HC Deb 18 July 1984 vol 64 cc307-8
11. Mr. Hirst

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the review of Scottish lowland airports policy.

Mr. Ancram

The terms of reference and arrangements for conducting the review have been announced and a consultation document has now been issued. I hope that interested parties will take full opportunity to make their views known.

Mr. Hirst

Is my hon. Friend aware that the consultation paper on Scottish lowland airports policy, issued by the Department of Transport, specifies that representations on that document must be made by 21 September? Bearing in mind that July and August are holiday months in Scotland, does my hon. Friend agree with me that that period is inadequate? In view of the importance of this matter to my constituents, will my hon. Friend vigorously press his colleagues in the Department of Transport to extend the period so that there is the widest possible consultation in Scotland on this important matter?

Mr. Ancram

Although I appreciate that a time scale of a full two months may be short of the period that some people desire, I believe that it is adequate, especially in the light of the need to avoid any undesirable delay, because of the uncertainties that might arise out of that review. It is in the interests of all parties that the review is concluded reasonably soon.

Mr. Foulkes

Is this review not as big an embarrassment to the Secretary of State for Scotland as the review of Locate in Scotland? The Department of Transport has set up a review that could undermine an airport in Scotland, in the constituency of the Secretary of State. Why is it that the decision will be taken by the Department of Transport, not by the Secretary of State for Scotland? How can the right hon. Gentleman continue in office if a decision is taken by the Department of Transport that would undermine the future of Prestwick airport? Should he not resign, not only as the Secretary of State for Scotland, but as the right hon. Member for Ayr?

Mr. Ancram

The hon. Gentleman's interest in Prestwick airport is well known. Allegations of the kind that he is making can only damage the airport. I make it clear to the House that this is a joint Department of Transport-Scottish Office review. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be fully involved in the considerations of its conclusions and subsequent decisions on the future of the policy.