HC Deb 05 June 1972 vol 838 cc9-10
12. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will seek to amend the Civil Aviation Act to give the Civil Aviation Authority more effective powers to deal with abuses of charter flight regulations.

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

No, Sir. The relevant parts of the Civil Aviation Act came into force only on 1st April. We must clearly allow some time before we can assess sensibly how they are working.

Mr. Tebbit

Has my hon. Friend read the article in a recent issue of the Daily Mail by Mr. Gilchrist in which he gave, in a long account, chapter and verse of the way in which not only were regulations breached but many passengers were swindled, although it should be said that many of them were conniving at the breach of regulations? Can my hon. Friend assure me that steps will be taken to put an end to this sort of abuse?

Mr. Onslow

I have seen the article. It certainly shows that passengers who cut corners in this way do so at considerable cost in terms of comfort and dignity and also money. I welcome the enterprise of the Daily Mail in making this clear again. Enforcement is a matter for the Civil Aviation Authority, and no doubt my hon. Friend will have seen the recent statement by its chairman.

Mr. William Price

Could not the airlines do a lot to deal with this matter by charging much more realistic fares on normal flights?

Mr. Onslow

I expect the hon. Gentleman will have seen that fares are inclining downwards and that he welcomes this.

Mr. Mason

What measures are taken by the Department to check the bona fidesof these charter operators, and especially the affinity group charters, where there seems to be more illegality practised than in any other form of chartering? To what extent are exempt charters, which the Department gave to BOAC and British-Caledonian, helping to cut down the illegal charter trade?

Mr. Onslow

Staff are employed on this work by the Civil Aviation Authority and I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman his answer off hand. Exempt charters have nothing to do with this matter.