HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc888-90
3. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he intends to introduce any new measures to encourage the use of quieter civil aircraft or to restrict the use of noisier types.

Mr. Clinton Davis

There is already a requirement that all new subsonic aircraft operating at United Kingdom airports should be quieter than their predecessors. As I stated in the House on 15th March, we are at present studying other measures that would further reduce noise disturbance.

Mr. Tebbit

Is the Minister aware that that will be an extremely disappointing reply to those who live near Gatwick and Heathrow? Is he telling the House and those people that, having dropped the Maplin proposal, the Government have no proposals whatever for hastening the removal from service of noisy aircraft and the bringing into service of quiet aircraft?

Mr. Davis

Not for the first time is the hon. Gentleman wrong. The fact is that the Government are committed to the replacement of the older, noisier aircraft. Steps have already been taken, as from 1st January this year, concerning new production of older types of aircraft.

We have to take into account the economic costs and the adequacy of suitable replacements for the noisier aircraft, and apply a balance in regard to these factors. The hon. Gentleman really is being a little mischievous in this respect, because he is well aware of the difficulties.

Mr. Molloy

While acknowledging the remarkable help, aid and concern of my hon. Friend concerning aircraft noise—with particular reference to the London borough of Ealing, for which I am grateful—may I ask him to consider supplying local authorities, such as the London borough of Ealing, near the great airports with detailed information on what he is trying to achieve, so that they can pass on that information to people in the area who are concerned and who do not fully appreciate his endeavours?

Mr. Davis

I think that the local authorities, and, indeed, other environmental groups, take a rather different view from the narrower political one just ex- pressed by the hon. Member for Ching-ford (Mr. Tebbit). We are in very close consultation with the local authorities, including my hon. Friend's local authority. I think they accept that we are doing our very best to mitigate the pestilence of noise, about which I have spoken and acted over a period of time.

Dr. Glyn

I thank the Minister for the recent CAA conference which he inaugurated. It did not affect my constituency very much, but that was not his fault.

Will the Minister enlarge on two matters? First, will he look very carefully at and hasten the inquiry into a complete ban on night flying into Heathrow, as this is a subject which is causing considerable trouble? Secondly, will he deal urgently with the matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ching-ford (Mr. Tebbit) about noisier aircraft, as people cannot enjoy being in their gardens at weekends and if there are night flights they cannot sleep at night?

Mr. Davis

I readily understand the problems. As I have indicated, I have acted in very close co-operation with environmental groups, with local authorities and with all those concerned with this difficult situation. I have already answered the hon. Gentleman's second question.

As to night jet restrictions—

Dr. Glyn

Night flights.

Mr. Davis

As to night flights—this incorporates night jet restrictions—we have undertaken a study on the scope for tightening these restrictions further. I hope to be able to report to the House on that in the not-too-distant future.

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