HC Deb 02 July 1986 vol 100 cc1125-8

Lords amendment: No.58, after clause 61 insert— .—(1) If, after considering any recommendations made to him by the CAA in pursuance of section 16(2) of the 1982 Act (recommmendations concerning airport capacity), the Secretary of State so directs, the CAA shall take such steps as it considers appropriate for the purpose of encouraging or facilitating the provision (whether by an airport operator or any other person) of any facilities or services that are necessary for the implementation of those recommendations. (2) The steps taken by the CAA in pursuance of subsection (1)—

  1. (a) may, without prejudice to the generality of that subsection, include the furnishing of information, the provision of assistance to persons requesting it and the provision of advice (whether or not requested); but
  2. (b) shall not include the carrying out of any works of construction or alteration or the defraying of, or the making of any contribution towards, expenses incurred by any other person in carrying out any such works.
(3) Before embarking on the performance of its duty under subsection (1) with respect to any recommendations the CAA shall consult the airport operator in the case of any relevant airport as to the manner in which that duty is to be performed by the CAA. (4) Without prejudice to the generality of section 11 of the 1982 Act, a scheme or regulations under that section may make provision for charges to be paid in respect or the performance by the CAA of its duty under subsection (1) above with respect to any recommendations, and for such charges to be paid by—
  1. (a) the airport operator in the case of any relevant airport, and
  2. (b) any person for whom assistance or advice has, at his request, been provided by the CAA in pursuance of that duty;
but if such provision is not by any such scheme or regulations the CAA shall be entitled to recover an amount or amounts in respect of any expenses reasonably incurred by it in performing that duty from such one or more persons falling within paragraphs (a) and (b) above as the CAA considers appropriate.
(5) An airport is a relevant airport for the purposes of subsection (3) or (4) if—
  1. (a) the recommendations referred to in that subsection relate to the airport, or
  2. (b) the airport is subject to economic regulation under Part IV, and it and any new airport to which those recommendations relate would be airports serving the same area in the United Kingdom;
and the reference in paragraph (b) above to airports serving the same area in the United Kingdom shall be construed in accordance with section 29(6).
(6) Section 4 of the 1982 Act applies in relation to the performance by the CAA of its functions under this section.

Mr. Michael Spicer

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendment No. 88.

Mr. Spicer

Under section 16 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, the CAA already has a duty to consider the need for airport capacity and to make recommendations to the Secretary of State. Under the new clause which amendment 58 puts into the Airports Bill, The Secretary of State in receipt of such a recommendation is able to direct the CAA to take appropriate steps to encourage or facilitate the provision of such facilities and services as are necessary to give effect to its recommendations.

The Government regard this additional provision in the Bill as a useful extra stimulus to the clear economic incentive that airport operators already will have to provide adequate capacity. The matter was debated by several of my hon. Friends and was also raised by the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) in Committee. Thus, we have found a way of accommodating the thrust of the argument put to us.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I have one question to ask in order to get things clear in my mind. Are we talking about not only runway facilities but terminal capacity? That is as important, as, and sometimes more important than, runway, capacity. Yesterday, I went to Gatwick and although I would not like to say that there was chaos and confusion, the terminal was jam-packed with people. I understand that it has been decided not to proceed with the second terminal at Gatwick in the meantime.

Mr. Spicer

The position is that there is no approval for a second runway but the BAA has almost completed a second terminal at Gatwick.

Mr. Hughes

In that case, I have my facts slightly mixed up. But on Tuesday, people certainly complained to me about the inadequacy of the terminal facilities at Gatwick. There is certainly a need for an extension. I have obviously got the second runway mixed up with the second terminal. I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) has gone, as otherwise he would not make flattering comments about how I would perform as Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Bill Walker

I welcome the amendments. They are encouraging after our long uphill struggle to find a form of words that would meet the wishes to those concerned about the problem of demand and capacity. I have read the words carefully, and I compliment my hon. Friend the Minister and his staff on what they have achieved. He will realise that coming from me, that is saying quite a lot after all our battles in Committee.

The new clause refers to an airport operator or any other person". An airport operator may have a sound reason, such as wishing to maximise profits, for not putting forward the necessary plans and proposals to meet the demand in relation to terminals. Indeed, runways could fall into the same category. If that need was not met and the airlines, or anyone else, came forward with proposals to that end, I hope that the Department, the CAA and the Secretary of State would view that favourably. That is the assurance that all the airlines, and the passengers want.

Earlier we spoke about the problems of the airlines that had been working under a threat. But that threat would be substantially diminished if someone could say, "Of course we are prepared to invest in a new terminal wherever it is, or whatever facility is required." If that is what the new clause means, it will be very well received throughout the aviation industry. It was the uncertainty about no one being required to do that that worried people. However, the amendment represents a big improvement to the Bill. Of all the improvements and changes made, it is probably the one that the airline industry wanted most. I thank my hon. Friend for that.

11.30 pm
Mr. Steen

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your tolerance, indulgence and good nature, which I shall not test further. I recognise the contribution of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) in getting the clause in. He and I, along with Members of the House of Lords, battled to see the clause in the Bill. I pay tribute on the Floor of the House to my hon. Friend for his perserverance. Perhaps it is appropriate that he dresses as he does tonight to show what a fighter he has been for that clause. The House pays tribute both to him and to the Secretary of State for the fine job they have done in draftng the clause and getting it absolutely right. The airline industry has a great debt to pay.

Mr. Michael Spicer

In response to the question by the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Mr. Hughes), terminals will be included in the definition of capacity. As my hon. Friend the Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen) said, my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) fought the issue strongly. We resisted making the concept "or anyone other than the operator" compulsorily in the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North was quite right to say that the phrase "or any other person" introduces a new concept—a concept which he espoused during the Committee stage. I thank him for the kind remarks he made. I think that we have seen the efficacy of the revising powers of the other place, because the other place has come up with a form of words which improves the Bill considerably.

Question put and agreed to.

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