HC Deb 15 December 1975 vol 902 cc956-7
18. Mr. Steen

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress he has made in his consideration of the Civil Aviation Authority report as it affects Speke Airport.

Mr. Clinton Davis

The advice from the Civil Aviation Authority on Airport Development in the Central England Area is being taken into account in the preparation of a consultation document on regional Airports.

Mr. Steen

Is the Minister aware that an efficient airport is of tremendous value in encouraging industrial development and investment and that any phasing down of Speke Airport may have a disastrous effect of the employment situation on Merseyside?

Mr. Davis

The question of phasing down Speke Airport or the expansion of that airport in anticipation of the consultation process to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred earlier is not a matter for my Department, as the hon. Gentleman well knows. I hope that the consultation process will be fruitful and that as a result we shall obtain a national airport strategy at long last.

Mr. Heffer

In view of the fact that my hon. Friend the Minister visited the airport some weeks ago and that a decision has still not been taken on this matter, will my hon. Friend take note of what I said earlier and what the hon. Gentleman has now said? A decision must be taken on this, so that the people of Merseyside know the future of the airport.

Mr. Davis

The fact that we have not had—indeed, have never had—a national airport strategy causes great concern. It is right that in embarking on discussions of this character, which will have a longterm effect, all interests concerned should be consulted and play a part in the process. That is important. The penalty for this is delay, but that is a regrettable but inevitable consequence.

Mrs. Chalker

Will the Minister undertake to have detailed consultations with the Department of the Environment over its future planning of roadways in the area, which may crucially affect the Civil Aviation Authority's report on Speke Airport?

Mr. Davis

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and I shall be carrying out a joint consultation exercise. Therefore, I can give the hon. Lady that assurance.