§ 13. Mr. Haselhurst
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether his Department has now formed a view as to the optimum size of the third London airport; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Clinton Davis
The advisory committee on airports policy was established to advise on these matters. I understand its current view is that a new airport should have the potential to be expanded ultimately to include two runways and to handle around 50 million passengers a year.
§ Mr. Haselhurst
Do the Government accept the view which appears to be emerging from the advisory committee on airports which was set up by the Government? Is not the swift formation of that view by the advisory committee rather a marked contrast to the calculated vagueness of last year's White Paper?
§ Mr. Davis
It would be quite wrong for me to prejudge the consideration of these matters by the advisory committee and by the study group on South-East airports. They have put forward this view, but of course it will have to be the subject of a consultation document in due course which the Government will have to approve in principle.
§ Mr. Costain
The Minister's Department cancelled Maplin and the Channel tunnel, but does the Minister appreciate 19 that British Rail is now trying to reincarnate the Channel tunnel? Will not this have a bearing on the need for a third London airport, and when will the Government make a decision on the Channel tunnel?
§ Mr. Jessel
Since the Government White Paper last year was quite clear about the fact that a third London airport would be needed sooner or later, is it not better to get on with that as quickly as possible instead of planning to enlarge Heathrow and Gatwick, thereby increasing the suffering of people living round those airports?
§ Mr. Davis
The extensions at Heathrow and Gatwick were spelled out in the White Paper. They are inevitable, as, indeed, is some expansion at Stansted and Luton. The fact is that we must deal with the short and medium term as well as the long term. As to long-term development, I believe that it is absolutely right to have a proper basis of consultation, so that people who have a direct interest in these matters will have an opportunity to have their say as a result of which they cannot allege that the man in Whitehall knows best.