HC Deb 09 April 1974 vol 872 cc136-7
7. Mr. Kershaw

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what directions he has given about low-flying training in Wales, or elsewhere; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. John

None, Sir, but I shall be giving the matter my close personal attention. As the hon. Member is aware, it has been the policy of successive Governments to ensure that low-level training is conducted in such a way as to cause the minimum of disturbance to the general public. I can assure the hon. Member that this will also be my policy and that the arrangements will be kept under continuing review.

Mr. Kershaw

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his answer started extremely well but afterwards deteriorated a little? Will he bear in mind that low-flying training is absolutely essential? Will he screw up his political courage and not give way to the bleatings of Plaid Cymru and similar people who wish to prevent the RAF from training?

Mr. John

If my answer started well, it obviously had an advantage in that respect over the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. I have made clear that I accept the necessity for low-level flying, but I equally made clear that I shall be scrutinising it to ensure that public inconvenience is minimised.

Mr. David Stoddart

Will my hon. Friend accept that I welcome his answer? When I have been in North Wales on holiday I have been bombarded with noise from these aircraft. When the Minister is considering this question, will he also consider the question of low-flying aircraft over Swindon from Lyneham airfield which causes great inconvenience to my constituents in certain parts of the town?

Mr. John

Just as the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) showed great concern over Wales, I hope that it will not be improper for me as a Welshman to show similar concern over Swindon. I will certainly look at any cases that my hon. Friend has to show me.

Mr. Farr

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in some parts of the Midlands low-flying aircraft are causing a good deal of distress? Will he assure the House that there is no liaison between the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, because as soon as an observation unit from the Home Office came into position for a fortnight all low-level flying ceased for that period?

Mr. John

I assure the hon. Gentleman of that. All low-level flying is reviewed by the Ministry of Defence and is to that extent independent of the Home Office. I will keep the matter in review, and if the hon. Gentleman has any cases to refer to my attention he is welcome to do so.