HC Deb 20 June 1994 vol 245 cc1-2
1. Mr. Anthony Coombs

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether it is his policy to encourage local authorities to privatise their airports.

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. John MacGregor)

Yes, it is our policy to encourage local authorities to privatise their airports. East Midlands was sold last summer. The BAA has operated private sector airports very successfully in Scotland and the south-east since 1987.

Mr. Coombs

Given the enormous success of the privatised British Airports Authority in running Heathrow and Gatwick, will my right hon. Friend encourage the privatisation of Birmingham airport, especially as it will need to attract additional private capital for the £400 million investment programme that it is planning for the next 10 years?

Mr. MacGregor

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for pointing out the success of the privatisation of the British Airports Authority. It has led—this is very relevant to his question—to a substantial increase in capital investment in all its airports and to a great improvement in its services. It is much more enterprising and is now selling its services to countries overseas, which demonstrates the success of our policy.

I understand that Birmingham airport has substantial capital investment plans. It is right that those should be taken forward in partnership with the private sector and I welcome the fact that Birmingham intends to do so.

Mr. Bryan Davies

Will not my constituents, who last year received £800,000 for the local authority from Manchester airport's profits, lose while the Minister's friends in the City gain from that absurd policy?

Mr. MacGregor

There is no reason why they should lose. The fact of the matter is that everyone has gained from the privatisation of the BAA. The passenger has gained very substantially. Instead of paying for capital expenditure from public resources, we now receive tax in return from the British Airports Authority. All round, it has been a very successful policy and I believe that it would apply just as well in Manchester.