§ 2.36 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have arrived at any decisions with reference to the proposed civil airports at Rhoose, near Cardiff, and at Fairwood Common, near Swansea.]
§ THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, Rhoose aerodrome is being made ready for a scheduled service to be operated this year by Aer Lingus between Dublin and Cardiff. This service will start on June 10. For this summer, Rhoose will be run by staff based at Pengam Moors aerodrome at Cardiff. The necessary air traffic control officers and other staff will be moved over to Rhoose, whenever an Aer Lingus arrival or departure is expected. So far, expenditure on the provision of facilities at Rhoose has been kept to the minimum. The position will be reconsidered in the autumn, with a 452 view to the possibility of developing Rhoose as the main airport for Cardiff and South Wales. If this is done, the Ministry of Civil Aviation will give up Pengam Moors, which in any case is so restricted that it would be a major engineering feat to develop it to even an aerodrome suitable for use by Dakotas.
Her Majesty's Government have no plans for the development of Fairwood Common as a civil airport. This aerodrome was constructed by the Air Ministry in 1940 for use by the Royal Air Force. It is on common land and is at present held on requisition by the Air Ministry. It has been brought into active civil flying use by the local aero club (the Swansea and District Flying School and Club, Ltd.). A "private use" aerodrome licence has been issued in the Club's name, so that it may carry out normal aero club activities. I understand that the Swansea Corporation still have under review the question of its future use as a municipal aerodrome, but a "public use" aerodrome is an expensive organisation to run, since it must be manned continuously during the advertised hours of watch.
In conclusion, I may say that Her Majesty's Government would like to see a first-class airport in South Wales. Rhoose has excellent possibilities, but the Government cannot see their way to spending large sums of money there unless there is strong evidence that air services in that area will receive adequate support.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his full and comprehensive reply, and I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on putting into effect the policy that we envisaged when we were in office. I am sure that the statement which the noble Earl has made with reference to Rhoose will afford great satisfaction in South Wales, where there has been no major airport up to now, and I hope that Rhoose will develop as he suggests it may. I have no doubt that the effect of having a good airport at Rhoose for the first time in Welsh history will also encourage an airport of similar character at Fairwood Common, Swansea.