HC Deb 07 August 1972 vol 842 cc1225-6
2. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the long-term future of Stansted Airport.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Cranley Onslow)

When Maplin becomes operational we see the possibility of closing Stansted as a public transport airport and perhaps of dispensing with it altogether. We are in close touch with the BAA and the CAA about employment there in the interim.

Mr. Steel

Can the hon. Gentleman give any indication of how long it will be before a definite decision is taken on the future of Stansted?

Mr. Onslow

I cannot give a definite forecast but we expect Maplin to become operational in 1980, which fits the time scale. In the interim we are asking the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority to see what possibilities there are of encouraging the deployment of traffic to Stansted with a view to its ultimate transfer to Maplin.

Mr. Tebbit

Is my hon. Friend aware that what he says will cause a consider able amount of gloom among many people in and around my constituency? Certainly they will all welcome the quietness of less flying, but already there is a substantial number of men unemployed who worked at the airport and who want to go on working there. Will my hon. Friend see to it that jobs are retained in the aviation industry for those working there?

Mr. Onslow

I hope it will not cause gloom in my hon. Friend's constituency to know that we want to keep jobs going at Stansted against the time when men will be needed at Maplin.

Mr. Mason

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman may indicate, therefore, what future there is at Stansted and what developments will take place when it is closed down. Secondly, what will be the future of the Civil Aviation Flying Unit which, I understand, operates from there?

Mr. Onslow

The right hon. Gentleman is right: the CAFU is based at Stansted and could continue to be based there, even if the airport is not used as a public transport airport. Another possibility will be its increased use as a general aviation field which improved road communications might make attractive.