HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc886-7
6. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on his proposals for denationalisation of British Airways and other bodies of which his Department is the sponsoring Ministry, and for an acquisition of a stake by the work force in such bodies.

Mr. Tebbit

My right hon. Friend and I are considering how best to meet the future capital requirements of British Airways, but I am not yet in a position to make a statement.

Mr. Adley

I understand my hon. Friend's reluctance, quite rightly, to jump to any conclusions. However, is he aware that the views which are expressed by individual members of British Airways tend to be at variance with those sometimes put forward by the official trade unions purporting to act on behalf of the people whom they are supposed to represent? Will my hon. Friend give some indication, therefore, of how he intends to ensure that adequate consultation is carried out, that the views of those who work in British Airways will be sought in depth and that the consultations will not be a charade?

Mr. Tebbit

That is getting a little far along the road of consulting after we have decided what course to recommend. I shall speak to the leading trade unionists concerned and hope also to speak to many of those who work for the corporation.

Mr. John Smith

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that much uncertainty about the future of British Airways was caused by foolish statements of members of the Conservative Party during the election? It is of the highest importance that it is made clear as soon as possible that British Airways will remain a publicly owned concern and that private interests will not benefit from public investment.

Mr. Tebbit

The actions that the Government take will be those that will benefit the public interest in its widest sense.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the growing frustrations of passengers using the Belfast-London shuttle service? That service seldom leaves on time, seldom has a back-up aircraft as promised and has an inferior luggage service. The whole service is disgraceful. Will the hon. Gentleman also keep in mind British Airways' threat that if another operator takes over that line it will stop its operation?

Mr. Skinner

The hon. Gentleman wants an aircraft to himself.

Mr. Tebbit

I take note of all that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) has said. I formerly worked for British Airways and have a great deal of sympathy for the corporation, but my sympathies are primarily with the passengers, who desire the best service. It is the object of this Government to give it to them.