§ 2.38 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have arrived at any decision with regard to the future of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.]
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE CO-ORDINATION OF TRANSPORT, FUEL AND POWER (LORD LEATHERS)
My Lords, as your Lord ships will know, a Parliamentary Secretary was appointed to the Ministry of Civil Aviation on April 19, but beyond that no further change is at present contemplated.
My Lords, before putting a supplementary question, I hope the House will allow me to express the sympathy which all members on our side, and, I expect, the House as a whole, wish to extend to Mr. Maclay in his illness. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether he is aware of the great anxiety being caused to a large number of devoted public servants by the lack of a definite arrangement.
§ LORD LEATHERS
My Lords, I am a little surprised that the matter has been put in that way, because I do not think it has reached that stage. All those matters, however, will be very carefully considered, and at an early date I shall ask the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to deal with them.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, arising out of the original Answer and the supplementary reply of the noble Lord the Secretary of State, may I ask whether it is a 663 fact that the combining of the two posts of Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Civil Aviation is not to some extent responsible for the breakdown in the health of the late Minister, whose illness we all deplore? Secondly, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is aware, and whether the Government are aware, that most important matters are now germinating in civil aviation; and, further, whether they are proposing to do anything about the development of the helicopter and the allocation of the South Bank site as an air stop.
§ LORD LEATHERS
My Lords, in the first place I must confess that I could not be sure whether it was Civil Aviation or the other parts of the Minister's responsibility which accounted for his breakdown in health. All I can say is that Civil Aviation is a relatively small Ministry, and in our view hardly justifies a separate Ministry. That, however, I have reported before, and it is a matter which will be followed up at a later date. I should like to assure the noble Lord that all these matters affecting civil aviation are having immediate attention, and I myself am at present devoting a good deal of time to them. The new Minister, when he is appointed to the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, will be asked to co-operate with me in all questions of urgent importance.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, arising, very remotely I must admit, from the preceding questions and answers, may I ask whether Her Majesty's Government agree that the British people have ground for intense pride in the latest achievement of the British aeronautical industry, the successful launching of the Comet jet airline, which not only maintains but increases British technical supremacy in the air?
§ LORD LEATHERS
My Lords, I am grateful for that expression. We are all very proud of the achievements which have resulted from these developments, and I will take the opportunity of conveying the appreciation of all of us to those primarily concerned.