HC Deb 22 January 1973 vol 849 cc3-8
3. Mr. Mason

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make an early official visit to Yorkshire and Humberside to discuss the changing industrial infrastructure and the need for improving communications, including the development of a regional airport.

6. Dr. Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make an early official visit to the Yorkshire and Humberside region to discuss the effects on the region's industry of the suggested development of a regional airport.

Mr. Chataway

I have discussed these matters on a number of visits to the region as has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. We shall both have early opportunities to do so again. The advantages to industry of the region's good road and rail communications and ready access to the EEC will be further improved by the new east-west road. As the House knows, a study of the airport needs of the North of England, including Yorkshire and Humberside, is being initiated by the Civil Aviation Authority, which would welcome advice from hon. Members.

Mr. Mason

There is a need for an urgent decision on the future of the Yorkshire regional airport. As the Minister knows, we have only Yeadon. North-East Airlines is the main user; it intends to phase out its Viscounts from 1975 and its Trident replacements will not be able to land on the shortened runway. All this is at the time when we are entering the EEC and it will embarrass trade and stifle tourism in the county. Even if we decide to build a new airport, it will take 10 years to do it. Is there not an urgent need now for the Minister, who is responsible for regional development, to try to get the runway extended at Yeadon so that we can have an airport between 1975 and 1983, which is the earliest the new one might be built?

Mr. Chataway

The right hon. Gentleman will know that the local authorities concerned have been considering whether they would wish to reapply for an extension of that runway. While Yorkshire West Riding and Bradford Council were in favour of doing so, I understand that, at the instigation of the Labour group, Leeds Council was opposed to an extension of the runway. The Civil Aviation Authority intends to make haste with this study and hopes that it will be ready by the end of the year.

Dr. Marshall

Given that a new regional airport for Yorkshire and Humberside would stimulate industrial development, and given the Government's policy of assistance to the regions, are they prepared to help finance the construction of such an airport?

Mr. Chataway

I should require notice of that. It is obviously not primarily a matter for me. But the hon. Gentleman will recognise that, important though the airport is, the developments of communications in the region to which we are already committed will substantially enhance its attractions for industry.

Mr. Wilkinson

In discussion of regional development matters in the West Riding textile district, will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his Ministers bring to the attention of the Leeds Corporation, the only body which has not supported the extension of Yeadon runway, the vital necessity of good air communications for the exporting industries of the area and the fact that alternative sites, such as those in the Finningley area and in the Vale of York, are precluded from development by the flying training requirements of the Royal Air Force in those areas?

Mr. Chataway

I take note of my hon. Friend's comments. I am sure that the Civil Aviation Authority will also do so. Lord Boyd-Carpenter has specifically said that he would welcome the views of hon. Members at an early stage.

Mr. Edward Lyons

On the assumption that Yeadon does not get its runway extension, does not the Minister agree that we shall have a terrible situation in about three years' time in that there will he no commercial airport in the whole of Yorkshire? Is not that a terrible situation? What is the Minister proposing to do to speed up the introduction of a new regional airport for Yorkshire?

Mr. Chataway

There is a job to be done in looking at the airport needs of the north of England as a whole. With the development of new motorways, it is clear that some of the airport traffic from Yorkshire will be diverted to existing airports. None the less there is a strong case, which has been powerfully made by a number of bodies, for an airport at Yeadon. I believe, therefore, that it is right that the Civil Aviation Authority should undertake this study.

20. Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will visit Yorkshire and Humberside to discuss the modernisation needs of industry.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Walker)

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Industrial Development has visited Yorkshire and Humberside on several occasions during the past few months to discuss the needs of industry in the region, and I shall be visiting Yorkshire and Humberside in the months to come. The provisions in the Industry Act to assist modernisation are an important part of our regional policy.

Mr. Duffy

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are two pressing reasons for an even earlier visit? One is the ambiguities that appear to arise from the statement given to the Press by his right hon. Friend in Manchester on 24th November in which he appeared to interpret the Act in a much narrower sense. The second is, as I think the right hon. Gentleman appreciates, the urgent need to rehouse much of industry in the Yorkshire region, notably in the South Yorkshire and Pennines area.

Mr. Walker

Both my right hon. Friend and I agree that there is considerable potential for the application of this Act to Yorkshire, and we shall be working to this end.

Mr. John Mendelson

In addition, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the suggestion put forward by his colleague in the debate on Yorkshire economic development some months ago—that all development must come from within existing firms in the Yorkshire area and that there should be no great influx of industry from outside—is wholly unacceptable to opinion in Yorkshire and that this has been proved at various conferences recently. Will he give an assurance to the House and to the county that there will be full Government support for additional industries to come to Yorkshire, particularly in replacement of jobs that might be lost?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman's remarks are a misinterpretation of my right hon. Friend's speech. Certainly our objective is to do everything possible to encourage industrial expansion in Yorkshire.

Mr. Mason

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what is the purpose of his visit, whom he intends to meet and whether he will have talks on the expansion of Yeadon airport?

Mr. Walker

When I have completed the programme I will let the right hon. Gentleman know.

27. Mr. Wilkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will now visit the West Riding wool textile district to discuss the importance of local air transport services for trade and industry in the region.

29. Mr. Ford

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he is having regarding the development of a regional airport in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, and its effects on the industry of the region.

Mr. Onslow

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Industrial Development visited the wool textile industry in West Yorkshire on 9th November. Among the matters discussed was the importance of efficient air services. As I think the House may now know, the Civil Aviation Authority is about to start a study into the structure of the airport system in the North of England, including Yorkshire and Humberside.

Mr. Wilkinson

In the Secretary of State's forthcoming tour of Yorkshire and Humberside, will he visit the wool textile delegation and the Bradford Chamber of Commerce to hear their views on the importance of maintaining an air service from Yeadon, which will be possible only if Yeadon has a sufficiently long runway? Will he also bear in mind that nobody has yet explained who will finance the development of a completely new airport ab initio elsewhere?

Mr. Onslow

I am sure my right hon. Friend will have taken due note of the first point made by my hon. Friend. In reply to his second point, I must say that the criteria governing grants for airport development are strict and I am not able to hold out any prospect of financial assistance being available for airport development in Yorkshire. Any case that is put forward will be carefully considered.

Mr. Ford

Does the Minister agree that it would be undesirable for regions such as Yorkshire and Humberside, which contains the urban area of the West Yorkshire metropolitan county, to lose scheduled air services?

Mr. Onslow

I am sure that the Civil Aviation Authority, which has a direct responsibility in these matters, will take note of that point. If any hon. Member on either side of the House has a point of view to put forward on this subject, I am sure that Lord Boyd-Carpenter will be happy to hear from him.