HC Deb 18 November 1974 vol 881 cc870-1
6. Mr. Hayhoe

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will confirm that the current review of the sound insulation grants scheme is taking account of the effects of aircraft noise in schools and other public buildings as well as on private housing.

Mr. Clinton Davis

The review of the Heathrow and Gatwick schemes is continuing. These schemes are financed by the BAA and apply only to dwellings. The extension of the schemes to other buildings is also being examined but there are formidable and far-reaching problems relating to such an extension.

Mr. Hayhoe

Can the Minister say when he expects the review, particularly as it affects domestic accommodation, to be completed? Is he aware that there is widespread feeling among all those who live near these airports that the present scheme is out of date? In particular, they feel that the requirement that in order to benefit from it people should have lived in the same house for a considerable period ought to be discontinued. Equally, from the point of view of children attending schools which are severely affected by aircraft noise, we would like this extension of the scheme to be brought forward quickly.

Mr. Davis

I have written to the hon. Gentleman about the review as it relates to housing. I hope to be in a position to make a statement before the end of the year. I hope this will become a reality, but the lion. Gentleman will recognise the problems that exist. I am aware of the anxiety and distress that are caused to many people in the vicinity of Heathrow and, indeed, other airports. This necessitates our dealing with the matter thoroughly but as expeditiously as possible. I cannot say when I shall be able to make a statement on the wider review. Other Departments have to be consulted, and the large expense involved is also a matter of some concern.

Mr. Jessel

Can the Minister say whether the sound insulation grant can be extended to the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames? Is he aware how much my constituency suffers from aircraft noise? Does he not agree that borough boundaries are an illogical basis for sound insulation scheme grants?

Mr. Davis

The question does not arise as a result of borough boundaries, as the hon. Gentleman knows. I cannot prejudge the result of the review and say whether the hon. Gentleman's borough will be beneficially affected.