HC Deb 02 July 1979 vol 969 cc885-6
5. Mr. Madel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will pay an official visit to the site for a possible third London airport near Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Mr. Tebbit

I have at present no plans to do so. I shall consider the need for a third London airport and its siting when the studies currently in hand have been completed.

Mr. Madel

As Parliament decided in the early 1970s that this area of the country should definitely not provide a site for a third London airport, and as it is equally unsuitable today, will my hon. Friend give an assurance that there will be no publication of any conclusions of the South-East Airports Planning Committee or of the Government until Parliament has reassembled after the Summer Recess?

Mr. Tebbit

The committees are not Government committees. Therefore, it is doubtful whether I could even require them not to publish their reports. Even if I did so, I imagine that, as usual, they would be leaked in the press before they were officially published, in any case.

Mr. Newens

As the projections for the expansion of air traffic were based on much more optimistic forecasts of the availability and the price of aviation fuel than can now be sustained, does the hon. Gentleman agree that we ought now to hold up all further plans for a third London airport until a thorough reassessment of the situation has taken place?

Mr. Tebbit

A thorough reassessment of the situation is taking place.

Mr. Jessel

Is my hon. Friend aware that if the Labour Government, aided and abetted by the Liberal Party, had not in 1974 dropped the Maplin proposal, that could have been in operation by 1981 or 1982? Is he aware that people living around Heathrow and Gatwick are now desperately in need of an urgent decision on this matter, because they are burdened with a grossly unfair share of aircraft noise?

Mr. Tebbit

The decision will not he delayed needlessly.