HL Deb 06 April 1971 vol 317 cc196-8

2.42 p.m.


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

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what fare increases have been approved on the London-Gibraltar air route with effect from April 1, 1971, and what factors affected the decision to approve these increases.]


My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have approved increases in the fares between London and Gibraltar of 15 per cent. on first-class fares and economy-class midweek excusion fares in the summer peak period and 10 per cent. on economy-class normal fares and the other excursion fares. There are no increases in inclusive tour fares. These changes are broadly in line with changes in international fares to places in neighbouring countries and are designed to increase both traffic and revenue against a background of rising airline costs.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his Answer. But is it right, at a time when Gibraltar is seeking to attract an increasing number of tourists, to increase the peak season mid-week fare by 15 per cent., especially when one considers that the Gibraltar Tourist Office are spending £40,000 this year with a view to increasing the number of tourists visiting Gibraltar this summer? As my noble friend mentioned the international pattern, would be not agree that the Gibraltar to London route is a cabotage route and therefore not affected by IATA? Can my noble friend give an assurance that comparable facilities exist for tour operators between the United Kingdom and Gibraltar as the special reduced group I.T.X. fares to Spain were introduced on April 1?


My Lords, the purpose of increasing the economy-class mid-week excursion fares in the summer peak period by more than the economy-class normal fares is to get a more even spread of traffic through the week. On the second supplementary question, the tour operators are not affected, although I should say that arrangements on part charter inclusive tours are at the prseent time being settled and an announcement will be made shortly. As for the question of comparison with other countries, although we are free to fix our own fares on what is called a cabotage basis to Gibraltar as to Malta, it is inevitable that they should keep in line with other fares because the cost situation is much the same.


My Lords, will Her Majesty's Government watch carefully the consequences of the uplifting of these fares? Is there not a moral responsibility to support Gibraltar in view of the Spanish action; and would it not be far better to see the tourist industry developed than to have to put subsidies into Gibraltar?


My Lords, I would agree with the development of the tourist industry. That is precisely why there are no increases in inclusive tour fares.


My Lords, cannot the noble Lord and his Government be consistent? Cannot they do the same on this issue as they did with the steel industry, and cut their price by half?


My Lords, may I ask one further supplementary question of my noble friend? Can he explain the reason for introducing, on April 1, a six- day minimum stay requirement on the night flights? That, I think, will create great difficulty for people who want to go for fewer than six days. Is he aware that for Paris or Nice the requirement is only four days? Would he consider reducing the six-day period to, say, three days? I think it would please the Gibraltar people and Government immensely if he would consider this suggestion seriously with his right honourable friend.


My Lords, I take note of what the noble Lord has said and I shall pass it on to my right honourable friend. Of course, the six-day minimum stay condition was quite exceptional for Gibraltar, and the present change is merely extending it to the same conditions as apply in the rest of the Iberian Peninsula.