HC Deb 25 January 1978 vol 942 cc1369-70
8. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest position in the negotiations he is conducting with the Malaysian Government on the question of Concorde's overflying rights of the Malacca Strait on its flight-path to Singapore.

Mr. Judd

I am happy to be able to tell the hon. Member that talks with the Malaysian Government resumed today in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Adley

Is the Minister aware that the Deputy High Commissioner of Malaysia told me that his Government's attitude was shaped by concern for the unknown effect on fish in the Malacca Strait of Concorde flying overhead? However, most people with any knowledge of the problem believe that it is based upon the splitting of the former Malaysia-Singapore Airlines into two airlines and the determination of the Malaysian Government to prevent Singapore International Airlines from being successful. Will he say what he is prepared to do if the Malaysian Government do not reach a reasonable agreement within a reasonable time?

Mr. Judd

It is true that the Malaysian Government say that they are principally concerned on environmental and air traffic control grounds. We believe that their action is illegal, and we are making that point plain. But we are certain that in the context of the resumed negotiations a satisfactory solution will be found.

Mr. Tebbit

Does the Minister think that it would have been a wiser course to have secured agreement with the Malaysian authorities about these rights before rather than after screwing them down to an agreement on air traffic between London and Malaysia which the Malaysians felt was very unfair to their airline?

Mr. Judd

If the hon. Gentleman's account of history was correct, he would be right in his judgment. But what happened was that contacts were started at official level with the Malaysian Government in January last year. We gave them route proposals last March and again in October. The Malaysian officials did not indicate at any time that this would cause any difficulty for their Government.

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