HL Deb 06 November 1968 vol 297 cc223-4

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as reported in the Press, it is intended to increase and expand air traffic at Stansted Airfield far beyond its present limits; and what instructions have been given to the British Airports Authority in this respect, in view of the Foulness project for London's Third Airport.]


My Lords, no such increase is intended or expected. Pending the outcome of the Inquiry by the Roskill Commission, Stansted will continue to be used in its present role, taking a share of London's increasing traffic but used mainly for training. No question of instructions to the British Airports Authority therefore arises.


My Lords, as a subsidiary question may I ask why night flying has now started at Stansted?


Because, my Lords, it is a convenient place in which to have training flights. It has been used for a considerable period and it is intended that it shall continue to be used for this purpose.


My Lords, is it not the case that all public licensed airfields are required to accept all users under the same terms and conditions? Is it not therefore the case that the Airports Authority have no power to direct aircraft to one or other of their airfields?


My Lords, I would say that, except in time of emergency, what the noble Lord has said is broadly correct. But I would take the opportunity of saying that I think there is a good deal of quite unwarranted misapprehension about this matter. There is absolutely no question of deliberately stimulating the use of Stansted Airport. The intention is that it shall be there as an available airport until such time as a decision is taken about the third London Airport.


My Lords, can the noble Lord tell the House whether, under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Order now laid before your Lordships, it would be possible for the British Airports Authority to build at Stansted Airport without waiting for the Report of the Roskill Commission?


No, my Lords; it would not. There are various safeguards, which I will go into if the noble Lord wishes, but I give him a categorical assurance that it would not be possible.