HC Deb 08 May 1972 vol 836 cc879-83
3. Mr. Barnes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what are the latest estimates of the subsonic noise levels for Concorde.

30. Mr. Hayhoe

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will obtain a progress report from the manufacturers and make a statement upon the work being done on reducing the noise levels of Concorde at landing and take-off to no worse than those produced by Trident III; BAC1-11, Boeing 747–200B, and Tristar, respectively.

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

Considerable effort is being devoted to reduce Concorde's engine noise to the lowest practicable level and regular progress reports are received by the Department from the manufacturers. But it has always been recognised that it would not be practicable to reduce the noise to the levels of those aircraft mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Heston and Isle-worth (Mr. Hayhoe). The manufacturers' estimates are that at entry into service Concorde's noise will be comparable to that of Boeing 707, DC8 and VC10.

Mr. Barnes

Is the Minister aware that there is very great concern among people living near London Airport about the amount of noise that Concorde will make on take-off and landing? I believe that the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend has given an assurance that efforts will be made to try to keep the noise of Concorde to the level of the Boeing 707 and the VCIO, but is he aware that those two aircraft are the noisiest of their own generation of jets, and if Concorde is to be even noisier than they are, or at least if the noise of Concorde cannot be kept to the level of their noise, it will be unacceptable to people living near London Airport?

Mr. Onslow

I know that there is great concern, some of which I believe is misplaced. The imputation which the hon. Gentleman makes, that Concorde will be even noisier, is not borne out by the answer that I have given. The noise of Concorde will be broadly comparable, and the figures which are available in the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace to the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) last Thursday give the precise measurements.

Mr. Adley

Would my hon. Friend not agree that the DC 850 is considerably noisier than the Boeing 707 or the VC 10? Would he not also agree that the anti-social noises of which people rightly complain are the noises of flyover and approach as aircraft come in to land and take off? Would he not further agree that Concorde's noise problem will be sideline noise at the airport, and that it is not the airport mechanics who complain of noise?

Mr. Onslow

I commend my hon. Friend to look again at the figures given last Thursday relating to approach and take-off. As regards sideline noises, the manufacturers forecast that the Concorde will be broadly comparable to existing types. This means that its place in the scale will he between the Boeing 707 and the VC10.

Mr. Mason

It is unfortunate that the noise certification scheme came into being after the 1966 Lancaster House noise conference. At that time Concorde's airframe and aero engines were being produced and were not caught up in the scheme. But at the moment, comparing it with present civilian aircraft, the Concorde will be among the noisiest on takeoff and flyover and the second noisiest on landing. Therefore, is it not incumbent upon the Government to explain what progress is being made towards a quieter engine and in what time scale?

Mr. Onslow

The right hon. Gentleman has had a very substantial explanation given to him already. We are doing our utmost to quieten the aircraft, and I deprecate these alarmist statements that he insists on making.

10. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will give the latest estimate for development costs of the Concorde supersonic transport aircraft.

32. Mr. Millan

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent to date on Concorde; and what is the latest estimate for total development costs.

Mr. John Davies

I refer the hon. Members to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace to the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason) on 4th May.—[Vol. 836, c. 207–8.]

Mr. McNair-Wilson

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer, but may we known whether the rise of £115 million since December, 1970, means that the United Kingdom will have to find another £57 million? Further, could some light be shed on the "additional development tasks" put down in Thursday's answer at £25 million, and, in particular, how much of this money has been spent on quieting?

Mr. Davies

First, may I set the figures right with my hon. Friend? In fact, unless my mathematics are sorely wrong, the increase since December, 1970, is £85 million, the figure having risen from £885 million to £970 million. It is correct to suppose that the broad allocation of cost between the two partners is equivalent.

Mr. Sheldon

Will the Secretary of State be making any form of operating subsidy available to BOAC for the operation of Concorde? In view of the almost £1,000 million now being spent on Concorde, would it not be the final insult if an operating subsidy to fly business men to and from New York were to be added to the money already spent?

Mr. Davies

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the manufacturers of the aircraft are in negotiation with BOAC. BOAC has made no request to me for a subsidy, so the matter has not arisen so far as I am concerned; but I take the hon. Gentleman's point, and I shall be keeping the matter under careful review.

Mr. Millan

In view of the effect of the increased costs on the economics of Concorde's operation, and the continued uncertainty about supersonic flying rights and landing rights, is it not clear that an order placed by BOAC within the next few months must be done on other than a normal commercial basis, and this must be obvious to other airlines as well? In the circumstances, is it not time that we had a White Paper about all this and a debate in the House, before going further with the project, so that the right hon. Gentleman may distinguish between those of us who would like to see Concorde successful but want far more information than the Government have so far given and those whom he considers are concerned simply with "knocking" the aircraft?

Mr. Davies

The hon. Gentleman is rather ungenerous to the answers given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace last week. I thought that he replied most fully to the right hon. Member for Barnsley and gave a wide range of information. The hon. Gentleman is seeking to go into the uncertain field of hypothesis, and that I am not prepared to do.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is not this development money well spent, in that, in the 1970s, if airlines such as Air France, TWA, Pan-Am and BOAC do order Concorde, they will at last have a balanced fleet, allowing them to have Concorde aircraft which will cream off premium traffic and also wide-bodied airliners more suitable to leisure traffic?

Mr. Davies

I believe that Concorde will be enormously welcome to a very important part of the travelling public.