HC Deb 06 December 1978 vol 959 cc1395-7
6. Mr. David Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make available grants under the partnership programme for the improvement and development of Liverpool airport.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Peter Shore)

The Liverpool inner city partnership programme contains no specific proposals for grants in relation to Liverpool airport.

Mr. Hunt

Notwithstanding that answer, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that Liverpool airport is vital to the future of industry and commerce on Merseyside? If he does, will he take immediate steps to make representations to his colleagues to stop the conspiracy on the part of British Airways and the Department of Trade to downgrade Liverpool airport and transfer its passengers to Merseyside?

Mr. Shore

Such words as"conspiracy"do not help the case. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade presented to the House a White Paper following two or three years of serious discussion of what is the best framework for a national airports policy. Although I am appreciative of the role of Speke in Liverpool, I think the hon. Gentleman will recall that it was Manchester airport that was classified as playing the leading role in the North-West region.

Mr. Loyden

My right hon. Friend will be aware of recent improvements at Liverpool airport. Does he agree that it is a vicious circle if an airport such as Liverpool which is trying to expand under the"C"category is at the same time faced with a lack of cash for the provision of proper terminal facilities?

Mr. Shore

That is not a question for me, but, in so far as we are talking about the inner city programme and the Liverpool partnership, I think it is right to remind the House that the programme which has been agreed for the next three years does not contain proposals for improving Speke airport.

Mr. Steen

Will the Minister explain why parts of Garston, which are five miles from the inner city of Liverpool, are included in the partnership? Is it because it is a highly critical marginal seat?

Mr. Loyden

Go round Garston and have a look.

Mr. Shore

Garston is really an enclave which has similar characteristics to the rest of the Liverpool inner city area. Garston was included at the express request, the unanimous request, of Liverpool city council, which the hon. Gentleman should know is not dominated by any one party.

Mr. Heller

Is it not clear that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) reveals a total ignorance of the situation in Liverpool and of the fact that Garston happens to be one of the oldest parts of Liverpool, as are parts of Walton? If the hon. Gentleman really knew his area he would know that.

Mr. Shore

I agree with my hon. Friend that anyone who knows the area —I know it too—will agree that Garston has many of the characteristics of the rest of the inner city area. Therefore, it was entirely appropriate, and the result of an objective consideration, that it was brought within the inner city area.