HC Deb 15 March 1976 vol 907 cc923-5
11. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the latest position concerning Concorde flights to the United States of America.

Mr. Shore

I am in close touch with the situation in the United States of America and will be considering what action needs to be taken either by the Government or by the airlines. I hope to make a further statement soon.

Mr. Adley

Notwithstanding the fact that, following publication of the Coleman Report, both the British and the American Governments are doing their best to ensure a fair trial for the aircraft in the face of opposition from the American manufacturers, airlines and opportunist politicians masquerading under the heading of "The Environment", may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that in this and the French Parliament groups have been formed to support the aeroplane? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is embarking on his third question. May we have the answer to the first two?

Mr. Shore

The hon. Gentleman began by recalling certain difficulties being met with in the United States. We know about them. It is right that all-party groups have been formed in this country and in the French Parliament, which are determined to give voice to the strong sentiments in France and Britain in favour of flying Concorde to the United States.

Mr. Cope

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear as widely as possible in the United States—to the public as well as to the authorities—that if Concorde is subjected to jealous and obstructive opposition there it will gravely damage Anglo-American and Franco-American friendship?

Mr. Shore

That point is well understood in the United States. We are all looking for a constructive solution to the many obstacles that still exist. We have considerable confidence in the processes of American justice and in particular in the consequences of Secretary Coleman's powerful and authoritative opinion.

Mr. Stonehouse

Since New York, New Jersey and New York Port Authority have no authority with regard to international landing rights, will the Secretary of State make representations to the United States authorities to the effect that they should deal with this opposition rather than that it should be dealt with in the courts by way of appeal?

Mr. Shore

That is one of the matters we need to think about carefully. I shall certainly keep the House informed on all significant developments in this saga.

Mr. Tebbit

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we share his confidence that this matter will be satisfactorily resolved through the normal processes of law and diplomacy in the United States? Will he bear in mind that if there is any suggestion of discrimination there will be considerable pressure for unofficial action to be taken—"blacking", in industrial terms, or something of that sort? Should not the United States authorities bear this in mind in reaching a speedy solution?

Mr. Shore

There are indeed all manner of possible reactions, and while we certainly would not wish to encourage them it is only common sense to acknowledge that people quite rightly feel deeply on these matters in this country and in France. Like the hon. Gentleman, I have confidence in the legal processes in the United States. I believe that we shall get Concorde successfully in flight to New York and Dulles.

Mr. Jessel

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends the Members for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Cope) and Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) to visit my constituency of Twickenham and listen, as I did this morning, to Concorde taking off? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if they did so there would no longer be any talk about people "masquerading under the heading of 'The Environment'" or about jealous and obstructive opposition? Does the Secretary of State not think that those who are anxious about the suffering caused by aircraft noise have in the past been far too gentlemanly with the aviation lobby, which at times behaves in an utterly unscrupulous manner?

Mr. Shore

I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern. I put it to him again, as I did when he last raised this issue, that what people near to airports are most concerned about is not the noise contribution of a particular aircraft but the total volume of jet noise to which they are subjected. It is our policy, and the policy of nearly all leading aviation countries, to see to it that the total volume of noise is reduced.