HC Deb 03 December 1973 vol 865 cc900-2
15. Mr. Ronald Bell

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether, in order to conserve fuel supplies, he will prohibit all flying on Sundays until further notice.

23. Mr. Hugh Jenkins

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will prohibit all night flying, including take-offs and landings, from Heathrow Airport on Sundays during the present emergency.

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

We are discussing with airline operators ways in which services can be rationalised and operating procedures adjusted to save fuel, but it would not be practical to ban all Sunday flying.

Mr. Bell

Is my hon. Friend aware that any economy that can be made in the use of aviation fuel by restricting aircraft movements will be warmly welcomed by my constituents, and that it would seem proper that such users of fuel should suffer at least the same 10 per cent. cut as is being imposed on other users? I am not asking for a 50 m.p.h. speed limit on aeroplanes, but my hon. Friend will recognise that a reduction in movements at Heathrow is urgently necessary.

Mr. Onslow

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for explaining that there is some limit to his desire to stop aircraft from flying. The airline industry is subject to the cuts that are applicable to the rest of industry.

Mr. Jenkins

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that my Question asks for a ban on Sunday flying from Heathrow? Will he consider that? Would not it be a good plan, during the whole of the emergency, to ban any further test flights by Concorde, thereby saving money and bringing nearer the day when the aircraft is brought to an end?

Mr. Onslow

I had noticed the hon. Gentleman's Question, and I had even expected having to tell him that the last point he has raised is another matter. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's desire for economies, perhaps I may tell him that it does not secure any kind of economy to cram all the movements into the daytime period. I am sure the hon. Gentleman appreciates that that would be most unacceptable, and damaging to the industry as a whole.

Mr. Kenneth Lewis

When my hon. Friend is considering the matter, will he bear in mind that British airlines, holiday tour operators, and so on, are in competition with foreign operators, and that it would be wrong to restrict our home-based activities to a greater extent than that to which foreign operators are subject?

Mr. Onslow

I assure my hon. Friend that I am aware of the importance of maintaining reciprocity between our airlines and foreign ones. I assure my hon. Friend, too, that we are aware of the commitments involved in many of the charter enterprises and the extent to which people's expectations of holidays are bound up with them. I can, however, give my hon. Friend some comfort by saying that we are in close touch with the industry to discuss the basis upon which, within the overall allocation, priority should be assigned to individual types of activity.

Mr. Mason

What overtures have the Government made to the British Airports Authority about the use and monitoring of executive jets and private company aircraft? Secondly, will the hon. Gentleman tell the House what advice the Government are prepared to tender to civil aviation companies about the use of scheduled and charter flights, and particularly holiday flights where forward planning is necessary?

Mr. Onslow

I dealt with holiday flights in my answer to the supplementary question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Stamford (Mr. Kenneth Lewis). I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are aware of the problem and that we are in close consultation with the charter companies about the implications of the situation.

On the question of the use of executive jets, if the right hon. Gentleman looks at the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping to my hon. Friend the Member for Luton (Mr. Simeons) on 26th of last month he will see that the matter was dealt with, and that people who are contemplating travelling by executive aircraft are asked to use scheduled flights wherever they are available.