HC Deb 08 February 1973 vol 850 cc664-795

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

I should indicate to the House that the amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and in the names of his right hon. and hon. Friends has been selected: That this House, while recognising the urgent need to alleviate the suffering from noise of those who live near Heathrow and the other existing South East airports, declines to give a Second Reading to the Maplin Development Bill until the case for a new airport and seaport complex at Maplin has been fully reappraised by the Civil Aviation Authority in the light of the many changed circumstances since the original decision was taken and of the development needs of other regions of the country.

4.17 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The Bill is an essential step towards the Government's aim of having the Maplin Airport operational by about 1980. It is necessary to maintain Britain's position as one of the world's great centres of international aviation. It is above all necessary to make sure that the huge expected increase in air passenger and aircraft movements over the next generation is handled in a way that serves the air passenger properly and ensures that people who live in and around our present airports get relief from noise.

The whole Maplin project—reclamation, building the airport and seaport, some private development and the related access routes and new town—is an immensely challenging one. It is a challenge which I personally welcome.

I shall hope today to convince the House of the need for the project and of the Government's determination to see that it is carried out in such a way that all this development, which is so essential to the economic life and growth of this country, is acceptable environmentally.

There has been a great deal said and written in recent weeks about the need for a new airport and, in particular, about the need for such an airport in the South East. We must face this question. At the same time, we must remember that these matters were debated in the context of the immense Roskill Report, both in this House and in another place, before the Government took their decision to go to Maplin. That decision was announced by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 26th April 1971.

Since then there has been a whole series of Ministerial statements in the House and wide consultations with the various authorities concerned. The Bill now before the House provides the machinery for implementing the decision in the light of all those consultations and considerations.

Having considered with great care the Roskill Report, the views expressed in both Houses of Parliament and the many representations which have been made by a wide range of interests, the Government have taken certain basic decisions about the need, timing and location of the airport. First, we have accepted the unanimous recommendation of the Roskill Commission that a third London Airport will be needed and that the first runway should be operational by about 1980. Secondly, we have accepted that additional airport capacity is required in the South-East not only to meet the inevitable increase in air traffic now foreseen but also to bring relief at the earliest possible moment to the noise and environmental problems created by the exising airports in the region.

Thirdly, we have announced that going to Maplin would mean there would be no need to provide additional runways at other airports in the London area—Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted. Moreover, we have made clear that it would be possible to impose stricter limits on air traffic movements at Heathrow and Gatwick and also possible to reduce the impact of noise. Stansted might be closed and Luton would not have to be extended. Fourthly, we have accepted that an airport outside the region would not meet the need.

Finally, we have taken the view that it would involve unacceptable risks to defer the provision of a third airport on the basis of speculative technological development such as STOL or to plan on the assumption that future needs could be met on a site incapable of expansion over time to a full four-runway capacity. The House will need, of course, to consider today what, if anything, has happened since the middle of 1971 to change the basis on which these decisions have been taken. Since I became Secretary of State for the Environment I have re-read the Roskill Report, the various debates and statements and a mass of other documents. I am quite convinced that the case for Maplin remains overwhelming.

First, there is the undisputed fact of the growth of demand. Traffic growth was the starting point for the Roskill Commission's recommendation. It has been stated that the commission simply looked at sites, assuming a demand. That simply is not true. It was on the evidence put to the commission concerning traffic growth that the Roskill Commission concluded that a new airport would be needed by about 1980. We have looked at the question of need and timing again in the light of the trends since Roskill reported. Our views are still broadly in line with those of the Commission.

On the latest forecasts it is estimated that there will be a passenger demand of about 60 million people annually by 1980. That is more than double the present London area traffic. These figures relate to the number of passengers. Because the number of passengers per flight is growing, the increase in the number of air transport movements is fewer, but it is still estimated to go up to about 500,000 annually by 1980—a growth of about one-third over the present figures. We have to accept, therefore, the need for increased airport capacity.

We have estimated that the aircraft will carry over one and a half times as many passengers in 1980 as at present—120 as against 70—and about twice as many in 1985–155—and three times as many in 1990—in other words, 200. We have estimated that there will be aircraft which will carry 1,000 passengers. Whatever aircraft are introduced, the old aircraft will continue to fly and there will be the need for higher frequency of operations.

This brings me to the first misconception on which a great deal of the recent argument about the need has been based, the impact of using the new wide-bodied aircraft. Let me make quite clear that the figures and forecasts I have given take account of the trend towards larger aircraft. This is clear in the contrast between the growth rate of passengers and of aircraft movements which I have just quoted. They also assume a spreading of the load more evenly over the day and over the year. The more detailed figures were set out in the consultative document issued last year.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

Could my right hon. and learned Friend say whether the prospect of the Channel Tunnel being constructed has been taken into account in these assumptions?

Mr. Rippon

I can certainly give that assurance. We have allowed for all the factors that have been mentioned in recent debates, including the fact that the Channel Tunnel could be expected to divert from air transport a number of passengers. This factors was, of course, allowed for also in the Roskill calculations, and the commission found that the effect of constructing a Channel Tunnel would be to put back the date at which the third airport would be needed by one year at the most. That is set out in the conclusions in Appendix 6—paragraphs 23–24 on pages 193–94. The Commission also took account of the advanced passenger train.

My second point is that the growth in capacity which is needed must be provided in the South-East. On the basis of the most recent survey, 80 per cent. of passengers using London airports either originate from or are travelling to places in South-East England. Both the Roskill traffic forecasts and our own assume that with the greater development of regional airports some of the traffic now originating from other regions will be diverted from the London airports. But there is a limit to how far we can go in this direction. Even if we allow for 25 per cent. or the traffic to be diverted elsewhere, there is still an overwhelming need for Maplin.

Mr. Patrick Cormack (Cannock)

If it is reasonable to assume that an aircraft will be carrying 1,000 passengers by the turn of the century, why is it unreasonable to assume that STOL aircraft will have been developed?

Mr. Rippon

I shall come to that, but that also was considered by the Roskill Commission. My hon. Friend may have seen the letter which Sir Peter Masefield wrote to The Times in which he said that the prospects for STOL were less now than at the time of Roskill.

To continue on capacity, so far as one can judge, about 80 per cent. of the traffic using London airports originates from the South-East.

Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol North-East)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm or deny that when the Roskill inquiries took place the question was asked, "Where will you spend tonight?" and very often the answer was "London" because people had had to travel to and from London merely to board an aeroplane?

Mr. Rippon

I think my lion. Friend will find that he has misinterpreted Table 9 on page 193 in Appendix 6. He should also look at Table 9 in paragraph 20. That is the same one [Laughter.] My hon. Friend will be doubly assured by reading it twice.

The Roskill Commission found that those who most strongly favoured a policy of increasing traffic at provincial airports before a new London airport was opened did not claim that the effect would delay the need by more than one or two years to the mid-1980s. Even that somewhat modest effect rested on somewhat bold assumptions about airports in South Hampshire, Elmdon, Castle Donington, Rhoose and Bristol. The commission had some reservations about how much more noise would be welcomed, but it did not challenge the premise that airports outside the South-East might develop in future. It nevertheless unanimously concluded: it is clear to us that the nation requires a third London airport. In the debate on 4th March 1971 the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) accepted that the growth of regional airports, though desirable in itself, could not meet the demand. He said: but we cannot expect a degree of diversion to non-South-East airports which would obviate the need for new capacity in the South-East by the middle 1980s. The question then arises, if not Maplin where? As the right hon. Member for Grimsby said, if we had no third London airport at all We should have to assume a more intensive use of all the existing South-East airports."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March 1971; Vol. 812, c. 1923–27.] This, as he saw, would involve Heathrow expanding its growth up to capacity, as probable second runway at Gatwick, and expansion at Luton and Stanstead. That is what a lot of people like Sir Peter Masefield and some of the airlines would no doubt prefer. But not, of course, the people who would be subjected to the noise.

Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is correct in saying that I argued that that was a possible solution. I went on, however, to reject it, as hon. Members will recall.

Mr. Rippon

The right hon. Gentleman made the point that there was a need in the South-East and he went on to say at col. 1923 what that might involve in terms of existing airports. He spoke about other alternatives, and I shall return to those later.

It is the Government's view, and also that of the right hon. Member for Grimsby, that no solution can be regarded as tolerable which leads to increased noise nuisance at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stanstead. Indeed, they need relief from noise, and as soon as possible. But if we delay going to Maplin by 1980, it will be totally unrealistic to hold out any hope of relief. Quite the contrary. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree, as he did then, that noise is becoming the critical pollution issue.

We cannot rely on the development of STOL and VTOL or other technological developments such as "hush kits" to make the problem disappear somehow. As the right hon. Gentleman said on 4th March, to rely on the development of STOL to solve our problems would be "imprudent planning", and I cannot better that description. I know that some people think that the current trend towards quieter aircraft—which we all welcome—and the fitting of hush kits to existing aircraft will mean that the problem, if it does not disappear, will become of no concern. But these aircraft, although quieter, will not be Quiet in the ordinary sense of the word. I saw in a recent report about the possibility of fitting hush kits to the Rolls-Royce Spey engine that it is claimed that this would cut the 90 PNDb footprint to 8.8 sq. miles, comparable to the TriStar. Ninety PNDb cannot be described as quiet, least of all by the 200,000 people who live in the 8.8 square mile areas at the ends of Heathrow's main runways.

The real facts of aircraft noise are illustrated by the calculations made of the effects of the siting of the runways at Maplin which we published last April. This showed that the 35 NNI—the noise nuisance index—noise shadow for a two-runway airport in 1990 would stretch some 24 miles from tip to tip. Of course, at Maplin virtually the whole of that noise shadow is over the sea, a point to which I will return in a moment. The 24-mile noise shadow is based on the best evidence at present available about the development of quieter aircraft. It is very much less than Roskill's original view, which estimated a 33-mile shadow. When we published these figures at the time of the consultation document we were wrongly accused of being overoptimistic. But we have certainly not disregarded in any way the factor of quieter aircraft. No doubt hon. Members who argue for alternative sites will bear the noise factor strongly in mind.

The right hon. Member for Grimsby's idea was for a new one or two runway airport which need not be at any of the Roskill sites. According to what he said in the last debate: If the worst comes to the worst … we should have two airports of two runways each."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March 1971; Vol. 812, c. 1923.] His attitude was that if we made a mistake it did not matter too much. He spoke as if a two-runway airport was a fairly small project which could be fitted in without too much difficulty at some site in the South-East which had not been considered by the Roskill Commission. Does he seriously believe that we could simply put down a Heathrow in South Hampshire, the Essex gap or Lyddthose were his suggestions in the last debate—without causing severe environmental disturbance? It is known that if we do not go to Maplin we have to go somewhere else. In that case it is up to the right hon. Gentleman, knowing all the possibilities, to say whether he thinks any of the sites in the South-East could be expanded in such a way as to contain the growth of traffic to which I have referred, but without creating an intolerable disturbance. If he repeats his suggestions today he will receive a great deal of correspondence tomorrow. In view of the noise factor and the need, I submit that the case for Maplin is overwhelming.

As I see it three grounds of objection to Maplin have been put forward in the last few days. The first is the siting. Here, in the light of all the considerations, it must be understood, as the Roskill Commission stressed—and it did not disagree with Professor Buchanan here—on environmental and planning grounds the Foulness site is the best, and the Government continue to take the view that these considerations are of paramount importance.

There is then the question of birdstrike. My hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping will deal with it in more detail, if necessary, in winding up the debate. I say only that birdstrike is a problem at all airports and has been the subject of consideration for many years. On that point the Roskill Commission concluded: However much the birdstrike problem at Foulness has been pressed upon us, no one has claimed that it is so serious as to be decisive against Foulness. BEA admitted, for example, that if Foulness was only 10 miles from Central London it would not refuse to use the airport there because of the birdstrike problem.

Again, various technological arguments have been advanced and my hon. Friend will deal with them. But it cannot be said that coastal airports of which there are a great many in the world, are more hazardous from the point of view of birdstrike than any other. The point has also been made that the new aircraft with their different engines are more vulnerable to birdstrike. I am told by the Civil Aviation Authority that they are more susceptible to birdstrike but not as vulnerable. That, I think, indicates that this is not in any sense an overwhelming objection.

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

Before my right hon. and learned Friend leaves that point, does he not accept the Roskill Commission's findings on page 89, paragraph 8.32: The risk of birdstrike incidents would still be three times greater at Foulness than at the inland sites even with an elaborate bird management and control programme. Does my right hon. and learned Friend accept or reject that?

Mr. Rippon

I have written to my hon. Friend about these matters. I may not have made myself as clear as I would have wished on this. I have consulted the various bodies concerned and it is the CAA's view that although engines like the RB211 may be more likely to incur the problems of birdstrike they will be considerably less vulnerable to them. We have made some studies in the light of the Roskill comments on the effect of birdstrike on aircraft throughout the world.

There has apparently never been a fatal accident attributed to birdstrike on a United Kingdom revenue-earning aircraft. The last known accident attributed to birdstrike occurred in the USA in 1962, and there are many coastal airports in current use. Most birdstrike incidents of any kind appear to have very little effect. Incidents of birdstrike represent a rate of .0003 per cent. of aircraft movements. The statistical argument that the risk is three times as great at Maplin is not, as the Roskill Commission itself said, an argument for not going to Foulness. BEA, as I have indicated, showed quite clearly that it would have been perfectly happy with the airport if it had been only 10 miles from London. If a high priority is given to noise pollution, this is a factor that cannot be accepted.

The third objection put forward to Maplin is that of cost. The Government took the view, when deciding to go to Maplin rather than to Cublington or elsewhere, that the additional cost was justifiable because of the undoubted environmental advantages of choosing Maplin. We have no regrets for that decision. It will be remembered, moreover, that the extra cost attributed to Maplin by the Roskill Commission was very substantially due to increased costs to, and the value of the time of, passengers. In terms of construction costs, the difference between Maplin and other sites was not at all significant in relation to the total cost of the project.

It must also be remembered that reclamation produces new land, and in an area like the South-East, where the demand for land is so high, this must be taken to the benefit of Maplin. The cost will, of course, build up over a long period.

There will be the reclamation for stage 1; that is, for a two-runway airport, a seaport with oil terminal and container facilities and some land which we shall be able to sell.

Airport construction will start with a single runway and a single terminal, and the airport will be developed thereafter as and when demand justifies it with the second runway and additional terminal buildings coming along during the 1980s.

I think I can perhaps best help the House by giving it an indication of what the present estimates of cost are up to opening date and again what the costs might be in 1990 on the assumption that at that stage two runways and five terminals are in operation. It would be unrealistic to look beyond 1990.

All we can be sure of is that if further runways are necessary after 1990 it will be possible to provide them more cheaply by adding to the Maplin project than would have been the case if we had been short-sighted enough to choose for the third airport a site which was not capable of expansion beyond two runways.

Any estimates of cost, as I am sure the House will understand must be tentative at this stage. On the basis I have indicated, the undiscounted costs at 1972 constant prices of reclamation and airport construction at opening date would be around £235 million, of which some £140 million would be for reclamation.

The corresponding figure at 1990 would be some £625 million, the additional cost being entirely attributable to further airport construction, including a second runway and extra terminals. If we add the cost of the first stages of the seaport and the road and rail access, these figures become £440 million as the 1980 cost and £825 million as the 1990 cost.

The great majority of this expenditure would of course, have been incurred elsewhere if it were not incurred at Maplin. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is obvious. Whether one argues for a different site in the South-East or whether one argues for an expansion of regional facili- ties, the cost must be incurred because we cannot create increases in airport and seaport capacity without the provision of the facilities. There is, therefore, no case for saying that Maplin is somehow wildly extravagant or that the expenditure could be avoided.

There will also be expenditure on the new town and access routes, but the new town expenditure is basically expenditure which would have been incurred in any case under our Strategy for the South-East, which shows South Essex as a growth area. I think that is quite right. I personally agree very much with Professor Buchanan's conclusion that the development of Maplin would play a vital rôle in reducing the social imbalances between the eastern and western sides of London.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)

The Secretary of State has raised a most important point in mentioning the question of a new town. He has spoken about East and West London. If there is to be a specific new town and no facilities of access to what already exists, then surely the prospects of their growth are diminished and not increased?

Mr. Rippon

That is a very strong case for Maplin, and I agree.

I emphasise, for the benefit especially of those hon. Members who I know have constituency interests and have represented them very strongly, that all this development—the airport, seaport, new town and the access—will take place with the highest priority given to its effect upon local people and the local environment.

Our aim is, as far as possible, to build the new motorway and the public transport link in a single corridor, thereby reducing their impact on the environment of South Essex.

The report of our consultants should be available shortly. When we have considered it there will be the fullest consultation with all the authorities concerned and an opportunity for public participation before decisions are taken on the route.

As far as possible construction materials will be brought to the site either by sea or by rail. In so far as traffic has to use the roads, there will be a need for a comprehensive improvement for the eastern end of the A127/A13 route. Major improvements to the western end of this route are already planned and should be completed before there is any major increase in surface traffic arising from the Maplin site. My Department is considering with the local authorities concerned what further work is necessary.

Throughout the project, and particularly in this work on the new town and on the access routes, which in any event will be needed through Essex, we are working in close collaboration with the local authorities.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is, of course, in continuing touch with the local interests concerned through his progress review committee. He is in touch not only with the local authorities but also with hon. Members and others directly concerned.

I turn now to the terms of the Bill. I will, with permission, concentrate on the main principles of the Bill as I understood the House wished today to have some debate to put in perspective the general need for the Bill.

Granted that the House accepts that the Bill is required, it has three main objectives. First, it sets up the Maplin Development Authority and gives it the necessary powers to carry out the reclamation. Secondly, it gives the Authority the duty of making available the land needed for the airport and the seaport. Thirdly, it grants planning permission for the reclamation, the airport and the seaport.

The Bill is hybrid, and there will be an opportunity for those whose interests are affected in a particular way to petition against the Bill and have their petitions considered by a Select Committee. Thereafter, the Bill will come back to the House in the appropriate way.

Clause 1 and Schedule 1 provide for the setting up of the Maplin Development Authority. The Authority will have up to 11 members. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that Sir Frank Marshall has agreed to become the chairman of the new Authority. He has had very wide experience of public and commercial life, and I am sure that this will be invaluable in guiding the new Authority in the great tasks facing it.

Subiect to the progress of the Bill, it is my intention to appoint further members to the Authority so that it may be in a position to make progress with the projects as soon as the Bill becomes law. I am required under the Bill to consult certain bodies in relation to some of the appointments to the Authority. These bodies will include the British Airports Authority and the Port of London Authority as the two main prospective purchasers as well as the local authorities most concerned with the project.

Clause 2 is the key to the Maplin Development Authority's powers and duties. The clause authorises the works of reclamation shown on the deposited plans subject, in the normal way, to limits of deviation. I have arranged for small-scale copies of the deposited plans to be available in the Vote Office. Clause 2 also puts a duty on the Authority to make available to the statutory authorities concerned the land needed for the airport and the seaport.

The deposited plans show the total areas of reclamation needed to provide for a four-runway airport. The area is about 18,000 acres. As I have explained, we believe that it is right to provide for a site with potential to meet foreseeable demands. But we shall not need to reclaim the whole site in one operation. The first stage of the development of the airport will provide for two runways, and this is expected to be adequate for the demands up to 1990. We therefore envisage a major first stage reclamation of about 14,000 acres, some 6,500 acres of which would be for the airport and some 2,500 for the seaport.

Sir Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)

There is a provision in the Bill which makes it plain that there are powers for the Authority to reclaim more land than that which is required for the airport and the seaport. Clause 2(5) states: The remainder may be made available by the Authority for such industrial or commercial purposes … as the Secretary of State may approve. Will my right hon. and learned Friend kindly spell out to the House what are these commercial and industrial purposes?

Mr. Rippon

I will come to that. My predecessor gave certain assurances on the way in which that land would be developed and assurances that it would not be used for primary industry. I am very much aware of the anxiety about that.

Although provision for the four-runway shape is one of the principles of the Bill, I can assure the House that there will be a thorough review before the MDA is authorised to go ahead with the second stage of the reclamation which will need to be carried out before the airport can be expanded beyond the first two runways.

The reclamation shape has been settled in close consultation with the Hydraulics Research Station, and I understand that it is satisfied that the shape shown on the deposited plan would have no serious adverse effects.

Clause 2(5) deals with the remainder land, and that is the point that concerns my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine). This is the substantial area of land—some 3,000 acres—thrown up by the decision to go for a reclamation shape including both a four-runway airport and a seaport. The development of this land will be subject to normal planning controls, and the Bill additionally provides that my approval is needed to proposals for its development. This will ensure that the development of this land is consistent with its proximity to a major airport and is in accordance with our regional, industrial and environmental policies. I repeat the assurances which my predecessor gave to the House on 2nd February 1972 about the way in which that land would be used, and that it would not be used, as he expressed it, for primary industry.

There is no question of the development of the land being allowed to take place at a rate which would be in any way inconsistent with or contrary to planning policies.

Sir Bernard Braine

I am afraid that the original assurances were to the effect that the development of the airport/seaport complex would not be accompanied by industrial development, whether primary or secondary. We now find this provision in the Bill, which is extremely alarming to my constituents, and we shall have to probe this matter a great deal further.

Mr. Rippon

I follow my hon. Friend's concern, and this may have to be probed further. I simply repeat our assurances of the purpose. It is necessary in a Bill of this sort to make wide provision. This matter may have to be considered at the appropriate stage, or assurances and undertakings may have to be given in some other way. I do not think that there is a difference in principle between my hon. Friend and myself.

Clause 4 gives the Secretary of State power to give directions to the MDA. Against the background of this power, I shall be able to give policy guidance to the new authority concerning, for instance, its relationship with other statutory authorities.

Clause 5 applies the detailed provisions of Schedules 2 and 3. Clause 6 gives the MDA powers of land acquisition, including compulsory powers. The Bill itself does not authorise the compulsory purchase of any particular land. If the MDA needs to acquire land, or rights over land, compulsorily it will have to make a compulsory purchase order which will be subject to the normal procedures and rights of objection. Where land or rights are acquired compensation will be settled in accordance with the compensation code—including the improvements introduced by the Land Compensation Bill which is at present before the House.

Clause 7 deals with planning permission. It grants planning permission for: first, reclamation and maintenance work to be carried out by the MDA within the limits of deviation; secondly, the construction of runways on specified lines—these lines provide for the siting of runways in accordance with the Government's decision, to choose site "C", so as to reduce noise nuisance over land—thirdly, it grants planning permission for development on the reclaimed land by the Civil Aviation Authority, which is responsible for the provision of air navigation services; and, fourthly, for the construction of a seaport by the Port of London Authority. The PLA has been informed that there is no objection in principle to its proposals. However, they still require my approval under Section 9 of the Harbours Act 1964, and this means that the need for the facilities which the PLA proposes, and the timing of this need, as well as the commercial viability of the proposals, will have to be proved before approval is given.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say what proposals are before him linked with the proposals of the Port of London Authority for the expansion of oil refining capacity in the South-East?

Mr. Rippon

All those matters are for consideration. Various ideas have been canvassed on the basis of a seaport with capacity to take 250,000-ton tankers and, later on, 500,000-ton tankers. All these matters will have to be considered in detail, and the position about the scope of the proposals that might be approved is entirely reserved.

In addition to these specific permissions, the Bill makes the airport site the operational land of the British Airports Authority. This means that the deemed permission granted by the current General Development Order will apply at Maplin as at other airports. However, the House will recall that the BAA gave assurances, when airport development was first included in the General Development Order in 1968 that it would consult fully with the local planning authority before carrying out significant development authorised by the GDO. It is important to understand that a Bill of this sort must of necessity create the machinery for action. The fact that it is a hybrid Bill and has to go through other parliamentary stages affords the opportunity now and subsequently for details to be considered in consultation with all concerned.

Clause 8 deals with the extinguishment of public rights in the reclamation area. In general, public rights such as rights of navigation and fishing will be extinguished by the actual process of reclamation. But there is the possibility that there are some rights of way over the Sands, which might be considered to remain even after reclamation. The clause, therefore, provides a means of extinguishing such rights.

In general, no compensation can be payable for the extinguishment of rights which are exerciseable by the public at large. Exceptionally, however, some special provision is proposed in Clause 18 to help those who have relied substantially on public rights exerciseable over the re- claimed land for their means of livelihood. As I have said, where the MDA acquires any private rights over land, compensation will be payable on the usual basis, and on the basis of the new Land Compensation Bill.

Clauses 9 to 12 deal with the financial structure of the MDA. Its main source of borrowing will be the National Loans Fund. The amount of its outstanding debt is limited to £200 million, but there is provision in the Bill for this limit to be raised to £250 million by order. The MDA's investment programme will be subject to Ministerial control under Clause 12.

This clause also enables the MDA to enter into partnership with private companies and other bodies. We are anxious that the MDA should have the maximum flexibility for entering into such arrangements, so that private enterprise may participate in this great project. Arrangements of this kind may well present the best means of promoting the development of the remainder land. I must, however, repeat that such development will have to accord with regional and environmental policies. If my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East or any other hon. Members representing Essex constituencies have doubts, we shall do our best to see that they are resolved.

Clause 13 governs the terms on which the MDA is to dispose of the reclaimed land. Clause 14 provides the basis on which the MDA is to recover the costs that it incurs on maintaining the land. Clause 15 provides for the MDA's accounts and the auditing of them. We intend the accounts and the Authority's annual report to contain not merely the bare financial record, but statistical and descriptive material to make clear how the authority has performed in relation to its agreed objectives, and how it expects to perform in subsequent periods.

In conclusion, I would reiterate this fundamental point: it is only by building a major new airport for London that we can maintain our position in world air transport and at the same time give a firm prospect of relief from increasing airport noise to the millions of people who at present suffer from it. After the years of discussion, after the years of exhaustive inquiry by Roskill, and after the debates we have had before and since a decision was taken, I hope it will now be accepted that the Government must act and that we have taken into account all the changed circumstances that may be considered to have arisen since 1971. I ask the House to pass the Bill knowing that the decisions which the Government have taken are right and are unavoidable.

5.1 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Crosland (Grimsby)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: This House, while recognising the urgent need to alleviate the suffering from noise of those who live near Heathrow and the other existing South East airports, declines to give a Second Reading to the Maplin Development Bill until the case for a new airport and seaport complex at Maplin has been fully reappraised by the Civil Aviation Authority in the light of the many changed circumstances since the original decision was taken and of the development needs of other regions of the country. The right hon. and learned Gentleman gave a somewhat distorted version of some of my views in 1971 but I shall not waste the time of the House by correcting those distortions now. I am more concerned with some of the omissions from his speech, which I shall correct. In our debate two years ago we were mainly discussing the question: supposing we need a third London airport by 1980, where should that airport be? My own view, which was strongly expressed at the time, was that it should not be at Maplin, which I have always thought a thoroughly bad site on environmental, economic, aviation and regional grounds. But we are not arguing that point today. The House should be clear about this.

We are arguing today this question: even assuming Maplin is the best site for some new runway capacity in the South-East by 1980, is the need for this development, and is the need for all the associated development at Maplin, so completely proven that we should push ahead at Maplin now, or have circumstances so changed since the original decision was taken that a reappraisal of that decision is both possible and urgently necessary? I shall argue this latter case.

I must say at the outset that I do so with a full appreciation of the Secretary of State's difficulties, having been in a precisely similar position over Stansted when I went to the Board of Trade. I know from that experience that these decisions acquire a frightful momentum inside the Government machine, and the right hon. Gentleman will certainly be under immense pressure from civil servants who have invested so much time and so many resources in the project and are naturally reluctant to be flogged round the course a third or fourth time.

Nevertheless, for all their reluctance I believe circumstances have changed dramatically since Roskill, and what was characteristic of so much of the right hon. Gentleman's argument was that it was based on quotations from Roskill which are no longer apt or correct today. These changed circumstances are reflected, as we know, in a striking change of outside opinion, and I would say there is an overwhelming majority of expert opinion now in favour of at least a reappraisal. I shall discuss these changed circumstances under three heads: that the cost of Maplin will be much greater than was thought, that the need for Maplin in 1980 is very much less than was thought, and that the regional implications—which is perhaps the most important part of our debate—are far more disturbing than we had previously thought.

First, as to the cost, the Secretary of State gave figures this afternoon which tally with those he gave yesterday if one adds access costs. Over £385 million is to be spent before a single aircraft can land at Maplin. That has to be spent before the first runway is completed. Then, by 1990 expenditure will rise to £825 million. I can find no one outside who believes a word of this. We have had so much experience now of the constantly escalating cost of these grandiose projects. We are not discussing Concorde today but we have found so much evidence on every one of these grandiose projects that the costs escalate out of sight; and I shall be amazed if the figure by 1990 is anything like £825 million.

The point the House must decide is: do we really want to commit ourselves now to spending this gigantic sum on a third London airport when, as I shall hope to show, the need for it is unproven, when there are so many other pressing demands on public expenditure and so many other social projects of undisputed benefit which we shall be told we cannot afford? It is not simply the financial cost, it is not simply the public expenditure with which the House should be concerned, but also—a matter to which I referred on Tuesday last—the cost in real resources. I have the gravest doubt whether the construction industry in the South-East, already badly overstretched, can take on this project on top of the housing programme that we want, hospital building and all the other developments we want in South-East England.

There is comparatively little unemployment in the South-East, and, as every hon. Member from the South-East knows, there is an acute shortage of building craftsmen of all kinds. To put Maplin on top of all these other demands will be intensely over-loading the industry at a time when other regions in the country are crying out for jobs. So my first observation relates to the cost of public expenditure and whether we should not think again before embarking irrevocably on a project of this size.

Next I turn to need, since the Government obviously assert that this cost, however large, must be incurred because the need for Maplin in 1980 is so evident and pressing. For myself, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, I did not believe this even in March 1971 when we debated the Roskill Report, but today I confine myself to factors which have clearly and demonstrably changed since then in such a way as to make that need less urgent. The first is the question of air traffic forecasts. At the time of the consultative document the Government were still basing themselves on the forecasts prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry Working Party on Traffic and Capacity at Heathrow. But these forecasts are now three years old. They were much criticised at the time for their methodology. They were substantially higher than the forecasts of the Roskill Commission, which were themselves widely criticised as being too high. Yet there has never been any explanation given for this discrepancy.

Mr. Rippon

With respect, I believe they are marginally lower than the forecasts of the Roskill research team. It is only a matter of whether air traffic doubles or just goes up by 90 per cent.

Mr. Crosland

We can check that before the winding up speeches, but I am absolutely certain that they were higher than Roskill forecasts. But in any case we are now told that these forecasts were revised in the DTI a year ago, but revised without the airlines, whose collaboration in such an exercise is crucial. The revised forecast has never been published. But what is relevant to our debate this afternoon is that we now know that the Civil Aviation Authority is heading a joint team, this time with the airlines, to conduct a major review of these forecasts. I am told that the first meeting of this joint team is actually to take place next week. Surely, the least we can ask for this afternoon is that this Bill should be postponed until the CAA review is completed, published and debated so that the public can make up their own mind on the timing and the need.

At any rate, even if we take the existing DTI forecasts, there is virtual unanimity that we shall not need an additional runway in the South-East before 1983 at the earliest—and most experts put it much later. I will give only one quotation. It is from the 1972 Annual Report of BEA: By embarking on a high capacity aircraft policy, with the necessary airport developments which this would entail, movements of aircraft at Heathrow and Gatwick of the two corporations (BEA and BOAC) could be accommodated until the late 1980s. The comparative quietness of the wide-bodied aircraft enables such a policy to be pursued whilst at the same time greatly improving the environment around Heathrow. This is without taking any account of a major point to which I shall come later, the possibilities of diversion of traffic from Heathrow to regional airports.

The Minister for Aerospace and Shipping (Mr. Michael Heseltine)


Mr. Crosland

I propose to give way very little, as there is a large number of back benchers who wish to speak and who will not get in at this rate.

Mr. Heseltine

I want to understand what the right hon. Gentleman is saying. Did he say that the needs of the two British airlines could be incorporated in these plans? What about the other airlines?

Mr. Crosland

The next sentence in my speech—this is always the trouble with giving away—is that it is quite reasonable to argue that if this is true of BEA and BOAC it could be equally true of other airlines. I have been reading from the BEA report of 1972. This is allowing nothing for any diversion to the regions, to which I shall come later. It is no use Ministers denying this. If they do, they are getting the most extraordinary briefing—which indeed I suspect.

We all know that there is practically no outside expert who believes that we shall need an additional runway in the South East by 1980. The only division amongst the experts is whether we shall need one in the mid-1980s, the late 1980s or never.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

My right hon. Friend, talking about the experts and their considered opinion, suggested that we do not need a new runway until the 1980s. Is he aware that from the point of view of people who are being overflown we have long needed a new runway in the South-East and that we want it as soon as possible?

Mr. Crosland

Even under the Bill my hon. Friend will not get one until 1980. I knew that he wanted to make this point. I shall come later to the problem of Heathrow noise.

The second thing that has changed, which I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman underestimated, is that quieter aircraft are being introduced into service faster than Roskill anticipated and faster than anybody in 1971 anticipated.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted from the consultative document. It is worth quoting two more sentences because the scale of this potential relief is still not generally realised. The consultative document states that one of the most important changes since the Roskill Report is that by 1995 new types of aircraft would be only half as noisy as existing ones.

The document correctly goes on to state: But already in 1972 major new types of aircraft (the Douglas DC10 and Lockheed 1011) have emerged and are flying with recorded noise levels well below this. And this is a continuing process. … The effect is to produce far more favourable forecasts of quieter aircraft than assumed by the Roskill Commission. I imagine that all right hon. and hon. Members have read the document. Para- graph 27 shows the sort of reduction for people, for example, within the 35 NNI contour, which will be the consequence of these quieter aircraft. It is a dramatic reduction which could be broadly translated from Maplin, allowing for whatever the distribution of the population is, to the existing London airports.

All this is without taking any account, which the Secretary of State hardly did, of the possibility of retrofits. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will know that many people in the industry maintain that a dramatic improvement could occur by 1980 if more research and effort were spent on that aspect.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman also said nothing about RTOL—reduced take-off and landing. He confined himself to STOL and VTOL and did not refer to RTOL which the industry regards as a very much more promising line.

Mr. Rippon

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not go on saying that I did not refer to various matters. On the noise shadow and the change to quieter aircraft, the difference is between Roskill's idea of 35 NNI over 35 miles and the present one of 24. A 24-mile noise shadow is still very considerable. I dealt with VTOL and STOL. The right hon. Gentleman may have seen what Peter Masefield said about that in The Times.

Mr. Crosland

On noise contours I refer the right hon. and learned Gentleman to paragraph 27 of his own document showing a reduction from 20,300 people at site A to 1,360 people within the 35 NNI contour due to improvements in quieter engines.

Mr. Heseltine

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken the imprint that is shown over the seas around Maplin put over the inland sites to see how many people would be affected if we followed his suggestion?

Mr. Crosland

My point is that this kind of reduction in noise at Maplin, due to quieter engines, must have striking consequences for other existing airports if it is applied to them. There is nothing complicated about it. I have taken the Government's figures for the Maplin reduction and I am saying that they must have some meaning for other airports.

Mr. Adley

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the new Hawker Siddeley aircraft, the HS146, I think, has a noise shadow of only 3.4 miles?

Mr. Crosland

I do not know why the right hon. and learned Gentleman denied this point. He dismissed, as I am about to do, STOL and VTOL but said nothing about the far more promising reduced take-off and landing. I hope that in the reply tonight the Minister will give us some detail about RTOL which is regarded in the industry as more promising.

Mr. Heseltinerose——

Mr. Crosland

I will not give way. I understand that the Minister is to reply. As he is an expert in these matters, perhaps he will then give us an up-to-date assessment of the prospects over the next two years, given Government support of the RTOL development. The House, I am sure, will be obliged to him if he does. If he says that there are no prospects of any kind, he will be in strong disagreement with most people in the industry.

The question of larger aircraft is another change with which the right hon. and learned Gentleman dealt and which is also most relevant. But I want to turn to some of the regional implications which have not been properly considered in his speech.

We are now to have a much larger industrial and urban complex than was envisaged two years ago. We are to have room for a four-runway airport. This was confirmed again today. We are to have new industry. We are to have large-scale urban development. We are to have a seaport.

We have heard surprisingly little about the seaport or the case for it. There has been no inquiry, as far as I know, to determine the effects of the seaport on other regions. The trouble is that since the Government rejected nationalisation of the ports we have had no effective ports planning body. It has not been made clear why we need the seaport on this scale at this point: why, for example, some of this traffic should not go to Southampton; why some of this traffic should not go to other ports on the East Coast; why some of this traffic should not go to other regions altogether. It seems quite wrong to go ahead with this seaport in the absence of a national inquiry or any suggestion of a national seaport plan.

It seems that in South Essex we are to have a large industrial complex, a massive degree of urbanisation, a seaport, a substantial airport town and a much larger new town associated with all these activities.

A number of questions arise which the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not answer. First, is this good planning, even in terms of the South-East? To say the least, some of us have serious doubts. Professor Buchanan, who alone of the Roskill Commission supported Foulness, said in paragraph 48 of his minority report: My assessment as a professional planner … is that with careful design it would be possible to accommodate the airport population and to leave space for additional population dependent on airport-associated activities. What the Government are now planning goes far beyond the airport and its associated activities—[Interruption.] Has the seaport been withdrawn? Has all this reference to industry and corn-merge in the Bill no meaning at all?

In paragraph 6.26, on page 41, the majority of the Roskill Commission stated: There could in our view be serious regional planning objections to development on this scale. We think it right to draw attention to the view expressed by the South-East Joint Planning Team in its report that there seemed to be no over-riding reason on planning grounds why a major seaport industrial project should be promoted in the south-east region. What will be the effect on London?

Sir Bernard Brainerose——

Mr. Crosland

No doubt we shall hear about South-East Essex and the degree of urbanisation involved. It will not help to revitalise the East End, as has been suggested, because it is much too far away. In fact it will do the opposite. It will accelerate the loss of jobs and the removal of population from inner London.

As hon. Members representing London constituencies will know, the GLC has been anxious for a long time about the loss of population and employment since 1960. It is extremely anxious because it fears that London may become a polarised community and that in particular the poor will suffer and because of the possible effects on the rating burden and financial situation generally. The GLC fears a slide towards a soaring rate burden which will encourage more outward migration and yet higher rates.

Mr. Kenneth Warren (Hastings)

The GLC is in favour.

An Hon. Member

Go back to Hastings.

Mr. Crosland

It may be that these fears are exaggerated, but it is possible that London has now reached the point where it is far from obvious that any further major run-down, let alone any acceleration of it, would be a benefit.

In any case, if there is to a further migration of people and jobs, it should go not to South Essex but to the development areas or the intermediate areas, or perhaps to Milton Keynes or other new and expanding towns, but the whole of the migration from inner London should certainly not go to South-East Essex.

The regional implications alone call for a drastic rethink. So the case for a reappraisal seems to me overwhelming on the grounds of cost, unproven need and regional implications. But we must then answer the crucial question of how we can help the sorely-pressed people who live round Heathrow and other South-East airports. Contrary to what may be thought, I am acutely conscious of the noise problem. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted me as saying, I regard noise as one of the greatest abominations of our time. For a time I lived in West London under a flight path. Last Friday I went to Windsor to preach the case against Maplin. I spent the whole of Friday morning listening to intolerable noise. For myself, I believe that Maplin is the least effective method of bringing help to the sufferers from noise at London Airport as it is wholly unlikely to be a success. Roskill made a sensible remark when he said that a third London Airport must be able to succeed as an airport and must be able to meet the needs of those whom it is designed to serve. I do not think that it will do so.

If we reject or seek to delay Maplin, which is what we are doing in our amendment, we are under an obligation to suggest an alternative strategy for alleviat- ing noise suffering. The first part of our alternative strategy—it is extraordinary that it has aroused so much cynicism and scepticism from the Government—and the most obvious is to press even harder for still quieter engines and for the development of reduced take-off and landing. There has already been a substantial improvement which even the Secretary of State recognised. Despite what has been said, there is a large body of technical opinion which thinks that a fraction of the cost of Maplin spent on the development of retrofits and RTOL could produce a very large reduction in the noise problem in the next 10 years. We will be interested to hear what the Minister says about that.

The first element in an alternative strategy is surely to switch part of the resources needed for Maplin to pressing ahead hard and urgently with this work. The second part of such a strategy relates to the regional airports to which the Secretary of State referred whilst using largely Roskill arguments which are now frequently out of date. It is a profound irony that Heathrow wants to get rid of its traffic, that most Maplin residents do not want to receive it and that other airports in the country are only too happy to have it.

I do not mean that all provincial airports are environmentally satisfactory. Some of them clearly are environmentally worse from any point of view than the London airports. But surely traffic, especially charter, can be diverted on a larger scale than the Secretary of State envisaged this afternoon—for example, Castle Donington could take much of Luton's traffic. There are Liverpool, Spoke, about which hon. Members are keen, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow. There is much more of a possibility of doing this on a substantial scale than was the case two years ago, partly because of the development since then of still more rapid trains, and partly because it has become clear that the charter operators are more and more willing to bus people long distances provided that the airports are reasonably convenient.

I shall take Grimsby as an example. Last Saturday the coach operators, without the slightest difficulty, bussed 8,000 from Grimsby to Coventry. That was done without any fuss or bother other than that caused by the most dubious penalty decision in the last few minutes of the game. The coach operators would be just as willing to bus, if our policy encouraged them to do so, to the airports of the Midlands, the North East, after the Humber Bridge is completed, and the North West. They would probably be more willing to bus charter passengers to those airports than to Maplin.

The honeypot argument was used strongly two years ago—[Interruption.] If hon. Members would listen for a moment they would find something concrete to reply to. It was used strongly by Sir Peter Masefield and others two years ago. It was argued that the South East airports had become so overwhelmingly attractive that they would continue to attract passengers from other parts of the country to begin their air journeys from London. That is less convincing now. The argument can be used now about regional airports. There is a self-reinforcing process. As the traffic grows more people are inclined to go to them to start their holidays, and that has a self-reinforcing effect. Both Manchester and Glasgow are near that point now. With proper Government policies, other regional airports could be at that level by 1980. We could divert much more than the Secretary of State suggested to the regional airports.

Mr. Rippon

I suggested a diversion of the equivalent of four Heathrows.

Mr. Crosland

We shall know how much more we can divert when the studies to which I am about to refer have been completed. However, we could divert on a larger scale. Let us make sure that we do so by differential pricing, increasingly stringent noise limitations, controls and regulations. If that adds something to the cost of flying, so be it. It will still be far less than the cost of building Maplin.

The third element in a strategy to relieve the London Airport noise sufferers is to query the whole concept of a major third London airport and the concept of the next major airport being in the South East. That raises the question of a national airport plan. The reason why successive Governments have not embarked on such a plan, which the CAA report shows is not as simple a matter as some people might believe, is that it has been taken almost completely for granted until recently that there would be such a great growth of traffic in the South East that, whatever was done in the rest of the country, there would still be the need for additional runways in the South East. But this assumption is widely challenged today.

Moreover, the Civil Aviation Authority is for the first time, in the document "Airport Planning: an Approach on a National Basis", thinking in terms of national airport planning. I was surprised that the Secretary of State made no reference to this. The CAA is about to commission a study with the following terms of reference: To examine and advise on the desirable future structure of the airport system in the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and East Midlands Regions, and if necessary the Bristol/South Wales area also. These are the regions from which the London airports draw large numbers of passengers at present. Almost all of them are also regions with substantially higher unemployment than the South East and are therefore more in need of airport development on the grounds of unemployment policy.

It would be crazy to pre-empt this possibility and the CAA study by pushing blindly ahead with Maplin. Indeed a number of people in the industry think that the next international airport should not be built in the South East at all but should be built in the Midlands or the North. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"] Mr. Capper, who was heavily involved in the Roskill inquiry, and Mr. Flowerdew, who was the deputy director of research, to quote two.

It is worth taking notice of another matter. The CAA says: airports are very large and not easily adaptable pieces of investment; mistakes can be very expensive. Yes, they can be. Therefore, let us give ourselves a little more time to make sure that we are not making a catastrophic mistake.

The Secretary of State raised the question whether, even if we press ahead with diversions to the regions and a possible new international airport, we should still need additional runway capacity in the South East. He reminded us of our discussion in 1971 on conventional runway capacity when I argued that we might need a limited additional capacity in the South East. I retain an open mind. We must await the results of the CAA studies. We certainly do not need it by 1980, and if we prove to need it later, which is very hard to judge, my view is the same as it was two years ago: that we could and should find a single runway coastal site which would not have the appalling disadvantages of Maplin.

That is one of many uncertainties. They all point to an alternative strategy which provides for the uncertainties—in other words, a strategy on a wide front—instead of going bald-headed for this single, immensely expensive and possibly obsolete solution of endless more miles of concrete runway in the overcrowded South East.

All this adds up to a commanding case for a reappraisal and for an up dated study to be carried out by the CAA, which is already reconsidering the traffic forecasts and studying the airport needs of different parts of the country.

I know what the Secretary of State's difficulties are. But we are dealing with what may prove to be the largest investment decision of the century, one with profound implications for public expenditure, regional planning and the environment. The original decision of two years ago was taken in good faith, but circumstances have changed dramatically, and so, I believe, has public opinion.

Therefore, we must at least consider the possibility of an alternative strategy. If the reappraisal shows that there is no practicable alternative strategy, I shall withdraw my opposition to Maplin. Nothing will have been lost, because one thing is clear: that we do not need a new runway for some years after 1980.

This is a situation which is immensely awkward for a politician or a Minister when to stick to a decision is the easy but wrong way out. The hard course of action, to reconsider the decision, requires great political courage. I hope that for the sake of the country the Secretary of State will display that courage.

5.35 p.m.

Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)

Although Foulness used to be in my constituency, but is now in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine) the House may be surprised, but no doubt pleased, to learn that I shall make only a very short speech. That is not because I could not make a long speech. I could make a very long speech, but my hon. Friend and I have made so many speeches on the subject to a succession of Ministers, without having much effect, that I have come to the conclusion that it might be much better if other hon. Members were to take up some of the points which have apparently only recently come to their attention, and to state in 1973 some of the things we were saying in 1971.

This debate is taking place the day after a debate on public expenditure. How appropriate! A vast sum of public expenditure is involved in what we are considering.

I want to remind the House of the circumstances in which the Maplin announcement was made. This is the first opportunity the House has had to debate the decision to build an airport there. It was an executive decision upon which the House had not a word to say. In the state of euphoria which then existed, hon. Members were so delighted to get the airport away from their own constituencies and send it down to South-East Essex that they were overwhelmed with stories and propaganda about how a great City consortium would build the magnificent airport at no cost to the country. Stupidly, they believed what they had heard. They were all carried away with so much emotion that they thought "What a splendid idea!"

It is only now, when second thoughts are beginning to arise, when people have realised that it is not just a few Essex peasants who will be affected and that the great City consortium will not give them all the money they want for nothing, that people realise that it is we who must pay the bill and that therefore we should look rather carefully at some of the details.

I want only to give the headings of the considerations we should bear in mind and to let other hon. Members make the speeches. The first heading is regional planning. I do not know how on earth we shall justify to our colleagues in the EEC that they should pour money into regional planning in this country when they see us chucking it down the drain here.

I was sorry that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State followed the fashion of pooh-poohing bird strikes. They are a serious problem, and my right hon. and learned Friend does his cause no justice by pretending that they are not.

The question of the need for the airport at all has been dealt with by the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland).

There are other minor considerations here—minor to the House, but not to the people concerned. There is the question for my right hon. and learned Friend of the preservation of the inshore route to Burnham for sailors. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is a sailor. The matter may seem of minor interest, but we should not assume that sailing is a prerogative of rich men. It is not. Thousands of ordinary men and women, many of them from Southend, practise the art. The preservation of the inshore route to Burnham is very important to them.

The next matter will perhaps appeal more to the palate of hon. Members. Going ahead with Maplin will mean the ruin of the cockles industry. What steps will the Government take to preserve it?

What will the Government reply to the fact that every airline in the world has denounced the idea of going to Maplin? The British Airports Authority did not want it at Maplin either.

What are we to do about the Shoeburyness ranges, one of the other comforts of life in my constituency. Nobody wants those either. The Ministry of Defence tried to get rid of those to Mid-Wales, but Mid-Wales does not want them. There was a suggestion that they should go to Scotland, but Scotland does not want them. Those ranges are still in Southend, and until the Government find a home for them they cannot build the airport at Maplin.

The Bill is important not so much for what is in it but for what is left out of it. It is a Bill which will make it possible to construct an airport and seaport at Maplin. Goodness knows how the passengers will get there and back, for that aspect is not mentioned in the Bill. These are problems which concern the people of South-East Essex in particular and the people in my constituency, because they want to know what will happen to the road system.

I have taken up this matter with Ministers in the past. I have asked how they intend to transport construction materials to the site. I have been told that most of the material will go by sea and the rest by a train service at night. I have been looking into the situation and I understand that the railway line from Fen-church Street will be extended east of Thorpe Bay station to run to Maplin. We have been told that this will provide the link for construction purposes. What a load of nonsense! The line is one of the most heavily-used commuter lines in the country. It has only two lines, one up and one down. The commuter service does not finish until two in the morning and the day service starts at four in the morning. Therefore, there will be only two hours between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. in which to get this vast amount of material transported.

The only alternative is to proceed by road—and there are only two main roads to Southend, the A13 and the A127. These are among the most densely populated roads in the country. It sometimes takes me half an hour to get from Southend to Rayleigh. There is certainly no possibility of sending construction traffic along the Al27, and no provision has so far been announced by the Government to send the construction traffic along any other road.

It is self-evident that sooner or later roads will have to be built to take traffic to and from the airport. Why not build the roads first before the airport is built? If the roads are built first, they will be able to take the construction traffic to the site.

Sir Bernard Braine

My hon. Friend asks very pertinent questions about the road communications, but he should tell the House that, so far, all we have managed to extract from Ministers is that the new motorway will not be in operation until the airport is open. This constitutes an impossible situation for my hon. Friend's constituents and for mine.

Sir S. McAdden

That is exactly what I am saying—that the road should be built first, not last, and that the Government should take the opportunity to provide roads on which the construction traffic can travel.

There is then the question of the reclamation of land under Clause 2 of the Bill and the planning permission for the development granted by Clause 7, which again is likely to involve the A13 and the Al27. If those roads are to be widened and improved for this purpose, will Southend have to bear the cost wholly from public funds? We did not ask for the airport, and if it is necessary to carry out these improvements the work should be paid for by the central Government.

We also feel that a provision should he written into the Land Compensation Bill—it may be a little late because that Bill finished its Committee stage this morning, though there is still the Report stage to come—to make it possible for compensation to be paid to people when the foundations of their houses are ruined by construction traffic. Does the Minister realise that both the A127 and the A13 at their eastern ends pass through the borough of Southend, a highly-populated borough, and that this will involve possible damage to the foundations of a great deal of residential property?

I hope that provision will be made to give assistance to people who are affected. If no assistance is given to people who will have to suffer from the effects of an airport they do not want, and until the Government have thought the thing through more clearly than they have done so far, I believe that we should refuse to give the Bill a Second Reading.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)

I have the greatest sympathy with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden). But the speech made by the Secretary of State for the Environment reminded me of the sort of speeches that we once used to hear about Concorde.

I believe that the Maplin project is most likely to be a stupendous waste of public money; that it could easily become a white elephant; that even if the airlines were forced to use it it would be inconvenient and uneconomic; that it would encourage further most undesirable industrial development in the South East; and that effective insurance against exceptional North Sea surges would push the cost far above the estimates which we have been given today.

Not surprisingly the Roskill Commission, which investigated the Maplin idea more thoroughly than anybody, rightly rejected it. Maplin notably suffers from the defect that we do not know what the technical and traffic conditions will be in the late 1980s and it cannot be made to work at all unless very high expenditure is incurred. I believe that what commonsense and prudence now demand is one or two more major runways at existing airports, which will enable further development in the late 1980s if they then prove to be necessary.

Everybody who has examined the problem seriously, impartially and thoroughly knows that there is a far better case for enlarging Stansted than for this immense Maplin project. On almost every single count Stansted is better than Maplin. There is an airport with one runway already at Stansted. The addition of another runway would cost barely one-tenth of the cost of Maplin. Far fewer people would be affected by noise in the Stansted area than in the larger Southend area, as everybody who has looked at the figures knows. Large parts of Essex would be saved from devastating motorways and, not least, runways would be provided which the airline passengers actually want to use. As the right. hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) said in a newspaper article—and I wholly agree with him—Maplin involves a greater total noise nuisance and destruction of homes than any other possible site.

In this controversy too many people have ignored one simple basic fact. It is this: that since the worst aircraft noise in the jet age is caused on take-off and since in the south-east of England the wind is in the south-west or the west for over 80 per cent. of the hours of the year, any airport on the East Coast must involve major noise if not over, but still very close to, inhabited areas. It so happens that in the case of Maplin, not in the immediate take-off zone but within the wider noise area, there is in the Southend-Shoeburyness district a population nearly double that of the area south-west of Stansted. When one allows for the motorways which we should have to have right across Essex and, incidentally, for the North Kent towns not very far away, the disturbance caused by Maplin would injure far more people than another runway at Stansted, though they would be poorer people with less influence in the House of Lords.

The public relations campaign that we had in 1967 against Stansted was not a spontaneous expression of local opinion. It was organised largely by a group of substantial landowners one of whom was simultaneously trying to sell some of the land in question to the British Airports Authority. The group spent £40,000 on the public inquiry and a further large sum in propaganda after it. According to statements made on the BBC's programme "Twenty-four Hours" on 20th March 1969, At one meeting three people gave £500 each and they would have given more if the organisers had not been so worried about the bad publicity of a millionaire image. Of the letters and postcards reaching the Board of Trade at that time, those against Stansted came mainly from W.1 and S.W.3 addresses. Those in favour came from Stansted. Harlow and Bishop's Stortford, including, the local trades council.

It is a somewhat discreditable episode in the history of the British Press that it was taken in so easily by this charade. I would be the last to suggest that the British Press is ever bribed. That is not the English way. But this controversy has reminded me at times of the classic lines You cannot bribe, cajole or twist, Thank God, the British journalist. But seeing what the man will do, Unbribed, there is no reason to. I am not the author of those lines but I think that they are apt.

What was the pressure exerted on the Roskill Commission to omit Stansted from its short list? The Times told us on 4th March 1969 that its inclusion would have been "emotive". At the same date the Financial Times said that its omission was "diplomatic". The British Airports Authority and the Board of Trade assumed that it was bound to be on the short list. The British Airports Authority was even told that it need not ask the commission to put it on because it was certain to be included. Yet it was omitted, and the commission's work was handicapped from the start. Thus handicapped, in my opinion the Roskill Commission did its very best. Faced with the resulting choice between Foulness and a South Midlands site for which there is a good deal to be said, it came down decisively against Foulness and in favour of Cublington.

Then we had another curious alliance between landed interests in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire opposed to Cublington and commercial interests anxious to develop Foulness—

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Epping)

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the point about Stansted, in fairness to my predecessor in this House I ought to say that he was one of those opposed to the Stansted project. I would never think of him as being in the pockets of wealthy landowners or any set of that kind. It happens that I disagree with him on this issue as on many others, but it is right to be fair to him. Incidentally, I have a house on the approach to Stansted too.

Mr. Jay

I never suggested that. I was recalling what happened.

According to The Times of 5th April 1971, the group resisting Cublington spent £50,000 to persuade the Roskill Commission that the airport should be built at Foulness and not at Cublington"— not just that it should not be built at Cublington but that it should be built at Foulness.

After the Roskill Commission's report, this group spent a great deal more, and the same article in The Times said that the pro-Foulness propaganda groups together spent "at least £700,000" to convince the public and Parliament that Foulness was the right solution.

At this point Sir John Howard enters the argument. According to the article in The Times that I have quoted, he was head of a civil engineering firm and, incidentally, a former chairman of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, though no doubt that is irrelevant. He happened to live near Thurleigh in Bedfordshire and he founded the Thames Estuary Development Company to promote the Maplin project. The Times says that Sir John first lighted on Foulness during the fight against Stansted, in which he was closely involved. He "lighted" on Foulness as it were by chance. His consortium, backed also by RTZ, John Mowlem and Shell, spent more than £500,000 in supporting the Foulness case. Much of the driving force in all this thus came not from people impressed with the merits of Foulness but from those who wanted to keep the airport away from other sites.

Here I return to the speech of the hon. Member for Southend, East. What was the opinion of more than 150,000 people living in the Southend area about this? That is for them and their representatives to say, and I am sure that we shall hear the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine)—

Sir Bernard Braine

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be accurate. There are 310,000 people living in the three constituencies bounded by the Thames and the Crouch who are affected by this proposal.

Mr. Jay

I always believe in understatements because they strengthen one's case. The hon. Gentleman has strengthened my case further. What were the opinions of those 300,000 persons—far more than live within 20 miles round Stansted, perhaps three times as many? I am sure that the hon. Member for Southend, East will not question this as a fact. But I understand that with the support of the leader of the Southend Corporation the corporation took a share in Sir John Howard's consortium, and the town clerk of Southend, according to The Times, became a director of it. Whether that was the best way of handling these matters, I have no doubt that all those concerned thought that they were acting in the best interests of Southend.

Sir S. McAdden

The right hon. Gentleman asked what were the opinions of the people of Southend. They were never consulted. This was a decision of the council to invest £100,000 of the ratepayers' money in Tedco. The council thought that it would make £6 million. Instead, it has lost the lot.

Mr. Jay

It is what I have always suspected to be the truth. I stated it rather diffidently, but the hon Member for Southend, East has confirmed it.

From the point of view of this House, the opinion of the Roskill Commission on Maplin is worth a good deal more than that of this consortium formed in the way that I have described.

I am afraid that what emerges from the story is that both the selection of Maplin and the omission of Stansted have been influenced far too much by the money spent on the commercial publicity and far too little by serious consideration of the public interest.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that it was propaganda and rich men who removed Stansted. Is it not a fact that after he, as President of the Board of Trade, had pushed for Stansted it was his right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) who put Stansted on one side? Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that his own Government were pushed by that group of sinister people whom he has just described? If so, does he not feel thoroughly ashamed?

Mr. Jay

The Roskill Commission was set up, and if the Under-Secretary had been listening he would know that I have already described that part of the story. Let me repeat one sentence for the hon. Gentleman's benefit. Unfortunately the merits of the report were greatly reduced by the fact that Stansted was omitted from the short list at the start.—[Interruption.] Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to carry on because I am able partially to agree with the Government. I cannot agree with those who say "Let us get away from the problem by putting the airport somewhere in the north of England."

Mr. Crosland

May I he allowed to set the record straight? The exclusion of Stansted from the short list of the Roskill Commission was nothing whatever to do with the Government The choice of the short list was done entirely by Roskill.

Mr. Douglas


Mr. Eldon Griffiths

It is unfair to prolong this. I did not suggest that. I simply made it perfectly plain that this had been put forward by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on the merits of Stansted when he was the responsible Minister. A change was then made at the Board of Trade and the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) came in. He made a different decision. He decided that Stansted should not be proceeded with but that a commission should be set up to re-examine the whole matter. In short, he threw down the decision that his right hon. Friend had previously made.

Mr. Jay

The hon. Gentleman is only trying to produce red herrings, and I think that the debate would get on better if he would keep quiet. I was coming to the point when I am able to agree in part with the senior Minister to whom the hon. Gentleman is responsible. We cannot, I fear, set the whole of this issue aside by saying "Let us put the airport somewhere in the North of England."

The information we have had from Roskill and all the other information that I have had simply does not support this. I agree that there can be some diversion of traffic. But why should we assume that people in the North or North-West of England like aircraft noise any more than those in the South East? Nor can it possibly be sensible to say that noise does not really matter as long as we put the airport somewhere where it is not needed. I cannot accept the argument in that simplified form. Nor can I agree with others who blithely say, as they seemed to have been saying in the last few weeks, that we do not need any more runway capacity in the South East over the next five to 10 years.

We do not know for sure what the demand for runway space will be 10 or 15 years hence. But it is almost certain that the demand will be a good deal greater than it is now. If we delay and do nothing, we shall lose valuable air traffic to the Continent. That is why I believe, setting aside all the pressures from vested interests, that the prudent and economic course now would be to complete the second runway at Gatwick which has always been contemplated and build one more full-scale runway at one-tenth of the cost of Maplin at the right place, where we already have an airport, namely Stansted. After that we should review the situation some years hence in the light of the technical and traffic information then available.

In that way we would avoid a vast gamble and probably much waste of public money, the diversion of new industry from development areas to the South East, the devastation of a wide area of Essex by motorways and of the Southend area by noise. We would also avoid a still further worsening of the housing situation in the South East. And as a minor benefit we would provide airport services which millions of passengers and the airlines would actually want to use.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. F. A. Burden (Gillingham)

I found the speeches of the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) and his right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) rather confusing. At this stage it might be as well firmly to establish that it was the last Government that set up the Roskill Commission. We must accept that they did so because they considered it was necessary to have more airport space. As I understand it, the terms of the Roskill Commission were to confirm this and to determine the need for a third London airport. There would have been no need for the Government to set up the commission unless their own investigations had made them feel that this was necessary.

The right hon. Member for Battersea, North made some implications about Stansted and the outside influences that could have been brought to bear on the Roskill Commission in turning down Stansted or in not putting it forward. This is an extraordinary argument. If it is true, and I am not suggesting that it is, it is odd that that group of eminent men set up to examine this project by the right hon. Gentleman's Government should now be accused of allowing their judgment to be influenced by external pressures. I believe that not only the last Government but practically everyone in the House over the years, certainly those of us who have been here for some time, have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to have a third London airport.

The Government's acceptance of that need was conveyed very clearly by the right hon. Member for Grimsby, who set up the Roskill inquiry and who as recently as 4th March 1971 said that most people thought there would be a need. He gave no evidence then that he had changed his mind. He later also said: a definite case has been made for some additional capacity…by the early or the middle 1980s."—[OFFCIAL REPORT, 4th March 1971; Vol. 812, c. 1923.] It was not five years ago or a decade ago when the right hon. Gentleman reaffirmed that necessity, but just two years ago. I find it strange that he should make the speech he did today without in any way saying why he had changed his mind since 1971.

Mr. Crouch

My hon. Friend has changed his mind.

Mr. Burden

That is true. I opposed Foulness and spoke strongly against it. I felt that there would be a considerable noise nuisance over my constituency and north-east Kent generally. That is one of the main reasons why Members representing Kent constituencies have taken exception to Foulness. I also felt that there would possibly be no industrial or social benefits accruing from the development for Kent and also that airlines objected; but there is no evidence that every airline in the world has made objections, as has been said today. That was a gross exaggeration. Perhaps BEA and BOAC have done so, but, as my right hon. and learned Friend pointed out, the only real objection that BEA had was that it was more than 10 miles from London. Anyone with any commonsense knows that it is not possible to place a new airfield complex within 10 miles of London.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Bird strikes.

Mr. Burden

I will come to that later. I have changed my mind and I am now in favour of Foulness. There is nothing wrong in my changing my mind. Indeed, I am in extremely good company in this august House in doing that. I can give some good reasons for changing my mind. In the first place, since the advent of the RB211 there has been a considerable reduction in engine noise. It is accepted by everyone that this will be progressive. Therefore, the inconvenience and the stress caused to people by this project will greatly diminish. And of course we must accept also that if we have an airport on the coast, such as Foulness, and if the aircraft take off over the sea and gain height over the sea—and this is when the incidence of noise is far greatest—this in itself is an excellent way of minimising the noise and inconvenience to the public as a whole.

Then, of course, there is the question about spin-off benefits from the airport and the complex—and this is the point—to Kent. At the time I objected so strongly to Foulness I had no idea that it was intended that the complex at Maplin should include a deep-water port. In my view this must improve and increase the importance of the port of Rochester and will certainly bring benefit to the Medway towns, and I believe that if the port of Rochester is more used and developed other parts of Kent will benefit as well.

I also think that it will help to improve communications between Essex and Kent, because I cannot believe that if this complex develops there will not be better communications—probably a bridge over the Thames connecting Kent and Essex, which will improve communications and facilities generally.

Then we come to the airline objections. My right hon. and learned Friend really put the whole position in a nutshell when he made the point that BEA would have no objection if the airport were within 10 miles of London. In other words, BEA is looking at this, quite naturally from a narrow point of view, what will suit it best, and from the point of view of the customer. It does not look at it from the point of view of people who might be involved because of the siting of the airfield; it looks at it purely and simply from the point of view of economics—what will best suit the airline. It wanted an inland airport but perhaps it does not consider to the same extent as others the environmental upheaval that would be caused by the establishment of a big new internal airport.

Surely the fact of the airport at Foulness being part of a complex that includes the newest, most up-to-date, modern deep-water seaport in Europe must also mean that it will create additional opportunities for the airlines. I believe that it will certainly have a considerable effect on the development of those airlines which use the airport for air-freighting which is bound to be generated there. We should not think only of the passenger use of aeroplanes, which I think we are inclined to do a little too much, perhaps far too much, because I believe that the tremendous growth in the years ahead will be in air-freighting. I believe that this is inescapable, inevitable and an extremely good thing in increasing our export trade. The fact that the seaport and the airport are together will help to expand this very considerably. I repeat, therefore, that we must look at the proposal to site the third London airport at Foulness not in isolation—and I think we have been rather inclined to do that this afternoon—but rather as part of a great new complex that is essential to the air and maritime future of this country and, indeed, to its economic viability.

No one, I feel sure, will deny that the days of the London Docks as a great terminal of shipborne trade are fast disappearing. Surely all would accept that Maplin, with its capability of taking ships of up to 500,000 tons, is the place for its resurrection. This new complex will not make huge demands on vast areas of agricultural land or require the destruction of homes and probably whole village communities as it would if it were sited inland. It will require 10,000 to 12,000 acres for the airport originally. It will require about 2,000 to 2,500 acres for the seaport. The total area for the complex ultimately will be about 16,000 acres, including that which is required for commercial establishments and residential areas. But the first requirement for the initial stages of the development of the airport will be 6,800 acres at the first stage, which is 1980 to 1985, and the remainder as needed. At worst the land for the airport will be existing saltings; the remainder will be land reclaimed from the sea, which could never justify, in my view, the cost of recovery for agricultural purposes, if indeed it could ever be desalinated to make it croppable for many years.

Coastal airfields are not new. The bird problem is not new. There are coastal airfields throughout the world. Let us not exaggerate the situation at Maplin. There seems to be an impression that all the birds that now come to Maplin from time to time will come there after the conditions that have been suitable for them for many years have changed. Of course the establishment of the airfield, the port and the conurbation, including residences and the rest, will in many cases destroy the bird habitats at Maplin. We must regret this; but when it comes to a question of whether it is better that birds should come there or that it should be used for the benefit of human beings, in order to ease the pressure upon them and promote the economy of the country, I am very sorry but I say reluctantly that human interests must take preference over that of the birds.

Sir Bernard Braine

Foulness, although not Maplin, is in my constituency. The word is old English for "place of birds" and the birds have been there in vast quantities not for a few years but for tens of thousands of years, for aeons. I hope, therefore, that my hon. Friend will not make light of the problem.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am told that that is the hon. Member's fourth intervention. I must ask for short, snappy speeches if the 20-odd speakers on that side and the many on the other side are to be called.

Mr. Burden

I shall not answer that beyond saying that if that argument were accepted there would be no human progress anywhere.

It is obvious that we must have communications for opening up this area. If we had an airport anywhere, the communications would be needed for that airport only; here they will be used for a complex which includes a great deep-water port, and this must surely be beneficial because, whatever hon. Gentlemen may say, it is necessary for us to have a deepwater port. And the road and rail connections will serve two great undertakings and not one only.

Following your wishes, Mr. Speaker, I make this final point. The removal of the Port of London—and this is essential—will mean that considerable acres of land in London will be available for housing where it is very much needed and there will be a gross benefit and advantage. My right hon. and learned Friend pointed out that Stansted would possibly close down. That, too, would be a good thing, because it would release land internally, agricultural and residential land that is now taken up by an airfield. This too, I think, we should all applaud.

Of course we are all greatly concerned to preserve the environment. I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will at every stage of this development consult all those who will be affected, including the Kent and Essex authorities, to ensure that throughout the development the environment is preserved so as to allow people to live a reasonable and decent life without the creation of new stresses and strains on their way of life. I shall go into the Lobby in favour of the Bill. I think that the Government had to make up their minds and were right to do so. I believe that on balance Foulness is the right place for the third London airport.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

I am afraid that I cannot be in fashion and change my mind. I have always been convinced, for good reasons, that there is great need for a third London airport. After looking carefully at the possibilities, I have always been of the view that of all the available sites for the sort of development necessary, Foulness is the best. That is still my view, and I must speak and act in the light of my conviction tonight. My reasons for reaching such a conclusion are too complex for me to develop in great detail now, but I will mention one or two.

It has been implied that perhaps changes which have taken place in the last two years call into question the very need for a third London airport. It has not been spelled out but that is the suggestion. It is implied that the need is perhaps not so great now as it was and that with all the technological changes which have taken place we should delay a decision further, have yet another investigation and get all the facts placed before us again. No other subject can have been examined in so much detail already as this one has. If it needs still further examination, we could never come to a conclusion about anything. There comes a time when a Government, of whichever party, must reach a conclusion, and those of us who believe that conclusion to be correct have a duty to support it.

Those of us representing constituencies which are overflown by aircraft using Heathrow see the need much more clearly than other people do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) says that the need for a third London airport will not really arise until the 1980s. The question is: whose need? What need? Who determines whether the need is there or not? The people of London who are being overflown know that the need has been there for a long time. The need was recognised by the Wilson Committee as long ago as 1963. It examined in detail the whole question of noise, and in paragraph 306 of its report said about airport noise: we are agreed that the noise to which many people near London (Heathrow) Airport are subjected is more than they can reasonably be expected to tolerate. That was in 1963. The figures which the committee worked on were of movements totalling 145,000 in 1962. Jet movements—and jet aircraft are the chief source of noise—totalled 52,000. The Wilson Committee in 1963 thought that the noice then was intolerable for the people of London.

What is the position now? Last year, the number of movements had increased from the 1963 figure to 273,490, which means that they are moving towards the half million mark which we are told would be reached by the 1980s. The figures support that forecast. There was an increase in 1972 of over 2 per cent. over the 1971 figures, which admittedly is a fairly low increase. However, the increase in freight aircraft movements is rapid, so much so that an attempt to reduce the movements at Heathrow proved abortive. The Secretary of State of the day announced a total ban on night flights. Hitherto, there had been a limitation to 3,500. What happened? There were 4,500 night flights. That was the result of a total ban.

The pressure is so great on Heathrow that safety considerations are beginning to be overridden. It is a question of the safety not only of those in the air but of those on the ground as well. Those of us with constituents in the area have a duty to draw the attention of the House and of my right hon. Friend to this factor.

The terms of reference of the Roskill Commission—I am sure that my right hon. Friend would agree with this—related to the timing of the need for a third London airport. The need has been accepted not only by the Wilson Committee in 1963 but in the Labour Government's White Paper of 1967. It was established in that White Paper beyond reasonable doubt that the need existed. Even if the situation had not deteriorated still further, even if it did not now deteriorate further, as many of us believe it will, even if the situation from the point of view of overflying had remained static, there would still be great need for the construction of a third London airport.

I believe that it should have been done 10 years ago. The third London airport should be in existence now, if we take into consideration not only the overflown population but the needs of the people who want to come here from abroad and the movement of goods in and out of the country. The need is there. It is useless to suggest that there is a case for yet another committee to examine the position. Everyone who lives near Heathrow knows that there is a need.

There have been at Heathrow a number of near misses in recent years. I fear that unless some action is taken to relieve Heathrow from the number of landings taking place in the summer months, inevitably at some stage one of these near misses will not be a miss at all. The pressure on Heathrow must be reduced. The inferno of noise in summer is so great that it is not only people who are disturbed in their homes. Hospitals and schools cannot function properly in some parts of the glide path area.

There was a letter in The Times recently which I thought made a very good point. It was a Councillor Mrs. Jenkins of the Greater London Council. [Laughter.] I did not know that the letter was going to be in The Times but I found myself warmly in agreement with it—I had better be, perhaps. Mrs. Jenkins said: Present rumblings indicate that the tolerance of over-flown Londoners, should their environment be assaulted yet more drastically, will one day give way and there will be a revolt on the part of this particular silent majority. Londoners on the whole have been very long-suffering indeed. We often hear pleas on behalf of those who are to be afflicted with noise, people who have not yet got it. What about the suffering already being endured? We have a responsibility to relieve that.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby, having assumed the need for a third London airport—an assumption which I suggest is fully justified by the facts—simply asked Roskill to tell him at which site it ought to be. My right hon. Friend has since seemed to criticise Roskill for not going outside his terms of reference.

My right hon. Friend has given the reasons why he changed his mind about the question of urgency. He seemed to think that the rest of us would change our minds with him. But I have been trying to tell the House why I feel unable to do that. But as my right hon. Friend recedes from office he gets more and more carefree. On 4th March 1971 he was rather near responsibility. He said when quoting the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution: large numbers of the British public have reached the limits of their tolerance, and demand that they should be protected from this sort of disturbance, especially noise from aircraft and traffic. He also said: I believe that, if anything, that is an understatement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March 1971; Vol. 812, c. 1926.] So he was certainly with us then.

But it is not sufficient to be with us in theory. One has to be with us in practice. One has to recognise that one cannot talk about the need for a third London airport and then say that the need is not proved. If one has a serious concern about noise, that must be one of the factors to be taken into consideration in assessing the need. Therefore, I say to my right hon. Friend that, on the one hand, one cannot say that one recognises the need for a third London airport and then, on the other hand, say that that need will not arise until 1980. The need is either there or not there. I believe that the evidence is that it is there now. Those are some of the factors which have led me to the conclusion that the Bill must be supported.

Having said that, however, I notice, with some relief, that the Bill has a Title which will enable very substantial amendments to be made in Committee without infringing that Title. Some hon. Members on the Government benches may care to note that. In its Title the Bill does not even say that it sets up the Maplin authority. It simply provides for the reclamation from the sea of certain land. It does not say how, or anything else. Therefore, those of us who are in principle in favour of a third London airport being built at Maplin but have grave doubts about some aspects of the Bill will be able to vote for Second Reading and attempt to emasculate in Committee some of the parts of the Bill which we dislike.

Therefore, I do not wish to elaborate on these points now. If I were to do that, Mr. Speaker, I should strain your patience. I leave the matter there. It is perfectly possible to vote for Second Reading and to attempt to remove objectionable parts of the Bill in Committee or later—that is, for those hon. Members who become members of the Committee, and not necessarily myself.

Those are a few, and only a few, of the points I was going to make. I shall now shed one or two other extremely good points I would have made.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sure that the hon. Member will not mind my saying that he has now been speaking for 12 minutes.

Mr. Jenkins

That is precisely why, Mr. Speaker, I am having to shed my notes and to say that I have over-strained my ration by two minutes. I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will allow me half a minute to shed my points gracefully and decently. They were points which the House will be sad to have missed.

Finally, in my view there should have been a free vote on this issue. Unhappily, there is not. But my long-stated position makes it necessary for me to free myself. I regret doing that as I am a great believer in the party system, and, whenever I can, I like to support my party. However, there are occasions when one cannot, and it is the strength of our party system that on those occasions one must do.

6.34 p.m.

Sir Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)

Like my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden), who made such an excellent speech earlier in the debate, I find it ironic that so many hon. Members are now expressing doubts about the wisdom of siting the third London airport at Foulness, or even having a third London airport at all, nearly two years after the weight of opinion in both Houses of Parliament caused the Government to reject Roskill's recommendation of an inland site, to opt for a coastal site and so to choose Foulness.

I can recall saying in the debate on 4th March 1971 that if it were right to choose a coastal site, Foulness was not the best place and that, situated as it was at the end of a narrow peninsula bounded by the Thames and the Crouch, where ovet 310,000 people have their homes, it would present serious planning difficulties unless the most careful controls were used, would put an intolerable strain upon my constituents. Neither my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East nor I received any sympathy or support at that time.

I can recall saying, too, that if Roskill had come up with the wrong answers, it was because the Commission had been given the wrong terms of reference, namely, to inquire into the need for the timing of a four-runway airport.

The commission then put the cart before the horse. It started to examine four-runway sites in advance of considering the timing. Any proper examination of the timing would have revealed that the third runway would not be required at least until 1990 and the fourth runway would not be required, if at all, until after the year 2000. My conclusion in 1971 was that on that basis no decision need be made until a clear national policy for airports had been evolved; there was need for deeper study. That plea was ignored.

I also remember suggesting to the Government that they should have a look at Dungeness. I made that suggestion because I had made a careful reconnaissance and knew in advance that the British Airports Authority which did not want to go to Foulness, would have accepted a two-runway airport at Dungeness. That suggestion was met with a deafening silence.

Because of the terms of reference, the Roskill Comission looked at 78 potential four-runway sites, and after a few months rejected 74 of them. It then spent two years looking at four sites, only one of which was a coastal site.

Mr. Crosland

Just to get the matter about the terms of reference for Roskill out of the way, as I was responsible for them, they began by saying to consider the timing of the need for a four-runway London airport. In a supplementary question on the day I made that announcement, I was asked whether Roskill could find that there was no need for a four-runway airport, to which I replied, "Yes".

Sir Bernard Braine

Yes, indeed, but Roskill did not so find. I am not blaming anyone. I am stating the facts.

So it was because of the pressure from the majority in both Houses that the Government decided—rightly on environmental grounds—to reject the inland site, and they were driven remorselessly and wrongly in my opinion, to accept the only coastal site anyone had looked at in any depth.

A cynic might observe that this is often how history is made. After long delays a sort of decision is arrived at, and those who take it press on, regardless of whether a better decision might have been made, for fear of lengthening the delay still further, hoping that in the end it will work out all right.

The whole question turns, therefore, on whether there is still a need today, in 1973, for a four-runway airport located within, say, 80 miles of London, and whether this need must be met without further delay.

I concede that if the Government can show convincingly that there is such a need, whatever changes in aircraft technology have taken place or may lie ahead, and that this will not inhibit the development of a coherent airports strategy for the country as a whole—in short, that it is in the national interest to go to Foulness or Maplin as the Government now prefer to call it—they should get the Bill.

So be it. But my own position is unchanged. If the project is held to be in the national interest, with all the upheaval and discomfort that this must mean for my constituents and those of my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East, we are surely entitled to ask that the nation meets the cost both of cushioning the impact on our environment and of ensuring that no extra burden falls on our local ratepayers at any stage of the enterprise.

I represent one of the largest and fastest growing constituencies in the land. Even without Maplin, South-East Essex would grow. Our environment is under assault already from many directions. I should like to give two illustrations. We already have too many oil refineries too close to residential population for health and safety. The Government have already authorised one oil company to build a refinery on Canvey Island at one end of my constituency where over 28,000 of my constituents have their homes, with a further 49,000 in neighbouring Benfleet, despite vigorous local opposition. They are currently examining an application from another oil company to establish a second refinery on Canvey Island. The vast majority of my constituents, the local authorities and I are completely opposed to this sort of development close to residential areas. We are waiting to see whether my right hon. and learned Friend cares for our environment.

Then again, our main trunk roads are inadequate to handle existing traffic, let alone that which the construction of an airport/seaport complex at Maplin must engender. It is true that my right hon. and learned Friend agrees that improvements are necessary, but at one bottleneck at Rayleigh his officers are proposing a flyover which will ruin the homes and peace of mind of scores of my constituents. At a recent public inquiry the local authority pressed for an underpass in order to minimise the nuisance. Here again we are waiting to see whether my right hon. and learned Friend wants these road improvements on the cheap or whether he really cares for the environment.

These two examples are not irrelevant to what I have to say about the Bill. The new airport/seaport complex is to be linked to London by a new motorway which must of necessity cut through the narrow and crowded South-East Essex peninsula bounded by the Thames and the Crouch. Thousands of my constituents are waiting with apprehension to learn where the line of route will run. Over and over again I have said that it must go north of existing or proposed urban development. Perhaps in the end it will, yet we have this Bill before us before any firm assurance on that score can be given to my constituents. While such anxieties are unresolved I cannot support the Bill.

There are many such anxieties. Thus, before Parliament has given any approval to the project, the Port of London Authority is telling us that its proposed seaport will enable it to handle 500,000-ton oil tankers. For what purpose? Is it to supply an ever-growing number of oil refineries in the Thames Estuary? What follows if there is to be no limit to these installations? My right hon. and learned Friend this afternoon ruled out primary industry at Maplin itself. There is to be no petrochemical complex, no ore-treatment plant, no steelworks. But my right hon. and learned Friend confirmed that the Government are going to reclaim a much larger area than was originally intended. In Clause 2(5) the Bill gives them the powers. That is a breach of the understanding for which we in Essex have pressed all along, namely that industrial development will not be permitted because, apart from the implications for regional policy, it will add to the congestion of the South-East Essex hinterland.

The Bill authorises massive public expenditure on the reclamation of land from the sea but nowhere does it mention the amount of land to be reclaimed. What guarantee have we in South-East Essex that land will not be reclaimed for purposes other than an airport/seaport? What has been said this afternoon confirms our fears.

I have spoken of the problem of communications. My understanding is that the Government do not intend to provide a new motorway in advance of opening the seaport and only just before the first runway becomes operational. That simply is not good enough. Ministers have minimised the problem when replying to representations which my hon. Friend and I have made on the subject. They have argued that the extra traffic engendered by the construction of the airport/seaport will all be carried by sea or rail. Do they really believe that? It is imperative that our overloaded road system should be supplemented by a new motorway as soon as possible.

I come now to something of a more human character. Inevitably the Maplin project will not only change the face of my constituency but will affect the lives of my constituents in diverse ways. For some the prospect is bleak. The project is likely to lead to the complete uprooting of the Foulness Island community. It has not been said before in this place, but Foulness is not the bleak, desolate waste which the media have tried to portray. The land there is vastly more productive than the land at Cublington. One Foulness farmer, Mr. Percy Belton, recently won first prize in the world championship for milled wheat and received his award at the Toronto World Fair. Unfortunately all the islanders, including these superb farmers, are tenants, and as matters stand compensation would be quite inadequate to enable them to set up similar businesses anywhere else in the country. What is to be done about these people?

I am referred to the Land Compensation Bill, but that Bill does not meet their particular circumstances. I therefore ask for specific assurances that special and generous provision will be made for the Foulness islanders as and when they are required to leave their homes. One could go on. According to the Bill our fishermen will be compensated for loss of livelihood where this was carried on in an area of reclamation. But what about those who fish in the dredged channels and deepened areas? The Bill does not cover them. Indeed, as my hon. Friend said, there are many such questions to which the Bill does not provide answers. It is remarkable not for what it contains but for what it does not contain.

Just before Christmas, the Essex County Council and the Essex River Authority were so concerned that they were preparing to petition against the Bill at an appropriate stage. I understand however, that in the last week or two, very late in the day, both those authorities have withdrawn their objections as a result of concessions, assurances and undertakings given by Ministers. What are those assurances and why have they not been written into the Bill? We are entitled to know. These are not idle questions. They touch on the interests, livelihood and safety of large numbers of the people I represent.

Clause 17, for example, provides that the liability of the proposed development authority for any damage done or for additional expenses or liabilities incurred as a result of siltation, scouring or alteration of the tidal flow shall be limited to a period of 10 years from the completion of the reclamation. I wonder how many hon. Members have read those words and understood what they could mean for Essex ratepayers. Current hydrological knowledge suggests that there is no danger in respect of flooding or weakening of sea defences. If so, why is this provision in the Bill? If, however, that knowledge is imperfect and if it were found after 10 years that the reclamation, which is to be on a very large scale, caused the tides in the rivers Crouch, Roach and even the Thames to rise higher than expected, resulting in a need to raise the level of the river walls, the cost would fall on our local ratepayers under the coast protection provisions. That would be grossly unfair and is totally unacceptable to our people.

From the beginning of the Maplin project I have warned over and over again that we are peculiarly sensitive to flooding problems in South-East Essex. The twentieth anniversary of the East Coast flood disaster took place only a few days ago. Both Foulness Island at one end of my constituency and Canvey Island at the other were both completely inundated and people lost their lives. Consequently we do not take these matters lightly. My right hon. and learned Friend did not go into detail about representation on the new authority when he spoke this afternoon. There is nothing in the Bill about this but if my right hon. and learned Friend wishes to underpin local confidence not only the new regional water authority but the Essex County Council, and possibly the Rochford Rural District Council, should certainly be represented on the Maplin Development Authority.

I have thought carefully about my position in regard to the Bill. Many of my constituents are opposed to the Maplin project and this is understandable. A great many others are not opposed to it and think that on balance it could bring great benefits. It may well do so. I have never closed my mind to the possibility of a Maplin development, properly controlled from the beginning, bringing substantial benefits in a decade or so to the people of South-East Essex. But before I give my consent to the Bill I want to be assured that the benefits will not be bought at too high a price, both environmentally and financially, for my constituents.

The only expert investigation into the scheme so far was carried out by the Roskill Commission. It said: 13.44 Our conclusion may be expressed in this way. A third London airport must be able to succeed as an airport. To this end, it must meet the needs of those whom it is designed to serve. But an airport can succeed as an airport and yet fail in some wider social purpose…. An airport cannot serve any social purpose unless it first succeeds as an airport…. Neither in regional planning terms nor in environmental terms can be ailing airport attain the desired results. … We cannot therefore be confident that the advantage claimed for Foulness will be achieved with that degree of certainty which justifies its recommendation. It is in every sense a relatively expensive project with relatively uncertain prospects of success. Those words are a warning to the House and to the nation as a whole. But think of the consequences for my constituents. They are the people who will bear the brunt of anything that goes wrong. I am still waiting to hear what has happened since the Roskill Report to make the Government confident that the commission's objections to Foulness are invalid.

My conclusion is, therefore, that nothing will be lost by asking the CAA to reappraise the project in the light of the latest information about airport needs. If that reappraisal endorses the Government's view, that will be the end of the matter for most of us and the Government will get the credit for having paused for reflection. But for me it will mean that I must continue to press for safeguards for my constituents. I do not see them in the Bill. For that reason I shall vote against it.

6.53 p.m.

Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)

I must say at the outset that my colleagues and I intend to support the Opposition amendment for the reason admirably encapsulated in the conclusion of the hon. Gentleman's speech. We believe that postponement at this stage would be the right course.

In the Concise Oxford Dictionary "foulness" is described as "disgusting wickedness", and I cannot help but think that it is a very apt description and possibly one of the reasons why the Government have adopted the preferential name of Maplin. We have all been looking back at what was said in the debate on 4th March 1971. I said: Our conclusion is that if there is to be a new third airport in the South-East region it should be at a coastal site, either Foulness or…some other site."—[OFFICIAL REPORT 4th March 1971; Vol. 812, c 1959.] I then went on in the next paragraph to turn to the important word "if". I devoted the rest of my speech to a consideration of whether we needed a third London airport. I am delighted that in the debate today so many hon. Members have come to question that fundamental issue rather than debate the merits and demerits of individual sites on the assumption that a four-runway airport is needed in the London area.

I wish to repeat one or two of the things I said on that occasion in the light of new events. It is a tragedy that we have not had a comprehensive national airports policy. The effects of this are seen not only in the South-East but in Scotland. Prestwick, an under-used international airport, is not linked to the domestic network. Some years ago Abbotsinch Airport was built nearby. Last week came the announcement of a major new development at Turnhouse which will result in yet more massive expenditure on an airport centre when it would have made sense both for Scotland and for the United Kingdom as a whole to have had one major international and domestic airport situated about mid-way between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Such an airport would have been used.

I could not understand the reasoning by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) who argued that unless we provided more airport capacity in the London area we should quickly lose valuable air traffic to the Continent, and yet in the immediately preceding sentence he was arguing that no one would use an international airport in the North. That is a nonsense. Even with its limitations Prestwick is now providing daily services to 44 capitals in the world and is bringing to the surrounding area new industry, sometimes of an international nature, which is concerned only to be near the international air communications network and which is only too anxious to come to areas which have an attractive environment and none of the problems of South-East England.

I would have been happier about the Bill if it had been set in the context of decision by the Government about a national airports policy. It is doubtful whether it is wise from the aviation point of view to have a third London airport. I am one of those many Members who commute regularly by aeroplane every week and I know that on occasions adverse weather conditions can close both Heathrow and Gatwick at the same time, causing total chaos not only to the domestic air network but to the international network as well. To have a third airport in the same weather region seems madness. There should be greater development of international airport facilities elsewhere in the country.

Mr. Ronald Bell (Buckinghamshire, South)rose——

Mr. Steel

I am anxious to make a brief speech, and I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will forgive me if I do not give way.

The other factor which has changed considerably since our debate in 1971 is the development and use of wide-bodied aircraft. There is no doubt that the accelerated programme for the introduction of these aircraft is enabling the passenger flow to take place at about two or three times the present rate. As the Civil Aviation Authority is only today beginning to work out what this means in terms of passenger requirements for the future, it seems one of the greatest single reasons why the Government should postpone the introduction of the Bill and allow reconsideration to take place. Development of these aircraft with their greater capacity and quieter engines places a completely new weight of argument on the side of those who have asserted that there is no proven need for a new airport of this size in the London area.

I mentioned in my speech in 1971 the future development of high-speed land communications, including the advanced passenger train and the hovertrain. Only the other day I saw that British Rail and Tracked Hovercraft Limited were in consultation on this very matter. I predict that in about 10 years' time when the advanced passenger train is operating there will be a tremendous reduction in domestic aircraft flights. Naturally, it will be more attractive—certainly in England, although I leave the Scottish situation aside—to travel on high-speed trains from city centre to city centre rather than to use airacraft. Therefore, there will be a reduction in demand for domestic aircraft movements.

Finally, I believe that we should consider this issue not only as some hon. Members have rightly done, as a major local problem affecting their constituents, but as a national question because we shall be devoting considerable national resources to the project. Other parts of the country are crying out for major public investment and they are not getting it. Hon. Members remarked in the public expenditure debate only this week how important it was to order priorities in public investment. Do we consider that this project is a priority in an over-heated part of the country's economy, requiring the pumping in of £825 million by 1990? It is investment in an already affluent part of the country. As the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) said, at a time when we have dispatched Mr. George Thomson to Brussels to try to sort out a sensible European regional policy it is incumbent upon us to get our priorities right in regional development first, and help those parts of the country which are crying out for investment, employment and the development of communications of this kind. I look back at what happened in the Concorde debate. We now know that the Concorde project has cost us about £1,000 million.

Mr. Crouch

£500 million.

Mr. Steel

The total combined French and British costs have been £1,000 million, and this country's share £500 million.

If we look back to 21st December 1962 when the matter was debated, we find the estimate for a development cost then given in the House was about £75 or £85 million. There has been a tremendous escalation in costs since then. I fear we shall be making the same mistake here.

I think this is a public expenditure mistake, a communications blunder and an environmental disaster. Above all, I think it is a regional planning catastrophe, and it ought to be withdrawn.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Toby Jessel (Twickenham)

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) said that no new airport was needed for London. I wish he had been able to show rather more concern for the 2 million people who live within earshot of London Airport and suffer from the noise from the aircraft, and also for many more people who live within earshot of Heathrow and Gatwick. He spoke of the costs of the Maplin project, as have other hon. Members speaking in the debate. I believe we have had far too little talk of the social costs in terms of the suffering involved from aircraft noise round the existing airports.

Aircraft noise causes a tremendous amount of suffering to people in all sorts of circumstances—in their houses, in their gardens, in schools and in hospitals. It is a tremendous burden on a great many people, and some people actually fall ill as a result of it. I regard it as a major social evil that we should do everything in our power to mitigate.

I believe that includes the sensible suggestion of having a major airport for London on the coast, because then, and only then, not only can all night flights be routed through the airport—there has already been a reduction in the number of night jet take-offs from Heathrow, but I do not see how that can be sustained permanently in future unless we have a third airport—but I believe all the noisiest aircraft ought to be routed compulsorily through an airport by the sea where they can take off and land over the sea instead of over residential areas. By compelling the noisiest aircraft to use the coastal airport we can make sure that only the quieter ones are allowed to use Heathrow.

As we have heard in the debate, a number of quieter types of aircraft are coming into use. I believe we should, by the use of controls, give the airlines and the aircraft manufacturers incentives to produce and to use these quieter types of aircraft.

I very much hope the House will support the Government and stand firm, as did the great majority of hon. Members who spoke on 4th March 1971. On that day not only did the overwhelming majority of hon. Members acknowledge the need for a third London airport, but they recognised that it should be on the coast and sited at what is now known as Maplin.

7.03 p.m.

Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu (Huddersfield, East)

Like the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel), the two hon. Members whose constituents are particularly affected by the Bill are worried at the amount of noise that their own constituents suffer from aircraft.

I was very much impressed by the environmental arguments that the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine) put forward, but he did not mention one environmental worry that I would have were I in his shoes.

If the Bill goes through—and I am opposed to it—there will be a tremendous amount of infilling in the Foulness area. I would be worried where the contractors would get that infilling from, because I suspect that unless something is done they will be allowed to go in for borrow pits near at hand. As a result the constituency of the hon. Member for Essex, South-East will be desecrated not only by this wretched airport but by the contractors getting stuff to fill in the sea.

Would the Minister consider making a general direction about the filling that is used? We have pit heaps all over the country. If the Minister would specify that the infilling was to be pit heaps and not borrow pits the Government would save money because they would not have to give grants for landscaping. If borrow pits were used, the amenities of the country would to that extent be diminished. Two hundred million tons out of the borrow pits of this country into the sea would be needed to reclaim the land.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Is the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) aware that the Thames Estuary is the biggest, if not the second biggest, source of sea-won gravel in the whole country. Indeed, this would be a very well-balanced operation.

Mr. Mallalieu

There are various sources from which filling could come, and it is most desirable to use pit heaps, but what should not be used is borrow tips involving exacavation from existing land.

The hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden)—and Southend is a jolly good airport—mentioned another possible snag about Maplin, namely, the Shoeburyness Range, but he did not mention that the range has been used for a very long time. Many projectiles have been fired there and not all of them have exploded. We are all worried about birdstrikes, but if part of this range is to be excavated or dealt with in any way in this development the contractors digging round the excavators will have an extremely interesting time. We must have an assurance from the Minister that this site has been thoroughly and properly cleared.

Finally, I beg for another examination. I am not, God help me, asking for a further public inquiry about what is the right site. Those inquiries have become a public bore, like Mr. Ross McWhirter or Lord Shawcross. We want to more of it. They simply mean that the squirearchy is mobilised, there is a tremendous row and then the Government of the day make their decision on the basis of perceived noise decibels. The loudest clamour is exempted and the poor area that for one reason or another can make only a little squeak has the airport imposed on it. The inquiry should rather be into the question of whether there is a need.

All the traffic arguments in favour of that have already been rehearsed. We do not know really what the traffic will be like. The Minister in opening the debate brushed aside the various developments in short take-off and landing. Five years ago those developments looked extremely promising. If they are not so promising today—and I do not believe that—I would like to know why. Is it that these projects in which we had a world lead are not being pressed with sufficient energy by the Government of the day?

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) mentioned the hovertrain. I am horrified to hear rumours that the Government may decide not to go ahead with that.

Insufficient drive is being shown by the Government and industry in the development of VTOL and STOL aircraft. These aircraft would have a considerable effect on the traffic densities of existing airports. The same applies to quiet engines. Any engine manufacturer who is able to produce not the quieter engine, which is the RB211, but the stage beyond that, the quiet engine, will scoop the world. If instead of spending all this money, the initial £1,000 million, upon this airport, a fraction of that amount were spent upon research into and development of the quiet engine the Government would be doing a very much better job.

For these reasons and other reasons that have already been advanced, I beg the Government to look again and to set up an inquiry, not necessarily by the CAA. I do not see why the House of Commons should not do it. Eventually, we have to make the decision; let us get our own facts for a change.

7.11 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

I have listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) said. I do not agree with very much of it. He is labouring under a misconception about the way in which the reclamation work will be done. The port will be dug out and all the sand and gravel from that will be dumped to reclaim the airport. There will be no question of importing vast amounts of gravel and sand through Essex. The hon. Gentleman has a point on the difficulty of clearing the range. No one suggests that this enormous development can be done without difficulty, and the hon. Gentleman was right to raise that point.

From reading what has been said in the newspapers in the last day or two on this subject, and from listening to some of the speeches this afternoon, one might conclude that the Government had leapt into this decision almost overnight as an act of capricious frivolity. But what are the facts? The need for this airport was identified first in 1953 in Cmnd. 8902. In 1960 the Estimates Committee recommended a study of Stansted. In 1964 there was the Stansted decision by an interdepartmental committee. In 1966 there was Cmnd. 3259 recommending Stansted. In 1968 the Roskill inquiry was set up—to his great credit the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) was responsible for that—and in 1970 Roskill reported. After 20 years, not a square yard of runway. During that period the French have built their second and nearly completed their third Paris airport. Incidentally, the French are also busy designing four major airports in the Soviet Union. They are the recognised experts in Europe—not us. But here, not one square yard—just talk, talk, talk.

As far as I am able to interpret them, the arguments against Maplin are these. First there is the environmental argument, which is the oddest of all when one looks at the debates since Roskill and remembers the tremendous minority report by Professor Buchanan, who is, after all, about our best-known planner and who took his minority decision for Maplin bravely, for environmental reasons, and who was widely praised for it in the country as a whole. Maplin is a balanced decision. It was not the choice of the aviation interests. Of course surface access produces environmental problems, but so would surface access to any other new airport wherever it was situated.

Let me deal briefly with bird strike. There are two aspects about birds, the safety one and the environmental one. On the environmental aspect, there are the visiting birds and the residents, the latter being gulls and the most important category in the former being geese. The opinion of the Infestation Control Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which reported on this for Roskill was that the geese would go away once the eel grass was covered up. The laboratory spent a long time studying this. To my own knowledge, on the Cliffe Marshes in the estuary, which I know quite well, there is a flock of about 1,000 whitefront geese who breed in Russia and come to the European coasts in winter. They have moved in here from the Dutch coast steadily over the last 10 years because of reclamation work there. That is a solid example of the way in which birds will move if disturbed in this way. As for the residents, the gulls, they are mainly scavengers and the answer is to keep the airport clean if possible, and there is no reason why it should not be.

As to safety, it is worth briefly quoting paragraph 8/42 of the Roskill Report: Our conclusion is that Foulness does carry a greater potential risk than the inland sites for those on board aircraft although it involves a lesser potential risk for those on the ground. The size of the difference in risk is not great. However much we abhor the prospect of disaster the evidence does not suggest that we should be justified in allowing this Foulness disadvantage to exert a major influence on our choice of site. That is not to be disregarded or discarded lightly.

The second argument is need. Does the need exist? Two years ago every serious authority was convinced that it did. Have matters changed? I will not rehearse the arguments which we have heard several times already. Of course we do not need the airport if we are prepared to allow the unlimited growth of existing airports. That is the inescapable implication of the Opposition amendment, the first part of which, implying that the Leader of the Opposition and his hon. Friends care so much for those living around airports, is specious to a degree.

I would remind the House of Motion No. 208 which was tabled in my name and the names of more than 220 right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, on 18th December 1970, as follows: This House, while recognising the need for a third London airport, is totally opposed to the choice of any inland site or of the extension of any existing airport for this purpose; and strongly advocates the selection of Foulness or any other suitable coastal site. During the two years in which our Committee, comprising hon. Members on both sides of the House, studied this question we were more than impressed with the representations made by the resistance organisations from Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and elsewhere. I am told by the British Airports Authority that if the development of these airports is held up as a result of Maplin going ahead, the aircraft movements and throughput of passengers at Maplin will be bigger than at present at Heathrow by the mid-1980s. If we do not go ahead with Maplin, where will all that traffic go? Various answers have been produced by hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition benches. The right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) wants another runway here and another runway there at Stansted. Does he suppose that this can be done without all the infrastructure involved and without making the situation vastly worse than it is today?

The third argument concerns the overheating of the economy in the South East and the development of an airport in the regions rather than here. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, 85 per cent. of the passengers who will use this airport go to or come from London. More than half of them are visitors from abroad. That pattern cannot be denied. To send those passengers to the Midlands or further is impracticable. We are concerned with the need for a London airport, and we cannot overlook that.

That is not to say that there is no problem with regard to an airports policy generally. There is a great need for this, and I hope that the Government will pay attention to it. The Midlands in particular is in a considerable muddle. But the figures show that to be a separate matter. What we are concerned with and the matter on which we shall go into the Lobbies tonight is the third London airport.

On the question of wide-bodied jets and VTOL and STOL, Roskill said: Our conclusion from the evidence is that we cannot base our recommendation on assumptions that STOL and VTOL will bring about an absolute reduction in pressure on conventional airport capacity until the end of the next decade at the earliest. It would be nice to give Hawker Siddeley £500 million for VTO. Nobody said this afternoon how much the right hon. Member for Grimsby would hand over to Hawker Siddeley for this purpose. But we still have to cope with this increased traffic meanwhile. The right hon. Gentleman wants another inquiry. How long is the study of VTO to go on before he makes up his mind? I have been connected with the aviation industry for a long time and I know that that sort of prediction is about as certain as picking the first three in the Gold Cup. I do not think it can be advanced now as a serious argument.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham)

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that if the wide-bodied aircraft continues to be introduced internationally at the present rate, he has the answer to the question?

Mr. Hastings

It does not pay to give way too much in these circumstances. The hon. Gentleman is right. It is perfectly true and well known that there is a trend towards wide-bodied aircraft and that they make for an increased traffic flow and will continue to do so. But that does not solve the problem because, apart from the arguments of my right hon. and learned Friend earlier, the same number of passengers or more—and we know it will be more—will arrive at our airports. They have to be processed through and surface access will have to be improved.

Mr. Russell Kerr

That is a different argument.

Mr. Hastings

It is not a different argument; it is precisely the same argument. More passengers will arrive and, alas, as there is no serious possibility of improving surface access to existing London airports, they will be jammed, wide-bodied jets or no.

On the question of cost, figures have been repeated by my right hon. and learned Friend but I would like to put one point to the House. To hear some people talk one would think that this £1,000 million, or whatever it is, is a total write-off. In fact there is only one component among the four which I would cite as the airport, the seaport, the rail and motorway and, last, the buildings, homes, houses and factories. Of these there is only one element which is non-revenue-raising and that is the motorway, unless we want to put a toll on it. All the others will produce revenue. The airport will pay. Heathrow pays handsomely; in fact many airlines think it makes too much money.

Mr. Adley

It is much nearer London.

Mr. Hastings

So if aircraft are to fly in to Maplin they will have to pay. The seaport will not only make money but should vastly improve our export facilities and, with a deeper port, render our exports cheaper. The railway will pay—[Interruption.] An hon. Gentleman has doubts, but it is assumed that at least the railway will try to make a profit from trains to Foulness. People living in the houses and firms concerned with the factories will either pay rent or buy. There is no question of this money being written off. I reject these arguments for the reasons I have tried briefly to give this afternoon.

If, however, the arguments were accepted by the House, if this afternoon the House rejects the Maplin project, that is not to say that there would be any unanimity among those who oppose the Bill, because there is not. There are numbers and numbers of different solutions, alternatives and suggestions. We know well that the right hon. Member for Grimsby wants two runways, though we do not know where, in any one of 12 or so places. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley) wants, or wanted, Severnside. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) wanted it at Liverpool. My hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) wanted it at Manchester, I think. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling) wanted the airport at a place called Thorne Waste, somewhere in the West Riding—a sad place it sounded and I hope something can be done about it. But not one of these places was on the first 29 listed by Roskill. Nevertheless they are all advocated in this House.

If the Government are defeated on this, no serious alternative whatsoever will be established as a result of this debate and the weary search will simply be renewed—which is what the right hon. Gentleman wants—without any time limit. Presumably, therefore, another solution will be brought forward in due course and again we shall hear about what everyone wants and again it may be thrown out. We shall talk and talk and meanwhile the problem and the suffering increases. That is what our Committee was concerned about two years ago.

One last matter. Let us hear no more, if I may make so bold as to ask this, of the criticisms of some hon. Members, and outside this place as well, that those of us who strongly resisted the choice of an inland site two years ago did so without thought to the solution and that we were perfectly happy provided we could solve our own problem by letting the thing be dumped, so to speak, at Foulness. I believe the House will accept that I would not have advocated as consistently as I have over the years what I advocate now, the Maplin solution, unless I were absolutely convinced of its importance to the nation as a whole. In October 1970 I took the chair at a two-day conference of the Productivity Council concerned with the deep-water port alone. The arguments there ought to be enough to convince one that something has to be done on reclamation in the Thames Estuary if we are to compete any longer in the world as a sea trading nation. The Maplin development could transform our flagging economy. I believe that it is as important as that. It could make us again a world centre of communications and of physical trade, as we used to be.

Finally, a word about land reclamation. It is well known that we are now losing 60,000 acres of land a year to development. We are a small island. I hear nothing but demands over and over again that more land must be made available. Where will it end? What is wrong with at least trying to reclaim land from the sea? There exists a scheme—there may be more—for the reclamation not only of areas with which we are concerned this afternoon but of the whole of the Thames Estuary—the equivalent of a new county.

I say quite seriously that I would like to see a Ministry or a Department of Land Reclamation. The fact that the land is to be won from the sea for this project is something that seems to have been forgotten this afternoon, because it has been little mentioned.

It seems to me that that is one of the main merits of the scheme as a whole. Of course the problems are considerable. I have every sympathy with the case so ably and strongly made by my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine) with regard to the problems of his constituents but I have no doubt this is the best solution for the nation. I think it is a vast opportunity and that it would be crazy to miss it. If it is rejected now, it will reflect no discredit whatsoever on the Government but it will make the House of Commons look both irresponsible and ridiculous.

7.25 p.m.

Mr. Dick Leonard (Romford)

I doubt whether I was the only hon. Member who was deeply shocked by the facile way in which the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) produced evidence to suggest that the birds will fly away from Maplin if there is this develop- ment. He may not regard Brent geese as an invaluable part of our national heritage, but there are many people inside and outside this House who do, and they would regard them as not the least price we would have to pay if this development went ahead.

Once a year at the beginning of the cricket season all eyes are focused on the town of Worcester where the visiting team customarily makes its debut. This week the attention of the House is also focused on Worcester, or, more precisely, on the debris left behind by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker) at the end of his calamitous term of office at the Department of the Environment. On Monday we debated his Water Bill, a monument of surrender to commercial interests and the negation of democratic control. On Tuesday we debated the tragic results of his housing policy. Today we are debating the most expensive and least justifiable of the legacies which he has bequeathed to his somewhat careworn successor.

The Maplin Development Bill has all the hallmarks of a genuine Walker product. It is trendy, expensively packaged and irrelevant. It is also slow to mature, leaving its author plenty of time to make a quick getaway and to produce a handy alibi long before its full disastrous effects are felt. The right hon. Gentleman has stayed away this afternoon, which is all we should expect from a man who might have been the originator of Worcester Sauce.

The Bill we are discussing is one which should never have been brought before the House. It seeks to fill a need that has not been effectively established, the need for a third major London airport, irrespective of the site which should be chosen for it. That need was certainly not established by the Roskill Commission. Under its terms of reference it could have considered the need but instead it chose to take it largely as read. That need was not established by the right hon. Member for Worcester when he announced to the House the decision to build an airport at Maplin. This afternoon the Secretary of State for the Environment took some trouble to argue the case but I have sensed that very few hon. Members were convinced by any of the arguments he put forward. On the contrary, the impression I have of the House this afternoon is that it was much more impressed by the magisterial speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), which has demonstrated with awesome clarity the flimsy nature of the case for a third London airport in the foreseeable future.

If there were a real need for a third London airport, all of us recognise that there would be benefits for some and that sacrifices would have to be made by others. If the benefits clearly outweighed the sacrifices, I think that the House would decide to go ahead but would want to be satisfied that the sacrifices really were necessary and were mitigated to the greatest possible degree.

My constituents are becoming painfully aware that some of them will have to bear the sacrifices demanded by the Bill, that it is their environment which will suffer, and that possibly many thousands of them will be uprooted from their homes to make way for access routes which will be constructed between London and the new airport.

If the case for a third London airport had been made, they still would not like it. They would argue, and they would rightly expect me to argue on their behalf, that the airport was being placed in the wrong location, and that the burden should fall on the shoulders of others, not on theirs.

In this, they would have a very strong argument to put forward. The Roskill Commission, which looked thoroughly into the question of alternative sites, decided by six votes to one that Maplin was the wrong place. The Roskill Report indicated that not one but two motorways, as well as a rail link, would need to be constructed.

In paragraph 13.23 it stated: But a second new motorway will be required sooner in the case of Foulness than in the case of both Cublington and Thurleigh. The roads required in the south Essex corridor are likely to do damage to urban areas on a scale which will not occur in the corridors between London and either of the inland sites". In paragraph 10.59, in what has been described as a masterly understatement, the commission adds: We believe that the existence of two new motorways must add to the problems of creat- ing a satisfactory urban environment in south Essex. The House has not been told exactly where these motorways will run. It may be that my constituents' fears are in some degree unjustified. But a glance at the map would indicate that any feasible route is likely to run through the London borough of Havering, of which my constituency forms part. Some idea of what this would mean has been given in a publication by the Essex Friends of the Earth, which I believe has been sent to all hon. Members within the last few days. This excellent publication—the Maplin manifesto—states: If the main motorway and the railway run together, as seems probable"— and as the Secretary of State indicated this afternoon is the Government's intention— they will require a swathe of land 200 yards wide. Great news if you happen to have shares in the bulldozer business, but not if you live in Essex and recognise the plight of the spaghetti junction sufferers. In our view, Spaghetti Junction's proportions will appear fairly modest when the schemes for linking the Maplin motorway are fully unveiled. There is still time to stop it, but only just. I was, in the main, delighted by the speeches made today by the hon. Members for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) and Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine). They are both robust characters. I was glad to be batting for their side rather than for the opposing team, as it were. However, one thing which horrified me was the suggestion by the hon. Member for Southend, East that the motorway should be built first—that acres of housing should be ripped down to construct the motorway before work began on the airport. If that happened there would be tremendous destruction in my constituency for no benefit whatsoever.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman must bear the responsibility for scaring his constituents unnecessarily. What evidence has he that the motorway is to go through his constituency or that thousands of houses are to be knocked down? He is making a statement. What evidence has he to support it?

Mr. Leonard

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the map of London and show me how a motorway could be constructed between the projected site of Maplin airport and London without passing through the London borough of Havering I should be delighted. I did not say that it would definitely go through my constituency. I said it was virtually certain to go through the London borough of Havering. If the Under-Secretary suggests that I am misinformed about that and that somehow a route will be found which will not go through the London borough of Havering, I should be delighted, and I give him the opportunity of telling me.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The hon. Gentleman is making a number of statements which no doubt he intends should be fully reported in his local newspapers. However, he is succeeding only in unnecessarily alarming a lot of people in that area with no evidence on which to base his claim.

Mr. Leonard

I suggest that the Bill is even more premature if the hon. Gentleman is not able to inform the House this afternoon what is intended, even in the most vague way. If he feels confident to say that I am mistaken in suggesting that the fears of my constituents may be justified, which is all I was suggesting, I will give way to him again.

When the Under-Secretary chose to interrupt I was saying that if the motorways are to be constructed in advance of the airport, as was suggested by the hon. Member for Southend, East, it would be the worst of all possible outcomes. It would mean destruction on a considerable scale without any assurance that the project would ever reach fruition.

In fighting the proposal to build a new airport at Maplin, my constituents and others in metropolitan and rural Essex and in Kent are no doubt behaving in the same way as vigilant citizens anywhere else would behave if they felt threatened. If the need for an airport had been established, it would then be the duty of the Government and of this House to weigh the competing claims and objections of different groups of citizens. This would clearly be a heavy and difficult responsibility for us to discharge, but it would be our responsibility to undertake it.

That is not what the House is being asked to do this afternoon. My constituents are not being asked to make a sacrifice—a necessary sacrifice—for an objective which has been universally accepted and the case for which has been proved up to the hilt. They are being asked to make a quite unnecessary sacrifice for an objective which remains unproven—a sacrifice, in effect, to the vanity of the right hon. Member for Worcester. They will have none of it, and I should be failing in my duty to them tonight if I did not go into the Lobby to vote against this grotesque proposal.

7.37 p.m.

Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)

It is unfortunate that my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping who is to wind up tonight has abandoned the debate, because the remarks which he well knows I particularly wish to address on the subject of bird ingestion he will receive at second hand, and probably inaccurately.

One would think from the manner in which the Secretary of State acclaimed the Roskill Report that he would end by accepting its recommendations. Of course, he did no such thing.

I remind the House what Roskill said about his terms of reference in paragraph 2.12: Right at the start of our work we were enjoined by some, for example, the Confederation of British Industry, to produce a national airports plan. Others later pointed out that the choice between the four sites could not be settled in the absence of a national airports plan. It was no part of our task as defined in the terms of reference to devise such a plan and we have resolutely resisted any attempt to do so". I hope that no one will allow himself by the passage of time to believe that Roskill examined the national air transport requirements and the best means of meeting them. That was not in the commission's terms of reference, and it did not attempt to do it.

However, some people may believe that the minority report, of one, signed by Professor Buchanan, which recommended Foulness, broke through this restriction and took a look at the national requirements as a whole. But that is not what Professor Buchanan says. In paragraph 39 of his minority report he says: As I have already said, I have never felt greatly hampered by the apparent lack of a regional planning policy or by the fact that Dr. Burns was able to report only late in our proceedings. But I do believe we have been very seriously handicapped by the complete lack of any overall airports policy. Our terms of reference were to recommend a site to cater for 'the growth of traffic at existing airports serving the London area'. Neither did Buchanan endeavour to assess the needs of the nation in terms of air transport and to devise the best possible means of meeting those needs. In other words, neither of those recommendations was focused on a national need. That is the first reason why the reasoned amendment recommends itself to me. It calls for the body set up by the Government to study the national air transport requirements to be the controlling body for air safety and that, among other things, the Civil Aviation Authority should conduct such a survey. That is an utterly reasonable proposition.

I shall address the burden of my remarks to the question of birdstrike. I asked the Secretary of State—he ducked the question and did not reply to it—whether he accepted or rejected the findings of the research team which were accepted by the entire Roskill Commission, including Professor Keith-Lucas, who, it may be known to the House, is a professor of aircraft design at the Cranfield Institute of Technology. Professor Keith-Lucas, along with the commission, accepted this statement: The risk of bird flight incidents would still be three times greater at Foulness than at an inland site, even with an elaborate bird management and control programme. Do not let it be said that that estimate of three times the probability assumes that everything known to man was not done to control the birdstrike problem. It was expressly said that it was.

It has been said that BEA's only objection was the distance of Foulness from central London. That is not true. Paragraph 8.36 at page 89, referring to BEA, says: The airline did not agree that birdstrike gave no hazard to life or limb; two incidents at Sydney Airport. Australia, early in 1970 involving larger passenger jet aircraft could easily have been serious. In each case ingestion of birds caused loss of power on take-off and disaster was only narrowly averted. In summary the commission said: The dividing line between minor incidents and a fatal accident can be small as the experiences at Sydney have shown. There remains the unchallenged fact that the bird population is greater at Foulness than at an inland site. No relationship has been detected between a number of birds and birdstrike incidents, whether fatal or otherwise. Nevertheless, the intuitive view must be that the risk of incidents is greater where there are large numbers of birds. The commission balefully continues: There can be no doubt, therefore, that there must be greater risk of a major disaster due to birdstrike at Foulness than at an inland site. The loss of life would be appalling and the public reaction would be one of horror, the more so if that disaster involved an aircraft of the size of a Boeing 747. That is exactly what it very possibly will involve in future because that is an aircraft which is widely in service. It concludes: The efforts of the witnesses called by the three groups of county councils to persuade us that this risk could be entirely eliminated by means of an extraordinary battery of bird-scaring weapons were not successful. That decision was based on the best technical assessment there. Before I turn to the mathematics of probability I will add another comment, in case it should be thought irrelevant, from paragraph 8.38, headed "Safety—the Commission's view". It says: Yet any consideration of safety problems implicitly involves the assessment of risk … The risk of birdstrike has already been assessed by the commission as three times as much at Foulness as at an inland site. The risk is proportionate to the intake area of the engines concerned. That is the area exposed to a random flock of birds. Therefore, all other things being equal, which they are not, twice the area of engine exposed means a similar increase in probability. With twice the number of engines there is also that increase in probability. It does not matter whether the area is distributed through a multiplicity of engines or in one or two large ones; it is the area which controls the probability of contact with a random flock of birds. Random is exactly what they are.

If we compare a Trident, which is a representative aircraft now in service with BEA—incidentally, the Trident has three engines hence its name—with the Douglas DC10, which will be a representative aircraft when Foulness comes into use, if it does, the DC10 has 7.29 times the area of intake exposed and the Boeing 747 has 7.8 times the area of the intake exposed. Incidentally, the latter has four engines rather than three.

If we take those two factors and multiply them by three, because Roskill has shown that Foulness has three times the probability of birdstrike than an inland site, and scale the 747 up in the ratio of three to four because it has four engines compared with the Trident's three, we find that the probability of birdstrike at Foulness, compared with the Trident using an inland site, is 31.2 times the probability in the case of the Boeing 747 and 21.87 times the probability for a Douglas DC10.

The meaning of those figures can be brought home in this way. If we suppose that there is a one in a million chance for a Trident, for a DC.10 the odds would fall from one in a million to one in 46,000. The odds for a Boeing 747 would fall from one in a million to one in 32,000. While many of us might be prepared to pull the blanket up over our head a bit further and forget about a one in a million chance, a one in 32,000 chance is rather different. That is the order of possibility which we are up against.

It is no good denying the arithmetic. If there is three times the probability at a coastal site—that is what Roskill says about Foulness—compared with an inland site, we must multiply that by the increase in area. But that is not all. My right hon. Friend referred to a letter he sent me, which incidentally he has not laid on the Table, which rightly draws attention to the fact that the configuration of the engines can also affect probability. Indeed it can. The configuration of the engines in the coming generation of large aircraft makes them more and not less prone to birdstrike. Whereas the Trident has one dorsal engine and the two others in the tail, which are the less vulnerable positions from the point of view of birdstrike, the Boeing 747 has them in the most vulnerable position known, strung out under the wings. The A300B European Airbus has one under each wing, and the DC10 has one under each wing and one dorsal engine. That is not progressing towards safety.

Mr. Tebbit

Would my hon. Friend care to mention the TriStar?

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Yes, indeed. It has a dorsal engine and one engine under each wing, so it is severely exposed compared with a Trident.

Just in case my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping, who is to wind up the debate, is given tech- nical advice that these very large engines are not liable to damage by birdstrike, I have some news for him. On 30th October last year, taking off from Tulsa, a DC10 struck a flock of birds. It suffered a total loss of power in both its wing-mounted engines and a 30 per cent. loss of power in the dorsal engine. As the report so wisely said, there was a hair's breadth from disaster, the aircraft just being able to stagger back on to the runway again. Therefore, I hope that we shall not hear any nonsense about the generation of turbo-fan engines now being introduced not being vulnerable to birdstrike. They are.

Many Conservative Members have heard the latest technical advice on the matter from the manufacturers, who have confirmed in the hearing of a number of my hon. Friends who were with me that there is no way to make aero-engines invulnerable to birdstrike. At the same time, the best authority on the behaviour of birds that we could get assured us that there was no known way of keeping them away from the runways, as Roskill reported.

Moreover, it is under storm conditions, when take-off and landing are most hazardous anyway, that the behaviour of the birds becomes least predictable, when they tend to fly below 20 feet, so that they cannot even be picked up on the radar, when they are attracted by the airfield landing lights, which is just where they are not wanted.

We are invited to commit £1,000 million or more—who knows?—and the resources that that sum means to an airport that may have to be abandoned. Does anyone doubt that if a thousand people are killed in three accidents to wide-bodied aircraft we should not have to abandon the airport? Of course we should. A city of 250,000 people established in order that the people living in it should be employed in serving the airport will then be without its economic raison d'être. We shall not have the airfield capacity elsewhere, capacity that my right hon. and learned Friend has convincingly shown we shall need. We shall be £1,000 million down, and have 250,000 people without their livelihood. There will be all the damage done in between by the motorway built to serve an airport that has had to be abandoned. We shall then even be late in providing the airport elsewhere.

I shall not adumbrate on any other factors, because I believe it to be financial and economic irresponsibility to an unacceptable degree to commit resources of this magnitude to a project of this kind when no one can say whether or not it will have to be abandoned.

Ministers have told us that they have research in progress which will lead to a report in two years' time on whether a way of deflecting the birds has yet been discovered—two years after we have been asked to commit the enormous sum of money I have mentioned. Sanity demands that we should ask the CAA to examine the entire national requirements and the means by which they can be met. What we must do is to ensure that when we take a decision we can live with it, bearing in mind birdstrike. I am convinced that nobody can give that assurance on the basis of knowledge today.

7.55 p.m.

Mr. Michael Barnes (Brentford and Chiswick)

The onus in the debate is not on those of us who are in favour of Maplin to prove the need for it all over again. The case for Maplin was made and was not seriously questioned until comparatively recently. That case still stands. The onus is on the opponents to prove their case, and it has not been proved sufficiently in the debate so far.

I should like briefly to mention some of the arguments in favour of Maplin that are the most important. The first is the likely increase in the number of aircraft movements at Heathrow. Even allowing for the bigger aircraft that we are likely to get, the latest estimates show that the number of movements at Heathrow is likely to increase by about 36 per cent. by 1980. An answer to a Question I asked on 4th December last year, reported in HANSARD at c. 886, estimated that the movements would go up from 254,000 last March to 325,000 by 1980.

It is important to remember that bigger aircraft do not automatically reduce the number of aircraft movements, because there are many routes on which the most important factor is the frequency of the service and not the number of passengers that can be packed into one aircraft.

The second point is aircraft noise. It is now being said that the new generation of jets coming along are quieter. So they are, but they are not that much quieter, and with the kind of increase in aircraft movements at Heathrow that we shall have by 1980 life will be absolutely intolerable for people living under the glide path, the approach to Heathrow.

Even allowing for the quieter aircraft that are coming along, we must remember that many of the noisiest aeroplanes we have now are still coming off the production line. I think, for example, of Boeing 707s and Tridents. They can have a life of 20 years or more. Therefore, many of the noisy aircraft that we have now and are still getting will be around for a very long time.

There is also the question of Concorde, which will make a hell of a lot of noise on take-off and landing. The assurances that the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping has tried to give the House have been very unconvincing. He has used very evasive language when answering questions about the amount of noise Concorde will make on take-off and landing. It is vital that Concorde should be restricted to a coastal airport—Maplin—at the earliest possible date.

The arguments about STOL and VTOL have been presented far too optimistically by the opponents of Maplin. It will be much longer than they suggest before STOL and VTOL are practical possibilities. But that is exactly the kind of argument the opponents of Maplin could have argued much more closely than they have. It is the kind of technical matter that the whole argument is all about.

I was very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) referred to the question of safety. He spoke of the number of near misses in the air in recent years and rightly said that as traffic increases at Heathrow obviously the possibility of mid-air collisions increases as well. The consequences of a mid-air collision over the densely-populated area of West London round Heathrow are terrifying. Therefore, there is a strong argument on safety grounds for keeping the number of movements at Heathrow to a reasonable level, and this can only be done by having a third London airport.

I turn to the environmental argument. The argument in the terms of environmental planning is entirely in favour of Maplin. The ideal situation from this point of view is that Britain's major airport of the future should be on a coastal site and especially on a coastal site where the prevailing winds are such that most of the landings will take place in a westerly direction—in other words, the long low approach will be over the sea. For all those reasons there is no doubt in my mind that the balance of argument is still very much in favour of Maplin and that we need Maplin as soon as we can get it.

The opponents of Maplin have not proved their case. It is an easy and attractive argument to say "Why spend all this money on an airport when it could be spent on houses, hospitals and schools?" But the arguments in relation to Maplin are highly technical and complicated. They involve aircraft movements, NNI contours, and so on. If those arguments for Maplin are to be countered, it must be by similar arguments involving technical matters. One cannot counter those technical arguments by general arguments of an emotive nature such as many of those which we have heard in this debate.

It is easy to picture Concorde and Maplin as two enormously expensive white elephants. It is a pity that Concorde has run into trouble at a time when we are discussing Maplin since this has added to the tendency of many people outside the House, as well as by hon. Members, to lump the two matters together and to regard them both as white elephants. They are different projects and it is a mistake to compare them.

Finally, I wish to refer to some of the comments which have been made by the hon. Member for Heston and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe). I do not refer to comments he has made in this debate, because he was present in the Chamber only briefly earlier in the day. I refer to his speeches in my constituency and his constituency, and to the comments he made on the radio this morning. His main theme was that the Labour Party has taken a cynical attitude on this subject. He said that the Labour Party was dragooning Members into the Division Lobby. This is absolute nonsense and the hon. Gentleman must know it. The Labour Party's attitude is not cynical. There are arguments which can be put against Maplin and they have been put extremely ably this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland). I happen to differ from my right hon. Friend and to take the other view. I consider that the arguments in which I believe are stronger than those in which he believes, but there is no question of Labour taking a cynical view. We have taken a relaxed attitude, because Labour has only a two-line Whip. The views of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney and my own views are respected and understood and there is no question of dragooning anybody into the Lobby. For my own part I have no intention of voting against the Bill because, for the reasons I have given, I am in favour of a third London airport at Maplin.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

Before I call the next Member, I must inform the House that the Chair finds itself in a desperate situation in trying to call all hon. Members who wish to take part in this debate. Therefore I would ask hon. Members to follow the fine example set by the hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) in an admirably short speech, and to try to keep their remarks even shorter. If that is done, I shall do my best to call every hon. Member who wishes to speak.

8.7 p.m.

Mr. David Crouch (Canterbury)

In view of your remarks, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall forgo the pleasantries with which I intended to begin my speech.

If I were to give a title to my remarks, I would select the phrase, "Why the rush?". I shall quote from the report of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries in March 1971, of which I was a member. We examined in that Committee the need for a national airports policy, and in paragraph 36 and 37 of our report we said, The Department of Trade and Industry had hoped that the Roskill Commission would, in effect, produce the south-eastern part of a national plan. The Commission, however, regarded this as being beyond their terms of reference and limited themselves to considering the best site for the Third London Airport. The situation appears to be that, because the formulation of a national plan would take much time and skill, and because neither the Department nor any other body is yet preparing itself to undertake such a task, the decision on the siting of a Third Airport will be taken before there is a national plan. This, when it is prepared, will have to be built round the existing fact of the Third Airport. That puts this debate in context. I am not saying that the Government should not be allowed to have their Bill, but that there is a case for giving a little more time. We need an expenditure pause. I am not asking that the matter should go into Committee and stay there for ages, but the speeches which have been made in this debate for and against the Bill suggest that there is a great deal of untrodden ground. There is a changed aeronautical situation and there are new factors in the Bill which affect regional policy.

The Bill proposes more than I originally thought would be provided two years ago when I was considering Foulness as the third London airport. The Bill proposes to set up a port to vie in size and scale with Rotterdam. It proposes an industrial complex which, we have been assured by the Government Front Bench, will be a limited complex and will be considered by a Select Committee. I am not satisfied by that alone because there is no word in the Bill to say that there will not grow up in the South-East of England on the shores of Essex and Kent an industrial complex which will be attracted by the biggest magnet ever created in the SouthEast—probably the largest seaport and airport in Britain, if not in Europe. Such a magnet can only tempt the movement of industrial investment away from other regions.

I cannot believe that it has support, backed by knowledge resulting from a deep study, in one area of the Department of Trade and Industry; namely, the area of industrial development headed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway), who courageously introduced the Industry Act and has given generous treatment to the regions to re-vitalise and resuscitate those areas which have taken so long to come to life again. But here we are considering provision to provide an airport and seaport which will disturb the balance of regional planning. Such is the magnitude of that change that we must pause to consider it against all the other legisla- tion which has been forced through Parliament in the last two years to try to get the country on its feet. This may be what we need.

I have never tried to say that we should not have a third London airport. I have always felt it my duty to ignore to some extent the views of my constituents—and I live in the area—and to consider my national duty. I have always felt that as a trading nation we must make proper provision for the carriage of both people—and this involves tourism and business travel—and freight. Today, more and more air travel will be used for this purpose.

I have never attempted to suggest that the need for an extra airport, either nationally or in the South-East, to serve London should be filled by having an inland site. It is difficult to wish a new site on any area. I feel that the Government should have given us more than one day for consideration of this important matter. I am not satisfied that this should be treated as a hybrid Bill for further examination in the form of evidence from witnesses. I should like a pause so that there can be a study in depth and so that some of the problems brought forward by this debate can be looked at by experts and reported to Parliament in the proper way.

In what I thought was a very interesting but disturbing series of revelations, my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) referred to the problem of birdstrikes. During the war I was involved in a birdstrike. I was flying in a bomber which struck a bird as it was coming into land at an airport in India. It was a twin-engine bomber. The aircraft was badly shaken, with the windscreen smashed. It was almost out of control. We landed safely. But, as my hon. Friend said, take-off and landing are the most critical moments in flying. Some months after my own experience I lost two Royal Air Force colleagues who struck a similar bird over India. It was a kite-hawk. The plane crashed instantly from 1,500 feet and there was no recovery. Both were killed. Birdstrikes are not unknown, and we cannot dismiss them as being of little significance.

Are the Government still certain that we should embark upon this colossal expenditure? Are they certain that they have all the facts? Are they certain that all the questions that we have raised do not disturb them enough for them to say "We shall pause"? At a time when we are considering restriction in one way or another and are drawing in our belts, surely it would not be wrong for the Government to pause. Maplin may be a great white elephant. It may be an enormous mistake economically and environmentally. I have the feeling that perhaps it will not be and that it will succeed. But I want it looked at. Having said I think that it might succeed, it is not enough for a Minister to say that it may succeed. The Government have to be convinced that it will. This country cannot afford a great white elephant.

I quote once again from the man who has been quoted today. I refer, of course, to Sir Colin Buchanan, who wrote the minority report. He has been described as the one out of seven members of the commission who recommended Foulness. However, we must see what else he said about a national airport policy. I quote from paragraph 40 of his minority report: … I see there are some 17 millions in the south-cast region of England with London as a main centre of influence; and in the central regions … stretching from Liverpool through Manchester, Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester to Birmingham there are sonic 18 millions …". In paragraph 41 he said: I would think that on either count a good case could be argued first for locating a new airport in an area where it will help to create equality of wealth and opportunity, and secondly for ensuring it does not tend to concentrate still more activities in the London area to the possible impoverishment of the rest of the country. But this reasoning I think a case could be developed for not putting the so-called third London airport in the south-east at all, but for locating it in the central regions. That is the man who is said to have recommended Foulness. However, he tried to consider the problem as a whole. He may have thought Foulness unattractive, as I do. But I believe that we need more time to consider all the implications of the airport, the seaport and the industrial development which would grow whether the Government liked it or not. It would grow and probably it would make us very rich in the South-East. I do not want to deny my constituents the opportunity. However, the view from Whitstable and Herne Bay will not be what it is today. It will be the view of a new Teesside on the Thames Estuary.

I feel that there are pressures working on the Government to get on with the project in too great a hurry. The pressures are not coming from the national airlines or from the British Airports Authority. I do not believe that they are coming from the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department concerned with airports and airlines. Here is an expenditure of £1,000 million. Surely it is worth an up-to-date study. A Second Reading and a Standing Committee are not enough for me. There is a great deal of uncertainty about this decision. The experts do not agree. The professors do not agree. The Roskill Commission did not agree. Sir Colin Buchanan was not sure. Parliament has a duty to put a restraining hand on the executive in the nicest possible way.

8.16 p.m.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield (Nuneaton)

I cannot help but take up briefly the argument of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) about where the real pressure is coming from.

When one comes to think about it, we are talking about what is probably the largest capital expenditure project which any Government has discussed in this country this century. That is the magnitude of it. Yet the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings), who is no longer in the Chamber, said that we had been discussing it for the past 20 years. Now that we have the precedent of the Concorde before us, I am glad that we have been discussing it all that time and that we have not done anything about it.

It must have occurred to right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House—and I hope that the point has got home to the Treasury Bench—that during the 20 years that we have been discussing the project and even since the Roskill Commission was set up in 1968 a great deal has changed. I venture to suggest that the feasibility of quieter engine technology being a success has come in since the Roskill Commission reported. What is more, the feasibility and the reality of the advanced passenger train has become much more definite. We have progressed a great deal since Roskill reported, and if the Government still insist on basing their conclusions on the Roskill Report, I believe that Roskill is already out of date.

A recruiting theme from the Treasury Bench and from other right hon. and hon. Members on both sides who have spoken in favour of Maplin is the insistence that everything must bow before modern technology. Just as some people argue that every single thing has to bow before the car, it now seems that there are right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House who are prepared to argue that everything must bow before the aeroplane. I question that. Just as we seriously question the access of the car to our city centres, I believe that it is about time that we began to question the access of the aeroplane as well.

The forecasts which we have heard from right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House are staggering. If we are to believe the figures given by Ed Mishan of the London School of Economics, we are discussing 294 million passenger flights by the year 2000. What kind of country will this be? Must we have this incredible bowing-down to the illogical march of mad technology?

I also find the public expenditure argument staggering. We are not talking about just another airport. We are talking about a four-runway airport, at least 10 terminal buildings, a four-lane motorway, a broad corridor through the lives and homes of thousands of people, and a brand new jet city of 250,000 people.

Is no one considering the inflationary consequences of all this? Is no one considering the opportunity cost of doing all this? Of how many houses, schools and hospitals are we depriving ourselves? Even Buchanan in his wildest economic moments has at least recognised the concept of opportunity cost. It is about time that the Government recognised it. Even if we go ahead with this project in the South-East the opportunity cost may be the possibility of having the construction industry doing nothing else for at least the next 25 years.

I do not accept the passenger progression and the flight progression which have been suggested as being largely inevitable. Apart from the devastating regional imbalance which any airport in this part of the country would create, I do not accept that it must all be concentrated on London.

Why can we not start using differential pricing policies to get aeroplanes out of London? Why cannot we think about a much increased use of our regional airports, for example, for domestic flights, flights to Ireland and the Continent? Why cannot we differentiate in our pricing policy? Calculations made by Professor Bromhead of Bristol University suggest that the flights using London Airport could be reduced by at least 50 per cent. if we used the advanced passenger train and operated a differential pricing policy. One of the BEA planning officials, Mr. Graham, has calculated that on the basis of using differential pricing and with BEA operating jumbos by 1985 the company would need no more slots in the Heathrow flight movement programme than would be needed in 1975.

The Government have to give much more serious consideration to diversification of flights, differential pricing policies and the precise effect of the new generation of jumbos just coming into operation. Apart from that it must be borne in mind that over the next 20 years 60 per cent. of total flight movements in and out of the country will be nonscheduled flight movements; in other words, inclusive tours and charters.

These are the people to whom time matters least. They do not want to fly from central London. They do not mind going to Southampton or to Luton. They do not mind going to the regions. It is precisely these people who will be in the majority in future. If we are to believe the figures produced by Mr. Kenneth Wilkinson—who has had some close connection with BEA and who ought to know what he is talking about—during a lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society in Swindon on 20th October 1971, about 80 per cent. of the flights in and out of Heathrow are shorthaul flights. This is precisely the bulk of the traffic which is most susceptible to VTOL. STOL and RTOL calculations about which we have heard so much today.

He has put forward the feasible proposition that by 1978 it would be possible to have 200-seater RTOL planes and that by 1983 it would be possible to have 300-seater QRTOL planes. He claims that if we take a 200-mile standard block it would be possible to operate RTOL by 1980 and the late 1970s at only 2 per cent. more than conventional aeroplane costs. He has done a calculation which shows that by 1990 if we assume that we bring RTOL in, if we assume that movements continue at Heathrow, and that Northolt is brought into operation, it would be possible to cater for the increase in passengers, even on existing demand forecasts, by using RTOL.

He has also calculated that by 1990 we could bring the 35 NNI contour down from 200 to 40 square miles. That kind of noise reduction is possible, even with increased passenger flow. Reducing the NNI contour in that way would exclude Putney, Hammersmith and many of the constituencies mentioned this afternoon.

Apart from that, if we concentrate on RTOL we take time off the flight. Maplin can have only one effect and that would be to put time on to the flight. This is the sort of thing we must seriously consider. By concentrating on reduced take-off and landing and quiet engine technology we can help the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) far more, because if we go ahead with Maplin we shall not help his constituents. How will we help his constituents or the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) when we might possibly have an airport at Maplin that we can possibly use by 1980?

If my hon. Friend really thinks that his constituents will obtain relief in that way I beg to differ. We shall get far more relief by concentrating on RTOL and quieter engine technology. The whole direction of aviation travel is away from scheduled movements and towards nonscheduled charter movements. These are the people who do not want elaborate computer reservation systems, elaborate terminals and check-in facilities and who do not mind going out to Stansted and provincial airports. These are the people who will form the bulk of passengers in future.

For Heaven's sake let us think a bit more about the majority of people who will be flying in future. Let us stop thinking that it is only businessmen who want to fly. It is the great majority of the people who will be flying. This is a monstrous extravaganza. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) has said, the way out is to build one more runway at Gatwick and perhaps one more at Stansted. Then, by concentrating on the new technologies I have mentioned, we can benefit the country and our constituents and avoid what will be the greatest white elephant this country has ever seen.

8.26 p.m.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Epping)

About all that this House seems to have agreed upon today—the lowest common denominator of agreement—is that there is a need for improved facilities to cater for more passengers and produce greater efficiency. It is agreed that there is a need to relieve those worst affected by noise. That is about as far as it goes. Almost everyone seems to have a different idea about how to achieve these ends.

One or two things have been said which ought to be picked up quickly. My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) made an impressive speech dealing with birdstrike. If it is not the wrong expression, I feel that he may have over-egged his speech in a couple of directions. He produced out of space the figure of a chance of one in a million. We would have to look carefully at the source of that figure. Secondly, if we predicate that a jumbo is 10 times more liable to suffer a bird strike than a Trident, it is 10 times more liable to do so irrespective of the airport to which it is flying. My hon. Friend rather overdid the point and I think that we will see that clearly when we read his speech tomorrow.

The House is being invited not only to grant a Second Reading to the Bill, but to consider what is described as a "reasoned amendment" but which could be more accurately described as a contrived amendment. The Bill creates a development authority which will have the task of reclaiming something like 18,000 acres from the sea for various purposes, including an airport development.

This is not the Third London Airport Bill; it is the small tip of a giant regional planning scheme. It does not mention the town of 250,000 people or the railways or the motorways to service the developments. It does mention the port. When we examine the Opposition amendment, it becomes obvious why I described it as "contrived". It calls, of all things, upon the Civil Aviation Authority to reappraise the need for a seaport and the whole question of regional development in this country.

I am a great admirer of Lord Boyd-Carpenter but this is rather a lot to put on his civil aviation plate. We might just as well have asked the Port of London Authority to decide whether we need an airport as ask the Civil Aviation Authority whether we need a seaport and a town of 250,000 people. So we are certainly justified in rejecting that amendment, and certainly I shall vote against it.

When it comes to the Bill, however, I do not think I can support the Government. I will not rehearse the doubts I raised two years ago—doubts have been raised by many other right hon. and hon. Members, some of which, although not all of them, I share—about the need for this airport, the timing of it and how we should go about providing for these traffic needs. What I am certain of is that we shall not find that we need a 12,000-acre, four-runway, 1950-technology airport in the 1990s. I am quite certain that if we spent some of the near-blank cheque which we are being invited to start writing tonight, on promoting quieter aircraft, if necessary assisting our own airlines to purchase quieter aircraft and then clamping very tight noise limits on the airports, we should be doing a great deal more to help the constituents of the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) and many others. If we move Heathrow's operations out to Maplin most of the constituents affected by the noise of Heathrow will rush straight off to Maplin, because that is where their jobs are, associated with the airport.

Sadly, too, like the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu) I am forced to the conclusion that my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State for the Environment did indeed judge this issue as a political issue. He judged it on decibel ratings: not, regrettably, the decibel ratings of the motorways to Foulness or the decibel ratings of the aircraft, but the decibel ratings of the groups that lobbied. Unhappily, those poor unfortunate geese at Foulness did not honk loudly enough or early enough, and they have got this lot foisted on them. It was an entirely political decision, taken in the face of the technological and economic facts that aircraft can be quieter and that this will be the most expensive airport that has ever been built—more expensive even than Dulles was to the Americans, and that is certainly saying something. We are hiding these economic facts behind this vast regional development.

Worst of all, I fear that if tomorrow my right hon. Friends were so absolutely convinced, if it became so patently obvious, that we did not need this airport that they stood up and said "It is a write-off, we do not need it", nevertheless, because of what we are setting out to do now in other terms, the port, the industrial complex, the commercial complex, the town of a quarter of a million people, the motorways and the railways would all have achieved such impetus and life of their own that they would grind on and we would be supposed to forget that the real reason we ever started talking about this development was the airport which was no longer to be built.

I turn now to the problems which I believe this may raise in my own constituency. They may affect other people too. I have a new town, Harlow, in my constituency. It will be expanded in size in the latter part of this decade by about 50 per cent. Already we have to compete for industry against other southern new towns and against towns like Skelmersdale, with the massive incentives for regional development to bring industry to the North.

Now I am asked to vote for a measure which in the end will produce another southern new town which will have a massively subsidised infrastructure against which my new town will have to compete. I do not believe that would be right. I cannot believe there is sense in my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government paying massive sums to industry and saying "Please pack your bags and leave this crowded south-eastern corner of England and go north or west to where you are needed", and at the same time saying "Look at the massive sum of money we are going to spend to attract you back to the bottom right-hand corner of Essex". It does not make sense to me.

Tragic as it is to cover any part of this land with concrete, it would be doubly tragic to cast away the last piece of the coastline of south-eastern England which has not been developed already. Happily it has been saved for us, ironically because the Army goes and fires its guns there. May the Army continue to preserve it for us until we have the sense to preserve it as an unspoiled part of the coast of South-East England.

Lastly, I would address one particular word to my right hon. and hon. Friends. They will very probably get their Bill tonight, but I implore them, when they get home, to sit down and think again. Let them think about how this project will look in 10 years' time. Let them think about the times we had a little while ago in a Committee upstairs asking for a Select Committee to see how the Concorde affair had escalated through all its stages. Let them think about all these rising costs, possibly on Concorde's scale. Let them think about an airfield unwanted by customers and airlines, with the British Airports Authority looking at the red ink all over its books and with BOAC and BEA asking where they are to get the money from to move their 30,000 and more employees and all their existing facilities. Let them think about the red ink on the books of British Railways when running the railway service—and if British Railways are able to make a profit on it I shall be surprised. Let them think again about the demands which their successors will have for a Select Committee to consider how we got into the mess, why the decisions were taken and why we did not look ahead.

8.35 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Acton)

There is a great deal in what both the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit) and my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) have said. They have got so many points right on the nail. They have hit the bull's-eye.

My hon. Friend referred to the advanced passenger train. With that and the Channel Tunnel, many places on the Continent will be within 10 or 12 hours' travelling time in a sleeping car. How many people would prefer that to flying? Yet that aspect has not been mentioned. The hon. Member for Epping mentioned the railway to Maplin. If there are to be new tunnels, as I believe there must be, and completely new lines, how can British Railways make the service pay? The hon. Gentleman was right on that point.

I must confess that I spoke in favour of this site in the debate on 4th March as against that of Cublington. As a London Member, I say that if there is to be a third London airport it should be away from the built-up areas of London. My constituency is one of those which suffers a great deal of noise. The question is, do we need a third London airport?

In that earlier debate, half my speech argued about the statistics and made doubts for the Government as to whether we really needed a third London airport. My questions have not been answered, nor were the other points which I raised in the debate initiated by the hon. Member for Epping on 28th May 1971. Most of these points dealt with the very factor to which the hon. Gentleman referred as the tip of the iceberg.

This is not really a debate about the airport but is about regional development. The clue comes in the statement by the former Secretary of State for the Environment quoted in The Times of 27th April 1971. Here I would mention that for considerable periods during this debate we have had no representatives of that new, massive and great Department with us in the Chamber. I see none here at the moment, and that is disgraceful. Even when the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine) spoke—and it is his constituency which is most concerned in the new development—no representative of the Department of the Environment was on the Front Bench. This is reprehensible in the extreme.

The report in The Times, referring to the then Secretary of State, said: Of the proposals for seaport-airport complexes, he thought the 'real perks' in such schemes were the possibility of large-scale industrial development. He accepted that there were dangers of overheating. As planning progressed it would be the job of the Department of the Environment to 'make clear the limits of development which make good planning sense.' It is good planning sense that we have not had from the Government. The Bill as drafted gives an open, carte blanche cheque, as the hon. Member for Epping said, to reclaim some 76 square kilometres from the sea for this limited purpose.

Sir Bernard Braine

I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong. The Bill does not lay down how much land shall be reclaimed. That is our objection to it.

Mr. Spearing

I take the point. There is an outside line on the maps. There is not necessarily a need for an airport of the size projected, and which might go even further, as the hon. Gentleman has suggested; but that is beside the point for the moment. The point is that the Government have still said virtually nothing about all the associated developments which might come—roads, railways and motorways. They have said nothing about the extent of the sort of developments which might be expected.

That is one of the questions which I and the hon. Member for Essex, South-East have asked in previous debates but to which we have had no answer, apart from one statement by the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment on 9th August last, when he said: The Government propose to designate a substantial area for development by a New Town Development Corporation, working in close collaboration with the local planning authorities. We expect to publish a draft designation order early next year."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th August 1972; Vol. 842, c. 1745.] This is for some 200,000 to 300,000 people. For what, we may ask?

It is quite possible to say that we shall have an airport and no associated development other than that which is minimally required. That is what I suggested in 1971. I also suggested that if there were to be employment, this area is within three-quarters of an hour's travelling time of the existing built-up areas of East London. Even today one can get there by electric train in three-quarters of an hour. Many dockers do that. We understand that there will be large areas of new housing, when there will be very few jobs in East London.

As a London Member, I see no need for more of this vast development that we may expect from the Government. Therefore, the Bill as it stands should be opposed on that ground alone, because we have no details of conditions about what is essential to London and essential on a regional basis. If we are to have all this development, what about the poor people who are to be made redundant in the steelworks? The Government have said "We shall look after you." But if there are to be more jobs artificially created by this development, how can they do that?

I conclude on the question of costs The Money Resolution, which is to be taken after the Bill is passed, says "any sums." It does not state a maximum figure. The sky is the limit to the lending powers under guarantee by the Government to the Maplin Development Corporation. Presumably, if that goes ahead there will be other loans to new town corporations, British Rail and all the other people involved in unspecified and apparently unlimited developments. That will follow automatically, as night follows day. That is what the House is being asked to decide upon. A House of Commons responsible for public money would not make that sort of decision on the sort of evidence which is now before it.

There is a case, however, for a very limited development at Maplin in the reclamation of, perhaps, 15 square kilometres only, with the use of existing railway tracks, as, perhaps, an overflow airport or an emergency landing ground—if there is need. But I want to see that need demonstrated, and only very limited development there. Unless the Government can do that—they have not done it in the Bill—this legislation should be resisted.

8.42 p.m.

Mr. Robert Adley (Bristol, North-East)

I am conscious of the fact that a large number of my hon. Friends have not yet spoken in the debate, so I shall be brief.

I am very sorry for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. He has had a difficult task steering the European Economic Community legislation through the House when he felt it to be absolutely right and when it was not entirely popular in the country. He has now been lumbered with a lame Brent goose which many feel will be increasingly difficult to defend as the years pass.

I should like to quote the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), who spoke yesterday in the debate on public expenditure. He said: I start from the profound and unshakeable belief, which is fortified by experience, that the power of the executive has increased and is increasing. It should be contained and we as Members of Parliament have a duty to contain it. He went on to say: Parliament is more often consulted after the Government have made a policy decision than before."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th February 1973; Vol. 850, c. 501–02.] It is little announcements such as the appointment of Sir Frank Marshall before the House has passed the Bill that are the sort of thing to which many of us object so strongly.

The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland), when all this started in 1968, called it one of the most important investment and planning decisions which the nation must make in the next decade."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th May 1968; Vol. 765, c. 32.] I ask my right hon. and learned Friend, in all seriousness, how does a back-bench Member make up his mind whether to support a Bill of this nature? He has to fly in the face of a great deal of evidence produced by a large number of highly-expert people. He is left with nothing more, perhaps, than a deep innate feeling that we are doing something terrible. I apologise for the fact that I cannot express that in a better way. When Roskill's recommendations were rejected the Government should have said "We shall start again", rather than succumb to the easy option of choosing the site to which there was the least opposition.

I am struck time and again by the analogy of the argument advanced by road planners who say "We have a terrible problem of congestion in position X, so all we have to do is to build a road or a bypass and we shall cure it", when all they are doing is generating new traffic by building the new road. I ask my hon. Friends to consider whether this is not the time, as the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) said, when we should simply say "Enough is enough"? Do we just go on "catering for the need", or should we not find a way of diverting the need or an alternative method of providing people with the opportunity to travel from point A to point B?

I am told that all the Channel Tunnel would do would be to provide the equivalent of one year's capacity for aircraft growth. If that is so, we perhaps need six Channel Tunnels which would be more environmentally acceptable as a means of getting people from this country to and from the Continent of Europe than to build a useless airport and to press on regardless.

You will notice, Mr. Speaker, that I am discarding points as quickly as the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) did.

I come to the advanced passenger train. This, I believe, will be a valuable asset to this country in the years ahead. The hon. Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) accused opponents of the Maplin project of doing nothing to define circumstances which have changed since 1968 when the Roskill Commission was set up. The advanced passenger train is one. I shall quote another such change. In 1968 a DC8 aircraft carried 259 passengers and needed a runway length of 11,500 feet. It was the largest aircraft then in service, and its take-off weight was 350,000 lb. Now a B747 can carry 490 passengers, needs a runway of 9,400 feet and has a take-off weight of 710,000 lb. The Hawker Siddeley 146 is one of the new aircraft which is outstandingly quiet, even compared with today's "quiet" aircraft, and for which the company will ask the Government to provide a limited amount of funds.

As to the noise factor, if my young son, Rupert, stands in the middle of the drawing room yelling his head off I do not tell him to go to the other end of the room; I tell him to be quiet. The same principle should apply over the siting of an airport. Moving the noise is not enough.

We have heard from a number of hon. Members of the need for a national airports policy. I have a letter with me which Professor Buchanan wrote to me in 1971. It is marked "confidential", but this morning I had his permission in a conversation over the telephone to quote from the letter. I am bound to tell my hon. Friends that he wrote: My view is that the Commission was seriously handicapped by a complete lack of a national airports policy. I cannot help but feel that we are rushing into something which we shall all spend years regretting.

I mention briefly the question of tourism. I understand that the British Tourist Authority is opposed to the project and has been from the beginning. The Government decided that the national exhibition centre should be established in Birmingham. It was a decision taken in the national interests and in the interest of planning. A similar decision should be taken over the third airport. All the experts said that the exhibition centre must be in London, but, very wisely, the Government said that it should be in Birmingham, and I have no doubt that it will be a great success.

On the regional policy point, I must ask my right hon. and learned Friend and the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping a point on which I seek guidance. They will know that in the South-West with the arrival of motorways the pressure for an airport is increasing. The Department has rejected a modest request from Exeter for £25,000 for development of that airport. Can my hon. Friend give some indication that the airport needs of Bristol, South Wales and South-West England will be put into the pipeline and that the Civil Aviation Authority will be told not that it may consider this area but that it should now consider it as a matter of urgency?

I find the Opposition amendment opportunistic. To ask the CAA to devise a regional policy and a national ports policy is going too far. We had a groundnuts scheme many years ago and a Gambian egg scheme. To me Foulness has the smell of these two.

I finish with a thought which my right hon. and learned Friend might take home with him along with the thoughts offered by my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit). It is based on the current advertising slogan of one of the large American airlines which has traffic rights across the North Atlantic. If I were the director of advertising of that airline, thinking about Foulness and referring to my right hon. and learned Friend, I might be moved to suggest a slogan "I'm Geoffrey. Fly me to Foulness." I do not like the Bill and I cannot support it.

8.51 p.m.

Mr. W. Benyon (Buckingham)

This has been a nostalgic debate. Two years ago hon. Members were insisting that the airport should not be at an inland site, that the situation at existing airports must be improved and that there was a need for additional capacity. Most of us took the view then, and I adhere to it now, that the airport must be in the London area. If we agree that the airport cannot be on the South Coast, and Roskill went into that, and that Bristol and Liverpool are too far away, we are left inescapably with the conclusion that Maplin is the only possible solution.

It is no good saying that aeroplanes have got larger. They have got larger to take larger numbers of passengers. It is no good saying they have got quieter, because they have not got quiet enough. It is also no good saying that passenger traffic has not increased as fast as was at first thought. The trend is the important factor, and that trend is right, and it is explosive. If we consider the information in the Roskill Report about the percentage of passengers coming from the South-East and the percentage coming from abroad—and I prefer to rely on the 1990 figures because they are far more significant—we shall see that the vast majority of people who are projected to fly in that year want to come and go from London.

It is curious that the Labour Party has suddenly become concerned about long-term costs. It has not introduced that consideration in our discussions on coal and steel recently. Even if the worst projections were realised and the airport became a so-called white elephant, we should still be left with a prime industrial site and a deep-water port. In addition, we shall be reclaiming land at a cost of about £10,000 an acre, which must be a good investment.

The planning aspects of this project are as valid as ever they were. If we do not go to Maplin we have to go elsewhere, and, therefore, the real decision is: shall we step back from this vital decision which has been before us for so long? Shall we simply tinker with the problem once more? Shall we allow the environment at existing airports to worsen? Shall we lose out to the Europeans—and how the French must be laughing at this debate—and shall we miss the great chance which presents itself to match our lead in aircraft technology with the services which such aircraft require?

8.55 p.m.

Mr. David Stoddart (Swindon)

The Secretary of State in his opening statement projected the needs between now and 1990. He may well project the needs, but has he considered whether these needs, which will be enormous, should be met? As a nation we should consider whether it is right from an environmental and economic standpoint to meet the transportation needs through air transport.

To take as an example the projection of tourists, we find that by the year 2000 the number of tourists coming into London wil have increased sixfold. Is that what we want? Is that what Londoners want? Will Londoners be able to cope with such an increase or are we faced with what will become a tourist blight?

I believe we should be looking at our transportation policy as a whole and not at each section in isolation. We should now have reached the stage, having looked at our transport system and the various means of transport, of using that form of transport best suited for any particular purpose.

I am not at all sure that it is right to take more freight traffic by air. It might well be better for the Secretary of State to consider spending another £4 million—and I have tabled a Question to him on this point next week—on developing the tracked hovercraft train. It would be preferable if, instead of pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into the Maplin project, we did a great deal more research on our surface transport system and provided British Rail with adequate funds to meet what I believe to be the real need.

I wonder whether the technical feasibility of Maplin has been examined as thoroughly as it should have been. When speaking to a professor of economics at the London School of Economics today, I found what he had to say to me alarming in the extreme. He said—and perhaps the Minister might deal with this—that 400 million tons of fill would be required to reclaim Maplin. I do not know and he does not, but he has doubts, whether we shall be able to get this from sea aggregate. If we do not get it from sea-claimed aggregate, we shall have to get it from other sources.

I understand that already the technical people are talking about getting this aggregate from the slag heaps of South Wales. If that is so, they ought also to be talking about how they will transport 100 million tons of aggregate from South Wales to Maplin. Is it to come down the valleys, along the M4 and through the congested roads of Essex, or will attempts be made to get ships, which are in short supply, to bring it from Cardiff round the coast?

These problems are currently beginning to worry people. If we are contemplating spending £800 million—and no doubt it will be £3,000 million before it is finished—we ought to be sure that the technical feasibility has been thoroughly studied.

We are proposing to spend hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on what the chairman of the then British Airways Authority, Peter Masefield, thinks will be a white elephant. That is what he said to the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, of which I am a member. There are many more desirable projects than that upon which the money should be spent. Believing as I do that Labour will form the next Government, I do not want us to be saddled with this great expenditure when we shall want to improve housing and social services. I therefore hope that the Opposition amendment will be accepted, but if by some chance it should not be, I hope that the Bill will go by the board.

9.1 p.m.

Mr. Churchill (Stretford)

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) for giving me five minutes of his time.

The House is invited to endorse what has been referred to as the Maplin decision. With respect, this is not yet a decision of the House. We have not so far had a chance to decide this issue, which has been kicking around for 20 years since the 1953 White Paper. There have been the Gatwick, Stansted and Cublington proposals, all of which have fallen by the wayside. We must be clear that Maplin is not the decision of Roskill; it is a political decision taken merely on the grounds that nobody else wanted it.

The most significant fact to come out of this debate was contained in the opening statement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, who made it clear by the figures he produced and the action proposed at Maplin that there is no longer a requirement for a four-runway airport anywhere in the South-East. He further let slip that in the Government's view there is a requirement for only one additional London runway as far ahead as 1990.

I know, from speaking to my hon. Friend the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping, that the cost of one additional runway at Gatwick or Stansted is no more than £8 million. We are talking of £870 million for one runway up to 1990. Who can tell whether by then there will still be a requirement for 12,000-ft. slabs of concrete? Fifteen years ago who would have thought that men would have been on the moon on more than one occasion? The rapid changes in technology do not seem to have been thoroughly considered.

While we must take fully into account the interests of people who have to live with intolerable noise, the House has a duty from the national point of view to consider whether we are right in asking the British taxpayer to spend twice as much on this project as he has been asked to invest in Concorde. The British taxpayers' investment in Concorde represents only half the cost of that project. I cannot see the French pitching in with half the cost of Maplin.

Manchester is the nation's third airport in terms of air transport movements. In the last two years a significant development has taken place: there has been an increase of half a million in the number of inclusive tour passengers passing through Manchester. With the advanced passenger train, Manchester will be no more than one hour from central London. I am not saying that a third London airport should be in Manchester, Liverpool or anywhere else. I would merely say that this aspect of regional policy has not been looked at properly. We are talking in terms of a £1,000 million investment in South-East England, and that is something about which we who represent northern constituencies can only express the gravest concern. We have suffered from depopulation over the years and we have higher rates of unemployment. This colossal magnet in the South-East can only be damaging.

In conclusion, I quote briefly from page 7 of the Roskill Report: We must surely hesitate before we commit so much of the nation's scarce resources into projects which will show a poor financial return. We have waited 20 years for a London airport decision. I believe we can wait a few more months until a co-ordinated plan is brought forward by the Government that tells us exactly where roads and rail links are to go and what is the exact cost in economic, regional and environmental terms of bulldozers sweeping from eastern England to central London. These are things which must be properly considered.

I certainly cannot support the bogus amendment of the Opposition; nor can I support the Government. I cannot sign, on behalf of my constituents, a blank cheque for what promises to be the most costly white elephant ever to flounder on the shores of our island.

9.6 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Mulley (Sheffield, Park)

I am sure the House will be glad that the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) had an opportunity to address the House, if only briefly. I congratulate him on having, in those few moments, put his finger on the main point before us, the enormous cost on the one hand and its concentration in one part of the country on the other. As another Member for a northern constituency, I have a great deal of sympathy with his thesis.

Throughout the debate there has been at least a consensus that we are tonight being asked to take a very important, far-reaching decision. I would also say there has been an almost unanimous view that we are asked to do so with an inadequate amount of information. Even hon. Gentlemen like the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden), who says he will now support the Bill, said there were changed circumstances. I gather it is those changed circumstances which persuaded him to change his mind. But certainly everyone, I believe, would agree that the circumstances today are different from what they were in March 1971; and while I do not know what the answer would be if my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) had his way and we faced this matter on a free vote, I believe everyone who has listened to the debate would agree that the bias of debate has been very much along the lines that the Government ought to pause before they commit us to this enormous decision.

I will not go into details now because time is short but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) said in moving the amendment, there is a near-unanimous view of experts that at least the Government case for the kind of development they are proposing is not proven; and in essence the amendment of my right hon. Friend is simply saying that we need more information and a little more time.

I want to take up points made by the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Tebbit).

Mr. Burden

I would tell the right hon. Gentleman that the differences I have seen have been on the question of the airport. As far as I can see, there has been no question about the desirability of a deep-sea port at Maplin, and this is a very important part of the concept.

Mr. Mulley

An interesting point about this debate is that some people say "I accept your conclusion but I do not agree with your argument" while others say "I accept the arguments but come to a different conclusion". That is the kind of debate it has been, and had it not been for Roskill and the third London airport debate we would never have heard about a new seaport and new industrial and commercial development. Since the hon. Member for Gillingham has said that what has persuaded him to change his mind is the prospect for commercial and industrial development there, I wish to know from the Minister tonight what this is to consist of. We got from the Government an indication that there were to be licences to run a few sweet shops and a hot-dog stall. If so, I cannot see why this selling off of land for commercial purposes figures so largely in the financial effects of the Bill set out in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum. We need to get it clear. If there is to be no industrial and commercial development, it may be that we shall have the support of the hon.

Member for Gillingham in the Lobby tonight.

I want to deal with the important point made by the hon. Member for Epping which was echoed by his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-East (Mr. Adley). They said that they were against the Bill, but they could not support the Opposition's amendment because they thought it was wrong for the Civil Aviation Authority to be charged with the task of reappraisal.

We all know that it is the airport that is at issue. If it were not for the question of a third London airport, we would not at this time be facing this decision. Therefore, if we had a reappraisal of the airport situation we would know better whether to go ahead with the whole complex.

I hope, particularly after the eloquence of the hon. Member for Epping, who asked Ministers to go home and think hard about it, that we may have his support for our reasoned amendment, because, if it were carried, they would go home and think very hard about the whole situation.

Mr. Tebbit

Then the Opposition should not have couched their amendment in these terms, because it asks the Civil Aviation Authority to reappraise the case for a new airport and seaport complex in the light of the development needs in other parts of the country. They might just as well have asked the PLA to do it.

Mr. Mulley

I think it is clearly the regional airport complex that we have in mind, but I will try to develop that point further.

I am sure that the speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby, fortified by a devastatingly brilliant speech by the hon. Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden), posed those who support the project with an unanswerable case for a pause.

We are concerned with an enormous project. I ask any hon. Member who has responsibility for private or commercial investment decisions outside this House whether he would not pause and look at what has happened in the last two years before he committed himself to a decision which would cost as many hundreds of pounds, as this project will cost millions. I am certain that he would need more information. It may be that the Government have been working on it, have got it, and reached their own conclusion, but they have not given the information to this House or to the public.

We have got changed circumstances. The one example is the Civil Aviation Authority. When we debated that matter in 1971 many hon. Members asked for a national airports plan. They repeated their requests today. The Civil Aviation Authority is now engaged in trying to survey and produce such a plan. If we take a decision today of the kind that we have been asked to take, that plan will be of no use. Does anybody believe that after all the money that we are being asked to commit to this project there will be any left for anywhere else?

Our objection to the proposals should be studied on the three headings given by my right hon. Friend: need, cost, and, particularly, regional policy.

Those who suggested that my right hon. Friend was not concerned about noise did him a great injustice. I can tell the House, from my short time as Minister of Aviation many years ago, that he used to pester the life out of me when he had no responsibilities in this sphere at all.

I think that we are all concerned with the great problem of noise which has been put to us so eloquently by my hon. Friends the Mmbers for Putney, and Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Barnes) and the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Jessel). How, by taking this decision today, shall we help their constituents about whom we are all concerned?

We have not had, and I suspect that we shall not have, an assurance that as soon as the new airport, if it comes into being, is operational there will begin a sharp rundown of the traffic at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or anywhere else. I predict that for a long time after it comes into being there will be just as much traffic as there is at Heathrow now. People do not want the prospect of relief seven or eight years from now; they want to see the Government doing something about it now.

Hon. Members


Mr. Mulley

It would have been helpful if the Government had done something last time. We shall hear what the Minister has to say about RTOL, a subject which was developed by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield).

Many people have said that, bearing in mind all the money which was spent on Concorde, there should have been more research on quieter aircraft. We want to try to do something about it in the short term as well as the long term. If we had developed regional airports to a greater extent they would be relieving airports in the London area. The Secretary of State overreached himself when he talked about the regional airports carrying the load of four Heathrows.

Mr. Rippon

I was talking about the traffic of four Heathrows which would have to be accommodated if it were sent to the regions. I explained that we were considering and that we allowed for a diversion of 25 per cent. of the increased traffic, which would he a great load on the regions.

Mr. Mulley

It would be a load on the regions because the Government and the last Labour Government did not give any money for the development of regional airports. All airports, with the exception of two of the Scottish airports and the London airports, have to be sustained by the local ratepayers against the background of rising local rates. It seems wholly wrong that there is no money available for regional airport development.

If the proposal goes through tonight there will be less prospect of that money becoming available in future. It is not very much use complaining about the volume of public expenditure, as many hon. Members did yesterday, and then to vote for this proposal. Air freight, which the hon. Member for Gillingham and a number of other hon. Members mentioned, and charter and package tour traffic could be much more conveniently handled from other airports if only they had the facilities. Does it make sense to bring either people on their holidays or the goods that they are producing for air-freighting from the North and the Midlands all the way to the least convenient part of the country? That system adds to the cost of exports and the cost of holidays.

We just do not know the beginning of what the total cost will be. Various sums from £1,000 million to £3,000 million have been quoted. The open-ended character of the money resolution which we shall be asked to vote later tonight is extremely significant. There is not a jot or an iota of restriction. We shall be asked to issue out of the National Loans Fund and the Consolidated Fund any sums necessary.

As I read the Bill, it is intended that the Treasury will have power to write off any of these sums as and when they want to. It seems that it is the Government's idea to finance the project by selling off the reclaimed land to the British Airports Authority and public concerns such as the Port of London Authority. British Rail will no doubt be told to carry all the costs of its part of the operation. No doubt the Government will blame the nationalised industries for running deficits when they are merely discharging the obligations that the Government placed upon them. Do the Government really believe that either the British Airports Authority or the Port of London Authority will be able to go through with the enormous investment with which they are being saddled, without substantial Government support?

I said that we do not yet know what is meant by the industrial and commercial developments. We are being asked to approve the policy without knowing what rail or road links there will be. We also do not know what the routes will be. We do not know the costs.

I do not wish to make anything of the Concorde situation but I think it is relevant in this context in the way in which it was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton. I do not want to talk about its merits or demerits. We all congratulate the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping on the efforts he and his officials are making to obtain orders, and we wish Concorde success.

But I wonder how many hon. Members would have supported the Concorde decision when it was taken if they had had the real facts and figures. In that case we were making a joint decision with another country, which was an added complication. Here the decision is wholly ours. The enormous section of public expenditure that Concorde has commanded must have meant that support for other aircraft development, such as quieter engines and RTOL was restricted.

I wonder whether Maplin has already claimed its first casualty. I understand from the staff of the hovertrain development that it is almost certain that there will be an announcement next week that Government support for the development will be withdrawn and the project wound up. Reports have already appeared in the Press that the linear motor section will be used only for the slow requirement for an urban transit system and acquired by Hawker Siddeley. We shall not be effective in hovertrain development if the decision is taken. I hope that we shall have from the Minister for Aerospace and Shipping, who I think is involved in the matter, an assurance that at least it can be reconsidered.

I am advised that in April the European Commission will consider giving some of its funds for such developments. If it is wound up next week, our hovertrain project will not be in the running and the French and the Germans will have it all to themselves.

I am told that there is a good prospect of our people obtaining an important Canadian contract. It would be a great pity if because of Budget stringency, no doubt conditioned by the enormous chunk of Maplin expenditure coming on to the Department of the Environment's Estimates, it had to be abandoned. I hope we shall have a clear assurance that the matter will be looked at again.

I think there is a consensus of feeling among all hon. Members that the shoe will probably pinch hardest as a result of tonight's decision, if it is taken, in the whole of regional policy. If we need a text for the debate, I suggest that we adopt the words of the hon. Member for Southend, East, who asked his right hon. and learned Friend "How will you explain to the EEC that we want money for regional development, our own money and some of yours, when we are pouring our own regional money down the drain at Maplin?" Undoubtedly there is growth in South-East Essex. Imposing Maplin on the problem there will mean that the new town will have to be larger. We are putting the great majority of such money as we shall have for regional development into a region that neither wants it nor needs it.

The Secretary of State raised a few eyebrows when he said that if this money were not spent at Maplin it would be spent elsewhere. This is what worries me stiff. I do not see how we shall get the money we want for railways or for roads in any other part of the country than the South East because of the enormous sums involved in this project.

Mr. Rippon

I meant that the money would be spent on aircraft facilities elsewhere.

Mr. Mulley

If the Secretary of State looks at the text of his speech in HANSARD tomorrow, he will see that that passage in his speech came in the part in which he dealt with expenditure. Therefore, may we have a clear assurance from the Government today that as a result of the Bill and what it entails there will be no cut in transport support for other parts of the country and that we shall not have any reduction in regional expenditure elsewhere? I repeat that if there is one part of the country that does not need a new seaport or new industry and new commerce, it is the South East.

I can think of many important parts of the country where there is serious unemployment and which need help. My hon. Friend the Member for Acton (Mr. Spearing) mentioned the steel industry. There will be some investment in my constituency in this respect, but technological processes will mean that employment in the steel industry will decline and we shall need new industries in the area. What chance have the former steel towns and similar industries of obtaining Government support for regional development when so large a portion of Government expenditure will be devoted to this project—a project for which we feel no case has been made in this debate?

If we pass the Bill, we shall put ourselves on an escalator of rising prices. We shall be giving an open cheque to the Government and we shall show that we have learned nothing from experience. We shall also find ourselves an a slippery slope of decisions from which it will be difficult to extricate ourselves once we become involved in this process.

What the Government are asking us for tonight is not to give a decision in principle but to commit a large share of public expenditure in one direction. They are pre-empting matters for 10 years, even 20 years, ahead—not only for the present Government but for their successors—involving a large slice of public expenditure cake. This may well be our last chance to cry "Halt". The Government have not provided us with the full information we need. They will not even allow this matter to come before a Private Bill Committee to test the case for the Government's proposal. We have tabled a later amendment which we hope will reverse that process.

There is widespread public concern about what is proposed and I should like to re-echo the words of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) who asked the Government "What is the rush?" I ask hon. Members on both sides of the House to call for a pause before we rush headlong into a decision which will involve such vast expenditure. Therefore, I hope they will vote for our Amendment.

9.30 p.m.

The Minister for Aerospace and Shipping (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

I am sure that all those right hon. and hon. Members who have taken part in the debate will realise the immense interest and the real concern of those whose interests are very closely associated and involved in air transportation in and around the South-East of England. No one speaking from this Dispatch Box would wish to minimise the concern that people feel.

Perhaps I might begin by taking up one point made by the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley) and help his memory about the view of the present Government of one of the major advantages which would flow from a decision to support the Maplin project.

It was my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who announced on 27th July 1971 that he believed that the Government did not consider it would be necessary to construct any new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted in the foreseeable future. He said that the first benefit of the Maplin decision was that it would be possible to abandon the safeguarding of the line of the second runway at Gatwick. That followed from the decision to recommend the Maplin proposal. My right hon. Friend's next announcement was that the Government foresaw the possibility of dispensing with Stansted as a public transport airport and possibly closing it altogether when the third London airport became operational. My right hon. Friend's fourth announcement was that the Government did not foresee a need for Luton to continue as a major public transport airport serving the London area once the third airport was available to accommodate the services now using Luton.

The House will understand the concern of those who believe that the Bill should be given a Second Reading to make it clear that all those announcements follow from the Government's decision to build an airport at Maplin.

Mr. Mulley

I was hoping that the hon. Gentleman would go on to say that it would also reduce traffic at Heathrow. Most of the argument has been about that.

Mr. Heseltine

When I deal with the scale of the problem, about which we are all concerned, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will realise the real difficulties which would arise in trying to reduce the level of use at Heathrow. One problem which would follow if we did not find an alternative for Heathrow is that there would be a massive increase in traffic at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted which everyone who lives anywhere near those airports is abundantly aware is taking place relentlessly season by season on an ever-rising slope. That is the reality, and all right hon. and hon. Members who have constituencies there and who have visited the area are aware of the persistent noise nuisance which gets worse, and it is impossible to lose sight of that background to the debate—

Mr. Spearing

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on that point?

Mr. Heseltine

A large number of questions have been put to me, and I have a mass of statistics and figures which I want to give the House. If I give way to the hon. Gentleman I shall find it difficult to answer all the points which have been put to me.

Mr. Spearing

On 28th May 1971 I asked what was the Government's intention in setting out their total proposals on this matter. The hon. Gentleman fluffed it away. Why have not the Government produced full documentation as a background to what we have before us today?

Mr. Heseltine

It is odd that the hon. Gentleman has never pressed for a debate on the subject—

Mr. Spearing


Mr. Heseltine

It is only now, within a few weeks of a decision being taken, that a great public furore has arisen. If the Opposition had been so concerned, they could have sought a debate on the subject when the matter could have been dealt with at greater length.

Turning to the questions which have been put to me, I deal first with those raised by two of my hon. Friends who have constituency interests. My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine) raised, as did other hon. Members, his general concern about the use of land reclaimed as part of the Maplin complex for industrial or commercial purposes. When my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for the Environment made his announcement to the House on 2nd February 1972, he said: We do not think it would be appropriate for primary industry such as steel works, oil refineries and petrochemical works to be located at Maplin. … It is too early to take decisions about promoting a large industrial estate as part of the Maplin complex. We think that options should be kept open and that demand for secondary industry should be considered as it arises in the light of our regional, industrial and environmental policies and our developing relationships with Europe."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February 1972; Vol. 830, c. 446–7.] That makes it clear that the issue was a difficult one, because there were a large number of commercial activities and important quasi-industrial activities associated with airports. Hotels are an example. Obviously it is necessary for the Maplin Development Authority to have power to sell land for that purpose. In considering this question, appreciating that we were dealing with a situation that would develop over the rest of this century, we realised that it might be necessary in future to have power to use the reclaimed land for a number of purposes. But we ruled out the one thing we thought essential to rule out, primary industrial use.

It was simply a desire to keep options open in a way that would commend itself to the House, I believe, within the assurances that have been given, and subject to the planning and regional policies of the Government, that led us to take the powers embraced in the Bill. It would be perfectly reasonable to have a detailed examination of this in Committee, if the Bill gets there. It would not be fair to say that my right hon. and learned Friend or the Government have in any way misled the House. It was clear that we had distinguished between primary and secondary industry when we took the original decision.

My hon. Friend the Member for Southend, East (Sir S. McAdden) asked about the cocklers and I can assure him that it is the Government's intention that, where it can be shown that those who obtained a reasonable proportion of their income from this activity find that they can no longer continue to do so, compensation will be payable. I can also assure him that Havengore Creek should now be able to remain open as a result of a decision to increase the height of the bridge.

My hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East raised the important question of the burden of this development on local ratepayers. He was obviously making the point that this was a national development. The House will be aware that we are now looking at the whole question of the impact on local government finance. We are examining the effect of the rate support grant on various problems associated with the needs element related to development areas such as South-East Essex where there is faster growth. [Interruption.] I use the expression "development areas" in the sense of regional policy, an area developing fast. We are looking at the effect on the needs element in the rate support grant to see whether there is need for adjustment to take account of the special pressures on areas which are growing fast. This would include South-East Essex and a number of other areas where the problems are not quite so acute.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) raised the important point of the bird migration. I apologise to him for not being in the House to hear his speech. I have read a large amount of the correspondence we have had on this subject and I have a detailed note of the comments he made which, I think he will agree, broadly cover the points he has made to my hon. and right hon. Friends in this matter. Bird migration and the residence habits of birds present real difficulty. The question was looked at and dealt with by Roskill.

I know that my hon. Friend quoted from paragraph 8.41 of the report. Perhaps he will not regard it as going too far if I said that he should also have quoted paragraph 8.42 of the report which does not deal with the difficulties associated with the problem but sets out the conclusions on this subject.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Before my hon. Friend leaves that subject——

Mr. Heseltine

I am not leaving it. Perhaps I can quote the Roskill Report on this important subject. It said: Our conclusion is that Foulness does carry a greater potential risk than the inland sites for those on board aircraft although it involves a lesser potential risk for those on the ground. The size and the difference in risk is not great. However much we abhor the prospect of disaster the evidence does not suggest that we should be justified in allowing this Foulness disadvantage to exert a major influence on our choice of site.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

If my hon. Friend had paid the House the courtesy of being present when I spoke, he would have known that the paragraph which he has quoted and about which he asked me had already been quoted before I made my speech, by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings).

Mr. Heseltine

I fully understand that. There are rather more hon. Members present now than when my hon. Friend spoke and when I was not here. I think it fair to present the whole picture to the House. I have tried to do so in as fair a way as I can. This is a difficult issue.

Perhaps I can provide for the House a number of other factors which are not so widely known. First, we have carried out a survey which was conducted on United Kingdom aircraft operating throughout the world and we know that on an average there was an annual incidence of bird strike of some 280 occasions during the course of any one year in the six-year period 1966–71. This has a very small effect. It represents a bird-strike rate of 0.0003 per cent. of aircraft movements. It is perfectly true, of course, that with the larger incidence now associated with wide-bodied jets the risk goes up, but it is equally true that the safety factors built into the engines of wide-bodied jets have been designed to take account of this need for an additional strengthening of the engines. I believe, therefore, that there is a balancing factor there.

All in all, although it is a matter of which we are certainly aware and about which everybody is concerned, there appears to be no overriding reason to reject Maplin on this particular ground. We are carrying out two surveys to ensure that the effect of bird presence is minimised, first by moving the feeding grounds of some of the birds which inhabit that area, and we are also studying the effects of migratory bird patterns in order to know as much as possible about this subject. I hope my hon. Friend will accept that we are aware of his apprehensions, but these were considered by Roskill and we have seen no reason to change the view of Roskill on that subject.

I now turn to the main subject of the debate tonight. The crucial first question to which the House has directed itself is whether there is a need to create a third London airport by 1980. That is the crucial question that has dominated a large number of speeches. Perhaps I can refresh the memory of hon. Members. The Roskill figures were that by 1975 there would be 36.1 million passengers at the four London airports, 60.7 million in 1981 and 82.7 million in 1985. It was also calculated how these would be translated into aircraft movements, and the commissions views were that in 1975 there would be 392,000 movements, in 1981 there would be 488,000 movements and in 1985 there would be 545,000 movements. It was on the basis of these figures that Roskill came to the conclusion that here would be a need by around 1980—and I use the word "around" deliberately—for the first runway of the third London airport.

It has been suggested that Roskill ignored the fact that wide-bodied jets were a phenomenon to be increasingly expected as the century went on. If one divides the number of passengers by the number of movements, it is clear that Roskill did not ignore this factor at all and it is easily to be found that he believed that the present figures of 70 passengers per movement would rise to 97 by 1975, to 133 by 1981 and to 162 by 1985. In other words, the Roskill Committee looked at the introduction of wide-bodied jets and took it into account in its calculations.

It is perfectly true, as the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Crosland) said, that it is a continuing feature of the work of my Department to keep abreast of the changes in the figures to see whether there is need to update or review the position. Of course, at the time of the discussion on the siting of the runways for the third London airport we published a few figures which were part of the updating survey which we expect to do continually as part of the routine work of the Department. I will willingly produce any figures the House requires to indicate the scale of the updating process, but all the figures my Department has produced indicate that Roskill was cautious. In fact, the figures have gone ahead, in our estimation, of what he reckoned at the time. This is allowing for the fact that we have the ability today to be even more precise about the number of wide-bodied jets to be included in any mix that we want to come about.

So the view I would put to the House quite clearly is that the evidence undoubtedly is that Roskill had got the trends right but did not anticipate the rate at which these trends would continue to go upwards and did not take into account the fact that Southend would have to be closed as part of the air traffic situation in view of the decision to go to Maplin.

Mr. Crosland

I was aware that the hon. Gentleman's own Department's estimates were larger than Roskill's, contrary to what the Secretary of State said today. But could the hon. Gentleman confirm what I myself said—that the Civil Aviation Authority is now leading a team project with the airlines to go over all these estimates again and that the team is holding its first meeting next week?

Mr. Heseltine

Yes, I can do that. Perhaps a letter I have received from the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority might help. It was dated yesterday. It said: We have in hand as you may have seen a study with BAA and the airlines to assess traffic growth in the London area; results should be available by the beginning of April. It is, however, our view from the material at present available to us that additional airport capacity will be needed in the London area probably by soon after 1980, with a subsequent need for more than one runway some five years thereafter. That is the view of the CAA, dated 6th February.

The other authority in the matter, the British Airports Authority, should also have a voice. Its report for 1971–72 said: For this reason the BAA supports the Maplin project. It is urgently needed both for environmental reasons and also to meet the growth pressures on Heathrow and Gatwick which will be enormous by the late 1970s—the classic 'quart into a pint pot' problem. I cannot stress too strongly the need to get out of the talking stage into the field of action. That report was published in the summer of 1972, and I was authorised today by the Chairman of the BAA to say that nothing has intervened since its publication to change his mind in any way.

If we look at the background against which we face this very considerable growth in aircraft movements and traffic, we have to answer the question about the timing of the third London Airport. The right hon. Member for Grimsby mentioned this point. Do we now need to go forward because we are so certain that we need to open the first runway by 1980? I say to the House—and I think every objective observer would agree—that, however one pushes forward the figures and calculates the extrapolations from them it is clear that one can always say "One more year; a little bit later; we can wait." One can do that, and no one can project with total certainty exactly what the figures are going to be in 1980, 1981 or in 1979. So, on a simple airline basis, or a passenger congestion basis, I have to say that it would be possible always to wait one more year if with certainty at the end of it we were going to go forward, because there can always be that much more congestion, that much more acceptance of safety factor risks. It is always possible to accept these things.

But the point is that we are convinced, as we have been throughout the investi- gations, which took two years and cost £2 million, that there is need at the end of this decade for the third airport for airline reasons. Are we, therefore, entitled to deprive the millions of people who now live under the flight paths of those aircraft using the existing airports of the environmental benefits which can come through this Bill?

I believe that the answer to that question conclusively must be "No", because there is no prospect, in my view, of an analysis of the figures showing anything different from what everyone who has looked at the problem believes to be the case. Once one has accepted that situation, it is our responsibility to see the wider issue and go forward as fast as we reasonably can. It is that conclusion which should commend itself to the House in supporting the Bill.

Mr. Crouch

My right hon. Friend keeps referring to Roskill, and I am sure that the House is interested that he should do so. But is he saying that he and the Government were entitled to ignore the Roskill recommendation, which cost £1½ million and took two and a half years to study?

Mr. Heseltine

Yes, I believe that the House was entitled to take precisely that decision, because the decision taken by Roskill was essentially a decision taken in a situation where the priorities were largely economic. The decision taken by the Government and recommended in the Bill is that we should take the environmental decision—even at a cost to society at large. I believe that to be the right decision to have been taken.

There is one other thing to be said in terms of the introduction of wide-bodied jets. It is true that one can delay because people have got so used to the intolerable noise around our airports that they will put up with it a little longer. But as the wide-bodied jets come into operation. so the public demand for quieter aircraft will grow. There will be increasing discontent if we, as politicians, have not taken the decision to do all that we reasonably can to protect the environment in areas where so many people live. So if one accepts that the arguments on environmental grounds are overwhelmingly to meet the need which the figures clearly indicate to exist, as quickly as possible, the question then—which was the preoccupation of hon. Members—was: how does one meet the need?

Putting forward one of the alternatives, which I think the House would reject out of hand, one can simply, in aviation terms, use the existing airports. One could build a second runway at Gatwick and do various things to cram more people into the existing runways if one were prepared for all the environmental consequences that that would involve. But I do not believe that the House, or certainly the right hon. Member for Grimsby, would find that solution in any way tolerable. That solution can be left out of consideration.

The next concern is the possibility of in some way moving the airport or the demand for the airport into one of the regions. Here the House will be familiar with the work done by Roskill in analysing the origin and destination of the people who were using the airports of the South-East of England. One of my hon. Friends asked whether this did not indicate that people used the hotels on the night before they took off or the night after landing, thereby showing themselves as coming from the South-East of England. In preparing for the debate I wanted to look at that specific point, for it was dealt with. The Roskill research teams ignored the night preceding take-off or the night following landing, deliberately to exclude the people who simply came up to spend a night in London before going somewhere else or remained here during the night after they landed. So the 80 per cent. figure which is the figure which represents that element of the total use of South-East England airports, which is destined for or has originated in the South-East, took into account the fact that people were moving in and out and using hotels for one night of their journey.

Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)

How does my hon. Friend explain that last year more than 50 per cent. of the 120,000 travellers Cambrian took inter-lined at Heathrow, which means that they came from the North of England?

Mr. Heseltine

I do not have the particular figures applying to Cambrian, which are very important and which I wish to look at. But 120,000 in the con- text of the 13 million people who use Heathrow is a relatively small figure in the general situation.

It has then been suggested that we should find ways of dealing with the traffic by pushing it out into the regions. In this context I have been asked whether I can give any assurances about the views of the CAA, particularly in the context of the survey now being carried out into national airport requirements. I can help my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol. North-East (Mr. Adley) by saying that the CAA certainly will look at Severnside and deal with that as urgently as possible. It is the intention to produce a national plan for our airport movements.

Mr. Churchill

Can my hon. Friend give a further assurance that as the CAA accepts the need on technical grounds for a second runway at Manchester Ringway we shall not be told, when this needs to go ahead in the next four or five years, that all resources for runway and airport expansion are already swallowed up by Maplin?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend will appreciate that the CAA deals entirely with airline matters, and matters of planning and resources have nothing to do with the CAA. I do not think that it could.

Mr. Mulley

Will the Government give support to regional airports?

Mr. Heseltine

Of course, because it is one of the factors that follow from the whole analysis, that the number of people wanting to travel in the regions is growing in line with but not as fast as those who want to travel in the South-East of England. Therefore, if we are to cater for those—and they have as much entitlement to be catered for as those in the South-East—there must be support, it follows, for regional airport development. This is why the CAA is doing all this work on this matter.

I was asked whether the Channel Tunnel would siphon off so much of the demand that there would be no need for a third airport. The Roskill Commission looked into this question, and we have looked very carefully at it. If one takes a 400 miles radius of London and assumes that a very high proportion of the traffic goes by APT through the tunnel, one can conceivably reckon that one or two years' growth—the latest figures indicate less, but Roskill suggested that amount—might be affected by constructing the Channel Tunnel, but this in no way alters the general situation in which we need to provide, in the time scale which we are discussing, for a third airport in the South-East of England.

My hon. Friends have pressed me on the question of VTOL technologies. One thing which perhaps hon. Members did not quite take into account is that most of the aircraft which will be flying in the later part of this decade and into the next are totally predictable. We know about the jets and the mass transit carriers of the '80s. It is perfectly true that there are one or two areas in which new projects could come forward and enter service in the 1980s but they could be matched by existing aircraft flying today which will be flying in the 1980s. They include the Super VC 10, the 707, the BAC Ill and the Tridents. These will still be in service and it will not be possible for this country alone to say to airlines all over the world "You cannot use this particular aircraft on our landing

strips." If we did so, the reprisals against British airlines flying outside this country would obviously be immediate.

It is quite clear that we must be preoccupied in trying to keep abreast of new technologies now available, but hon. Members who have pointed to the large bills to be met over 20 years—some said around £800 million—on this development, perhaps do not understand that it costs taxpayers of this country nearly £300 million to develop one engine for one aircraft of the quieter jet type such as the RB211 for the L1011. It is no good saying that we should switch resources and thinking that that would have the effect which hon. Members appear to believe.

This has been a wide-ranging debate, and hon. Members feel deeply involved in this subject, but the fact is that we have a massive growth situation largely oriented to the South-East of England and the choice is either to go to Maplin or, what I believe is unacceptable, to develop airports already in use.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 169, Noes 201.

Division No. 52.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield Delargy, Hugh John, Brynmor
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Ashton, Joe Dormand, J. D. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Atkinson, Norman Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Kaufman, Gerald
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Driberg, Tom Kelley, Richard
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Dunn, James A. Kerr, Russell
Bidwell, Sydney Dunnett, Jack Kinnock, Neil
Bishop, E. S. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lamborn, Harry
Blenkinsop, Arthur Evans, Fred Lamond, James
Booth, Albert Ewing, Harry Latham, Arthur
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Faulds, Andrew Lawson, George
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham, Ladywood) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Buchan, Norman Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Leonard, Dick
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lestor, Miss Joan
Cant, R. B. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Carmichael, Neil Foot, Michael Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Fraser, John (Norwood) Lipton, Marcus
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Freeson, Reginald Lomas, Kenneth
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Gilbert, Dr. John Lyon, Alexander W. (York)
Cohen, Stanley Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Concannon, J. D. Golding, John McCartney, Hugh
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) McGuire, Michael
Crawshaw, Richard Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mackenzie, Gregor
Cronin, John Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mackie, John
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mackintosh, John P.
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hamilton, William (File, W.) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Hardy, Peter McNamara, J. Kevin
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Dalyell, Tarn Hattersley, Roy Mallalieu. J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Horam. John Marquand, David
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Huckfield, Leslie Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mayhew, Christopher
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Janner, Greville Meacher, Michael
Deakins, Eric Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jenkins. Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechtord) Millan, Bruce
Miller, Dr. M. S. Pendry, Tom Tomney, Frank
Milne, Edward Perry, Ernest G. Tope, Graham
Moate, Roger Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Urwin, T. W.
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Prescott, John Wainwrlght, Edwin
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Richard, Ivor Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Roberts,Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Moyle, Roland Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Wallace, George
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roper, John Watkins, David
Murray, Ronald King Rose, Paul B. Weitzman, David
Ogden, Eric Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
O'Malley, Brian Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Whitehead, Phillip
Orbach, Maurice Skinner, Dennis Whitlock, William
Orme, Stanley Small, William Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Spearing, Nigel Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Padley, Walter Stallard, A. W. Wilson. Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Palmer, Arthur Steel, David Woof, Robert
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Pardoe, John Stoddart, David (Swindon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Parker, John (Dagenham) Strang, Gavin Mr. Donald Coleman and
Pavitt, Laurie Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley Mr. Joseph Harper.
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Adley, Robert Fookes, Miss Janet McLaren, Martin
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fortescue, Tim Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Foster, Sir John Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham)
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Fox, Marcus McNair-Wilson, Michael
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Maddan, Martin
Astor, John Gibson-Watt, David Madel, David
Atkins, Humphrey Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Mather, Carol
Awdry, Daniel Glyn, Dr. Alan Mawby, Ray
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bell, Ronald Goodhart, Philip Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Goodhew, Victor Money, Ernie
Benyon, W. Gorst, John Monks, Mrs. Connie
Berry, Hn. Anthony Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Montgomery, Fergus
Bitten, John Gray, Hamish Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Blaker, Peter Green, Alan Morrison, Charles
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Murton, Oscar
Body, Richard Grylls, Michael Neave, Airey
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Gummer, J. Selwyn Nott, John
Bowden, Andrew Gurden, Harold Onslow, Cranley
Brinton. Sir Tatton Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hall, John (Wycombe) Page, Rt. Hn Graham (Crosby)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hannam, John (Exeter) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bryan, Sir Paul Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Parkinson, Cecil
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hastings, Stephen Peel, Sir John
Burden, F. A. Havers, Sir Michael Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hawkins, Paul Pike, Miss Mervyn
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Hayhoe, Barney Price, David (Eastleigh)
Carlisle, Mark Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Cary, Sir Robert Heseltine, Michael Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Higgins, Terence L. Raison, Timothy
Chichester-Clark, R. Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Churchill, W. S. Holland, Philip Redmond, Robert
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hornby, Richard Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Rees, Peter (Dover)
Cockeram, Eric Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Cooke, Robert Howell, David (Guildford) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Cooper, A. E. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Cordle, John Hunt, John Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Costain, A. P. James, David Rost, Peter
Critchley, Julian Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Russell, Sir Ronald
Crowder, F. P. Jennings, J. C. (Burton) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Jessel, Toby Scott, Nicholas
d'Avlgdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Scott-Hopkins, James
Dean, Paul Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Dixon, Piers Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Shersby, Michael
Dodds-Parker. Sir Douglas Kimball, Marcus Simeons, Charles
Drayson, G. B. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Sinclair, Sir George
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kinsey, J. R. Skeet, T. H. H.
Dykes, Hugh Knight, Mrs. Jill Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Knox, David Speed, Keith
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lambton, Lord Spence, John
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Lamont, Norman Stainton, Keith
Emery, Peter Lane, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Eyre, Reginald Langford-Holt, Sir John Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Le Marchant, Spencer Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Stokes, John
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Longden, Sir Gilbert Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McCrindle, R. A. Sutcliffe, John
Tapsell, Peter Tugendhat, Christopher Wiggin, Jerry
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Worsley, Marcus
Tebbit, Norman Walder, David (Clitheroe) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Temple, John M. Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester) Younger, Hn. George
Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Ward, Dame Irene
Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) Warren, Kenneth TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Wells, John (Maidstone) Mr. Walter Clegg and Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Whitelaw. Rt. Hn. William
Trafford, Dr. Anthony

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 39. (Amendment on second or third reading):—

The House divided: Ayes 195, Noes 172.

Division No. 53.] AYES [10.12 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Glyn, Dr. Alan Montgomery, Fergus
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Goodhart, Philip Morrison, Charles
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Goodhew, Victor Murton, Oscar
Astor, John Gorst, John Neave, Airey
Atkins, Humphrey Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Nott, John
Awdry, Daniel Gray, Hamish Onslow, Cranley
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Green, Alan Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Bell, Ronald Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Grylls, Michael Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Benyon, W. Gummer, J. Selwyn Parkinson, Cecil
Berry, Hn. Anthony Gurden, Harold Peel, Sir John
Biffen, John Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Blaker, Peter Hall, John (Wycombe) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Hannam, John (Exeter) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Hastings, Stephen Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Bowden, Andrew Havers, Sir Michael Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hawkins, Paul Raison, Timothy
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hayhoe, Barney Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Bruce-Gordyne, J. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Redmond, Robert
Bryan, Sir Paul Heseltine, Michael Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Higgins, Terence L. Rees, Peter (Dover)
Burden, F. A. Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Holland, Philip Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G. (Moray & Nairn) Hornby, Richard Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Carlisle, Mark Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn. Dame Patricia Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Cary, Sir Robert Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Howell, David (Guildford) Rost, Peter
Chichester-Clark, R. Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Russell, Sir Ronald
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hunt, John St. John-Stevas, Norman
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Scott, Nicholas
Cockeram, Eric James, David Scott-Hopkins, James
Cooke, Robert Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooper, A. E. Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Shersby, Michael
Cordle, John Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Simeons, Charles
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Jessel, Toby Sinclair, Sir George
Costain, A. P. Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Skeet, T. H. H.
Critchley, Julian Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Crowder, F. P. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Speed, Keith
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutstord) Kimball, Marcus Spence, John
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Stainton, Keith
Kinsey, J. R. Stanbrook, Ivor
Dean, Paul Knight, Mrs. Jill Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Dixon, Piers Knox, David Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Lambton, Lord Stokes, John
Drayson, G. B. Lamont, Norman Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Lane, David Sutcliffe, John
Dykes, Hugh Langford-Holt, Sir John Tapsell, Peter
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Le Marchant, Spencer Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Elliot. Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.N.) Longden, Sir Gilbert Temple, John M.
Emery, Peter McLaren, Martin Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Eyre, Reginald Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Maurice (Farnham) Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) McNair-Wilson, Michael Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Maddan, Martin Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Madel, David Tugendhat, Christopher
Fookes, Miss Janet Mather, Carol Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Fortescue, Tim Mawby, Ray Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Foster, Sir John Meyer, Sir Anthony Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Fox, Marcus Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Gibson-Watt, David Money, Ernie Ward, Dame Irene
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Monks, Mrs. Connie Warren, Kenneth
Warren, Kenneth Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wells, John (Maidstone) Worsley, Marcus Mr. Bernard Weathcrill and
Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R. Mr. Walter Clegg.
Wiggin, Jerry Younger, Hn. George
Allen, Scholefield Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Golding, John Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Ashton, Joe Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Moyle, Roland
Atkinson, Norman Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Murray, Ronald King
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Grlmond, Rt. Hn. J. Ogden, Eric
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) O'Malley, Brian
Bidwell, Sydney Hardy, Peter Orbach, Maurice
Bishop, E. S. Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orme, Stanley
Blenkinsop, Arthur Hattersley, Roy Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)
Booth, Albert Horam, John Padley, Walter
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Palmer, Arthur
Braine, Sir Bernard Huckfield, Leslie Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Pardoe, John
Buchan, Norman Janner, Greville Parker, John (Dagenham)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pavitt, Laurie
Cant, R. B. Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Carmichael, Neil John, Brynmor Pendry, Tom
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Perry, Ernest G.
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Jones, Barry, (Flint, E.) Prescott, John
Cohen, Stanley Kaufman, Gerald Richard, Ivor
Concannon, J. D. Kelley, Richard Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Kerr, Russell Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Crawshaw, Richard Kinnock, Nell Roper, John
Cronin, John Lamborn, Harry Rose, Paul B.
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Lomond, James Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Latham, Arthur Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Lawson, George Skinner, Dennis
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Small, William
Dalyell, Tam Leonard, Dick Spearing, Nigel
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Lestor, Miss Joan Stallard, A. W.
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Steel, David
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Lipton, Marcus Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lomas, Kenneth Strang, Gavin
Deakins, Eric Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Delargy, Hugh McAdden, Sir Stephen
Deli, Rt. Hn. Edmund McCartney, Hugh Tomney, Frank
Dormand, J. D. McGuire, Michael Tope, Graham
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Mackenzie, Gregor Urwin, T. W.
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Mackie, John Wainwright, Edwin
Driberg, Tom Mackintosh, John P. Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Dunn, James A. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Dunnett, Jack McNamara, J. Kevin Wallace, George
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Watkins, David
Evans, Fred Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Weitzman, David
Ewing, Harry Marquand, David Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Faulds, Andrew Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Whitehead, Phillip
Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham, Ladywood) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Whitlock, William
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mayhew, Christopher Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Meacher, Michael Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Foot, Michael Millan, Bruce Woof, Robert
Fraser, Rt.Hn. Hugh(St'fford&Stone) Millar, Dr. M. S. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Fraser, John (Norwood) Milne, Edward Mr. Joseph Harper and
Freeson, Reginald Moate, Roger Mr. Donald Coleman.
Gilbert, Dr. John Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Question accordingly agreed to.
Bill read a Second time.

Ordered, That the Motion relating to the committal of the Maplin Development Bill to a Select Committee may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until any hour. —[Mr. Rippon.]