HC Deb 06 March 1995 vol 256 c9
10. Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to ensure that no further state subsidy is made available by member states to loss-making state airlines in the EEC.

Dr. Mawhinney

It is already the Government's policy to oppose state aid in air transport which distorts competition.

Mr. Steen

Since the losses in Air France last year were the equivalent of two thirds of the losses of all the airlines in the world and since France uses money to underscore and underpin its airline, but attacks British airlines by reducing fares and thus the profitability of English airlines, when the matter comes up in Europe will the Secretary of State tell the Europeans that enough is enough and that he will use his veto and say "Non" if the French want more subsidies?

Dr. Mawhinney

This subject has already come up since I assumed my responsibility, when the Commission recommended that Air France should be the recipient of £2.4 billion of state aid. I took the view that that was a distortion of competition and that it disadvantaged the passenger. As a consequence, we are taking the Commission to the European Court. My hon. Friend should understand that that is a strong policy of Her Majesty's Government, from which we are unlikely to depart.