HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc890-2
4. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress is being made in negotiations on possible additional Concorde routes to Johannesburg and Melbourne.

Mr. Dell

I have nothing to add to the replies that the then Secretary of State gave on 9th February to similar Questions, including one from the lion. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle).

Mr. McCrindle

Has not the Secretary of State noticed, during the parliamentary recess, an indication that the Australian route for Concorde now appears likely to come into service in the near future? Taking that into account, and assuming the ultimate success of the routes to Washington and New York, will he tell me whether the availability of Concorde aircraft will allow the extension to perhaps only one other route, such as Johannesburg or Tokyo?

Mr. Dell

I have indeed noticed the statement of the Australian Minister for Transport during the recess. As the Minister made clear in that statement—it was not, I believe, widely reported—there may be certain statutory processes yet to be gone through, but I hope it will be possible to start a service to Melbourne. As to the availability of the Concorde aircraft for further routes, that is something we shall discuss when it is necessary so to do.

Mr. Terry Walker

In thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I impress on him that it is very urgent that these routes should now be looked at? Will he tell us what is now happening about India with regard to overflying rights? What consultations are taking place with the Indian Government?

Mr. Dell

As I believe I said on the last occasion when the matter was raised, India is not at the moment willing to have supersonic overflying. There is a possibility of diverting round India, but that would be less satisfactory. This is a problem which, unfortunately, we have not yet resolved.

Mr. Jessel

Why should the Government expect the Indians, who are citizens of the Commonwealth, to allow their people to be overflown by Concorde supersonically when we insist that our own people in Britain may be overflown by Concorde only subsonically?

Mr. Dell

This is obviously a matter that we have to discuss with the Indian Government. They have the final reservation on this issue, just as the British Government would on a similar question if it arose practically in this country.

Mr. Neubert

Will the Secretary of state say what efforts are being made to facilitate a trial operation of Concorde to India to enable the Indian people to decide for themselves the merits of this remarkable aircraft?

Mr. Dell

It is really for the Indian Government to decide what tests they would wish to make before they conceded a supersonic route across India. It is not for the British Government to decide the activities of the Indian Government in that respect.

Mr. Adley

Will the Secretary of State confirm that, contrary to the expectations of the anti-Concorde lobby, no one in Washington has lost arms, legs or any other organs since flights started? Will he accept the congratulations of millions of people on the determination of his Department and of many other people in getting this aircraft launched commercially with success?

Mr. Dell

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for those congratulations. I thought that Concorde was very well received in Washington when we arrived. The route to Dulles Airport was jammed with cars, which seemed to be welcoming us and not protesting.

Mr. Tebbit

Will the Secretary of State say whether Her Majesty's Government have now given up negotiating with India and are prepared to let the matter slide entirely and not pursue it?

Mr. Dell

There is a problem here, and we have to consider how we can raise it again and at what time.