HC Deb 26 March 1973 vol 853 cc913-4
24. Mr. Mather

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made towards an international agreement on the control of air piracy and sabotage.

Mr. Onslow

The two conventions already in force are continuing to attract support. Forty-seven States have now become parties to the Hague Convention of 1970 which deals with hijackers and 23 States have become parties to the Montreal Convention of 1971 which deals with saboteurs. Her Majesty's Government have ratified the Hague Convention, and the Protection of Aircraft Bill, if passed, will enable us to ratify the Montreal Convention. Meanwhile we are continuing to use our influence in ICAO and elsewhere to secure international agreement on enforceable measures to deal with crimes against civil aviation.

Mr. Mather

Is my hon. Friend aware that the ICAO meeting in Montreal on 4th February failed to reach agreement on an international treaty on the control of air piracy and hijacking? Is he further aware of the danger that the International Federation of Airline Pilots has threatened to take unilateral action? Will he study carefully the proposal put forward recently by President Nixon that certain crimes, including air piracy and hijacking, should be treated as capital offences?

Mr. Onslow

I am aware that no agreement was reached at the ICAO conference, and my hon. Friend will I am sure be aware that we and the Swiss are proposing a possible solution which we believe will cover the situation. We are in close touch with the airline pilots on this matter. We have had no pressure from that quarter for the measure advanced by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Mason

But the Minister will have been under pressure from the International Federation of Airline Pilots, and particularly from the British Airline Pilots Association, to establish internationally two things: first, that there shall be no havens for hijackers and saboteurs; and secondly, that if refuge is granted by any country, that country should be frozen out of all international air support services. Does the hon. Gentleman support those suggestions?

Mr. Onslow

We are in close touch with BALPA and know its views. The right hon. Gentleman should know that we are anxious to secure agreement internationally on enforceable measures, but it is necessary that we should get international agreement. It is no use supposing that we can act unilaterally and achieve our purpose.