HC Deb 22 January 1973 vol 849 cc23-4
16. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many members of the British Airways Board have had airline experience as pilots.

Mr. Onslow

None, Sir.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

I am grateful for that rather surprising answer. But is not this a disturbing omission since there is a gulf between pilots and management which has been shown in the BEA inquiry? Has my hon. Friend considered involving the chairman of the British Air Line Pilots Association as an honorary member of the board while he holds that position?

Mr. Onslow

I have no evidence to suggest that the absence of a pilot from the BAB is a cause of dissatisfaction to the corporations' pilots. There are members of the boards of BEA and BOAC who are pilots of experience.

As for the Trident inquiry, it is too early to draw conclusions from that. I have already expressed my concern to the British Airways Board and to the Civil Aviation Authority that every effort should be made to improve pilot/management relations. They are well seized of the importance of this.

Mr. Tebbit

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a problem which goes considerably wider than pilots and the Airways Board? There should be considerable thought by the Airways Board and by many other public and private boards about the need to construct careers in their organisations which will enable men with what might be called shop floor experience to serve usefully on boards of this kind and not simply as representatives who belong to trade unions.

Mr. Onslow

I have some sympathy with what my hon. Friend says, especially in relation to this industry. I know that the BAB and the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority will be happy to explain directly to any hon. Member what is being done in this connection at the moment. I am sure that they will be happy to hear any suggestions that hon. Members have to put to them.

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