HL Deb 02 August 1971 vol 323 cc797-806

2.47 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Carrington, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.

LORD BESWICK moved Amendment No. 1:

After Clause 5, insert the following new clause .—(1) It shall be the duty of the Authority to prepare from time to time, and cause to be published in such manner as seems to the Authority appropriate for informing persons appearing to the Authority to be concerned, plans relating to the provision and development of aerodromes and air navigation services in the United Kingdom with due regard to the relationship and interaction between air transport and other forms of transport and the Authority shall send to the Secretary of State a copy of any plan prepared by it under this section. (2) Plans under this section shall be in such form and for such periods as the Authority and the Secretary of State may from time to time agree: and in preparing any such plan the Authority shall consult with the Secretary of State and with any local authority appearing to it to be concerned to a significant degree by the plan and with any other bodies who appear to the Authority to be able to contribute substantially to the formulation of the plan and shall have regard—

  1. (a) to any considerations to which the Secretary of Stale may from time to time draw their attention, including in particular, considerations of national or regional transport policy;
  2. (b) to the development of aviation technology which can contribute to the improvement of the level of air transport services and of the effect of such services upon the community, and to the needs of general aviation.
(3) In this section—

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall not take up a great deal of time with this Amendment. During the Committee and Recommittal stages, I made the point that we needed for this country someone or some organisation that would accept responsibility for the future planning of our airports policy, and it seemed to me that the Civil Aviation Authority was the right organisation to shoulder that responsibility. I sensed that on both sides of the Committee there was agreement with that proposition. I tabled an Amendment which I thought reflected the general wishes of the Committee, and I made reference to the need for the varying interests to be consulted in the preparation of the kind of plan which I had in mind. Since then the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and his advisers have been kind enough to consider the problem, and there is another Amendment on the Marshalled List.

For my part, I shall be glad to hear what the noble Lord has to say about the difference between my Amendment and the Amendment which he has tabled on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. If he will give me an assurance that what I am seeking to achieve is, in fact, achieved by his Amendment, then I shall be glad to withdraw mine and accept his. I shall be particularly glad if he will have regard to what was said by noble Lords behind him and on the Liberal Benches, as well as by those on our side of the House, about the need to consult the different organisations concerned, such as the local authorities and so on. There appears to be no reference to this point in the Amendment which he has tabled, and I shall be glad if he will clarify that point. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I shall be glad to respond to the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and deal with his Amendment No. 1 by also speaking to my own Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 5, although the substance of the matter is contained in Amendment No. 3. The Government accept that advice about aerodromes, in the sense of drawing up what is generally referred to as a national airports plan, is a matter of sufficient importance to merit specific mention in the Bill, and they therefore fully accept the intention behind the noble Lord's Amendment.

We have, however, put down our own alternative to the same end for two main reasons, and this, I think, will meet the assurances for which the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, asked. First of all, as I think I said at an earlier stage, the advisory functions of the Authority, as opposed to the executive functions, are dealt with in Clause 33. This therefore seems to be the right place in which to insert this additional provision. As I think the noble Lord will agree, it is an advisory function, because the execution of this plan cannot be vested exclusively in the Civil Aviation Authority. Moreover, since these Amendments are concerned with a special case within the general context of Clause 33, it is necessary to make some cross-reference between the new provision and subsection (1) of that clause to make it clear that the new provision does not prejudice the generality of the existing provision.

The second reason why we lean somewhat towards this particular way of meeting the noble Lord's intention is that we believe that the Government's alternative in fact does all that the noble Lord's version is intended to do but that the details are left, as I think his own Amendment recognises, to be spelt out in the guidance in Clause 3(2), where, as I have already said at earlier stages, we were intending to spell this matter out. Some of the points which he has included in his Amendment can, I think, be dealt with there, and among them the necessity to consult with local authorities closely concerned.

There is one further point which I should like to make: that there will be nothing to prevent the Authority publishing its studies in this or in any other field, and it will be able to set out its own advice in whatever form it thinks appropriate. Clause 33 specifically requires the Authority to provide advice and assistance. However, as I explained during Committee, at an earlier stage, the extent and the method by which the Authority's recommendations might be implemented will in this particular case be for the Government to determine. I think, therefore, it would be useful to impose on the Secretary of State the duty to publish such matters, as it will thereby be possible to add any views he may have on them. I think that that will be appropriate when we are talking about a national airports plan. I hope that with these assurances and explanations the noble Lord will be able to withdraw his Amendment and transfer his support in this respect to the Government Amendment.


My Lords, I should very much like to welcome this new Amendment by the Government which we are discussing at the same time as the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. To spell this out as a duty on the Authority is definitely a step forward. May I merely express the pious hope that, now that it is set down as a duty, we shall sooner rather than later actually get a national airports plan?


My Lords, I am disposed to respond to the invitation of the noble Lord. There are just two further observations I would make. First, it seems a little odd that Her Majesty's Government have left it to the last stage of the Second Chamber before inserting anything in this Bill about the planning ahead of airports. However, better late than never; and I am pleased to think that we have had some part to play in bringing the Government forward on this point. The second remark I think I ought to make is this. We had a good deal of discussion at earlier stages about the difficulty, as I see it, of this Authority paying its way one year with another. I should like to emphasise that this fresh duty which we are now placing upon the Authority is not one which will attract any revenue at all. It will be an essential duty, but it will not be a profitable one; and I hope that that will be taken into account. With those remarks, my Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33 [Provision by the Authority of assistance etc. for Secretary of State and others]:


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2.

Amendment moved— Page 37, line 30, leave out (" the following subsection ") and insert (" subsection (2) of this section ")—(Lord Sandford).

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 3.

Amendment moved—

Page 37, line 34, at end insert— (" (1A) Without prejudice to the preceding subsection, it shall also be the duty of the Authority—

  1. (a) to consider what aerodromes are in its opinion likely to be required from time to time in the United Kingdom in addition to or in place of or by way of alteration of existing aerodromes; and
  2. (b) to make recommendations to the Secretary of State arising out of its consideration of that matter;
and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to publish the recommendations (except any of them of which the publication appears to him unnecessary) in such manner as he considers appropriate for bringing them to the notice of the public.")—(Lord Sandford).

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Amendment moved— Page 37, line 35, leave out (" the preceding subsection ") and insert (" subsection (1) of this section ").—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 5.

Amendment moved— Page 38, line 7, after (" section ") insert (" and in performing the duty imposed on it by subsection (1A) of this section ")—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Additional provisions relating to constitution etc. of Civil Aviation Authority]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 6: Page 66, line 10, leave out from (" on ") to second (" is ") in line 11 and insert (" such subsequent date as the Secretary of State may determine ")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 6, and it wilt be convenient to consider with it Amendment No. 7. The purpose of this Amendment is to remove a technical defect in the existing text. We had some difficulty here at an earlier stage. The position now is that, without the Amendment that I am moving, the paragraph would require the Authority to make an offer to each person who is employed by a relevant body at the passing of the Act and on the date when an offer is made to them. This would mean that the Authority could not ascertain the persons to whom the offer must be made until the offer was actually made, so that in effect there could be no offer, which is clearly not the intention. It is therefore desirable to amend the paragraph so as to define the class of persons to whom the offer is to be made by reference to their employment at a date determined by the Secretary of State instead of by reference to their employment at the date of the offer. Amendment No. 7 is consequential to Amendment No. 6. I beg to move.


My Lords, I must just say how gratifying it is to learn that the noble Lord's legal advisers are not always infallible.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 7.

Amendment moved— Page 66, line 16, leave out from (" shall ") to (" not ") in line 17.—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Transitional provisions]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 86, line 53, at end insert— (" (2) In the application of the preceding sub-paragraph to Northern Ireland, for the reference to the said Act of 1963 and the references to section 13(1) of the said Act of 1965 there shall be substituted respectively a reference to the Contracts of Employment and Redundancy Payments Act (Northern Ireland) 1965 and references to section 23(1) of the last-mentioned Act.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this last Amendment, which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Carrington. The purpose of the Amendment is to bring Northern Ireland legislation into line with paragraph 4, thus ensuring that employees of the Air Registration Board in Northern Ireland are treated in the same way as their colleagues in Great Britain. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. I think we can now safely say that this Bill has been improved in a number of respects since it has been in your Lordships' House. All I should like to do at this stage is to express the thanks of the Government to a number of noble Lords who have contributed to this: to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and to my noble friend Lord Kinnoull, particularly in respect to the improvements which have been made, not without some travail, to Clause 3(1) and elsewhere as regards safeguarding the interests of travellers. The only thing which divided us was the way in which this should be done. I think we were united, and the number of occasions on which we expressed out common ground on objectives became rather tedious. We were considerably divided as to ways and means, but we are grateful for what has been achieved. Again, we are grateful to the same noble Lord for the improvements to Clause 24, the clause which has to do with air transport licensing appeals; to the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, and the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, in respect of the improvements on Clause 27 concerning the Airworthiness Requirements Board; to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in respect of the improvement and extension of the powers in designating aerodromes in order to control the noise nusance arising from them, which was achieved in Clause 29 and to the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, and the noble Lord, Lord Burntwood, in regard to the Amendments to the cause affecting the interests of staff both of the Air Registration Board and the Civil Service on transfer.

My Lords, the Bill has translated into legislation recommendations of the Edwards Committee, and I think that this is perhaps an appropriate moment to register again our gratitude to them for the work they did. I hope noble Lords will agree that as a result of this legislation there will be benefits to British civil aviation as a whole, to B.O.A.C. and B.E.A. in particular, and considerable improvements in the further evolution of the machinery of Government. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Sandford.)

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, I think that a word or two of good wishes from this side of the House are called for. So many hopes had been pinned on a new legislative framework for civil aviation that I am bound to say that when the Bill arrived there was a good deal of disappointment. The blame, I am told, can be placed largely upon the lawyers, who appear to feel that caution is better than courage and restriction better than enlarged responsibility. However, we are grateful to them for what they have done in producing this Bill. I have specially in mind, as far as the disappointment is concerned, the vexed question of appeals procedure. However, as the noble Lord has said, the Bill was improved in another place and we can claim that it was further improved in this House. I only regret that the discussion was further cramped by inadequate time at the tail end of the Session. I am grateful to the Minister for Trade, Mr. Noble, for so readily listening to the representations that we made and also to his advisers for the efforts that they made to meet our point of view. I say"our ", because if ever there was a combined effort from the Government, the Opposition, the Cross Benches and the Liberal Benches, it was on this Bill. I should like to pay my own tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, for the informed and helpful part he played and also to say how much I admired the sturdy way in which the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, on the Cross Benches stuck to what he thought were points of principle. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and his friends also greatly helped. I have a particular reason to be grateful to my noble friend Lord Burntwood for the way in which he looked after the interests of the staff as we saw them.

There it is. We have a Bill, an improved Bill, and all that we can now do is to wish it well. We have reached this stage as a result of two noble Lords taking over in somewhat difficult circumstances and I should like to express my appreciation and thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, and to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, for the manly, patient and courteous way in which they dealt with all our criticisms throughout the later stages of the Bill. I am grateful to them.


My Lords, may I add a few words to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Beswick? This has been a very long haul. It was as long ago as November 5, 1967, that the Edwards Committee came into being and it reported on April 1, 1969—it was a Committee that had a nice taste in dates. Through all that long period there has been a certain anxiety in the aviation world which is affected by what was originally proposed by the Committee. I suppose that if a year ago I had tried to visualise myself speaking to your Lordships on this matter I should have imagined myself intoning a threnody in lamentation of the passing of the Air Registration Board. I am delighted to find that I do not feel like that at all. Most of those concerned with this matter who once swallowed the big pill that there is going to be a Civil Aviation Authority, have in the end been most pleasurably surprised at the way the whole thing worked out. All that remains now, as we have a skeleton plan for this Authority (which at this stage is about as good as it can be) is to make the new machinery work. I am sure that everybody concerned will do that with the utmost good will.

On Question, Bill passed and returned to the Commons.

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