HC Deb 17 December 1979 vol 976 cc1-3
1. Mr. Neubert

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when next he expects to meet the chairman of the British Airports Authority.

The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Norman Tebbit)

The chairman and I meet regularly.

Mr. Neubert

Now that the aviation security charge is to be doubled next April, and landing fees at Heathrow are to be increased by 40 per cent., what contribution are airports making to the Government's campaign for cheaper air travel?

Mr. Tebbit

I think that my hon. Friend must accept two factors: first that there is no justification for airports being a burden on the taxpayer, and therefore the passenger must pay the cost of the airports; second, that the extremely sharp increase in the levy this year is necessary because the levy that was set by the previous Government for the current year was totally and completely inadequate—

Mr. Russell Kerr

To deal with inflation.

Mr. Tebbit

To deal, as the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) says, with the inflation which was caused by his Government's surrender to the wage demands of last winter.

Mr. Donald Stewart

If, on the ground of inflation, the Minister is justifying an increase of 40 per cent. in respect of a London airport, how does he justify a proposed increase of 400 per cent. in respect of the two airports in my constituency?

Mr. Tebbit

Again, the right hon. Gentleman must realise that even though the Government accept that in the Scottish Highlands there is a social service element in the operation of the airfields, the loss cannot go on increasing indefinitely. There must, therefore, be increases to meet the deficits that are being incurred.

Sir Anthony Royle

When my hon. Friend next meets the chairman, will he underline to him the deep concern that is being felt by many of the residents who live around Heathrow airport, particularly in the Richmond area, at the great increase in aircraft noise? Will he ask him to ensure that he will not apply for a fifth terminal to follow the possible fourth terminal which might be announced this afternoon?

Mr. Tebbit

My hon. Friend is right to express the concern of his constituents about aircraft noise around Heathrow although I believe, not least with the agreement of the European Community on the banning of all noisy jet aircraft, that the noise will diminish.

As for any possible fourth or fifth terminal, I suggest that my hon. Friend might like to raise that issue in the light of my right hon. Friend's statement later this afternoon.

Mr. Jessel

Can part of the £20 million made annually by the British Airports Authority on duty-free whisky sales be used to provide double glazing for people who live under the noise shadow at Heathrow and other airports?

Mr. Tebbit

Since the Authority pays the cost of such double glazing, the profits on duty-free liquor do, in part, provide that double glazing.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith

Preliminary to my right hon. Friend's statement later in the day, can my hon. Friend say how long it is since his Department received the Glidewell report on the fourth terminal at Heathrow? Will that document be published and, if so, when?

Mr. Tebblt

I advise my right hon. and learned Friend to await the statement that my right hon. Friend will make later this afternoon.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that we shall not be as long on other questions as we were on that one.

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