HC Deb 16 November 1987 vol 122 cc750-1
2. Mr. Livsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from farmers in Wales concerning the disturbance caused to livestock in Wales by low-flying aircraft.

The Minister of State, Welsh Office (Mr. Wyn Roberts)

None. Complaints would normally be made direct to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

Mr. Livsey

Will the Minister make urgent representations to the Secretary of State for Defence to ban all low flying at 100 ft in Wales, as it is causing great suffering to people and animals? Will he press the point that farmers whose beef cows have aborted, which frequently happens as a result of low flying, should be fully compensated to the equivalent price of a nine-month-old suckle cow?

Mr. Roberts

Any claims for compensation arising from damage alleged to have been caused by aircraft activities should be submitted to the Ministry of Defence claims commission. The claims procedure has been agreed between the claims commission of the MOD, the agriculture departments and the farming unions. I cannot hold out any promise of banning low-flying aircraft, since that form of training is, of course, vital.

Sir Anthony Meyer

Of course, no one likes aircraft screaming over his head, but is it not some consolation to be able to look up and see that they do not carry red stars under their wings?

Mr. Roberts

My hon. Friend is quite right. Whenever people complain about low-flying aircraft to me, I ask the question, "Were they ours?"

Dr. Dafydd Elis Thomas

Will the Minister accept that at least one fifth of these aircraft are not ours—unless one regards the United States as part of his Department? Will he, therefore, take seriously the number of complaints from the farming community, in view of the information given to me by the Minister of Defence about the increased number of flights and the noise of aircraft? Will he support the call for a review of low-flying procedure, as it is 10 years since we last reviewed it?

Mr. Roberts

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence is well aware of the views of farmers and the hon. Gentleman on low-flying aircraft.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Does the Minister appreciate that not only livestock but people are deeply disturbed by these supersonic sorties above their homes? There have been terrible accidents, and pilots, aircrew and valuable jet planes have been lost. Is it not time for the Government to take heed of the multitude of protests that they have recieved and call a halt to these uncivilised exercises?

Mr. Roberts

The Welsh Office is responsible for many things, but defence is not one of them. These questions should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.