HC Deb 12 March 1990 vol 169 cc1-2
1. Mr. Colvin

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his meeting with the Secretary for Transportation of the United States of America.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Cecil Parkinson)

We met in Washington on 11 January. We discussed a variety of topics, including the prospects for liberalising services between the United Kingdom and United States of America and arrangements for new United States airline services to regional airports. Those discussions are now being carried forward.

Mr. Colvin

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that any air service agreements with the United States will be based on reciprocity, particularly with regard to cabotage, and that they will be negotiated by Britain on a bilateral basis rather than in concert with our European partners? We have much more at stake than other EEC members. To negotiate with them might lead to the building up of a fortress Europe mentality, which would be very much to Britain's disadvantage in its relationship with the United States.

Mr. Parkinson

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It is important that the package of measures that we agree between us is fair to both sides. The Commission has its work cut out to make progress on liberalisation within the Community and is certainly not ready to take on the duties of negotiating our bilateral international agreements. I therefore agree with my hon. Friend on both counts.

Mr. Prescott

At that meeting, did the Secretary of State discuss with Mr. Skinner the information that came to light in the presidential investigation into the Lockerbie tragedy—that 80 per cent. of the American embassy people who were to fly on that plane cancelled on receipt of the warning about that crash? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that that is another good reason why he should reopen the inquiry into the Lockerbie tragedy, as it causes grave offence for him to co-operate with the American authorities while refusing to conduct such an inquiry in Britain?

Mr. Parkinson

I did not discuss the information about the United States personnel, although I discussed with Mr. Skinner the implications of Lockerbie for aviation security. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the two Governments have been co-operating to promote international agreement on a range of matters. We are still investigating Lockerbie—the investigations by the police and the air accident investigation branch continue. My right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate has made it clear that there will be a fatal accident inquiry and he is already making those arrangements. There is no question of that terrible disaster not being fully investigated.