HC Deb 24 October 1988 vol 139 cc12-3
14. Mr. Bradley

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority; and what was discussed.

16. Mr. McCrindle

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last met the chairman of (a) the Civil Aviation Authority and (b) British Airports Authority plc; and what subjects were discussed.

Mr. Channon

I meet the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and British Airports Authority plc from time to time to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Mr. McCrindle

As it appears that both BAA plc and CAA are now agreed that there is a likelihood that there will be a need for additional runway capacity before the turn of the century, can my right hon. Friend give me any idea whether there is also an agreement between BAA and CAA on whether such additional runway capacity should be situated north or south of the Thames?

Mr. Channon

I should not like to comment now on the views of BAA or CAA on the issue because, as my hon. Friend knows, I am awaiting a report from the CAA on this specific topic, which is extremely important. I hope to receive it in a few months' time. It is important that we look at the future airport and runway needs of the south-east of England. That will be reported to me. As to where and if a new runway should be provided, the one thing that I should say to my hon. Friend is that the one place where it cannot happen is Gatwick.

Mr. Wilson

When the Minister meets the chairmen of BAA and CAA, does he spin them the same old rubbish that he gave the House earlier this afternoon about domestic air fares having nothing to do with him and competition being the force that somehow controls them? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the return air fare between Glasgow—incidentally, the European city of culture, so cultured that there is not a single Tory Member of Parliament—and London is £152? That is after the privatisation of British Airways and the supposed introduction of competition on that route. Does the right hon. Gentleman say that the free market, or the cartel, is working on such routes?

Mr. Channon

What I accept is that there is continuing need for competition on domestic and, indeed, foreign routes. I am sure that, in the long term, competition will lead to a better service for passengers and that it is more likely that lower fares will be achieved.

Mr. Jessel

Will my right hon. Friend tell both the CAA and BAA that, around Heathrow, there is deep hostility to any increase whatever in airport facilities?

Mr. Channon

My hon. Friend does not astonish me by his views. I shall bear them in mind. Indeed, they are extremely important. I know the views of my hon. Friend and his colleagues.

Mr. Spearing

When the Secretary of State next meets the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, will he remind him that two undertakings given by the builders of London City airport about new radar installations and the system of instrument landing were not complied with when the airport was built? Will he get from the chairman of the CAA an undertaking that proper evidence will be taken about short take-off and landing regulations throughout the world and that this evidence will be given to a forthcoming inquiry on an application for the use of jet aircraft?

Mr. Channon

I had better make no comment on a forthcoming application, which will be decided in due course. Of course I shall discuss with the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority the first of the hon. Gentleman's allegations, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has already done that on many occasions.