HL Deb 31 July 1968 vol 296 cc381-3

[No. 19]

After Clause 17, insert the following new clause—

Power of British Airports Authority, B.E.A. and B.O.A.0 to provide technical advice and assistance.

". Without prejudice to their powers apart from this section, the British Airports Authority, the British European Airways Corporation and the British Overseas Airways Corporation shall each have power to provide for any person technical advice or assistance, including research services, as respects any matter in which the Authority or, as the case may be, the Corporation concerned have skill or experience."


My Lords, I beg to move that the House doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 19. This Amendment, and Amendment No. 30, provide power for the British Airports Authority, B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. to provide technical advice and assistance to persons—and I am advised that "per- sons" in this case will include organisations, and indeed countries, As most of your Lordships will know, much has already been done, especially by B.O.A.C. and B.E.A., to give technical assistance and training of one kind or another to persons from developing countries, but because of specific provision in some other recent legislation there is a slight doubt as to whether in fact they have the proper legislative power. This Amendment will ensure that there is no doubt at all. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment (No. 19).—(Lord Beswick.)


My Lords, I am indeed grateful to the noble Lord for explaining the purpose of this new clause. I think we all agree that the word "person" is perhaps a little loose here, if the intention of the Government is that it should also cover countries. Indeed, in view of the fact that it does cover countries I think many people would have felt that this new clause would have been more suitable in an overseas aid Bill. As I read it, the clause allows the British Airports Authority, B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. to offer expertise abroad on managing airports, and of course in principle one obviously welcomes this. However, the clause is very wide, and its effect, as I see it, would be to allow both B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. to invest all their profits abroad. Yet we know that under the B.O.A.C. charter they must pass their profits, if any, back to the Exchequer as a form of public dividend. There seems to be a slight conflict here, as they are being allowed extra power to invest abroad profits which should apparently be returned to the Exchequer.

I have three brief questions to ask the noble Lord. First, do the Government expect this power to be widely used? Secondly, will the Government be consulted before B.O.A.C., B.E.A., or, for that matter, the British Airports Authority—though the first two are obviously more important—put back all their profits into overseas aid? And, thirdly, how much do the Government expect these three bodies to spend on average per year? I presume the have estimated the amount and can give some guidance on it. I hope the noble Lord will be able to give answers to these three questions? Having said that, I would welcome this clause, despite what I said about the very wide powers.


Though these are very wide enabling powers, they do not affect the relationship between the Corporations and the Board of Trade or the British Airports Authority and the Board of Trade; nor do they affect the constitution of the various authorities. This Amendment does not really affect at all what they have been doing in the past or are likely to do in the future. As the noble Earl will know, and as I believe we all know, a number of people from overseas territories come here and receive useful training with the Corporations. Similarly I can imagine that much useful work can he done in the field of air traffic control. Certainly in overseas territories the Corporations have done a good deal of training of individuals. There is no intention of widening the scope of what they have done already, but merely of ensuring that the statutory power is right. The noble Earl says that the definition is a little loose. I understand that the definition of the word "person" comes from Section 19 of the Interpretation Act of 1889, where it is provided that the expression "person" shall … unless the contrary intention appears, include any body of persons corporate or unincorporate.

On Question, Motion agreed to.