HC Deb 25 October 1973 vol 861 cc1464-5
Q1. Mr. Horam

asked the Prime Minister whether he remains satisfied with co-ordination between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment on the Maplin developments.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Horam

As the Maplin development is neither a piece of high priority social investment nor a piece of vital direct industrial investment, as it will cost the equivalent of over 70 new hospitals, or half the manufacturing investment in any one year, and now that Lord Rothschild has spoken we all know the importance of investing our meagre resources as sensibly as possible, does not the right hon. Gentleman accept that there is a strong case for scrapping the project altogether?

The Prime Minister

No, I do not accept that at all. The House has now approved the project. The total amount in any one year would be only 0.3 per cent. of the GDP* That is surely something that a country of this size can afford—a modern airport that can take some of the evils from the existing airports for the millions of people who live around them.

Mr. Sydney Chapman

As the official Opposition are now unalterably opposed to a third London Airport at Maplin, does my right hon. Friend agree that they should say where they would put a third airport? If they will not do so, should not my right hon. Friend remind the hundreds and thousands of people who live around Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick of the extra noise and nuisance which they will have to suffer?

The Prime Minister

That is absolutely right. Those who are opposed to Maplin must say what the consequences will be for the millions of people who are living around existing airports, which will have to be greatly increased in size to take increasing traffic. At least the Opposition should be straightforward about that.

Mr. Marks

Will the Government apply the same cost benefit analysis to this project as they have done to the Greater Manchester trunk passenger transport proposals?

The Prime Minister

That is an entirely separate matter. If the hon. Gentleman is expressing a relationship between regional development and the Maplin development, then obviously the regions are receiving an overwhelming amount of money in comparison with Maplin.