§ 12. Mr. McCrindle
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he plans to introduce legislation on airline overbooking.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Clinton Davis)
No, Sir. But the Civil Aviation Authority proposes to exercise its power as a licensing authority to include a mandatory condition in the licences of United Kingdom airlines for the compensation of passengers who are not carried on a scheduled flight on which they have confirmed space, even though the flight takes place.
§ Mr. McCrindle
That news is welcome, but, in view of the recent House of Lords decision, will the hon. Gentleman take this opportunity to make absolutely clear that if it is discovered that an airline or travel agent has overbooked a passenger the airline or travel agent concerned will not be in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Act? If there is any likelihood of uncertainty, will the Minister introduce legislation to make the situation absolutely clear?
§ Mr. Davis
That is a matter not for me but for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection. The decision of the House of Lords was made on the facts of the case in question, and only on those facts, and it would be wrong to draw from them a more generalised view about overbooking.
§ Mr. Tebbit
Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that such a restriction, which presumably would not apply to foreign airlines, will not leave British airlines in a less competitive position?
§ Mr. Davis
It is necessary to establish a balance between the interests of the airlines and the interests of people who are annoyed and inconvenienced as a result of being put off aircraft flights through overbooking. I am satisfied that the Civil Aviation Authority will go about its discussions with the airlines having regard to the necessity to maintain a balance.