HC Deb 25 November 1971 vol 826 cc1679-95

9.56 p.m.

Mr. Roy Mason (Barnsley)

I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Civil Aviation (Designation of Aerodromes) Order 1971 (S.I., 1971, No. 1687), dated 18th October, 1971, a copy of which was laid before this House on 26th October, in the last Session of Parliament, be annulled. The order refers specifically to Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1971, and, as regards the noise provisions contained therein, it designates four aerodromes, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Prestwick, to come within its scope.

The Under-Secretary of State will recall the gratitude of all concerned, expressed both in Committee and on Report during the passage of the Civil Aviation Bill, that the Minister had introduced an anti-noise Clause, and he will recall, also, that, especially on Report, there was much criticism of one aspect of it. It is to that aspect that I now turn with reference to the four airports specified.

Section 29 spells out the new directions to be given by the Secretary of State to limit or mitigate the effect of noise and vibration connected with the take-off and landing of aircraft at airports. The Secretary of State may order that the manager of an aerodrome shall provide at his own expense and maintain noise monitoring and measuring equipment around the aerodrome. The manager will have to keep records of the noise levels, and these records shall at all times be liable to inspection. If he fails to provide the equipment or to maintain it properly, he will he guilty of an offence and be liable to a fine of up to £50, and so on for every recurring offence.

The whole onus, therefore, under Section 29 is to be thrust upon the managements of the four aerodromes, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Prestwick. Did the Minister consider the suggestion which we made, that fines should be imposed upon those who make the noise? Under subsections (2) and (3) of Section 29, the Secretary of State has the power to stop a noisy aircraft operator from using an airport, and he has power to allow a noisy operator to use an airport but to lay down directions limiting his operations.

Airport managements will now have extra statutory responsibilities thrust upon them. If they fail in their duties in the respects I have mentioned—provision and maintenance of equipment, record keeping, and so on—they will be fined. Yet the noise creators are not being subjected to any fines at all. The Minister will recall that on Report I referred specifically to this point and said: The Clause mentions the possibility of detaining an aircraft, but that is farcical. First, there have to be noise checks to establish that an aircraft has contravened the maximum P.N.B. level, whatever it may be, night or day; secondly, it has to be reported to the Secretary of State; and finally, he has to give a directive to the airport to detain the aircraft. Meanwhile there have probably been many breaches of the noise levels before that procedure has been completed. What then? There is no mention in the Bill of anything else that the Minister will do. We think that it would be far more logical and effective if at the outset the Minister made clear in legislation that those who contravened the set noise levels would be logged, as a result of recordings made on the monitoring equipment, and fined for every offence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th June, 1971; Vol. 820, c. 291.] That briefly sums up my first point; that the order thrusts the onus on the management of the four aerodromes mentioned in the order, though as yet no fines are being imposed on the creators of the noise.

My second query relates to the order's strict limitation to four aerodromes. But what about the sufferers around, say, Manchester, Yeadon, Luton, Turnhouse, Glasgow and many more public major and local authority airports in this country? Why has the Minister restricted the order to so few—just these four?

If it is his intention to spread this power, may we be told tonight when he intends to do so? He will recall that in Standing Committee his right hon. Friend said: The major airport licensed for public use is a quite different matter. Its existence and usage are questions of national, or at least of much wider than purely local significance. For such airports, under the B.A.A. we already have separate powers to control noise and numbers of flights. We propose extending these powers so that by Order we may designate any aerodrome licensed for public use to which we may then apply the sort of powers we have at present over B.A.A. airports."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 10th June, 1971; c. 772.] We want to know the programme for involving the other airports—that is, airports other than the four already designated.

My third query is about soundproofing. This is in respect of Section 29(9) of the Act. The Minister may say that the order is not specifically concerned with sound-proofing, but it relates wholly to Clause 29. The Minister said in Committee that the Department had power to impose on any aerodrome licensed for public use the same requirement for noise abatement and sound-proofing as it applied at Gatwick and Heathrow. A provision to that effect was introduced in Committee. This means that the Secretary of State already has power to extend sound-proofing schemes around many other airports.

What is he doing about this? We must bear in mind that some local authorities which own airports are themselves seeking statutory authority to institute schemes. What financial assistance will be forthcoming from the Government to help them in that respect? Indeed, it would be helpful to those concerned—every major airport in the country, and especially those run by local authorities—if he would say to what extent local authorities are being encouraged to introduce their own soundproofing schemes or whether he intends to use his powers under Section 29(9) of the Act to make plans for sound-proofing homes, schools, hospitals and so on to cover most of the major airports.

There is still a lot to be done. The Under-Secretary has already announced a restriction of night flights at Heathrow, and I welcome this, although it is a small advance, since night flights were restricted anyway, but this cut-back may be helpful.

There is an urgent need to look at all the airports in Britain. Will the Minister say to what extent he is prepared to fine aircraft operators for regularly operating noisy aircraft, to include more than the four airports, and how many more airports are soon to be involved? Finally, there is a desperate need for sound-proofing around many local authority airports to safeguard people's homes, schools, hospitals and so on. What has he in mind? Those are the reasons why we decided to pray against the order tonight. We are in need of much more information from the Department.

10.7 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

I apologise for missing the first few minutes of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), but he was rather sharp off the mark. I think I have the substance of what he said and I very much agree with his points.

I am concerned from a constituency point of view in Putney about aircraft noise at Heathrow, but I also have another concern. Will the Minister tell us to what extent the introduction of the regulations laid down in Section 29 of the Act, from which this order stems, will improve the existing situation at Heathrow?

Measures to ameliorate the consequences of aircraft noise have been in force for a long time. Although these limitations have not been entirely ineffective, they have not been nearly so effective as I would have wished.

For many years I have had a suspicion that to some extent the control of aircraft noise is a public relations operation. Colour is given to this suspicion, by the emphasis which is placed upon take-off noise. The number of people who are affected by take-off noise is small, because aircraft take off very sharply and the noise is soon over, although it is loud. The main nuisance in my area is landing noise. I cannot help feeling that by constantly referring to this nuisance I may have had some influence in the matter, and I welcome the new limitation on night flights, although it is noticeable that the limitations are on take-off and not much is being done about landing noise.

There have recently been suggestions that something might be done to provide variations in forms of landing. For many years there has been a monotonous regularity about jet landings. They get ready to land about six to eight miles out, somewhere over Kensington. They get on course over Putney Bridge and from then on it is straight in down to the glide path. This is undoubtedly the simplest way of going about it. I do not believe that any of us would want to introduce or ask for the introduction of anything which would decrease the safety of landing. It would be foolish if, in attempting to protect our citizens from aircraft noise, we were to submit them to the danger of aircraft crashes.

If that tragedy were to occur—and thank goodness it never has occurred over a residential area in London—not merely the people in the aircraft but the people on the ground would be subject to very grave danger. When we do something about noise control we must in no way worsen the safety factors.

One method of landing is known as segment landing whereby a plane comes in at 15,000 ft. and descends to a lower level at about three miles. It is understandable that pilots wish to approach very low and then come up high. There is rather a tendency to want to approach the 3,000 ft. level from 2,500 ft., as anyone who has anything to do with aircraft knows. It is possible by varying landing requirements for aircraft to come into the landing area from the side. I am putting this in laymen's language to make it more intelligible. Approaching the glide path in a direct line from eight miles out it is possible to come in at an angle and then to set the plane up to make a final landing at about three miles out. I should like to know whether this order will make it easier to introduce that sort of regulation.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley is on the ball when he says that no matter what sort of regulations we lay down, unless there is some penalty for infringement, some method of enforcement, we can regulate until we are black in the face.

We are told that the number of infringements at Heathrow are small but I doubt the validity of some of these statistics. Once again, they generally relate to take-off noise, whereas we are concerned with landing noise. It has been found that the Board of Trade has been reluctant to set out to measure landing noise. A variety of excuses are given but none has ever seemed to get over the fundamental point that the Board of Trade ought to want to know what is the landing noise.

If it seems not to want to know, then the suspicion arises in the lay mind that the reason is that the Board of Trade does not want to do anything about it. I hope that the Minister can allay these suspicions and tell us that when he gets these powers he will introduce measures concerned with landing noise so that this problem, which has grown worse over the years, because of the obvious increase in traffic, can be dealt with.

Much of the traffic at Heathrow is not of the passenger variety but is freight traffic, a large amount of which, if the Authority were so minded, could be dispersed. We all know that there is no answer to this problem other than the dispersal of aircraft to airports where noise is no problem—in other words, to airports where landing is carried out over the sea. This is why we are anxious to see the third London airport constructed as soon as possible.

The whole question of noise is related to people. It does not matter how much noise is made if there is nobody there to hear it. If an aircraft lands over the sea and hardly anybody is in the vicinity, there is no problem. But it is a very different matter when, as in the case of London, thousands—perhaps even millions—of people are seriously disturbed in their daily lives. This disturbance is particularly relevant in hospitals and schools. I have had complaints from colleges of education in the Roehampton area, which sometimes cannot continue their training courses because of the aircraft noise. In the summer they have to stop their instruction every three minutes. This is the sort of problem that we face.

It may be said that no serious ill-health is suffered. I am not too sure about this. What certainly is suffered is a degree of inconvenience which approaches ill-health. I hope that by using these powers we shall turn the corner and begin to see a real improvement rather than allow the problem to get worse as time goes by. I hope that the Minister will deal with some of these points and be able to give the assurances for which we ask.

10.17 p.m.

Mr. E. S. Bishop (Newark)

I wish to join my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) in supporting this order. Like my right hon. Friend, I too feel a little uneasy that the Minister is not likely to use the powers which were sought by the Civil Aviation Act, 1971. On that occasion when the Bill was going through Standing Committee the Minister sought by Section 29 particular powers which replaced some of the powers in Section 14 of the 1965 Act. The Clause was then commended to us on the lines that Section 29 gave clearer and more specific provisions to enable the Government to take action on this subject.

It is important that the Minister should use this power with a clear determination to make sure that airline operators comply with noise abatement requirements and that where there is infringement something is done to limit the amount of noise that is caused.

The main point to be satisfied is that there are adequate checks taking place at all these aerodromes. We must be confident that the Minister is using his powers of investigation in that way. Although these provisions are good as far as they go, I feel that the Minister should assure the House that he is making the necessary demands on aircraft manufacturers. Clearly, if the technical limits of noise in the manufacture and design of aircraft are not satisfactory, then the powers will not be adequate in providing the necessary safeguards. We also have to be fair to the airlines, which are engaged on an economic venture. They have to balance the demands of air travellers and the technical requirements of aircraft against the demands of people on the ground, especially those who live in the vicinity of airports.

In its progress through Committee stage, the principal Measure gave the Minister an opportunity of warning the Committee of the limit of the powers which he then sought. In the course of the Committee's sixteenth sitting, he said: Despite the whole gamut of noise abatement procedures … at Heathrow and Gatwick, for example, we succeed only in holding noise in check, not in reducing it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 10th June, 1971; c. 776.] That is a very valid point, especially from the point of view of the technical ability of aircraft manufacturers to reduce noise levels.

On the assessment of air space policy in the future, apart from wanting aircraft with higher technical performances, the public will want to be satisfied that we are doing everything possible to reduce the noise levels with which people have to contend. For that reason, we seek to encourage the Minister to be more tough and demanding by making sure that aerodrome owners modify their practices or, if they refuse, that they incur the full rigours of the Section.

In Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian) reminded the Minister that in many parts of the country intolerable burdens were imposed upon local communities. As I said earlier, the interests of local communities have to be balanced against the public interest and the interests of aerodrome owners and airline operators.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mrs. Shirley Williams) has been complaining for a long time about noise levels at Luton. I should like to know whether Luton is covered already by the controls of other measures.

I wish to put one or two questions to the Minister. First, is he satisfied that manufacturers are doing everything possible to decrease noise in aircraft performance? Is the Department helping technically, financially and in other ways, to encourage manufacturers to speed up their noise abatement procedures?

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that everything possible is being done with the powers that he has to reduce noise levels at aerodromes? I know that R.A.F. stations are not covered by this measure, but in my constituency there is such a station at Syerston in Nottinghamshire which has managed to reduce noise levels quite suddenly by being closed down. It is now on a care and maintenance basis, and it seems that mothballs are more effective than earplugs in reducing noise. I hasten to add that it was not closed for those reasons. We do not want to be as extreme as that, but where technical progress can be used to reduce noise, the prevention measures can be made more effective.

I should like to know what further consultations are going on at aerodromes which are not covered already by noise restrictions. Will the hon. Gentleman get a move on in this direction, and will he assure us that everything is done to check noise levels all the time?

Can the hon. Gentleman also say what action is being taken under Section 29(4)(c), which provides: if it appears to the Secretary of State that an aircraft is about to take off in contravention of limitations imposed in pursuance of the preceding subsection any person authorised by the Secretary of State … may detain the aircraft for such period as that person considers appropriate. … That is a provision which it may be difficult to enforce, but what has the hon. Gentleman done to ensure that aircraft which are causing a nuisance after inspection and before take-off are detained? This is probably a severe way of dealing with the problem, but it is one which has to be held out as a possible inducement to aerodromes, to manufacturers and to airlines to reduce noise.

The House must accept that noise which annoys ought not to be allowed. We would support the Minister if he came down much more heavily on the human side of his job rather than on the side of the economic factors. And even if he came down heavily with a thud that is the kind of noise which we would appreciate hearing in the future.

10.26 p.m.

Mr. Neville Sandelson (Hayes and Harlington)

I am speaking tonight briefly for the first time on this subject in the House, and I am speaking for thousands of constituents who live in residential areas in close proximity to Heathrow and their families who are among the worst afflicted in Britain by aircraft noise and vibration, and indeed by aircraft pollution, which from my experience in this constituency in recent months I know extends even to poisoning and death of flowers which people attempt to grow in their gardens.

I have become increasingly appalled at the social consequences of this problem in terms of human suffering and illness, with the resulting loss of working hours and the total disruption of normal activity in factories, schools, churches, local courts, hospitals and, last and probably least, in my experience in the area at by-election meetings. One must consider also the strain imposed on ordinary families in their homes at the end of the day.

This unnatural disturbance arising from the vast traffic at Heathrow not only spoils the lives of hundreds of families and affects the health of many, but is also very costly. It has been estimated by experts that the noise cost to the community around Heathrow alone is about £66 million a year arising from the loss in house values and lost amenity. It is therefore vital that urgent and effective counter-measures are taken to contain and eventually to reduce the nuisance.

I congratulate the Government on taking the powers outlined in the order, and also on the most welcome step which they have taken in banning jet aircraft from taking off at night from Heathrow from the beginning of April to the end of October next year. That and the measures proposed in the order represent a useful beginning in tackling the problem, but I hope the Government will recognise that it is only a beginning and that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) said, there are no restrictions on the number of aircraft landings, although many of these have been measured as being twice as noisy as take-offs, and it still leaves the problem of quietening the big jets and the construction of the third London airport.

I want to refer briefly to the soundproofing of homes. A scheme is operating at Heathrow whereby the British Airports Authority pays 60 per cent., up to a maximum of £150, of the approved costs of sound proofing one, two or three rooms. The approved scheme includes, and must include, a ventilating system. But this scheme is an abject failure. It applies only to people who live in homes built before 1965. Only 5 per cent. of the people entitled to the grant have taken it up. To have any social value the grant should be in the region of 90 per cent., or even 100 per cent. Anything much less, such as the present grant limit, is utterly ineffective and simply enables authorities to say that they operate the scheme without actually doing so. It is much cheaper to do it that way, but it is at the cost of much human misery and great social cost in other directions.

I want to draw the Minister's attention to the legal rights and remedies for legal nuisance which are at present denied to the victims of aircraft noise and vibration and other forms of nuisance under Sections 40 and 41 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1949. Now that practicable noise suppression devices are available and other noise reduction procedures can be used, surely it is time to restore the public's right to sue for avoidable nuisance. This is permitted in some other countries, and it may be required by the Treaty of Rome. I do not have time to develop this theme. I would simply ask the Minister whether the Government contemplate amending existing legislation which deprives individuals of the right of taking legal action for nuisance against aircraft operators.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Would my hon. Friend accept my compliments on having just uttered the first reasonable argument that I have ever heard for joining the Common Market?

Mr. Sandelson

I am most obliged. Knowing my hon. Friend as well as I do, I take that as a very grand concession, although I would on other occasions proffer other arguments.

I hope that the Minister will consider amending existing legislation which deprives individuals of their rights here. This statutory power not only deprives the many sufferers around airports of some way of seeking redress: it also removes a necessary incentive to the aircraft industry to develop quieter engines and procedures. The magnitude of the current jet flights was never contemplated when the 1949 Statute was framed. I speak tonight for all my constituents in urging the Government, having at last made a useful start in aircraft noise control, to press on with other and even more drastic measures to alleviate this environmental horror in the lives of so many people.

10.38 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Cohen (Leeds, South-East)

I will not occupy time in dealing with the technicalities of aircraft noise and ways of alleviating it. We all recognise its existence and know that there are ways of dealing with it. This legislation is a method of dealing with the problem. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason), I am concerned about the limitations of the order in that it applies to only four aerodromes. I represent a constituency in Leeds. Fortunately my home is not affected by the noise from the Leeds-Bradford Airport. Nor is my constituency affected, but, like most hon. Members who represent the City of Leeds, I have been subjected to tremendous pressures over many years because of the noise from that airport.

There has been considerable opposition to the extension of the airport, largely because of the noise factor. am sure that many of the opponents of the extension would have been prepared to withdraw their opposition had they been confident that steps would have been taken to try to alleviate the problem It is regrettable that the Leeds-Bradford Airport has not been included in the order.

We are all aware of the environmental problems which confront society, and aircraft noise is one of the most prominent and difficult to deal with. But it can be dealt with, and the order represents an attempt to deal with it. I see no reason why the Leeds-Bradford airport should have been excluded, because there are many factors involved, such as the question of the residential areas close to the airport and domestic, educational and business problems. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will reconsider the limitations imposed in the order.

It would be interesting to know—and I hope that the Minister will answer this point—what pressures have been exerted on him by the Leeds and Bradford local authorities, because I am sure that they also have received numerous letters from and been subjected to pressures by people to try to alleviate the problems which arise from aircraft noise. It is not just a question of the noise itself; it is the physical and mental strain which it imposes on people. Whatever their age. they are affected by it.

I hope that the Minister will give us an assurance that he will consider the possibility of extending the order. I know that it is not always easy for a Minister to do this, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that this matter will be looked at very carefully and that he will give some indication of when he is likely to extend the order to cover areas such as Leeds and Bradford.

10.36 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Anthony Grant)

This has been a helpful debate. I agree with virtually every hon. Member about the underlying issue, namely, the need, which the Government recognise as much as hon. Members opposite, to minimise the nuisance, annoyance, inconvenience and damage to the quality of life caused by excessive aircraft noise.

I was particularly interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson). He referred to by-elections. I can remember speaking in his constituency during a General Election. I do not know whether my theme was aircraft noise, but I know that the whole of my speech was, to the delight of the hon. Gentleman's supporters, drowned by aircraft noise. I note carefully what the hon. Gentleman said about the effect of Section 40 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1949. He would not expect me to propose changes in legislation in the course of a debate on this very limited order, but perhaps I can make a general passing comment. The situation does not seem to be any better in countries which do not have legislation on this matter. However, we shall study carefully what the hon. Gentleman said.

The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) concentrated on the question of landing. I can assure him that we know the levels of landing noise. We want the maximum degree of knowledge on this subject, but we do not need to measure every aircraft for noise in circumstances when measurement cannot influence the level of noise which is determined by the need to keep aircraft on the glide slope. I understand that the Report of the Noise Advisory Council recognised that little can he done about landings at present, but we are investigating better methods of approach. However, I warn the hon. Gentleman that international acceptance would take some time. We are investigating the question of curved approach, though it is doubtful whether such an approach could do much more in Landon than transfer the noise to somewhere else.

We are considering all these matters. They are perhaps more difficult than meets the eye. Generally, the limitations on take-offs have an effect on the number of landings—not necessarily diametrically opposite the same number, but I am advised that they should certainly reduce the number of landings, though not necessarily proportionately.

The hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Bishop) asked about the position of manufacturers. I am satisfied that manufacturers are fully siezed of the problems involved in maintaining the environment generally. From my conversations with them about this matter, I have found that they are extremely alert to the problems. In any event, the Aircraft Noise Certification Order requires all new types of subsonic jet aircraft to meet specified noise levels, which are set at about half as noisy, weight for weight, as the existing types.

The hon. Gentleman also referred to Section 29(4)(c). This relates only to the provisions of subsection (3), that is, where an operator is about to take off a greater number of times than the Minister has specified under the Statute. But we take note of the hon. Gentleman's point about that.

I shall come to the more general points raised by the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason).

The order has been put before the House with the specific purpose of designating the four aerodromes owned and operated by the British Airports Authority where the measures that are already in force can be given the sounder legal backing provided under Section 29 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1971. Up to the present and until in due course Section 14 of the Airports Authority Act, 1965, is repealed, these measures could rely on the powers given to the Minister by that Section. Although that Section in the 1965 Act gives a wider scope for giving directions to the Authority to control noise and vibration, it is less detailed and explicit than those now available. In several small and important respects the new Act improves on the old.

Under subsection (1), we have explicit power to direct airline operators to comply with our operational noise abatement requirements. If necessary, therefore, in the case of continued infringement of maximum noise levels, we could require an airline operator to modify certain operational features like take-off weight, by way of corrective action. Under subsection (2) we can direct the airport manager to withhold facilities from an operator to whatever extent we specify for non-compliance with subsection (1). This again provides for a more graduated response to infringements than the present—under the 1965 Act—all-or-nothing power under Section 14 of the Airports Authority Act to restrict the use of an aerodrome to those complying with our noise requirements.

The right hon. Member for Barnsley has told the House, as he did during the Report stage debate last summer, that he was dissatisfied with these provisions and would like to see explicit penalties provided against aircraft operators who infringe noise requirements. The House rejected that course then, when the matter was fully debated, and I and my right hon. Friend remain unrepentantly of the view that the House was right to do so. Flying aeroplanes is a highly skilled and complicated business, and becoming the more so every day, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. It is made no easier by requiring pilots to carry out the added tasks involved in following noise abatement procedures. We must and do allow them to judge when, in the interests of safety, they will have a need to abandon these procedures to concentrate wholly on flying the aeroplane safely. I would not wish to allow the prospect of criminal proceedings and fines to colour their judgment in any way in these circumstances.

However, we must ensure that our procedures are observed. I hope the House will be reassured to know that, without the penal sanctions that the right hon. Member would like us to use, the record shows only an insignificant proportion of infringements of procedures. I believe this to be due to the close co-operation that has grown up between the airline operators, the Airports Authority, and the Department in making noise abatement a common cause rather than from the threat of penalties.

Nevertheless, the threat of a penalty has always been there in the power under the Airports Authority Act to require the exclusion of those who fail to comply. We have never used that power, for it was a very blunt instrument. It is a power which if used would have hit the airline in question with an economic severity totally disproportionate to the seriousness of the offence.

It might be argued that the sanction therefore lacked credibility. Apart from the fact that the infringement record gives no support to this argument, I would draw attention again to the more graduated response that is now possible under subsection (1) of the new provisions. This should finally remove any lack of credibility that there may have been and provide for corrective action, if necessary, in a more effective form.

I turn now to the points made by the right hon. Member for Barnsley and other hon. Members about the number designated in the order. I have explained why the order is limited to those aerodromes where the Department has already intervened, using powers that were similar in scope, though related only to aerodromes owned by the Airports Authority. The question whether other aerodromes should be designated is and will remain under continuous review by my right hon. Friend.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade has told the House recently of the ban on summer night jet movements at Heathrow next summer. He said that, while he was dealing with the worst noise situation around Heathrow, he would be considering such places as Luton and Manchester, where problems similar in nature, though less acute in degree, are known to exist. Other places where the problem is probably less difficult than the situation at those two places will be carefully considered by my right hon. Friend.

Responsibility at these places lies with the local authority owners and we think that it is right that those authorities should decide from their local knowledge what is right for their citizens and neighbours. However, my right hon. Friend's statement was a clear indication that we are ready to intervene there and elsewhere with the powers we now have should this be necessary.

I turn finally to the question of soundproofing. The Airports Authority Act, 1965, empowered the Minister to make a scheme for the provision of grants towards the cost of sound-proofing of dwellings in the vicinity of B.A.A. airports. A scheme has already been made and has operated around Heathrow for some years. I have not heard quite such serious strictures on the efficacy of that scheme as those made by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (Mr. Sandelson), but we will carefully consider the hon. Gentleman's criticisms.

These powers have been extended, by amendments of Section 15 of the Airports Authority Act which became effective on 1st November, 1971, to empower the Minister to make schemes at any aerodrome designated under the provisions of Section 29 of the 1971 Act. This power is only one of the many measures of mitigation of disturbance that would be available for consideration in any case where we judged it necessary to invoke our powers of designation. Exactly which measures we introduce and their extent will be the subject of consultations with the interested parties, as required under the Acts. I assure the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. Cohen) that there will be continuing consultations with his local authority as with others on this issue.

We have concentrated in the first instance on places where the level of noise is most intolerable. We have in this modest order started with the designation under the Act. We shall continue the process after due consultation as and where we consider it necessary. The order is a step along the road we are all seeking to walk along at greater or lesser speed towards minimising nuisance and annoyance to people from aircraft noise. Therefore I hope that the House will approve the order.

Question put and negatived.