HL Deb 28 February 1946 vol 139 cc968-1014

4.15 p.m.

LORD BALFOUR OF INCHRYE rose to call attention to the civil aviation policy of His Majesty's Government outlined in Cmd. Paper 6712; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, since your Lordships debated the question of civil aviation some weeks ago two things have occurred. Firstly, the Government published the White Paper promised by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, during the last debate. Secondly, there has been another important debate in another place. There has also been a conference between British and United States representatives at Bermuda. Though we regret the absence of the Minister of Civil Aviation, Lord Winster, the Government is represented by the Leader of the House, to whom I would like to express my gratitude for agreeing that we have this debate to-day. My colleagues, the noble Lords who sit with me on these Benches, felt that, in spite of the absence of the Minister of Civil Aviation, we should ventilate certain matters and ask certain questions arising out of the two events I have just mentioned.

My noble friend Viscount Swinton is going to deal in greater detail with the outcome of the Bermuda Conference as expressed in the White Paper which has just arrived at the Printed Paper Office, but which your Lordships will note the Government gave to the Press about a fortnight ago. My only comment on that Conference is that it does make virtually unrestricted competition between the United States and ourselves possible, because as regards the number of aircraft which the United States can send into this country, and as regards the number of passengers the United States can pick up in this country and take into another country, excepting our Colonial possessions, there is no limit at all, and there is no sanction in respect of any attempt by the United States to, as it were, run us out of the air except good intentions as expressed in the Bermuda document. The relevant paragraph says: … the two Governments desire to foster and encourage the widest possible distribution of the benefits of air travel for the general good of mankind at the cheapest rates consistent with sound economic principles … That is an admirable intention. As long as the intention is carried out this country will be able to maintain its position, but if that intention is not carried out, then Bermuda exposes us to unrestricted competition.

The purpose of British civil aviation is to spread a network of British operated and equipped airlines over the surface of the world. We wish the air to do for Great Britain what the Mercantile Marine did for us on the seas. But to-day, if your Lordships will look at the position, I think you must agree that we have done little to fulfil that objective compared with the task that lies before us. I wish I could say to-day that I think our prospects are otherwise than very grim at the present time. There was a debate in another place yesterday on the man-power situation, and there was an appeal on the one hand by the Prime Minister to deal with the man-power situation on a national basis, and, on the other hand an appeal from Mr. Oliver Lyttelton that the Government should abandon some of their ideological theories and the implementation of some of their Socialist doctrines in order to get on with the job. I believe that in the realm of civil aviation that applies to-day. We are at the moment sacrificing immediate opportunities for the sake of ideological theories.

Command Paper 6712 expresses high ideals and is an admirable document in many ways for those who believe in the Socialist policy, but it does not give any real and positive plan for the execution of the objective of civil aviation. If I may say so, it seems to me to read rather more like a political pamphlet than the policy of a Government. We are at the present time following a Government plan for the restriction of this great new enterprise to three State-owned corporations. And let me interpose here that we have not yet received the Bill in this House which will make the implementation of that policy possible. That Bill has not yet appeared in either place.

Other countries are forging ahead in operation, in aircraft and in airports, and we are falling behind all the time. May I give one or two examples? On the Paris routes we are losing to the French. Their aircraft, as some of your Lordships who have travelled in them may know, are sound-proof and comfortable. Our aircraft are not fitted with cushions at all and they are not sound-proof. They are full of what are called V.I.P.'s and priorities. Take the line to Ireland. The Irish Company are using a most comfortable Douglas aircraft; we are using a converted war-time Anson. Take the North Atlantic. There the position is very depressing, for we have no air service across the North Atlantic at all at the present time, whereas the United States has a steady flow of aircraft arriving at these shores. To-day you can go to their offices in London, if you can arrange with the Treasury to obtain the necessary dollars, and buy a passage and fly to the United States by American aircraft, but there is no British aircraft flying the North Atlantic at the present time.

As regards airports, we have the one at Northolt which passengers flying to and from Europe use. I must say I think it is a very poor example of what British civil aviation can do, when one sees the shoddy, wooden-type buildings which are going up in that establishment, which is going to be more than a temporary airport, for we are told it is to be used for all time in addition to Heath Row, the main airport. In France, Le Bourget airport is being restored at full speed and has fine terminal buildings. In every direction we look we find we are really achieving nothing at the moment. There is a feeling of stagnation amongst those who are concerned in trying to get British civil aviation going, except amongst those in Government circles. Speeches, pious hopes and paper programmes will not mend the situation.

We are told that the position is due to the policy on which we concentrated of producing combat-type aircraft during the War, while America concentrated on producing transport types. Therefore she has the advantage over us. That is true to a large extent, but ten months have passed since Germany was defeated, and surely we cannot go on using that excuse all the time. The United States to-day is using the most modern aircraft across the Atlantic, and I am informed that next year she will be flying, if not on service at any rate on experimental work, one of the new Jet aircraft across the Atlantic. We have not even ordered our commercial aircraft which are essential. My noble friend Lord Brabazon, who has done much work in preparing specifications and who is unable to be here to-day, has given me information as regards the types which he recommends. There is a wonderful great aeroplane which is going to fly in 1947, called the Brabazon 1. That is a very fine aircraft, but it is going to need a specially long runway at Bristol to enable it to fly, and legislation is needed for its provision. Unless we speed matters up, we are going to have the machine ready without any aerodrome from which it can fly. I am informed that for months the need for that aerodrome extension has been realized, but so far no legislation has been promoted.

There is an aircraft which Lord Brabazon calls the "bread and butter" of the big operating companies of the future—the Brabazon Type 3. Lord Brabazon proposed to the Ministry of Civil Aviation eighteen months ago that that aircraft should be ordered. A. V. Roe's up till to-day have not even received the contract for the prototype, although they gave the particulars of what they wished to build to the Government eighteen months ago. I know I have not given notice to the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, of some of these points, but I cannot help bringing them out in the debate, and I hope a note will be taken of them and that in due course some reply will be given. Lord Brabazon considers that we are in grave danger of falling behind unless there is much greater speed in the administration of these orders than has hitherto been evident.

Another type of aircraft, the Brabazon Type 5, is, being built at Reading. The firm concerned, during the administration of my noble friend Viscount Swinton, was to get an order for a fairly large number of that particular aircraft. The order has not yet been received by that firm, and all they are doing is to build two prototypes. British civil aviation cannot advance so long as there is indecision by the Government. I would submit that the system is entirely wrong where the operator does not order direct from the manufacturer but has to go through a Government Department, with all the delay that is necessarily involved. We had a flying boat—I saw in the Press that it was the finest and greatest flying-boat in the world—called the Shetland. Unfortunately, I suppose owing to the carelessness of two air mechanics, that beautiful flying boat caught fire and was burnt in a matter of a few minutes. That was the sole one, but there were parts for eleven more Shetlands (for it was originally intended to build twelve) at Short's Works at Rochester. When I was at the Air Ministry, before the Ministry of Civil Aviation was formed, I tried to persuade my superiors that we should build all those twelve civil Shetland boats. I quite agreed with the decision which forbade that at that time, because then we were at war with Germany and could not allocate man-power or materials for civil aviation. But surely, seeing that the war with Germany was over ten months ago, we might have got those parts from Short's and put them together and made Shetland flying-boats, instead of now being left with only the burnt ashes of one Shetland and the parts of eleven others still in the works.

I submit to your Lordships that the reason why we are stagnating is that we are trying to stifle, by a policy of nationalization and restriction, those very qualities which are needed for this adventure of mankind in the air. Restriction, prohibition and limitation are the enemies of the merchant adventurers, and we need merchant adventurers in the air. If we want British aircraft equal to all others, then we should create a demand for those aircraft by developing three, four, or more users. We have just had to purchase some American aircraft. I would resist that purchase, because only by forcing users to use British aircraft shall we create a demand which will make manufacturers produce the very best articles. We should give freedom to the users to use any British aircraft they like, and cut out the Government Departments that prevent immediate contact between the user and the manufacturer. British industry can produce as good and better aircraft than anybody else, but the policy of a single Government user, subject to close Government control, will never give that scope that our nation deserves for its air effort. I deplore this policy, but it has been voted on, and has been passed by the other place, and therefore I can only register my fear that we are going to lose heavily in the air through its implementation. I hope that even at this late hour the Government will consider altering their present views.

There is only one field left for private enterprise in commercial flying in this country, and that is the field of air charter and taxi services. In the debate in your Lordships' House on the last occasion, Lord Winster said he did not wish to knock private flying on the head, but he did not explain in detail what that wish of his implied. The Government companies are now going to take powers which will enable them to run charter services. It is quite certain that there will be a number of private companies wishing to enter the charter field, and the competition between those companies will be sufficient to keep fares down. I submit that, although it is not intended to knock private flying on the head, there is a very real risk that the entry of these State corporations into the field of charter and taxi work will make it impossible for this last stand of private enterprise to cope with Government competition.

The essential purpose of charter is to supply the individual needs of a citizen who is willing to pay; so it seems to me a strange doctrine that a Socialist Government should use its State-operated and State-owned concerns to satisfy the requirements of any particular single individual. After all, the London Passenger Transport Board runs regular bus routes, but it leaves taxi work in London to the taxis, when we can get them. I grant that taxis in London leave something to be desired at the present time, but that is, I think, due to war usage. The railways run special trains, but they are run over scheduled routes. I submit it is entirely wrong that the only field left to private enterprise should be subjected to this blast of competition from State-subsidized and State-operated corporations, which have great advantages in the way of no petrol rationing and operation from the best airfields, together with many other advantages which I need not enumerate. I think it is a terrible thing that this charter work should be at the mercy of State corporations. Directly anybody pioneers a freight service—and there is a great future for the carrying of freight by air all over the world—sufficiently to create a constant demand, then along is going to come a Government corporation and say, "This is a regular route now; therefore you must get off it, and we, the Government Corporation, will exercise our monopoly to be the only body that runs airlines."

I want to touch for a moment on the question of fares. This Government monopoly policy seems to me to put the public at the mercy of the Government as regards air travel. I believe there is to be an advisory tribunal, but we have been given no particulars of it. When we asked Lord Winster for particulars he replied," Wait till you see the Bill." When the State gave monopoly rights to the railways, they removed the decision on fares to a ⋆ semi-judicial body, the Railway Rates Tribunal, which gave consumers of transport a measure of protection. I would ask the noble Viscount who is to reply if he can give us some information as to what protection the consumers of air travel will receive so that they are not exploited in order that the enterprise shall be able to show satisfactory financial results. Could there not be a tribunal which would have power to make to the Minister recommendations? Then if he did not accept them, he would have to justify their rejection to Parliament.

As to the future of staffs in these Government corporations, and particularly in the European corporation, I would like to know what is the future security for the staffs of the Railway Air Services, who number, I think, some 200. Hitherto we have been told the new corporations will be responsible for engaging their staffs. We could well ask whether it is not reasonable for a Socialist administration to give some small measure of security to the staffs of the companies which are going to be taken over. At present they are at the mercy of new employers who will take them on or not as they think fit. I hope the noble Viscount who replies will be able to tell us that in the Bill which we shall in due course have in this House there will be some provision whereby the services of those people in the past will be recognized and their security in the future assured.

On the question of airports, I would ask what is the position of municipal airports? The Government propose, as noble Lords know, to take over all scheduled airports. There are many municipalities in various parts of the country which have been enterprising and which have built airports themselves. What is their position now if they are not taken over? They may wish to continue to operate, they may wish to run flying clubs, they may wish to run charter services and freight services. Are they going to be allowed to have the same Governmental advantages of radio and meteorology as these scheduled airports? If a municipality wishes to start an airport on its own, will it be necessary to get Governmental permission, and will the Ministry of Health refuse to sanction a loan unless the Ministry of Civil Aviation says that that airport is going to be used in the future? I think that local authorities are entitled to a greater amount of information on the Government airport policy than they have had hitherto.

As to the London airports, we know there is going to be Heath Row, and we know there is going to be Northolt, with the very inadequate buildings which are now being put up. We would like to know whether there is going to be a third airport, and whether the Government would consider setting up a London Airport Authority, on the lines of the Port of London Authority, to administer all London airports. I have briefly put certain questions to the noble Viscount who is going to reply. I would make a plea that there should be imparted a much greater sense of urgency to the immediate problems of civil aviation than is at present animating the administration. Otherwise I fear very much we are going to be left behind in this race in the vital development of the age, a race in which this country must play its full part, and be equal to anyone else if it is going to succeed in future commerce, and in holding its own with the rest of the world.

4.39 p.m.


My Lords, there are one or two points I should like to put to the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House. I think we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchyre, for having brought this question up again. I am sorry that Lord Winster, the Minister, is unable to be here, because, as we all know, no man takes a keener interest in and has more knowledge of the subject. He is in a very important position to-day.

I do not take the same view as Lord Balfour. I am not such a Jeremiah as he shows himself to be in speaking about the gloomy state of civil aviation. And I do not necessarily differ altogether with this White Paper. It is quite true that another White Paper was published before this one. It outlined what was called the Swinton plan. Your Lordships may have read what the Lord Privy Seal said about that plan in another place. It is not for me to quote the Lord Privy Seal, but those of you who read the report of his remarks will realize that what he stated was very near what actually happened.

The Coalition Government was formed to win the war, and when it tried to deal with things set up after the war it was always in a difficulty by reason of having to satisfy different Parties in the State. That was the real problem which had to be faced. In the case of these two White Papers I must say that I am glad that those parts of the first White Paper which have been left out in the second White Paper have been omitted. I did not necessarily agree with many of the points in the Swinton Paper—for example, the bringing in of the railways and the shipping companies. I have never agreed with that. But now you have a policy laid down, and perhaps I may be allowed to ask with regard to it some questions upon which I should like enlightenment from the Government. I do not ask them in any antagonistic spirit because I am not definitely, or in any real way, opposed to the main policy which is set out in this White Paper.

If you are going to build for civil aviation in the world as it is to-day your work has got to be done on national lines. Of that I am certain. It is no good thinking that you can do this with "merchant adventurers", whatever that term may mean. The thing has gone too far for that. Great problems such as the problems of safety and of how you are going to deal with other countries have to be faced on a far greater scale than anything which has confronted us in the past. This is an international matter to a very great extent, and if you think that you can leave it purely to private enterprise you are going to get what you saw to a great extent between the wars—absolute chaos. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour, was in office before the war. He went into office, perhaps, on the Cadman Report which condemned civil aviation as it was run then. Now this White Paper is really the next step. What Lord Balfour and the Government of which he was a member—a purely Conservative regime—started was the idea of B.O.A.C.

There are criticisms to be made of this Report, naturally. It is not frightfully well written to my mind, and in some ways it lays too much stress on what is called orderly development and not on rapid development. I agree with Lord Balfour that there is great need of urgency in this matter. Do not let us put too much faith in orderly development. We must proceed in this industry with rapid strides. The big difference between the Government's present White Paper and the former one—and this is a matter on which I should like to ask some questions—is the setting up of the three Corporations. I am not very happy about that. I know what you had before, because for that set-up I was to a certain extent responsible, as I was a Minister at the time. I held office when Brigadier-General Critchley was made Director-General, and I must say that I am sorry he has been sacked. He did not resign; he was sacked. I believe that though many people may differ with some of his views this, at any rate, is certain: he is a man with immense drive, and he contributed an immense amount: towards rebuilding what had been Imperial Airways and the B.O.A.C. into what it is today. His drive was undoubtedly a great asset, and, as I say, I am very sorry that he has had to go. But, at the same time I could see quite well that he could not remain under this present set-up.

In this connexion I think your Lordships ought to bear in mind what you are really getting now. You are very nearly getting a Mexican Army. You have got an enormous number of generals and not a great many troops. You have a Minister of Cabinet rank, an Under-Secretary, and Permanent Under-Secretaries. You have got the whole set-up of a Ministry of Civil Aviation and you have a very able man who sits in this House, Lord Knollys, as a leading figure. Under him you are going to have these three Corporations all with their separate boards and full-time chairmen. They will all be independent to a very large extent, and they are all going to need a very considerable amount of money. Each board will have a full-time chairman, and I would like to know a little more as to what they are going to be paid. I know you have Sir Harold Hartley, a very distinguished man and a great chemist, I understand. Then there is Mr. d'Erlanger, Lord Knollys, Mr. Booth and Air Vice-Marshal Bennett. Can we be told what they are going to be paid? Would I be very far wrong if I said that Mr. d'Erlanger was receiving some £ 7,500 a year? Moreover, would I be very far wrong in saying that you have got to pay these prices for these people if you are going to set up these three big corporations?

How many people are there in this civil aviation set-up? I understand that at the moment, you have something like 18,000 men, which total may come down later on to something like 12,000 men. To look after this number you have a full-blown Cabinet Minister and all the other people forming an immense Ministry. No doubt, your Lordships are aware that the London Passenger Transport Board employs something like 250,000 people, but that Board does not have a separate Ministry. And we must remember that our finances are not unlimited at the present time. We are entitled to know where our money goes. I have never been happy about the idea that this scheme needed a completely separate Ministry such as we have got now. On that matter I do not necessarily agree with what is in the White Paper. We are to get these separate corporations employing a number of people which I do not agree need grow greater. With greater speed and carrying power of aeroplanes you will not need to employ more people but fewer. I think it is a top-heavy instrument which unless it is very carefully watched will not serve the country as the country is entitled to be served.

The question of aerodromes was mentioned by Lord Balfour. This, of course, is a very important question. I do not take the same view as Lord Balfour concerning Northolt. As I understand it, Northolt is merely the aerodrome which is being used for convenience sake at the moment and Heath Row is really going to be the aerodrome. Of course any other aerodrome may be used at the same time if necessary—for example, if weather conditions demand it. There is mention in the White Paper of Prestwick. As regards that airport I speak with a certain amount of trepidation and feeling because when I was a Minister I went up to Prestwick. The people there were trying to attract my attention no doubt. I got the Ministry to build a road there, and they called it after me, "Sherwood Road." I should think it is about the only road in Scotland named after an Englishman. But I was not, as the noble Viscount the present Leader of the House well knows, in a position to give any policy in those days. Therefore that seed, I am afraid, fell on a rather stony road.

I am glad, from a Scottish point of view, that Prestwick has been mentioned in this White Paper; but Heath Row is the important place, and I ask the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, if he can assure us that the Government have not quite closed their eyes on the question of the development of what is known as F.I.D.O. at Heath Row. I know it is said that the expense of this fog-dispersal apparatus is very great, but it is not great when compared to the safety it will bring to British aircraft. If you can build up Heath Row, as I believe you can, into the greatest of all airports in Europe, then you must have all these things.

As I mentioned before, there is the question of private enterprise. But private enterprise is not really able to find the money. When you think that Heath Row is going to cost at the minimum something like twenty-three millions, merely as a port that you go to, it shows that the State has got to be interested in this question of civil aviation. When I hear people say, "We can run this line without a subsidy," they are not really talking sense at all, because what they mean is: "You give us the aerodrome, the safety, and all the appliances, then perhaps we will run what is known as the booking side of it." That is where they are going to make some money. That is why, in my opinion, it has got to be under the State. The Minister, as I said, is a go-ahead Minister. He has got great opportunities at this time, and he has got to use them and use them fast and hard. It is a serious matter. What Lord Balfour was saying on the question of aeroplanes which are now flying was: unless you fly in British aircraft you are not going to make a success of British civil aviation. We have got to work towards that end. A new White Paper has just come out. I understand the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, is going to go through it in more detail; I myself only received it at three o'clock this afternoon. Therefore, I am not going to comment on it now. There are many things which will come up later regarding civil aviation. This is one of many debates, but it is one in which I hope your Lordships will make it clear to the Government that there are many others here who take this matter with very great seriousness and do not wish the Government but rather God-speed in their efforts.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to follow my noble friend who has just spoken or questions that he has addressed to the Government. I would venture just to say in passing two things. First of all, the majority of people, and members in both Houses I think, with the single exception of himself and possibly his late leader, were peculiarly insistent upon the establishment of a Ministry of Civil Aviation. Unquestionably the establishment was due to strong pressure in both Houses and in the country. Moreover, it is doing a little less than justice to the work of that Ministry to suggest that all it has to do is to look after Lord Knollys with Air Vice-Marshal Bennett. There is a vast amount of international organization which has to be undertaken. I have had some little experience of it myself, not only at Chicago, but right through the Empire. There are all the international regulations. I think my noble friend did a little less than justice to the duties which fall upon the Ministry. As regards, his criticism of my own plan, I do not think it necessary to follow him because he was, if I may say so, so admirably answered, or anticipated on the last occasion when my noble friend Lord Rennell spoke for the Liberal Party in exactly the opposite sense.

I am not going to trouble the House with general questions which have been very rightly raised by other speakers, save only one. I should like to reinforce the appeal made to the Leader of the House to tell us a little more of what are to be the powers of the tribunal to which people may appeal. I do not think it is reasonable to say, "Well, you must wait for the Bill." After all, he will remember that, speaking in another place, the Lord President said, "We must wait a bit for the White Paper." It was not at all an unreasonable thing to say, because as he said it would hardly be useful—I paraphrase, but I think I am accurate—to produce a White Paper which was merely a repetition of the statements which the Minister had made in this House. Quite frankly I think the White Paper does not do an awful lot more than that. The only paragraph which deals with the rights of the public in appealing about fares and services is paragraph (16), which merely says: Machinery will be established whereby, as regards internal services, the public will be enabled to make representations concerning fares, rates … and so on. So far as the foreign services are concerned, there will be a tremendous competition which our airlines will have to meet all over the world, but under the Anglo-American Agreement, to which I want to devote most of my speech, the principle is laid down that the fares are to be those at which the most efficient operator can conduct his business. I think the travelling public will be sufficiently protected by the very keen competition met with on the foreign lines.

When you go into this machinery of our internal services, nobody except the Government is going to conduct those services, and therefore it is really very important to know what rights the travelling public and the great municipalities are going to have if they are dissatisfied with the fares or the service. For example, supposing Manchester or Glasgow feel that they are not adequately served in the air, under our plan they could have gone to the tribunal. The tribunal could have ordered fares or ordered facilities, or, if no services were being run, they could have given the service to any applicant whom they were satisfied was efficient. If there was an existing service, they could have enforced those conditions upon that service or have granted another operator the chance of doing it. Nobody, however inefficient the service, however high the rates, nobody is to be allowed to come in, and therefore the only chance which the travelling public is going to have is to go to some tribunal and make a case for lower fares or better facilities. Quite frankly, I do think it would be right for the Government, if they are going to enter into this business and take the whole of it over, to say they are to be subject to a tribunal and they would carry out the services and the rates which this independent tribunal considered reasonable. This specific point is the only domestic point I want to put to the Leader of the House, and I do hope he will be able to give us some satisfaction upon it.

I turn now to the international agreements. May I, before I come to the American Agreement, put one or two questions on other agreements. I have given my noble friend more details in respect of the questions I am going to put to him, because these international agreements are of such enormous importance that I felt it only right that he should be able to give, as I know he wants to do, his fully considered reply.

I saw in the Press that there had been negotiations at the beginning of this month with Scandinavia. A mission from the Ministry went to Scandinavia should be grateful if he would tell us what was the result of those negotiations. Similarly, there have recently been negotiations with the French Government in Paris which again, I understand from the Press, have actually reached a final conclusion, and some agreement has been made. I should be grateful if he could tell us what that agreement is. I am sure that he will readily assent to the proposition, that where these agreements are made, they should be laid before Parliament as a White Paper. That has been done in the case of the Portuguese Agreement, and it has been done, a little tardily perhaps, in the case of the Anglo-American Agreement, which I understand was available to the Press a week or a fortnight ago — at any rate a good long while ago. The Ministry did me the courtesy of sending me a copy of the Agreement a considerable time ago, but it was only made available to Parliament at three o'clock this afternoon. I am sure that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will agree that when important international agreements are issued to the Press, the regular practice should be followed that they are presented to Parliament as a White Paper at the same time. It is a perfectly simple matter. You get your White Paper ready, and you tell your Press conference at 12 o'clock that they are not to publish it until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. That is an arrangement which the Press always observes. But Parliament really ought not to wait a fortnight for a most important agreement.

May I ask a question about the Portuguese Agreement which is set out in Command Papers No. 6739 and 6740? It seems to me to be a very good Agreement indeed, and dealing fully with capacity, with frequencies, with the division of traffic between the parties, with the fixing of fares, and with Fifth Freedom traffic. On all those matters there is agreement in principle. The method by which this Agreement is to be applied is clearly set out, and, what I think is of the utmost importance, there is provision that in the event of any dispute which is not easily resolved, or any question on the interpretation of the Agreement, there shall be an arbitration tribunal to do justice between the parties, and by whose decisions we and the Portuguese Government agree to be bound. I have nothing but praise for this Agreement. We are given wide powers in regard to our routes which touch Portuguese territory, and the Portuguese are given the powers they are deeply interested in having in getting easy access to their own Colonial territories, with provision for valuable and close links between the Rhodesias and the Portuguese territories. South Africa will make its own agreement. The only question I have to ask is this. Supposing the Portuguese Government grant more favourable terms to any foreign government, then under our agreement with Portugal, are those terms automatically and of right extended to us on the most-favoured-nation principle?

I now turn to the Anglo-American Agreement made at Bermuda which is in one White Paper which your Lordships will have found in the Printed Paper Office just before the debate. Everyone, I think, would support the Government in trying to get a mutually satisfactory agreement with the United States. It was obviously right, and I think it was probably easier, to negotiate in the calmer atmosphere of Bermuda than in the rather more hectic atmosphere of Chicago, where there were fifty-two nations represented and where Press representatives were present or had full cognizance of both those meetings which were of the most confidential character and those which were more public in nature. I think the provision by which the United States Government will have a representative of the Civil Aeronautics Administration sitting in the Ministry of Civil Aviation in London, and the corresponding provision for a representative of our Government to sit in the Aeronautics Administration in the United States, is excellent. It is a demonstration of mutual confidence and goodwill. It enables both parties to know the mind of the other, to know if there are difficulties, and to be able to discuss them rapidly, and, above all, to know what each other intends. That seems to me to be all to the good, and I am delighted that it has been arranged.

I hesitate to express a definite opinion on a good deal of this agreement until the Government has explained to us today certain points which are rather obscure. It is an agreement which is of enormous importance. I think that it is probably the most important civil aviation agreement that this country has entered into. It covers a wider field even than those agreements which I had the satisfaction of making concerning our Commonwealth routes and our Commonwealth partnership, because the traffic which will be affected will be much more extensive even than that which I hope will develop on those routes. It is bound, moreover, in its operation and provisions, to impinge on those routes, and upon our Commonwealth and Imperial air partnership, at a great many points.

In order to understand this agreement, we have to look at three documents, or at least a document in two parts, and another. There is the agreement and the annex, and these have to be read with the resolution passed at the final plenary meeting, which is perhaps the most important of all the documents. I am sure that those of us who have had experience of international agreements would agree that it is enormously important that both parties should mean the same thing, and that is all the more important when the language is general and when both parties have, so to speak, to put their own interpretation upon it and to operate it by their own methods. The resolution and the agreement deal with frequencies, or, as I should prefer to call it, because I think it is a better word, capacity—that is to say, the amount of air facilities, the number of aeroplanes which are to operate. They deal with Fifth Freedom traffic and they deal with rates. Let me take first of all the capacity or frequencies. That is, to be non-technical, the number of seats offered week by week upon a route. As I read the resolution and the agreement, there is, as Lord Balfour said, no control of those. I hope the noble Viscount will not hesitate to interrupt me if I am wrong at any point. Each side, that is, our operators and the United States operators, will be entitled to put on the number of aircraft which each of them thinks is right and convenient, but in accordance with certain principles.

It is essential, I think, that we should be clear on what those principles mean and how they are intended to work. Those principles are in the resolution, and that is why I said I thought the resolution was the most important of the whole chain of documents. Now I direct your Lordships' attention to four provisions which lay down the principles which we both undertake, by this sort of gentleman's agreement, to employ. Paragraph (3) of the resolution is as follows: That the air transport facilities available to the travelling public should bear a close relationship to the requirements of the public for such transport. Paragraph (4) provides: That there shall be a fair and equal opportunity for the carriers of the two nations to operate on any route between their respective territories covered by the agreement and its annex. Paragraph (5) provides: That in the operation by the air carriers of either Government of the services the interest of the air carriers of the other Government shall be taken into consideration so as not to affect unduly the services which the latter provides on all or part of the same routes. Paragraph (7) is very important. It provides: That in so far as the air carrier or carriers of one Government may be temporarily prevented through difficulties arising from the war from taking immediate advantage of the opportunity referred to in paragraph (4) above— that is equal facilities— the situation shall be reviewed between the Governments with the object of facilitating the necessary development, as soon as the air carrier or carriers of the first Government— that is in our case the United Kingdom— is or are in a position increasingly to make their proper contribution to the service. As a statement of general principles, that seems reasonable, but how is it intended that those principles will work? The Agreement covers a very large number of routes going all over the world. Let me take the simplest and most straightforward case of all — the services between this country and the United States and between the United States and this country. Does paragraph (3) mean that the total capacity provided by the United States and the United Kingdom together shall in the aggregate be sufficient to provide for what is estimated to be the traffic offering? Let me put it in concrete terms. Assuming that on a liberal calculation it is estimated that there will be 1,000 passengers a week wanting to travel this Atlantic route, is it intended that the aggregate capacity which we and the United States together are to provide on an agreed load factor will be sufficient, and not more than sufficient, to take those 1,000 passengers a week? Obviously, if this principle is to work, there must be agreement on a round figure of traffic offering. 'Unless you can agree on the traffic offering, then I just do not see how the agreement is going to work at all, because the whole essential basis of this is a relation to traffic and an equilibrium between the amount of aircraft: and the amount of traffic. If that is so, how is this aggregate of traffic to be arrived at? Is each side to calculate for itself? If we have agreed upon the amount of traffic, and, therefore, upon the amount of capacity which it is reasonable to provide to deal with that traffic, how is it intended that that capacity shall be shared between the United States and the United Kingdom?

Let me observe in passing that, on any reasonable load factor, say 60 per cent., there will always be a very considerable margin for the more efficient and the more popular operator to take up. Your Lordships will appreciate what I mean by that. I will explain the position with regard to the load factor. I apologize to those who know much more about the air than I do, but I am aware of the difficulty in connexion with some of these technical phrases. Of course you can in theory fill up a machine 100 per cent. By that I mean that every seat is occupied and all freight space is occupied Sixty per cent load factor means that you assume that the machines will be 60 per cent full Obviously, if every aircraft has a margin between 60 per cent and 100 per cent the more efficient operator is going to have a liberal margin which he can fill up at the expense of the other. That is all to the good, and is quite sensible.

I would like to ask what is meant by "fair and equal opportunity" in paragraph (4) and by "the operations of one operator shall not unduly affect the other" in paragraph (5). Is it meant that, having agreed from time to time the capacity which will be required to carry the estimated traffic on this route, we are going to share that fifty-fifty as between ourselves and the United States? If it does not mean that, and that is not how it is to work, then I cannot see what there is to prevent either party to this agreement, ourselves or the United States, from putting on enough capacity to carry the whole or the greater part of the traffic. And is each party to be the judge of what is required? Your Lordships will observe that in the application of these principles, which are so vitally important, and which, as I say as principles I think are not unreasonable, it is not going to be Government and Government, as I read it; it is going to be airline operator and airline operator; which makes it all the more important that there should be clear understanding as to what is intended.

I come now to the operation of paragraph (7) which is inserted to provide for the case which unfortunately exists at the present time, where one operator is ready to operate and the other is not. The Americans are ready to operate 100 per cent. We are not ready. Until we can offer facilities, presumably the United States airlines will be entitled to carry the whole of the traffic. I do not think that could be resisted. You cannot have traffic offering and machines able to carry it, and say, "No, because we are not ready that traffic shall not go." That I think must be conceded. What we must do is to put ourselves in a position to carry our share of the traffic as soon as we possibly can. But what happens when we are ready? It is admitted that we shall start with the United States operating and carrying presumably the greater part of the Atlantic traffic and ourselves carrying only a small proportion. When we are ready to carry our proportion, what is going to happen? Is it intended that the United States air carriers will reduce their proportion of aeroplanes and that we shall increase ours? I appreciate that the traffic will increase—at any rate, we sincerely hope so—and it may be that part of our share can be taken in putting on new planes in order to cope with new traffic. But that really does not go very far to meet the case, because as traffic has been increasing all the time, so will the numbers of aeroplanes have been increasing.

Therefore you have to face the fact that the United States will be carrying, say, 80 per cent of the traffic and we shall be carrying 20 per cent of it. The agreement, as I understand it, that there shall be a fair chance for both, means that each will be able or ought to be in a position to put on enough planes, on this load factor principle, to carry half the traffic. That must mean, if it is to be carried out, that the United States will reduce their number of aircraft as we increase our number of aircraft. If not, we can get our share of the traffic only by putting on a large number of planes, while the United States' number of planes remains unreduced. In that event, it means that there would be, in fact, more planes operating than the traffic would justify, and that completely knocks the bottom out of the earlier provision that the amount of capacity shall be related to the amount of traffic.

That would have been covered by the United Nations' clause on the principle which the United States were ready to accept during the Chicago Conference. We never got it into the agreement, because the noble Viscount knows we never got a final international agreement, but I think he will be informed that in principle it was agreed that it would be a reasonable thing to put in a United Nations' clause on those lines. I appreciate you have paragraph (7) of the resolution, which bays that when we are in a position to carry our share of the traffic there will be a review, but I do want to know on what principles that review will be conducted.

I am dealing still with the vitally important question of capacity, and I want to know what is to be the machinery for settling disputes. Disputes over this, as I have indicated, are going to arise between airline and airline and not primarily between Government and Government. I know in our case the airline is owned by the Government, but in the case of the United States it will not be the Government, because they are not going to own the airlines. I think the noble Lord who spoke from the Liberal Benches takes a very extreme view of nationalization if he denies that the Americans have made any success of air enterprise. I hope the Government are going to make a success of it, but certainly to say that the only way in which you can make a success of an air line is to nationalize it, is slightly shutting one's eyes to Pan-American, T.W.A., American Export Lines and the other lines which at this moment are traversing the world.

What is to be the machinery? In the case of rates you have the complete machinery, but as regards capacity, as I read the resolution—and there is nothing in the agreement about it at all, unless I am wrong—there is no provision even for an advisory opinion to be obtained from the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization. I think I have got its right name. It is known, as everything is known by a nickname to-day, as "P.I.C.A.O." There is not even, apparently, an advisory opinion to be obtained. It therefore is tremendously important, if this is to be interpreted in good faith by the airline operators, that we should know what it means at the start, otherwise I am quite sure there must be a great deal of misunderstanding and recrimination.

I am turning now to the agreement, and I want to ask what is the effect of Article (12) (c) of the agreement. It concerns the term "territory." It looks to me satisfactory. The noble Viscount will know, and certainly those instructing him will know very well, that there was a great deal of discussion at Chicago as to whether we were to put in the word "territory" or the word" homeland," and, well supported from this homeland, I contended stoutly, and I am glad to say successfully, that the word to be used in all these agreements should be "territory." That meant that British territory included not only the homeland, the United Kingdom, but also all our Colonial possessions, Mandated Territories and Protectorates. Of course the great importance of that is that provided territory is so defined, you have the right of cabotage between this country and the Colonies and between one Colony and another, exactly as the Americans enjoy cabotage all over the United States. I think the position is plain, but I want the noble Viscount to confirm to me that we have not sacrificed in any way our right of cabotage over British territories, as so defined to include all our Colonies and our Mandated Territories. I apologize for dealing with this at such length, but I think the agreement is so vitally important that in this debate we ought to clarify the whole position.

I come to the Fifth Freedom which figures in paragraph (6) of the resolution. The principles seem to me quite unexceptionable; indeed, they are the tests which I ventured to propound at Chicago and which I am glad to say seem to have been lifted almost verbatim from my proposals into the agreement. They are tests and principles which Mr. Ted Wright, the head of the American Civil Aeronautics Administration, who has an unrivalled practical experience, said he felt were essentially fair. Therefore I have nothing to say against them. Moreover, I support the further provision which has been inserted that in operating these airlines there may be a change of gauge, provided always that in changing gauge we conform to the principles which are laid down governing through lines and governing this Fifth Freedom of traffic. It seems to me that that is obviously sound, not only in operation, but in the interests of this country. By a "change of gauge" is meant this. Supposing you have got an aeroplane which is going from New York to Calcutta, you shall be entitled to run a large aeroplane from New York to London and a smaller aeroplane on from London to Calcutta, provided the change of gauge is not so designed or so operated as to give a man a stepping off ground for what is not a through service but an entirely new service.

It seems to me to be essentially good sense, provided, as I understand this does provide, that you shall gauge what you are entitled to run by the amount of traffic starting at the point of departure, that is New York, and destined for Calcutta. If it is found that there will be only, say, one-third of the number of passengers who want to go on from London to Calcutta, having started from New York, then it seems to me obviously good sense that you should run a small aeroplane with that one-third of the passengers from London to Calcutta and not run a vast aeroplane like a Constellation the whole way. Indeed, if you did run a Constellation through, you obviously would have an enormous amount of unoccupied space upon it, and then an operator would say, "The economic running of my aircraft is one of the principles to be observed in Fifth Freedom traffic, and I ought to be able to fill all the vacant seats in an aeroplane carrying fifty passengers instead of the odd scats in an aeroplane carrying twenty." That seems to me to be good sense provided the principles are observed. Here, again, what I regret is the absence of any tribunal.

This Fifth Freedom traffic may give rise to disputes not only affecting the two countries which make the agreement; it is necessary to get agreements with all the countries along the routes which are running their local and their regional services. I am sure the noble Viscount will agree that it really is most desirable that there should be some tribunal by which we should all agree to be bound. I know there is Article (13) which gives the power to determine this agreement on twelve months' notice if we do not think it is working well. That really is an entirely academic clause, as I am sure will be agreed. These great airlines are being started all over the world. If your Lordships will look at the schedule to the agreement, you will see that the airlines really cover almost the whole habitable globe. Is it really to be supposed that when all these vast airlines have been running for a year or two, if the agreement is not working satisfactorily one or other of us will give notice and say, "The whole air-traffic of the world is to be stopped"? I have always regarded that clause as wholly academic.

Now I come to the question of rates. Here the provisions are much more definite and complete. I hope the noble Viscount will check me on this to see that I have read this combined document rightly. First of all, the principle is that the minimum fare which an airline can Charge is to be in effect the cheapest rate at which the most efficient operator can operate at a reasonable profit. That seems to me to be eminently right. Moreover, the United States Executive are going to seek power from Congress to enforce these minimum rates upon their airlines, and I hope they will get it. But as a matter of fact, my information is that most of the airlines in the United States think this is reasonable. They want to be able to operate at the rate at which the most efficient operator can operate, but they do not want a rate-cutting war either between themselves or with other people. If they can operate at cheaper rates than we can, then they certainly should have the right to do that, but I think we should avoid a rate-cutting war. As soon as there is power to enforce a rate, each side will enforce the rate which will be either the rate which has been settled by I.A.T.A., that is the inter-company arrangements, or the rate which has been recommended by P.I.C.A.O. Until those powers are obtained, either party can reject the rate which is proposed. Obviously, the decision on rates ought to be prompt, because the rate, as I read it, comes into force provisionally.

I would like to ask these questions on that. If there is a failure to agree, the rate goes to this provisional organization, P.I.C.A.O. Has the P.I.C.A.O. executive got the power to decide this? Can it accept a decision by the majority? I hope so, because obviously the decision should be rapid. Is there any risk of delay by the fact that anybody can request the executive of P.I.C.A.O. to send the matter to the full assembly, which only meets at rare intervals? Those are the questions I would ask. I have put a great many questions, but I think the noble Viscount will agree that they are very right and proper questions to put in order that we may know what this agreement means, because we do not want to enter into the biggest agreement into which we have ever entered as regards the air without knowing what it means. Nothing could be worse for international relationships than to enter into agreements containing formulae which may mean different things to different people.

I would sum up as far as I can. As regards rates, I think you have established the economic standard of the most efficient operator. I think that is in the public interest, and I think it ought to avoid uneconomic rate wars countered by subsidies. That seems to me to be entirely sound, and it seems to me there is an effective way of enforcing those rates. As regards the Fifth Freedom, I think those principles are sound and in the interests of the travelling public, and if they are fairly observed, they ought to serve air transport well and to be fair to the countries along the route. As regards capacity, I do not think any of us could express a fair opinion or pass judgment until we know what the real interpretation and intention is on the basis of these questions which I have put about this agreement to-day. I frankly regret the absence of an arbitral authority. We have got it as regards fares, but I wish it existed—and I hope I can be shown that it does—as regards other matters.

With good faith and good will there may be few differences, but I am quite sure that the existence of an impartial authority with full knowledge—it can be quite small as long as it is competent—is not only right, but is an incentive to airline operators to come to reasonable agreement. This very desirable because, as I have said, as I read the Agreement, while the Governments can make recommendations or representations, capacity, frequencies, and the Fifth Freedom principles will fall to be decided, not by the Governments, but by the airline operators themselves. I say only one word in conclusion, and I say it to set this agreement in its true perspective. In the long run, whatever the agreements that Governments may enter into, success will depend on the efficiency of the operator, on the skill of the manufacturer who designs and builds the planes and on close co-operation between them both.

5.40 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to speak I would like to ask your Lordships for that indulgence which is normally granted to those who address your Lordships' House for the first time. I will confine my remarks to Command Paper 6712, "British Air Services." With the provisions in that Paper I find I am largely in agreement—at any rate with those provisions which deal with the immediate future, even if I find the provisions for a possible international air organization in the far distant future less easy to swallow. My agreement is based not on any theoretical or general liking for nationalization as such, nor because I have any particular disagreement with existing private air companies. In fact, I have the greatest admiration for the work that existing companies have done in the past and for the achievements which, often in very difficult circumstances, they have accomplished. My agreement with the provisions of the White Paper is rather due to the fact that I believe that great decisions on matters of this nature, decisions as to whether a service is to be nationalized or not, must in each instance be taken on the merits of the case. In British civil aviation I feel that we have as clear a case as possible for deciding in favour of a nationally owned institution or rather a nationally owned service. I. know there are many to remind us all too often that with a new institution, a new trade, the freedom of private enterprise without the braking effect of Government control is essential. And, indeed, there are many sound reasons for an argument of this nature, and in many cases I would subscribe to them myself. But as applied to civil aviation I would submit that an argument of that nature is not sound.

I claim, with all humility, to have had a certain amount of experience both before and during the war in different parts of the world. I admit that my experience has been largely, though not entirely, as a passenger, but even a passenger, if he is an interested passenger, can learn very good lessons, and one of the points that has struck me and impressed itself on my mind most firmly has been the vastness of any large civil air organization and the enormous number of ramifications that are inseparable from it. For example, they are inseparable from, shall we say, a trunk route passing from this country to the other hemisphere. I submit that the mere provision and operation of aircraft: is only one of the many great problems that have to be dealt with when considering civil aviation. There are many others. There are the problems of the airfields with all the buildings that go to make a modern air base. There are the problems relating to the provision of radio and radar control, meteorological services and so on.

I am well aware that as a result of the discussions that took place, and the agreements that were arrived at in Chicago, certain countries have undertaken to provide these services at the airfields in their own territories. But I feel certain that with our long Empire and other overseas routes there will be instances where the existing facilities will not be adequate for our requirements and where they will have to be augmented or, may be, even provided in toto for our particular services. Who is going to provide them? Are private airlines going to be expected to provide them? I suggest not. They must inevitably be a Government provision. There is another matter that is ancillary to flying itself, and that is the provision of petrol. It is a formidable task, the providing of petrol throughout the world, and I submit one that raises problems that can be far more easily solved if the service is nationally owned.

Again, there are the facilities necessary to comply with the various emigration or Customs regulations of the countries through which these services operate. There may be police arrangements to co-ordinate, and I do not think it is stretching one's imagination too far to suggest that, at any rate in these days, there may still be cases where questions of airfield defence may have to be co-ordinated. I have mentioned only some of the various problems that arise in connexion with the vast 'subject of civil airlines, but I hope that they will be sufficient to emphasize the magnitude and, particularly, the complexities of such an organization. I believe that these problems—the few that I have mentioned—are, in themselves, quite sufficient to justify the nationalization of our airlines. But, even if they are not, then I believe it is possible for a case for them to be nationalized to be made out merely on the provision of the right type of aircraft. I would take just one example. I am given to understand that in the case of flying boats it is not possible to show a return on a profit and loss basis, even on such a route as the Malayan coast route. In other words that type of aircraft is not justified on economic grounds. Apart from the provision of the aircraft there are the very heavy expenses in the provision of slipways, harbours, hangars and so forth to be considered. As I say, those aircraft cannot be shown to be economic on a profit and loss basis. Nevertheless those flying boats are a great national asset. They are aircraft that have already been a peculiar success—I may say peculiarly British success—and they are a type of aircraft which cannot be allowed to lapse. They must be continued, tested and proved up to perfection. I believe that that cannot be done without substantial subsidies. Now that is just one instance, I suggest, showing that on the provision of aircraft alone we have a sound case for nationalizing our civil air services.

To return to my argument I would like to draw a parallel between the growth of our civil airlines and the growth many years ago of the East India Company. The East India Company, as no doubt your Lordships know, grew to such an extent that it acquired, in addition to its initial responsibilities, many other unexpected responsibilities and problems until the time came when, so far from being merely a private trading undertaking, it became such a concern that the Government of the day had to step in and take over the authority of the directors and the Board of Control and transfer them to a Secretary of State. Now I know that no analogies are absolutely foolproof—that none of them fit entirely—but I hope that this analogy will bring out the point that our great civil airlines are particularly complex in their structure, and must inevitably be so. On that basis, I agree with the decision in the White Paper that these services should be Government-owned. I submit that whether our civil airlines are to be run by Government or private enterprise the facilities that it is their purpose to provide become a really national interest. It is essential that they shall be maintained in such a way as to ensure that people travelling to and from this country, whether British subjects or otherwise, whether engaged in commerce or matters of defence, whether diplomats or politicians, or just plain Mr. and Mrs. Smith trying to find out something about other countries and so broaden their points of view, may be carried rapidly and expeditiously and with a reasonable degree of comfort.

If it is agreed that these facilities are a national necessity—as I believe it is so agreed—then surely the country should be prepared to pay for them. And I feel confident that it is prepared to pay for them—in other words to subsidize them, at any rate in the early stages, to a substantial amount. I know that, quite rightly, it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to make these corporations self-supporting as soon as possible. But I do not see how this can possibly come about for some time to come, if—and I would emphasize that word "if"—we are to deal with the whole problem in a sufficiently bold and far-seeing way.

As a counter-argument to that, one could quote the case of the sea-going liners. I would suggest that the comparison does not really hold water, because after all, the harbours that our sea-going ships used were built at a time when costs were different from what they are to-day. I think I am right in saying that to-day our greatest liners have only been built with the assistance of a certain amount of State money. It has already been mentioned during this debate that during the last six years, through no fault of our own, but largely through a very rightful determination during the war to stake everything on winning the war first, our civil aviation has fallen short of other countries. But, my Lords, I am sure you will agree that it is essential that that setback should be allowed to be only a very temporary one, and that everything possible should be done to ensure that we catch up those others that are ahead of us at the earliest possible moment, so that we will once more be in the position to lead the world in matters of world transport.

That brings me to my next point. I said that we should regard our civil aeroplanes as fulfilling a function very similar to the function that His Majesty's ships often fulfilled when they paid calls at ports in other parts of the Empire or in friendly countries; in other words, as fulfilling the function of Ambassadors. I suggest that our civil aircraft, going as they will go into many far-flung parts of the world, often out of the way, will be the only British things which the people in those countries will see. If the service is good, credit will go not particularly to the service as a whole but to this country. If the service is bad, and run in a slovenly manner and poorly administered, the stigma also will go to This country. So I submit that, seeing that this country is going to have to bear the kicks or the kudos, and will also have to have a very considerable part in running these services, at any rate in the next few years, it is only right and logical that the country itself should own those air services.

We have heard this afternoon a certain critical comparison between this country's air-services and those of the United States. I am perfectly well aware that the services in the United States are good often extremely good, but from my own experience I do suggest that there are still instances where they could learn useful lessons from some of our practice. The point I want to bring out is tins: In the United States, as we have already been told, services are entirely privately owned, and that is an argument against nationalizing ours. But I submit that the case is not comparable. In the United States, which is a very large country, they have had the greatest opportunities for developing in sheltered circumstances very fine private air-lines. Whereas with us we have by far the largest amounts of our civil aviation overseas, in the case of the United States a relatively small part of their airlines go overseas.

I would like to take a comparison in the case of motor cars, which I think is a good one. In America there is a very large private market for the purchase of private motor cars and, as a result of that large market, they have been able to develop only a comparatively small overseas market; and they have had great success in it. In the same way, surely the profits accruing to the private airlines in the large internal air services of the United States will, either directly or indirectly, be in effect giving a subsidy to their overseas allies; in other words, the position as between this country's air-lines and America's air-lines does not really bear comparison. It has also been suggested that, if 'we are going to have these Government-owned Corporations, there should not be so many as three, in order that the cost of administration may be kept down.

I would like to suggest that the case is comparable to the case of the Commanders-in-Chief of our Fighting Services during the war. During the war you had various theatres with their Commanders-in-Chief; you had one in South East Asia, one 171 India, one in the Mediterranean theatre and one in Europe, just to mention a few of them. They did not compete with one another; they each carried out the task allotted to them in the way best suited to their particular theatre. They drew on certain common resources both of trained men and materials, and received general direction from the Chiefs of Staff at home. I submit that the same is true of our civil aviation at home: there should be a measure of centralized control at home, a measure of centralization for the provision of basically trained air crews, the provision of aircraft, and general management; but within that framework there should be considerable latitude to the three corporations which it is proposed to set up.

So far I have been in substantial agreement with the present Government's White Paper, but there are two points which I am less sure of. I might mention—but I will certainly avoid doing so, as not being an entirely disinterested party—the question of compensation. The point I feel most strongly about is that of the proposals for development in the future. There does not seem to me to be in the White Paper that sense of the vital need for urgency which is so essential in these days. I do not entirely criticize the White Paper for the omission, because I believe that in a White Paper of this kind the question of urgency would be rather difficult to introduce; but I would urge His Majesty's Government to bear that need for urgency in mind when nominating the individuals to the boards and the corporations and also at the appropriate time and place to make it abundantly clear to the boards that they will be required to act in a way which shows real imagination and the consciousness of urgency. I do not think I am coining a word if I say that I would ask that they should show Wellsian imagination and vision. Admittedly, that is sometimes not quite in our national character. We are rather inclined to go slowly, steadily, and stolidly, step by step, but there are occasions when we have streaks of genius. We have seen it in the war in the case of such great constructions as "Pluto," the pipe line under the ocean, aircraft construction, and the "Mulberries." I suggest that that vision and far-sightedness, which went to build great achievements like that are exactly what we require now in the case of civil aviation.

Admittedly, if we are going to act on these lines of bold forward policy, it means spending considerably greater sums of money than we might, perhaps, do otherwise, but it will not be money well spent, but money well invested. We shall get our return for it conscious of the fact that, with the technical knowledge that we have, we can afford to advance by larger strides than we have been doing so far. I am alluding more to types of aircraft. I have not available any of the trade secrets, so that I do not know what aircraft are actually on the drawing boards today. It may be that there are aircraft which fully come up to the ideas I have in mind, but from what one has read in the papers and elsewhere, I am inclined to doubt it. Whatever the position is in that respect, I most strongly urge that the whole matter be regarded as one of urgency, one needing boldness of vision, and that this should be impressed over and over again upon the boards and the corporations. Otherwise, I fear that the advantages I see in having nationally-owned corporations will not be made the fullest use of, and as a result a very great opportunity for British civil aviation will be lost.

6.5 p.m.


My Lords, I must express my gratification that the noble Lord in his maiden speech (although I scarcely expected it) rendered such yeoman service to the general scheme of the Government's project. I feel that in receiving support from so many different quarters the scheme receives striking testimony to its essential soundness. At the same time, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Sempill—who has very kindly given way to me, although he has a number of questions to ask afterwards—in view of other engagements which I am unavoidably required to keep. I will do my best to act as substitute for my noble friend who is away. Unfortunately, he had to be in Australia or Wellington, as the case may be, to-day, in connexion with some large-scale international conferences affecting air transport in the Pacific and in those parts of the world. I will do my best, and in so far as I do not meet the requirements of my skilled questioners, whom I see particularly on the Front Opposition Bench, I hope they will overlook the deficiencies and reserve further ammunition for my noble friend when he returns.

I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, need have any misgiving that this Government is not fully seized of the urgency of this matter, nor need my noble friend behind me. We shall produce the Bill as soon as we can. I am not going to be so rash as to prophesy a particular date, but I can tell them in fact that the preparations of the Bill are very considerably advanced. I will not say anything more on that. It is true that at the end of the War this country found itself behindhand as compared with America with regard to the position of civil aircraft, and the reason for that is well known. This country devoted its air production capacity to the production of fighter machines, and therefore we were not forward in this particular sphere, whereas our American Allies of necessity, partly for geographical reasons, had to produce a much larger number of machines serving transport purposes.

I am sure that nobody knows better than the noble Lord that you cannot produce carefully designed, properly manufactured aircraft in a month or two. As with every other exceedingly complicated machine of this sort, it is, I am afraid, a question of a year or two—it is no good pretending that it is not—before you can have an adequate supply of new machines. I cannot give a better illustration of that than the one provided by the noble Lord himself. It has been my business in connexion with my Ministerial duties to survey the requirements of this particular side of civil aviation, and I came across the case of the Brabazon I to which the noble Lord referred. What are the actual facts? The actual facts concerning this great machine, which I believe has great promise when it gets into the air, are that it will take a long time to build, say a couple of years from the time it is started. But what do we find? We find that the runway for the machine is only about half long enough for it to get off the ground when it is made. I confess to being an amateur in these matters, but that does not seem to me to be a testimonial to the foresight of those who planned the arrangements.


Stafford Cripps.


At the same time, when you do make the runway, you will have to knock down about thirty houses. I only mention that as one of the difficulties with which we are confronted. It is not the responsibility of my noble friend who is in Australia. There are several other difficulties of a like nature, and one is that you will have to divert a road. Another is that you will have to build a shed big enough for the thing when it is made, and this will cost money certainly running into millions. Well, quite frankly, this Government cannot be blamed for a lack of anticipation of that magnitude. We really cannot accept responsibility for that. I think that is an actual fact with regard to that particular machine, and we are getting busy on it as quickly as ever we can. I hope the noble Lord and his friends, when the Bill comes before us, as it will have to do, to enable us to acquire the land and do all the rest of it, in order to enable this magnificent machine, when it is built, to get off the ground, will facilitate its passage by all the means available to them.

The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, asked me something about chartering. Well, I think the case is fairly well stated in the White Paper. On the question of chartering, I think he said it was to supply individual needs. I think, taking it generally, there is nothing very bad about that definition. The proposals with regard to chartering are I think fairly clear and satisfactory. For instance, it means that the corporation will give a licence for chartering to those who want to have the machines for specific and special purposes, but it does not contemplate that the meaning of the word "chartering" is for another organization to set up a regular competitive service. That is to say, you would not charter an organization proposing to run a daily service, we will say, between Aberdeen and London. That would not be chartering. That would be setting up a new service, and it would be the duty of the Corporation, if it did its business properly to serve the needs of the community, to provide the service; but if, we will say, Cooks Tours or the Y.M.C.A. or anybody else wanted to charter machines for special purposes it would be perfectly open to thorn to do so and it is contemplated that chartering for these kinds of cases would be facilitated. That is, I understand, the meaning of the term.


May I interrupt the noble Viscount? I think he must have been mistaken. As I understand it, he said that the corporation would permit chartering, that the corporation would be allowed to run chartered planes, but the ordinary individual charterer will not have to apply to the corporation.


The individual charterer—


I mean the man who wants to run chartered planes as a business; he will not have to get the leave of the corporation.


Oh, yes.


. He will?


Oh, yes, certainly. It would not be admissible for any person to run a private line of his own.


Not a line—charter planes.


Well, it is the same thing, is it not? It depends upon what is the margin between chartering and running a regular service. I understood the noble Viscount to mean a regular service, which, of course, as I understand the term, would not be chartering. I will come to the question of fares when I answer the noble Viscount on the much more comprehensive series of questions affecting the Bermuda Agreement. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, raised the question of airports. I think, quite frankly, that he was rather labouring something that is not likely to exist in real life. Municipalities will not set up airports unless they see there is some very, very special reason for doing so. An airport is a very, very expensive undertaking. I was looking myself at the figures for the concrete runways required to get this Brabazon I into the air. I must say I was appalled at the cost per yard of these things and I am perfectly certain nobody will be starting to provide airports unless there is some real necessity for them. So far as the airports required for the corporation are concerned, as has already been stated, they are to be nationally owned. I should think myself that the demand for airports, apart from those nationally owned, in the course of time would be relatively insignificant.

I was glad to receive the general support of the noble Lord, Lord Sherwood, and of course his criticism with regard to there being three corporations instead of one is quite a fair criticism to make, but, after all, as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, pointed out in showing this list of places indicated' in this White Paper, this business is spread all over the world, and I am inclined to think that the decision to establish the three corporations, one limited to the United Kingdom and the European Services, another the far-distant Empire services, and the third the South Atlantic service, was the right way to begin. The course of development and experience may perhaps show that you may have coalescence; I do not know. In the course of the future it might be thought wise to facilitate that kind of thing, but certainly for the time being in the light of our present experience I do not think myself it would have been a manageable job if you had one corporation. So far as expense and salaries are concerned, I am afraid I should require notice of these questions, but they will duly emerge when the Bill comes before us.

I would like to take in conjunction with same of the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, the very long series of questions that the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, addressed to me, and I will do my best, not being the Minister of Civil Aviation, to deal with those matters. In the first place, the noble Lord enquired whether we had had any discussions, I think it was, with Scandinavia. I will give the answer. It had been arranged for the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to lead a delegation to Denmark, Norway and Sweden on the 4th of February. In the event he was unable to go at that time, but the other members of the delegation, consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, of the Foreign Office and of the British Overseas Airways Corporation left as arranged. In their discussions at Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, they carried on negotiations as far as was possible at the official level, and it is hoped to resume negotiations at the Ministerial level and conclude an arrangement in the near future.

With regard to France, an agreement between the United Kingdom and France was negotiated in Paris last week by a delegation headed by the Parliamentary Secretary, and including representatives of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office and the Overseas Airways Corporation. It was initialled at the Quai D'Orsay on Saturday, February 23, and referred to the two Governments for their consideration. Both Governments have now approved it, and that agreement is to be signed at the Foreign Office (or I suppose was signed) at mid-day to-day. It is on the lines of the old agreement. With the safeguards which it contains, I think it will appeal to the noble Lord as an excellent agreement, and I believe it will receive his hearty support.


It is on the lines of the Portuguese one.


I am coming to that.


I mean is it on the same lines?


On the same lines. I do not think I need trouble the House at this time with the details. I have got them all here, but it is on the same lines. There is to be a joint standing committee to co-ordinate the services. Dealing with the agreement with Portugal, I can answer in the affirmative the question addressed to me by the noble Viscount. In the event of its being proposed that other countries should have improved facilities, those better terms are extended automatically to the United Kingdom. I would like to thank him very sincerely—although he was naturally and quite properly critical—for the general support which he gave to the scope of the understanding which the Bermuda agreement really implied. I think it is a great step forward in international agreement. However, with regard to that matter, I cannot possibly, answer and I do not think it would be possible anyhow to answer, all the noble Viscount's interrogations at this stage.

A great many of them are, as he himself would have said if he had been answering the questions in another place, hypothetical, and some of them are of a very far-reaching kind; but I will do my best to reply to him with regard to the machinery that is to be set up to deal with difficulties as they may arise. In doing so, I must crave your indulgence at not being sufficiently familiar, or not being as familiar perhaps as some are, with the technical jargon which appears to surround this subject. I have done my best, when I have seen these mysterious concatenations of capital letters, to find out what they mean. I do not say it has always been attended with success, but I have done my best.

With regard to the question of fares, I think the noble Viscount expressed himself, on the whole, as reasonably satisfied with the machinery that is set up for dealing with disputes. The point, however, is that in any dispute arising between parties, Article (9)—to which the noble Viscount referred and of which I have a note here—is the one which is really in question. It says: Except as otherwise provided in this Agreement or its Annex, any dispute between the Contracting Parties relating to interpretation or application of this Agreement which cannot be settled through consultation shall be referred for an advisory report to the Interim Council of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization"— that is this body which is called P.I.C.A.O. It is a very authoritative body which it is agreed should be set up, and any dispute arising between the parties on any matter which they cannot settle between themselves is automatically referred to this organization.


It is quite important. Would the noble Viscount tell us one thing? This refers to a dispute under the agreement or the annex. If there is a dispute or question of interpretation of the resolution, which really contains so much that is important, is that also covered by Article (9), and would there be a right of appeal to P.I.C.A.O. on the construction and operation of the resolution?


I think the answer to that is in the affirmative.


I am very glad to hear it.


Yes, I am informed it is. I thought it was but, as I said, that was subject to authorization, but I am glad to find out that it is. That is the machinery for the settlement of disputes and, of course, only experience can really decide how useful and effective it is. In this country, the organization being a Government-owned body, the Government itself will be held responsible for its decisions and it will be subject to criticism and daily interrogation in Parliament. In the case of the United States there is not a similar authority at the present time, and, as the noble Viscount knows, it is part of the project of the scheme that such authority shall be obtained.

Then the noble Viscount raised a very important point with regard to seeing how we could secure that fair and equal opportunity for the two parties could be obtained. As he said, quite correctly, so far as that is concerned the United States have a great start over ourselves, but I think that paragraphs (4) and (5) to which he referred quite fairly cover the point. It is perfectly evident that as things develop in the course of time, the tribunal which will be set up to consider disputes or questions will be able to adjudicate on the difficulties as they arise. In paragraph (7) it is said that: In so far as the air carrier or carriers of one Government may be temporarily prevented through difficulties arising from the war from taking immediate advantage of the opportunity referred to, the situation shall be reviewed between the Governments with the object of facilitating the necessary development as soon as the air-carrier… and so on.

That is clearly designed in order to meet the kind of development to which the noble Viscount has referred. Then he asked me about the meaning of the word "territory." I can give him a definite answer in the way he desires. The word "territory" is held to mean all land areas under the sovereignty, suzerainty, protection or mandate of the State, and therefore it includes the lot. That gives him a satisfactory answer to his question.

I would like to make another observation on what is called the change of gauge. That matter, I may tell the House, was the subject of long and anxious consideration and the interchange of many telegrams between ourselves and our representatives out there. I think, however, it is fair to say that the agreement represents a very satisfactory arrangement. To try to put it simply, what it comes to is this: that if a large plane coming, we will say, from the United States, is carrying, let us say, fifty passengers, and thirty-five of them are going to land in the United Kingdom and the other fifteen are going elsewhere, it would not be economical to have a big machine like that to take the fifteen. That would not be reasonable. Therefore it is arranged and agreed that they should change to a smaller machine which will take the balance of the passengers. Supposing the smaller machine will take twenty, then the air-carriers will be entitled to fill up the five vacant seats, but they would not be entitled to the provision of a further service which would be out of proportion to the number of persons requiring the transport. That is what it comes to in ordinary sensible English, but how it is interpreted in technicalities I will not venture to describe. That is what it means and that is what these "fill-up rights" involve.

I think the agreement which was arrived at on that matter and set out in paragraph (6) is more particularly referred to at the very end of the whole document in Chapter V. There it is described in detail in sections (a), (b) and (c), but I think I have given quite accurately and fairly the description of the arrangement that is contemplated. It is set out there quite clearly and I do not think I need trouble the House by reading the details. I have done my best to answer, as well as I can, all the questions of which I have been able to make a note.

6.30 p.m.


My Lords, I was glad indeed to stand down in favour of the noble Viscount, the Leader of your Lordships' House, who has a very important matter to attend to somewhere else. I would like to make a few technical observations in regard to the White Paper Cmd. No. 6712, and not in regard to the one that has been in the hands of some of your Lordships for about an hour or so. I would congratulate my noble friend Lord Balfour of Inchrye on initiating this important debate. I would also congratulate the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, on his contribution to it, and others of your Lordships who have spoken. I am in agreement with the points made, with the exception of those made by the noble Lord, Lord Rochdale, with such vigour in regard to the nationalization of air transport.

In Section 9 of the White Paper, which deals with the constitution of the boards, reference is made to the inclusion thereon of those who have expert knowledge on the major aspects of airline operation. That, of course, is a very good thing, but it does not go nearly far enough. I hope that the noble Viscount, the Leader of your Lordships' House, will be able to assure your Lordships that it is the definite policy of His Majesty's Government to include in the three national corporations all those who have played some part in the development of air transport, either on the technical or operational side. These people are not very numerous, and it should not be difficult to seek them out wherever they may be. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Winster, might employ a few talent scouts to go out to seek these people and bring them into the fold of one or other of the big State Corporations. We have got a tremendous job to do, and we obviously want to make use of all those who have some experience.

I must apologize to your Lordships for the fact that in the debate in your Lordships' House on air transport in Scotland on the 14th February last, I committed what the noble Lord, Lord Winster, considered to be an indiscretion by asking him whether a certain member of another place, a great pioneer in air transport, would be eligible for a seat on the board of a Scottish air transport corporation should one be found. I apologize to your Lordships for any indiscretion of which I have been guilty, and I hope your Lordships will overlook it. Those of us who have been a long time in the world of aviation are very anxious that any and all with some experience of air transport should be used, and it was certainly surprising to me to be made aware by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, that any member of another place with experience of aeronautics could not be on the board of any of these Corporations in a paid or unpaid capacity.

Section 11 deals with the problems of maintenance and overhaul of aircraft engines and ancillary equipment. The idea of a centralized repair depot into which all equipment will ultimately flow for repair may sound all right in theory and commend itself to those with not much experience in these matters, particularly to those with accountancy minds. I hope that such a plan will not be given effect to as it completely disregards the psychological side and merely regards this world-wide enterprise of air transport as an enormous collection of bureaucratic robots manipulating apparatus that flies.

Section 14, dealing with interim arrangements, states that no delay in starting British air services will be countenanced. This bold and definite assertion is watered down in the next sentence, wherein it is said "but supply of aircraft is the governing factor". Surely the Minister of Civil Aviation has the power to speed very considerably the development of the air transports of different types which are now being built. There is room for a considerable speed-up and if the urge that was applied by the aircraft industry with such good effect during the war were applied at this present period things would move very much more rapidly. A great deal more should be done in this direction by speeding up the design, the building and the development of different forms of air transports.

Sections 19–24 deal with airports and landing grounds, about which there has been much said in the debate today. Those of your Lordships who have already spoken are very well aware that the most important factor in an efficient air transport undertaking is that of ground organization. That has been stressed on many previous occasions by the noble Viscount Lord Swinton. Unless such exists it is impossible to operate air transports (no matter how efficient the crews may be or how modern the machines themselves may be) with safety and regularity. Section 2I, dealing with airports, which are technically to be described in the new terminology as "designated airports," stresses the need for their careful selection and says they are to be equipped to standards that are internationally agreed.

As we have heard before, Hum, Prestwick, and another airport not mentioned, are for the moment to be used as trans-Atlantic terminals, the former three just mentioned until Heath Row is ready. It is obvious that some time must elapse before that time arrives. The noble Viscount will be well aware that in a previous debate in your Lordships' House reference was made to the utterly inadequate arrangements for the transportation of passengers from the present terminal at Hum to London. For example, the recent first flight of that splendid American air transport, the Constellation, from New York to London involved passengers in spending seine 50 per cent of their elapsed time between leaving the centre of New York and arriving in the centre of London in travelling from Hurn to London. Surely the Minister for Civil Aviation could manage, even as a temporary measure, for Northolt to be used, to cut down that delay. When this matter was last debated the Minister said he would give very earnest consideration to this question, and I hope that his deliberations may have been completed and that some effective new plan will be announced.

My noble friend Lord Winster and others under him have regaled us with many uplifting speeches as to all that is being done and should be done in regard to the development of air transport. I must say he has been particularly hard on those of us who, speaking with some experience of all that the United States air transport operators are doing, have endeavoured to show how much is to be learnt from them, the greatest air carriers in the world to-day. These official pronouncements with regard to airports have very naturally been reflected in the Press, and The Times, for example, a short time ago called Heath Row "the finest airport in 'Europe." That Britain should have, and could have, not only the finest terminal airport in Europe but the finest airport in the world is beyond question, but there is no sign at all that so essentially desirable a plan is to be realized, and it is perfectly clear to all who have studied this matter—and it is an involved technical one—that Heath Row is not, and can never be, classed as a modern terminal or "designated" airport worthy of the name. Your Lordships will, I hope, allow me to expand on this very important matter, which is one in which I have been interested for a considerable time. The noble Lord who initiated this Motion has great pilotage experience and is, I think I may say, the only Spitfire pilot in your Lordships' house. He will well understand the importance of these matters.

There are three categories of airports: parallel, triangular and tangential. There are many of the first two mentioned arrangements in operation over the world, three of the last mentioned—the tangential—are under construction, and, of these, two are in partial operation. The three forms into which I have divided these do not mean that there are not a large number of grass-covered aerodromes of the old type that will be very useful for charter flying, flying clubs and private flying, but would not be suitable for the large types of air transport in use for international traffic today.

A number of years ago, twenty or more, the Aeronautical Research Committee, the first body of its kind in the world, which about three decades ago received the support of the Government, was asked to look into this question of aerodrome planning, and after great deliberation it propounded a plan which, in effect, is the tangential layout to which I have already referred. Of course, that was in the days when aircraft were of small size. Their weight was not very great and, therefore, the plan did not envisage the use of prepared runways. But it did envisage a large open space in the centre of which was the control organization, the hangars and all the other ground equipment—in effect, the tangential arrangement of to-day.

Your Lordships will probably have seen in the Evening Standard on February 7 an interesting article from the pen of that pioneer airman and writer on aeronautical subjects, Major Oliver Stewart, touching on this question of Heath Row. The triangular layout, excellent as no doubt it has been in the past for military purposes, is definitely not suited to commercial air transport at points of worldwide importance, such as Heath Row undoubtedly could be. In the not distant future it will have to meet the requirements of a vital terminal airport and handle many hundreds of movements—that is arrivals or departures of aircraft—within the hour. The triangular plan—that is a single triangle—might with great care handle possibly 40 movements in the hour. Now the tangential arrangement as partially completed at Idlewild, which is the great new airport that is to replace La Guardia as the terminal for New York, and also the great new airport at Orly, which is to handle the traffic for France, and the airport at Ezeiza, which is to handle the traffic for Buenos Aires, are laid out all on the same plan, and will each, when completed, be capable with great safety of handling 360 movements an hour. And that is not too much to look forward to when La Guardia to-day at the peak hour is handling 250 movements an hour.

Therefore your Lordships will be able to see how inadequate the triangular arrangement is for commercial air transport. The tangential plan is the one for the future. It is the one that makes for greater safety than any other, and which calls for the minimum of taxi-ing after alighting or before taking off. Moreover, it allows of the simultaneous arrival of three aircraft and the departure of an equal number at the same time. In the case of Idlewild there is a tangential strip every thirty degrees — a total of twelve in all. As your Lordships will appreciate, it is quite ridiculous to class Heath Row as one of the finest airports in the world.' It is obsolete long before it is finished. There are the three which I have mentioned, the first line airports of the world, Idlewild for New York, Orly for Paris and Ezeiza for Buenos Aires, and with three airports like these Heath Row is just not in the running. Heath Row was started as a military airfield. I suggest that at the present moment work upon it should be stopped, and that the whole question of a terminal airport for London should be reviewed in the light of present technical experience.

In a debate on February 14, on air transport in Scotland, Lord Winster had something to say about airport organization. He stated that there would be ample room at Heath Row, which is perfectly true. The area broadly speaking has the same acreage as Idlewild. The noble Lord said that he was arranging for the construction of nine runways, "three of which can be used simultaneously." He did not, however, inform your Lordships as to whether such three could be used for three take-offs or three landings or a combination of both. I would suggest that it would only be possible to effect one landing and two take-offs at the same moment. With the tangential plan it is possible for three landings and three take-offs to be made at the same moment. It might appear that this system, the system now in course of construction at Heath Row, if not the tangential system of runways, is similar or at least offers equivalent advantages to the tangential system. I suggest that such cannot be the case since the arrangement at Heath Row would appear to be the combination of two complete triangular layouts with three additional runways disposed at different angles. That arrangement really is not good enough to meet the present situation, and I would press that she whole of this matter should be very carefully reconsidered.

Sufficient is not being done to speed the construction of civil aircraft. Far more should be done because, as other noble Lords have said, if we get to it, there is no reason why a sufficient number of aircraft of the right types should not be made available from British sources. Therefore, it is essential that types should be developed. In connexion with smaller types, in the United States of America to-day they are developing at least twelve different types of light aircraft, what they call "personal" aircraft, and over here very little is being done. Since we want to speed up the export trade, it is very important indeed that we should do more about the development of light aircraft. In connexion, too, with flying clubs, one would have thought the noble Lord, Lord Winster, might have been at least generous in making available to them a number of aircraft, equal to those which they took over at the commencement of the war. Instead of that, they are to be offered aircraft at, I believe, £ 50 a machine. There is a sting in the tail, which is that they will have to spend about £ 400 on acquiring a certificate of air-worthiness. It is late, my Lords, and it will not be possible to make all the observations I have in mind. I would propose to put these and other points down in the form of a series of questions at an early date, and hope this will suit the convenience of the noble Viscount who leads your Lordships' House.


My Lords, we have had a useful and diversified debate, and I would like to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Addison., and other noble Lords who took part in the debate. We want planes, not Bills, We want air travel, not long speeches. The reply has been courteous and kind, but not entirely satisfactory, and we Shall in due course return to the charge. I beg leave to withdraw.

Motion, for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.