m.
Mr. Bruce Milian (Glasgow, Craigton)
The hon. Member for Walthamstow, East (Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson) made a number of interesting points. I will not say now whether or not I agree with them, but such points as he and many other hon. Members have raised should give us a very fruitful Committee stage.
The Bill to a large extent follows the Labour Government's White Paper, and for that reason, and for a number of other reasons, my advice to my hon. Friends will be not to vote against it. Nevertheless, as I hope to make clear, a number of points require clarification, and in regard to a number of other points we shall seek to amend the Bill.
The Edwards Committee, the previous Labour Government, and now the present Government all came to the conclusion that there is a very strong case for bringing B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. closer together so as to have a greater coordination of their activities. That is the basic argument for the establishment of the British Airways Board. The basic argument against is the fact that B.E.A. is a short-haul and medium-haul airline whereas B.O.A.C. is long-haul, and many of the things they do are not comparable with one another.
There is, nevertheless, an area of overlap in which greater co-ordination between the two major airlines ought to provide very considerable economic and other benefits. A number of these were mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) in the White Paper: industrial relations, engineering maintenance, training of staff, computer facilities, advertising, marketing, the co-ordination of route development, and the important question of aircraft requirement. The kind of set-up established under the Bill should enable a more comprehensive look to be taken at the very important considerations involved.
Once the principle of closer coordination between the two airlines had 1265 been accepted, the decision that had to be made was whether the British Airways Board should be some kind of body superimposed on the two existing airlines and having a co-ordinating function over them, but on a fairly loose rein, or whether it should be given very considerable powers including, ultimately, the power of directing the activities of the two airlines. The previous Government took the view, with which I very much agree, that to have a Board without sufficient powers would make the present situation worse rather than better and that, therefore, if the principle were to be accepted, such a Board would need to have real powers. We are glad to see that the present Government have reached that conclusion, too, and have embodied it in Clause 37.
It is not yet clear from the Bill exactly which way the Airways Board will operate. It would help us greatly, even at this early stage of our consideration, to receive more information about the projected Board than we received from the Minister earlier. For example, he was not able to tell my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) whether there would be any qualification or background experience looked for in the Board members. There is no indication whether it is intended that the Board members should be full time or part time or a mixture of both. We are left very short of details about exactly how the Government envisage that the Board will work.
The Board is to be given as its first task the job of reviewing the organisation of the Corporations and producing recommendations for change. The Bill provides that these recommendations for change will be no more than that: they are basically recommendations to the Secretary of State. One feature of the Bill which has been widely commented on by hon. Members on both sides is the extent to which the Secretary of State enters into the reckoning with real power at every point, whether in connection with the Airways Board or the Civil Aviation Authority. There may be a case for saying that if anything as radical as the dissolution of the two Corporations was proposed the Secretary of State should have an important say. That may also be true if a substantial reorganisation of the work of the Board and the 1266 two Corporations is projected. However, the Bill is so drafted that the Board will have very great difficulty in doing anything in the way or reorganisation without the Secretary of State's specific authority. We shall wish to examine this in Committee.
§ Mr. Millan
I will not argue with the hon. Member on that. We are talking about the question of the integration of the Corporations under the Board. It is irrelevant whether that is done by dissolving both Corporations or merging them in some other way. The net result is the same.
The Board will take over two airlines of a very high standard of operation, as has been stressed by my hon. Members, by the Edwards Committee, and by every authority which has considered the Corporations' operations. They are airlines also which are running on a profitable basis. The last Annual Report of B.O.A.C. made the very important point that, even if there had not been a write-off of capital five or six years ago, the profits which have been earned since then would have enabled the Corporation, taking the whole period of its operations into account, now to be in a profitable position, having paid its way over the whole of that period. The Government, sufficiently convinced by the experiment with public dividend capital in B.O.A.C., introduced an Order only last Friday morning to extend that for another five years. This is a real tribute to the success that B.O.A.C. has had in its operations over the last five years.
It is, therefore, all the more regrettable that we should have in Clause 40 an example of Government dogmatism on the hiving-off of profitable activities of nationalised activities. As I read the Clause, virtually any of the functions and operations of the two Corporations could be sold off to private enterprise at the Secretary of State's direction. We shall vigorously oppose this in Committee.
Clause 40(3) goes so far as to say in effect that a direction may be given where it can be proved that it is against the national economic interest that the Board should be divested of some of its activities. But the most serious attack on the 1267 future of the Board comes from the Government's proposals with regard to the second force independent airline. The Labour Government accepted, and my right hon. Friend's White Paper said, that there was a strong case for the establishment and building up of a second force, but it was made clear emphatically that that should not be done and that it would be grossly unfair for that to be done at the expense of taking away profit routes from the two nationalised Corporations.
This is precisely what the Government have now done, and this afternoon we had the announcement by the right hon. Gentleman of the routes which, in the initial stages, are to be taken away from B.O.A.C. and B.E.A.—the routes in the case of B.O.A.C. to West Africa and Tripoli, and some of the B.E.A. routes to Paris.
I was not clear, despite what the Minister said this afternoon, whether the revenue on these routes fell within the £6 million which the Government said was the limit that they would set themselves for this hiving-off operation. I hope that the Under-Secretary will give us some clarification. Whether that comes within the limit of £6 million or not, the fact is that B.O.A.C. has said that the loss of profit—not the loss of revenue—on West Africa alone will amount to something like £½ million when these routes are taken away from 1st April, which is later this week. Incidentally, it is not clear to me what authority the Government have to allow that to happen from Thursday of this week, when the Order on which it is based has not been debated or agreed by the House. I hope that the Under-Secretary will give some information on that point.
The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon said that the principles on which the Government were acting in this matter were that what would be provided would be a better service to the public and a bigger share of the traffic concerned for British airlines. But the routes that we are talking about today do not meet either of these criteria. There is no suggestion that the granting to Caledonian-B.U.A. of the routes that I have mentioned will provide a better service to the public. If there is, perhaps the Minister will tell us how that will happen. Certainly there is no suggestion, nor can 1268 there be, that the divesting of these routes by the Corporations will enable a bigger share of the traffic to the areas concerned to fall to British airlines.
This would be serious enough. But what is even more serious is the Minister's inability this afternoon to explain clearly what was meant by the provisions in Clause 3 for the giving of guidance and guide-lines to the Civil Aviation Authority. The Government said originally that the transfer of routes from the nationalised Corporations to the independent force would be a once-for-all operation, and that once that had been done the second force would have to take its chance, as it were, with the new Civil Aviation Authority. But that is not what the Bill says.
That is not what Clause 3 says. Clause 3(1)(b) does not say that the chosen second British airline will have preference over other independent airlines. So far as I can see, it says that the second British airline will have preference over every one—over other independents and also over the two nationalised Corporations. If that is what the Clause means and what the Government intend, what is announced would only be the start of a general preference for the independent airline which presumably could be based on only one real principle and practice, and that is that, whatever happened, the new second independent airline would be given sufficient routes in order to ensure that it always made a substantial profit. The nationalised Corporations would have to make the best that they could of what was left for them.
If that is not what is intended by Clause 3, the Minister must give us a better explanation. As it stands, it is completely unacceptable to the Opposition, and this is one of the parts of the Bill which we shall do our best to amend in Committee.
As regards general guidance to the Civil Aviation Authority, we had a series of generalisations from the Minister. I do not know whether he thought that they meant something, but they certainly did not mean anything to my hon. Friends or myself. What does seem clear—it was interesting that hon. Members opposite took up this point as well—is that the C.A.A., as the Bill is drafted, is subordinated to the Minister. Whether one 1269 takes the question of air transport licensing or anything else, essentially, the Minister is in charge, and by that token the Civil Aviation Authority is weakened. Again, this is a matter on which we shall seek to make substantial Amendments, and I hope that the speeches we have had from hon. Members opposite today will be translated into support for proposals which we shall make to that end in Committee.
It is a pity, also, that so little information has been given to us about the Civil Aviation Authority, the kind of people who will be appointed, whether they will be full-time or part-time members, and exactly how they are to operate. We shall want clarification on these important matters also before the Bill is given a Second Reading today.
A good many hon. Members and important interests outside are disturbed at the lack of precise information about the Civil Aviation Authority. All of us have had representations from, for example, the Air Registration Board. If the Government are to persuade the A.R.B. that the new Airworthiness Requirements Board will meet the kind of points which it has put to us, we must know a good deal more about the sort of role which the Government envisage for the C.A.A. under the Bill. If we could have such reassurance tonight, it might help outside bodies such as, for instance, the Air Registration Board. Whether it will reassure some of my hon. Friends, like my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar, I am not sure, but that is really a matter for him rather than for me.
I agreed with virtually everything said today by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar except his decision that in any circumstances he would vote against the Bill. It seemed to me—I gather that one or two others of my hon. Friends took the same view—that what my hon. Friend was really doing was fighting again over the arguments which we had the Civil Aviation (Declaratory Provisions) Act earlier this year. We on this side made our views on that Act very clear, and we shall make them clear again when the individual Orders transferring routes from B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. come before the House. We have one Order already in respect of the West 1270 African routes, and we shall, presumably, have others within the next two days. We shall make clear then that we are absolutely opposed to the way in which the Government are taking routes from the nationalised airlines to build up the second, independent airline.
There are many other aspects of the Bill on which we shall wish to have more information, either tonight or in Committee. My hon. Friend the Member for Poplar mentioned, for instance, the whole question of consultation with employees, and I agree with him that the Bill is grossly deficient in that respect. For my part, I am interested to know what the Government intend to do about the question of subsidies for domestic routes which, in the nature of things, must be run by the new Board or by the B.E.A. at a considerable loss. This was dealt with in the Labour Government's White Paper. We have heard nothing from the Government today, and I understand that there have been no discussions with B.E.A. about this important matter. I should like to have an assurance, before we leave the Bill at this stage, that the Government treat this matter with some seriousness and urgency, for it is of great significance, particularly for some of the Scottish domestic services. But these are matters which we can explore at much greater length in Committee.
This is a mixed Bill. Some bits very much follow the Labour Government's White Paper, and I find no difficulty in accepting them, but there are some bits that we shall want substantially amended. Since the Bill in so many essential respects follows the Labour Government's White Paper, we should not vote against it, but should try to amend substantially in Committee the various points that worry us, which I have tried to indicate tonight, some of which worry Conservative hon. Members as well.
We are dealing with an industry that is important economically and in other ways. It is an expanding industry, and an industry, as represented by the Corporations, which has a very fine record. The aim of the Opposition will be to make the Bill when it leaves Committee a real contribution to the success of this very important industry.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)
This has been an extremely interesting and useful debate. The speeches from both sides have contributed much to our knowledge and understanding of the subject. Many of the points raised were essentially Committee points. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) that we shall welcome all the advice we can get from the Committee on what is a very complicated matter.
I welcome the somewhat limited praise for the Bill from the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan). Their approach was sensible in the circumstances. I hope that by the time I have finished speaking that happy accord will be universally felt among hon. Members opposite.
The right hon. Gentleman raised the question of the route transfers. They are subject to the negative resolution procedure, and therefore take place on the date in the Order to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, namely, 1st April. He also asked whether this was to be a once-for-all transfer. As I thought my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade made clear, it is, so far as the initial operation is concerned. [HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] My right hon. Friend has made that perfectly clear time and again, but he has also made it quite clear that it would be absurd to fetter the C.A.A., or to freeze the pattern of routes for all time.
§ Mr. Mikardo
Am I right in thinking that what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that the rape will be a once-for-all rape, and that after that all that happens is continuous seduction?
§ Mr. Grant
To use the words sometimes employed, I do not use filthy language like that. The truth of the matter is that the present operation has been clearly stated as being necessary to get the second force viable and off the ground. The routes my right hon. Friend announced this afternoon are the end of that operation.
§ Mr. Grant
I trust that the hon. Member for Poplar will do me the courtesy of allowing me to complete my remarks.
1272 It would be ridiculous to freeze the pattern of routes for all time. If that is what the hon. Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo) is suggesting, he is taking a surprising view considering that the industry is dynamic and changing all the time.
A number of hon. Members asked whether the proposed route transfers were within the forecast of the statement made by my right hon. Friend in August. The answer is clearly that they are. They are within the figures expressed by my right hon. Friend. They are within the approximately £6 million or 2 per cent. to 3½ per cent. of current annual revenue. We are satisfied that this is a modest removal of routes from the Corporations to get the second force working.
I agree that the West African routes have been profitable in B.O.A.C.'s hands. However, the Tripoli and Paris routes have been of quite a different order. Taking the package as a whole, I am satisfied that this will not make too great an impact on the Corporations, while yielding to Caledonian-B.U.A. the revenue outlined in the statement made by my right hon. Friend in August.
§ Mr. Russell Kerr
What about the Portuguese routes which are, we understand, also being transferred?
§ Mr. Grant
My right hon. Friend made no reference to Portuguese routes in his speech. I do not propose to deal with that issue because I am answering the questions that were asked in this debate.
A number of hon. Members referred to the double designation referred to in paragraph 33 of the Labour Party's White Paper and I was asked whether that was still applicable. The answer is "Yes". It will be part of the three criteria which we expect will be given to the C.A.A. as guidance and when hon. Members who are interested in this subject read the OFFICIAL REPORT they will discover that my right hon. Friend outlined this point.
Hon. Members on both sides queried whether there was too much Ministerial interference with the affairs of the C.A.A. and possibly with those of the Airways Board. The contrary view was also expressed by a number of hon. Members, some of whom suggested that perhaps there was not sufficient control over the Board.
1273 The position is relatively simple. As for the suggestion that excessive powers are given to the Secretary of State over the Board, the powers given to my right hon. Friend in relation to the public sector airlines group are, in the main, confined to those which are necessary to fulfil the standard responsibilities of Ministers in relation to nationalised industries. The aim has been to leave the commercial initiative with the Airways Board, and not with Ministers, though it is, of course, for Ministers to exercise general oversight and to account to Parliament for the group's performance.
The provisions relating to group organisation are new to civil aviation legislation, though there are similar provisions in the statutes applying to certain other nationalised industries. Essentially, the Secretary of State retains final responsibility for major changes in the organisation of the public sector group as a whole and must account to Parliament for it.
The power of direction to dispose of financial interests in other undertakings, or discontinue or restrict subsidiary activities, has parallels in other nationalised industry Statutes, and I stress that this power is heavily qualified. The Secretary of State has to be satisfied that the exercise of the power is consistent with the performance of the Airways Board's general duty; consultation with the Airways Board is required; and it is subject to the negative Resolution procedure. It is wholly reasonable that such a power should be available to the Secretary of State if occasion should require it. [Interruption.] I assume that hon. Members opposite want replies to their questions. Whether they like the replies is not relevant; they are going to get them.
I now deal with the suggestion that excessive power is given to the Airways Board, the reverse of the coin. The powers of the Airways Board in relation to B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. are broadly equivalent to those in the private sector of a holding company and are not excessive in relation to the rôle which the Board has to fulfil. It will be for the Board to decide the way in which it uses these powers, and we have every confidence that it will want to draw fully on the expertise and experience of the staff and management of the Corporations. I 1274 must stress that no substantial change in group organisation may take place without the consent of the Secretary of State, as I have described on the contrary argument.
It is easy to gain the impression from looking through the Bill that the Secretary of State will be intervening at every turn, but I ask the House not to be misled by this. [Interruption.] I must say as an aside that it is remarkably gratifying to find the hon. Member for Poplar and the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr) for once not wanting to interfere too much with British industry; they have spent the whole of their lives doing so; however, there is more joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth!
The powers are largely reserve powers and the power to issue general directions—
§ Mr. Mikardo
I do not mind the hon. Gentleman making a few cracks, but both my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr) and I have been members of the Select Committee of Nationalised Industries, which has spent most of its time trying to reduce the power of direction of Ministers over public corporations. If the hon. Gentleman wants to make silly cracks, he ought to get his facts right first.
§ Mr. Grant
I am delighted to hear that. I notice that the hon. Gentleman is not slow to take advantage of an opportunity to make a silly crack. I welcome any way in which he tries to create more freedom for industry.
As he pointed out, general directions are rarely used in practice. The power in Clause 4(4) to give particular directions is necessary because it relates to the functions which remain with the Government, but here again we believe that the Board should rarely need to use this power, because the Department and the Authority will work closely together. The Authority, as an expert professional body, separate from the Government, may be expected to develop close consultative arrangements with the industry which it will be regulating. No less important will be the consultations which it will need to have with the Government on such international matters as air fares and relations with other countries. I believe that it will work in close harness 1275 with the Department and that this will be a satisfactory solution.
The right hon. Member for Barnsley drew attention to the difficulties that the A.T.L.B. had in publishing financial information. Clause 35, on publication of information, requires the consent of the Secretary of State, but my right hon. Friend indicated that when faced with this situation he will favour the maximum possible disclosure.
The right hon. Gentleman and many other hon. Members mentioned the very important subject of industrial relations. I know that this interests the hon. Member for Poplar and his hon. Friend. It interested the Edwards Committee, too. I hesitate to say this in view of the arrival of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), but some of Edwards has been overtaken by the introduction into this House of the Industrial Relations Bill. I draw the hon. Member's attention to the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority has consultative machinery as described in Schedule 1, paragraph 14.
§ Mr. Grant
As to Caledonian-B.U.A. it will be negotiating terms and conditions of employment comparable to those offered by the air corporations on similar work. To this extent the creation of the new airline will be beneficial to those who work in it, offering better prospects and greater security. Caledonian-B.U.A. is now in full membership of the National Joint Council for Civil Air Transport and thus is a party to the same negotiating procedures as the air corporations. This brings employees of British airlines within the N.J.C. machinery and the Government see no justification for introducing statutory obligations bearing in mind the variations in role and scale of operations of different airlines.
Moreover employers who cannot afford proper standards for their staff, taking into account the scale and type of their operation are clearly unlikely to be the sort of employers who will succeed in persuading the C.A.A. that they have satisfied the requirement for entitlement to operate.
The hon. Member for Poplar referred to the fact that independent airlines have consistently underpaid their staff. He went back into history, and I can go back 1276 to the 1950s when I recall when I had something to do with this. I remember well what the situation was. Some of the independents in those days paid less than the Corporations and they did so because it was consistently found by the industrial court which heard cases on both sides that the work they were engaged in was not comparable. The situation is different now and it will be found that the terms and conditions of Caledonian-B.U.A. staff will be broadly comparable with the staff of the corporations. I do not believe that anxieties on the grounds of terms and conditions of those engaged in the industry are well-founded.
My hon. Friend the Member for Woking, in an interesting and remarkably well-informed speech, drew attention to the drafting of the Bill. In particular he recited to some effect Clause 4(4). We will look at this wording in Committee but I would utter this warning. I have always had a lot of fun, particularly when in opposition, and particularly with Finance Bills of hon. Members opposite, in reading out some of the extraordinary jargon that has emerged. This is always amusing but I would add the caution that sometimes to try to shorten the wording of a Bill into what seems simple language is, in the long run, God's gift to the lawyers. We will look at this in Committee.
§ Mr. Russell Kerr
Before we leave the interesting subject of the hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow), may we know from the Minister whether the Government endorse the hon. Member's opinion that this Clause leaves open the question whether B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. can be denationalised?
§ Mr. Grant
My hon. Friend is not quoting that Clause. It was Clause 40 which has been referred to by other hon. Members. Dealing with that point he will discover that Clause 40 refers only to the question of subsidiaries and does not deal with the point raised by the hon. Member. If he wishes we can pursue that in Committee.
My hon. Friend asked why operating safety was not referred to. If he looks at Clause 2(c) he will see that reference is made to:such functions as are for the time being conferred on it by or under Air Navigation Orders…This question will arise in that context.
1277 The other matter referred to by my hon. Friend and by others on this side of the House was airport development generally. The Civil Aviation Authority will have the task of advising the Government and others on the development of aerodromes to match air services.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Warren) referred to the question of the consumer, as did the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones), who dealt with air tour operators. I share many of the anxieties expressed by hon. Members about the undesirability of some inclusive tour activities, but there is power in Clause 26 to provide for regulations to be made for the licensing by the Authority of air travel organisers subject to the negative resolution procedure. I am sure that that will have a salutary effect on undesirable operators. The Authority will have power to licence for definite periods if it wishes, but it is not for us to dictate to it.
On the question of private flying, it is very easy, when debating the objectives and policies to be pursued in regulating civil aviation, to think only in terms of commercial aviation. There is, however, a strong, important and thriving general aviation sector, which includes recreational and training flying done by flying and gliding clubs, flying done by owner pilots for recreational and business purposes, and flying done by business organisations other than air transport operators which own and operate their own aircraft. The development and regulation of this sector will be the Authority's responsibility.
§ Mr. Grant
The hon. Gentleman has not been paying a notable amount of attention recently. I can only conclude that he has not decided whether to vote on this issue.
I refer to the question of aircraft noise. It is because the Government have a duty to maintain a balance between the interests of the industry and the amenity of the public that the main responsibility for noise abatement cannot he given to the Authority but must remain with the Government. The Bill provides for my Department to be able to issue specific directions to the Authority on matters concerning noise vibration, pollution or other disturbance 1278 attributable to civil aircraft. The Authority will, however, be the principal source of advice to the Department on safety, technical and operational aspects of proposed noise abatement measures on which close consultation will be essential.
In particular, the noise testing of aircraft will be delegated to the Authority, which will also act as adviser on all matters affecting noise certification. The Government have no powers at present to impose noise abatement measures at municipally or privately-owned aerodromes. I recognise the considerable interest that there is in this aspect which is under review. However, the separation of responsibility for noise from the other responsibilities of ownership raises a number of very difficult legal and financial problems with which it would not be appropriate to deal in this Bill. Nevertheless, I assure all Members who have referred to the problem of noise that we are very conscious of the difficulties which it imposes.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins
The hon. Gentleman has said, as his colleague said, that this responsibility is the Government's. I note that in the Bill there is reference to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry but that its principal supporter is the Secretary of State for the Environment. Does this mean that "Secretary of State for the Environment" can be read into the Bill where the words "Secretary of State" appear?
§ Mr. Grant
No, and I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman had had enough experience of Bills to know that that could not be done.
One of my hon. Friends raised the question of the Air Registration Board. The Government accept that the Air Registration Board has worked well and enjoys a first-class international reputation, and we have fully taken account of those factors in coming to our decision. The Air Registration Board was, however, formed in 1937, when civil aviation was vastly different from what it is today, and, although some minor adjustments of functions between the Department responsible and the A.R.B. have taken place from time to time, the increasing complexity of aviation means that it is no longer possible to look at individual safety factors in isolation. The 1279 airworthiness and operational regulation of the aircraft, the competence of the crew and the standards of aerodrome and navigational services are all part of one interlocking environment. Alternative formulae have been considered, including some suggested by the A.R.B. itself, but the Government have concluded that, if there is to be a unified body, then executive control of airworthiness must rest with the Authority.
We recognise the value of the A.R.B. having been separate from the Government and the importance of the consultative arrangements it has had with the industry.
The Authority will, of course, be separate from the Government and be able to maintain the A.R.B.'s consultative machinery. The Government have furthermore recognised the value of having a forum in which different sides of the industry can contribute to the development of airworthiness standards. The Bill provides, therefore, for the creation of an Airworthiness Requirements Board with much the same composition as the Council of the Air Registration Board which the Authority will be obliged to consult on airworthiness standards.
One thing which I want to make clear to hon. Members is that there is absolutely nothing in this Bill which takes away from the tremendous importance of safety. Further, the Bill makes it clear that safety in the air is the dominating factor, and will continue to be. I must say that I thought it was less than fair of some hon. Members opposite to endeavour to besmirch the independent
airlines in saying that somehow they were less able to provide safety. I think it would be helpful to remind hon. Members of the words of the Edwards Report:
We therefore find it difficult to draw any clear-cut conclusions from the available accident statistics.…The most we feel able to say is that the evidence, so far as it goes, indicates that the larger airlines tend to be safer…and that there are fewer accidents on scheduled than on unscheduled flights.
I am quite certain that in future safety will be the dominant factor in all sectors of the aviation industry. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Wilkinson) was quite right to take hon. Members opposite to task for the allegations which they had made.
§ Mr. Grant
My hon. Friend's fears, however, that people will be deterred perhaps from using independent airlines are unnecessary because I just do not believe that people proposing to go abroad will hesitate about using them and will think they will have to read first the speech which the hon. Member for Poplar has made.
In conclusion, we entirely support the views expressed in favour of the Bill by the official Opposition. I support the words of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) who paid a handsome tribute to Adam Thomson. I wish every success to the Bill, and I hope the House will support it with acclaim.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 177, Noes 30.1281
|Division No. 336.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Cockeram, Eric||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Coombs, Derek||Goodhart, Philip|
|Astor, John||Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Gorst, John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cormack, Patricia||Gower, Raymond|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Crouch, David||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Curran, Carles||Green, Alan|
|Benyon, W.||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)|
|Biffen, John||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, JamesMaj.-Gen.||Grylls, Michael|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Dean, Paul||Gummer, Selwyn|
|Boscawen, Robert||Dixon, Piers||Gurden, Harold|
|Bowden, Andrew||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)|
|Bray, Ronald||Drayson, G. B.||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Hannam, John (Exeter)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Eyre, Reginald||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Burden, F. A.||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. G.(Moray & Nairn)||Fidler, Michael||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Carlisle, Mark||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Chapman, Sydney||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Hastings, Stephen|
|Churchill, W. S.||Fookes, Miss Janet||Havers, Michael|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Fortescue, Tim||Hay, John|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Ruchcliffe)||Fowler, Norman||Heseltine, Michael|
|Clegg, Walter||Gibson-Watt, David||Hicks, Robert|
|Hiley, Joseph||Mitchell,Lt. -Col. C.(Aberdeenshire, W)||Soref, Harold|
|Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Speed, Keith|
|Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Moate, Roger||Spence, John|
|Holland, Philip||Money, Ernle D.||Sproat, Iain|
|Holt, Miss Mary||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Hornby, Richard||Monro, Hector||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)|
|Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Relgate)||More, Jasper||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Morrison, Charts (Devizes)||Stokes, John|
|Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Mudd, David||Sutcliffe, John|
|Hunt, John||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Neave, Airey||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Normanton, Tom||Temple, John M.|
|James, David||Onslow, Cranley||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Jessel, Toby||Owen, Idris (Stockport)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Kellett, Mrs. Elaine||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)||Tilney, John|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Percival, Ian||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Pink, R. Bonner||Trew, Peter|
|Kinsey, J. R.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Kirk, Peter||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Kitson, Timothy||Raison, Timothy||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Knight, Mrs. Jill||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Knox, David||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Walder, David (Ctitheroe)|
|Le Marchant, Spencer||Rees, Peter (Dover)||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langston)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Warren, Kenneth|
|Loveridge, John||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Weatherill, Bernard|
|MacArthur, Ian||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|McLaren, Martin||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|McNair-Wilson, Michael||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Wilkinson, John|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Marten, Neil||Russell, Sir Ronald||Worsley, Marcus|
|Mather, Carol||Sharples, Richard||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Maude, Angus||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Mawby, Ray||Shelton, William (Clapham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Skeet, T. H. H.||Mr. Victor Goodhew and|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Mr. Paul Hawkins.|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Heffer, Eric S.||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Ashton, Joe||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n & R'dnor)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hunter, Adam||Sillars, James|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Booth, Albert||Lawson, George||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Stallard, A. W.|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Lomas, Kenneth||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mendelson, John|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Mikardo, Ian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Driberg, Tom||Orme, Stanley||Mr. Russell Kerr and|
|Evans, Fred||Oswald, Thomas||Mr. Leslie Huckfield.|
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).