HC Deb 13 March 1978 vol 946 cc11-2
8. Mr. Jessel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he expects his Department to give evidence to the forthcoming planning inquiry into the proposal for a fourth terminal at Heathrow Airport.

Mr. Clinton Davis

My Department is prepared to give evidence if the inspector conducting the public inquiry thinks that this will be helpful.

Mr. Jessel

The Secretary of State for Trade has said: Our policy … envisages the provision of a fourth terminal at Heathrow."—[Official Report, 1st February 1978; Vol. 943, c. 456.] Therefore, how can those members of the public who live around Heathrow and who suffer from aircraft noise have any confidence in the impartiality of the Government's decision following the planning inquiry?

Mr. Davis

The planning inquiry is in the hands of Mr. Iain Glidewell, a Queen's Counsel of considerable repute—

Mr. Adley

A legal high flier.

Mr. Davis

—and whose name, in relation to aircraft noise, is wholly appropriate.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins

Will my hon. Friend consider whether the Government are not simply holding inquiries as a preliminary to making public decisions which they have already reached? In the case of Windscale, as well as Heathrow, is it not a fact that the Government have already made up their mind what to do and the inquiries are merely facades?

Mr. Davis

My hon. Friend is not exactly disinterested on this subject, as he has revealed on a number of occasions.

Mr. Cormack

Neither is the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Davis

The Government have set out their point of view in the White Paper. The matter will be considered by the inspector in the course of his investigation. It is a matter of evidence which no doubt he will find—I hope—persuasive. It is not a matter which he need find absolutely compelling. If my hon. Friend feels as strongly as he suggests on these matters, he must pay attention to the scope of the inquiry and may have to consider whether he wishes to give evidence.