HL Deb 29 July 1971 vol 323 cc721-86

8.16 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment) on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee (on Recommitment)—(Lord Sandford.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD AILWYN in the Chair.]

Clause 1 [Constitution of the Authority]:

VISCOUNT H AN WORTH moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 18, at end insert— (" and (c) shall appoint at least one member who shall have special responsibility for the interests of consumers.")

The noble Viscount said: This is one of a series of Amendments whose object is to ensure that the consumers' point of view gets the attention it deserves in the council of the new Civil Aviation Authority. This and the other Amendment standing in my name, No. 6, are complementary Amendments and not alternative Amendments. In the Second Reading debate, the importance of making these Amendments was stressed both by the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, and the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry. Although the Minister was sympathetic—and on an issue of this nature I do not think any Minister would wish to be thought otherwise—he contended that the functions of the new Authority were in one way or another consumer functions. I agree with this. But it applies equally to the whole range of public services, from the Post Office to bus services; and with a slight extension of the principle you can also say that producers of consumer goods have the same sort of motivation, because they are in business to satisfy consumer needs, otherwise, of course, in the long run they would hardly make a profit.

Yet we all know that for various reasons the consumer voice is relatively ineffective. This, I think, is particularly so in the public services sector. Other important considerations are allowed to affect the issue. The Minister has said that the duty of the new Authority, to have regard to consumer interests, will be amplified in guidance given under Clause 3(2) of the new Bill. This is not enough, and I should have thought there was even merit from the population's point of view in including something much more specific in the Bill. It is noteworthy that the provisions of the old Civil Aviation Act, Clause 4, which have been copied out in my Amendment No. 6 have not been included in this Bill. This is hardly reassuring. Experience has shown that even with these provisions the situation has not been entirely satisfactory from the consumer's point of view.

The present Amendment is a very modest one and it would only require the Secretary of State, in appointing members to the Civil Aviation Authority, to appoint at least one member who would have special responsibility for the interests of consumers. I really cannot see that such a moderate Amendment is likely to cause inconvenience to anyone, and if it is argued that this sets a precedent which Governments might not wish to follow, I should certainly like the Minister to admit that such is the case. There are a number of other Amendments following mine which have rather the same object in view, and I shall wish to support some of them. So, although I beg to move this Amendment, I shall not press it, because in discussions with the Opposition I realised that they are not wholly happy about this particular solution. Nevertheless, I myself like it and it is one which we have tried, from the consumer angle, to incorporate in other Bills and with other authorities. I should certainly like to hear what the Minister has to say about it.


The noble Viscount has moved his Amendment in the most persuasive manner and I, for one, am wholly in agreement with the purpose behind it. As he has said, this matter of the consumer's interest has been raised at earlier stages of the Bill, and I am certain I am right in saying that it was the view on both sides that some reference to consumer interests should be included in this piece of aviation legislation. However, as I have said at earlier stages of the Bill, it would probably be a mistake to have one member of the Authority who would be labelled as the"consumer representative ". It would seem to imply that because this one member is interested in consumer affairs he is in that respect distinct from the other members of the Authority.

I think that would be wrong, both from the point of view of the individual member who is going to do the job and from the point of view of the Authority. It is the Authority as a whole, in my view, upon whom we should pin the responsibility of looking after the consumer interests. Nevertheless, as I have said, I agree with the purpose behind the Amendment and I am encouraged to hear the noble Viscount saying that even though he may not press it we might together secure his purpose by the support given to a later Amendment.

8.25 p.m.


I think that although we are taking the first Amendments separately it might be helpful to the Committee if I prefaced my remarks with some general observations about tile way in which the Government see the safeguarding of the interests of customers, so that we can consider the Amendment which the noble Viscount has just moved with Amendments 3, 4, 5 and 6 in a common perspective. I can fairly say that there is no real disagreement among us as to what we want to achieve. I believe we all take the view that the civil aviation industry exists to meet the needs of those who wish to use its services and that the Authority should exercise its many powers in such a way as to secure that those needs are met as well, as fairly, and as completely as can be achieved. The question which still divides us, if indeed it does, is how to ensure that this is done.

As my right honourable friend the Minister for Trade has said in another place, the Government have had it in mind throughout that in the guidance to be given to the Authority under Clause 3(2) it should be made clear that the Authority should actively seek the views of the users of aircraft services and set up whatever formal machinery it thinks necessary and appropriate for this purpose. This, it seems to us, is the right approach to the question since it means the Authority should go out and seek those views and not merely wait for them to come in. It also means that we leave it to the Authority to make the arrangements which it thinks best for this purpose. This seems to be the right approach if the Authority is to be allowed the discretion that we want it to have in managing its affairs. In addition, it means that we avoid placing particular emphasis on complaints. As the noble Baroness, Lady Burton, said on Second Reading, consumer interest goes much wider than complaints. I agree that it would be wrong to adopt provisions which focus attention specifically on the consideration of complaints.

Following the same line of thought, the Government have also taken the view that it would be wrong to provide that one member of the Authority should be appointed specifically as a consumer representative. Here I think we are all in agreement, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has just confirmed. The reason for this is, of course, that it is a sad fact of human nature that the views of a person specially appointed in such a capacity tend in practice to be disregarded and discounted because it is known that these are the views which he is there to express. Also, following the same general approach and bearing in mind the views that have already been strongly expressed both in your Lordships' House and in another place, it would seem to be wrong for the Secretary of State, in appointing members to the Authority, to say which particular responsibilities particular individuals should have. It is better to leave it to them. It really is important that the Authority should be given the fullest discretion to organise itself to deal with its own affairs.

With those rather lengthy but, I hope, helpful introductory remarks, the comments which I shall have to make in due course on the five Amendments I have mentioned will fall into place as part of a consistent view which I hope your Lordships will be able to accept. Turning specifically to Amendment No.: as I have said, I think it would be wrong to tell the Authority that one particular person among its members should have particular responsibility for the interests of consumers. This would limit the authority's discretion, as I have explained, and it would tend to carry with it the implication that other members of the authority need not bother about the customers. Also, I should see a real risk that that particular person's views would tend to be discounted.

I think that the purpose of the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, whose knowledge in this field is very wide and deeply respected, would be better achieved in other ways. First of all, the Authority should be under a clear duty, as it is, to pursue the consumer interest; and that is achieved in part by the objectives which now appear in the Bill and which will be further strengthened if Amendment No. 4 to Clause 3 is accepted. This in turn will be supported and amplified by the policy guidance to be given under Clause 3(2), which itself will be subject to Parliamentary debate. I can assure noble Lords that the policy guidance will deal more fully with consumer interests and will include a requirement for the Authority to consult as widely as possible all those concerned with consumer interests.

Secondly, it is essential that in appointing members to the Authority, the Secretary of State should bear in mind that in approaching all its work the Authority should be mindful of the interests of its customers. Instead of appointing just one person with these special responsibilities, the Secretary of State—in appointing members to the Authority in general—should and will have regard not only to their experience and qualifications for special functions but also to the extent to which they will be responsive to consumer interests. As the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has said, we too want the Authority as a whole to be mindful of the customers' interests and I can assure the Committee that the Secretary of State will have regard to this.

Having said that, I would agree that the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, has a point when he suggests that someone in the Authority should have responsibility for investigating consumer complaints. That is a point which everyone would accept, and such a person might be responsible furthermore for co-ordinating consultations with the consumer interests, and for ensuring that full account is taken of their interests and relevant representation. But this does not mean that that person should necessarily be a member of the Board. Indeed, there is much to be said for a fairly senior member of staff bringing such matters to the attention of the Board as a whole. Therefore I am saying that this is a matter for organisation and management by the Authority within the Authority, and not a matter for legislation. As I have said, I believe it would be quite wrong for your Lordships' House or the Secretary of State to tell the Authority to organise its affairs in any more detail than is set out in the Bill as we intend to amend it. I hope I have said enough to reassure the noble Viscount that customers' interests are very much in mind.


The noble Lord has said enough to reassure me that nothing has changed. Year after year we ask for consumer representation and year after year, by Governments of different complexions, we are told that everything is absolutely fine—that of course anybody who is selling things to consumers thinks only of the consumer and never pays a moment's attention to any other aspect of the deal. We are also told it would be absurd to have in a Cabinet, for example, somebody paying particular attention to any one subject. No one, would listen to the Chancellor of the Exchequer if in the Cabinet he spoke about money because everyone would know what he was going to say. This is the argument which has been seriously put up against somebody who has a special job to look after consumers' interests. It is awfully boring for people like myself who in the past have been actually concerned with consumer movements and interested in them to hear the same silly old arguments trundled out week after week.

A number of consumers in the aeroplane business are deeply and rightly dissatisfied. The thing is in a fearful mess; it is extremely badly run. I.A.T.A. is the most serious restrictive practice in our whole economic organisation, and just to suppose that everything will be all right if we do nothing about it is not good enough. I hope my noble friend will bring something to a Division, if not this Amendment, at least another one, because I think that from the consumers' point of view the whole thing is quite impossible.


My noble friend has suggested that we should widen our discussion at this stage to cover not only Amendment No. 1 but also Amendments 3, 4, 5 and 6. I think we had a good and full discussion in the previous Committees here and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, was not present then as he certainly has enlivened the discussion to-night. I am glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, has already said he does not wish to press his Amendment No. 1. I think this was discussed particularly on the Second Reading of this Bill and it was generally agreed, as my noble friend said, that it was not necessarily a good principle to appoint a special representative. The issue therefore seems to be whether the Committee should accept my noble friend's Amendments No. 3 and 4 or possibly that of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, or that of the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth. I am grateful to my noble friend for undertaking at the last Committee stage to look again into the problem and for coming back with an Amendment to try to meet the wishes of the Committee. It would seem that the only difference between my noble friend's Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 and that of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, is in the words— subject to the preceding paragraphs in the case of my noble friend and— in pursuance of the duties set out in the preceding paragraphs in the noble Lord, Lord Beswick's Amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, may feel that the wording of my noble friend's Amendment could be translated as being subservient to the clause. I would suggest to the Committee that if one simply had— to further at all times the reasonable interests of users of air transport services this could well meet the case.

As to the noble Viscount, Lord Han-worth's Amendment taking out Section 4 of the 1960 Act, I would suggest that if under Schedule 11 of this Bill that clause were not repealed it would meet his point.


If I may try to be helpful to the Committee, I think the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, has rather confused the issue by referring to Amendments which have not yet been moved. I have spoken already but I have not moved my Amendment and I was reserving the arguments concerning that Amendment until we reached it. I think we could save time if we could settle first whether this particular procedure is the way in which we want to secure the purpose we all have in mind.


I am going to withdraw this Amendment but I am wholly unsatisfied with what the Minister has said. The noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has made the point that I was going to make: that having one man whose particular interest is to look at consumer requirements is perfectly satisfactory. It is the sort of board that one has in any company where as the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge, has said, there is a wide range of interests. I am wholly unconvinced by that argument, but I will leave it there.

What worries me a great deal more is the argument that one need not put much about this in the Bill because after all the Authority is bound to do the job all right. Why do we need a Bill laying down a lot of requirements on the Authority? The conclusion one arrives at straight away is that these things are vitally important and that the consumer viewpoint is a relatively minor matter. I am afraid the Minister cannot get away with that argument. What we want to see in black and white in the Bill is that the Authority must concern itself with consumer affairs in conjunction with its other work, and unless we get that we are not satisfied.


I apologise to the noble Lords because I was not here for the opening speeches. I do not think the Tannoy was working at full blast. I am somewhat dubious about this Amendment, and I work on the fact that the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, is going to withdraw it; but when we get to Amendment No. 6 I think lie has made out a very strong case, one which we should all support when we get there.


I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Functions of the Authority]:

8.40 p.m.

LORD BESWICK moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 34, at end insert— (" ( ) the consideration and formulation, in consultation with those concerned, of a national airports plan; ").

The noble Lord said: On the Committee stage I raised the question of the responsibility for the planning ahead of our national airports, and the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, promised to write to me. That he was good enough to do, but I did not receive the letter until yesterday. Therefore I was not able to put down my Amendment until yesterday, and I apologise for the fact that it only appeared on the Marshalled List this morning. The Amendment was drafted in something of a hurry, and the wording may not be adequate. Nevertheless, I thought it was necessary to have something on the list of Amendments, and it is important to get an assurance that there will be something in this Bill which places upon the Authority a responsibility for the consideration and planning ahead of a national airports pattern. It was said on the Committee stage that there should be someone, somewhere, who brooded over the problem and who was capable of setting down a coherent plan for our future airports system for the nation as a whole. It seems that the Civil Aviation Authority is the appropriate organisation.

They will have responsibility for the administration of some airports, the responsibility for air traffic control and for regulating and licensing air transport services. They will see how these air transport services are developing, and I hope that if our next Amendment is successful they will have a statutory responsibility for looking after the interests of the consumer who flies on the services. Therefore it seems logical that the Civil Aviation Authority should be the body which looks after the planning ahead of an adequate airports system.

I have in reserve a more carefully considered form of words, and if I can get an undertaking from the noble Lord I will withdraw this Amendment on the understanding that he will consider the words that I propose to put down on Third Reading. I do not believe that there can be any argument against the proposition that someone should have the duty which I have tried to set out in my Amendment. I doubt whether it can be controverted that there is a better organisation than the proposed new Civil Aviation Authority. I hope that it will be possible for the Government to accept either this Amendment, or the principle of it, and we can put down another form of words on the Third Reading. I beg to move.


I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will allow me to interpose a few words here. When he says:"in consultation with those concerned," he raises a subject in particular that could be germane to the issue. I do not suppose that the formulation of a national airports plan is something that the Civil Aviation Authority, or anybody else, could deal with entirely by themselves They have the duty to provide assistance and information which would no doubt be useful to those with experience—local authorities, perhaps—on matters such as land use planning and the environment. In the most formulative stage of any plan, or even the vestiges of a plan, I hope that the Civil Aviation Authority will be in a position and, if necessary, will be guided under Clause 3 to provide the technical information necessary for those who know about the things that county councils know about to make their contribution.

One cannot expect the technical matters to be in the immediate knowledge of all those who are concerned. In view of what the noble Lord has said about the functions of this Authority, those matters will be very much in the minds of the Authority. They will know about the latest trends, about vertical take-off and landing, and about everything there is to know in the forefront of the current movement towards progress in the air world. They will be in a particularly favourable position to give information, to co-operate and co-ordinate. I hope that even if a national airports plan is not going to be written into the Bill, there will be strong pressure upon the Authority to keep in close contact with people like local planning authorities, so that they may have a permanent system of co-operation and consultation on all these matters.


My Lords, the questions of land use planning go wider than those of civil aviation alone. I am sure that the noble Lord will agree with my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross that the Government must retain ultimate responsibility for such matters, and the matters are those on which local authorities will also have something to say. For these reasons the Civil Aviation Authority cannot be given an executive role in this area such as it has in others. That is not to say that the Authority will have no role, because that would be far from the case. The Authority will be able to continue and develop the work done by the Department of Trade and Industry in regard to estimating future traffic demands and airport capacity requirements. In this way the Authority should be able to provide an advisory service to the Government, to airport owners and to others which will help to ensure that aerodromes will be developed, not only to meet the needs of local areas but to provide a viable air transport network for the country as a whole, which is the noble Lord's main consideration.

As I have already said, this will be an Advisory and not an executive role, and in that respect it is quite distinct from all the functions spelt out in Clause 2, which are functions for which the Authority will be given executive responsibility. Nevertheless, I confirm that we intend in the policy guidance to be made under Clause 3(2) to spell out more fully the Authority's precise role in relation to aerodrome planning. Fundamental decisions, such as the choice of Foulness as the Third London Airport, and the recently announced decisions relating to restrictions of development and closure of certain other airports in the London area are matters for, and will continue to be matters for, the Government to decide. It is not the Government's intention to remain heavily involved in the detailed licensing decisions of the Authority. Instead, the Authority will be given, where necessary, clear guidance as to the Government's policies and will have the important job, which my noble friend envisaged, of helping with the implementation of these policies through its air transport licensing machinery. Here again the need is to give the Authority clear guidance under Clause 3(2).

In reply to my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross, may I say that it has been the policy of successive Governments to adopt a flexible approach towards aerodrome development, allowing a good deal of freedom to local authorities in the areas concerned for the development of airports. Local authorities have been considered to be best qualified to decide the air transport needs for their respective areas. Nevertheless, it is intended that the Civil Aviation Authority shall undertake similar studies to those previously undertaken by Government Departments and independent consultants and will be thoroughly equipped to do so. Clear guidance will be given by the Government to the Authority as to the nature and objectives of these studies. And to complete the picture I would remind the Committee that Clause 33 of the Bill provides for the Authority to advise the Secretary of State and others on matters such as these and to recover the costs of providing such advice.

Therefore, it is better that no statutory obligation should be laid upon the Authority to produce an aerodromes plan. In this respect, in the way we propose it will be possible to preserve a greater degree of flexibility in aerodrome planning, which is desirable if the Government and local authorities are to take account of the rapidly changing nature of the problems which are likely to arise. Nevertheless, if the noble Lord cares to get in touch with me between now and the next stage I would be happy to give consideration to any further Amendment he feels disposed to put down in the light of what I have said. But perhaps he may feel, with that explanation and with the reference to the effects of Clause 33, that the Amendment is not required at all.

8.52 p.m.


That is really a curate's egg. All sorts of things have been held out to us as good, particularly in the last part of the noble Lord's speech where he said that he is prepared to discuss with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, before the next stage as to the purpose of this Amendment and how it could best be implemented, and the undertaking of the noble Minister to consider the whole question of a national airports policy. But I do not like the undertones. It started off with a most amazing remark, which I imagine came from the noble Lord's brief: that this was an Amendment about land use planning. If there is one thing it really is not about it is land use planning; it is about the whole national transport system; the whole international transport system, if you like, and this is somehing about which we really want an answer. We on these Benches in dealing


I hope the noble Lord is not suggesting that land use planning is totally irrelevant in that particular concern.


Indeed I do not. But, dedicated though I am to land use planning, I suggest it is a minor part of this particular Amendment and this particular point, because what we are talking about is the whole international transport problem. We on these Benches have time and time again, when fielding statements from Governments—both of the Conservative Party and of the Labour Party—dealing with airports over the last few years, always said,"Yes, but when are we going to have a serious overall plan for what is going to happen to airports and what is going to happen to air traffic?"This is what we want. We got no assurance about this from the noble Lord, Lord Sandford.

I welcome the fact, as I said before, that he is going to discuss with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, about this, but I hope he takes the point that we are not just quibbling about a minor power here or there, or who is going to have responsibility for deciding on the kind of minor issue where, he rightly says, the local decisions and local advice must have a very considerable say. What we are talking about—what I hope the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, is talking about; I think he is, and we certainly are—is some kind of machinery for an overall airport/airways scheme for this country, which has certainly not emerged in the past; it certainly shows no sign of emerging at the moment, and it certainly ought to emerge in the immediate future.


I should like to support the general issue of a national airports policy, and I am grateful to my noble friend for saying that he is prepared to look at this matter and discuss it with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, before the next stage of the Bill. It is perhaps not necessary to remind the Committee that the Edwards Committee felt particularly strongly on this point, and from the evidence they gathered it seemed that there was a lack of planning and a duplication of facilities. They particularly mentioned in one case, I think, the Birmingham and Coventry airports. Also, as my noble friend has said, it is very much a matter of development of regions. It could even lead to the decline of regions. I hope very much that my noble friend will be able to agree that this should be written into the Bill, and I would certainly support it.


I am very grateful to the noble Viscount, to the noble Earl, and to the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, for the support they have given to the proposition I put before them. I must learn from this technique and speak as briefly as possible and then expect others to put my case much better than I am capable of doing it myself. The noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, must stand amazed at his own moderation when he referred to the noble Lord's speech as being a curate's egg. Harsher words could have been used. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the undertaking which the noble Lord has given.

May I say that I agree with the noble Viscount, and others, that of course other interests come into it. The kind of Amendment I propose to put down is the following: 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 to certain matters. I hope it will be agreed. Of course, I recognise that many interests are involved when one comes to consider the possibility of a viable airport plan for the nation.

There was one particular point which worried me—and if I may have the noble Lord's attention for a moment I can put this down on the Record. He says that the Authority will have clear guidance from the Government as to its policy. This, surely, is the wrong way round. We are supposed to be setting up a professional body outside the governmental machine which is going to give guidance to the Government. I thought this was the whole purpose of Fulton and what he was saying. To say that you are going to set up a body and then tell it how to work, is rather like the idea of some form of puppet show with the Government still pulling the strings.


May I interrupt the noble Lord? What I said was that in the policy guidance we would spell out more fully the Authority's role—not the policy about airport planning but the Authority's role, which, as I explained, is advisory, in relation to aerodrome planning.


I am glad that the noble Lord has made that clear. He used the phrase twice. The first time I understood what he said; the second time I thought he was saying something different. Probably the best way I can serve the Committee here is by asking leave to withdraw this Amendment, and then I will put before the noble Lord the Amendment which I have, and I hope that on Third Reading we can embody it in the Bill itself—in black and white, as someone said—as a statutory obligation. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [General objectives and guidance by the Secretary of State]:

8.58 p.m.

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 3: Page 3, line 12, leave out (" and ").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 3, which is merely a paving Amendment, and at the same time to speak to Amendment No. 4. I have already referred in general terms to the Government's intention in this field, and particularly to including specific reference to the interests of consumers in the guidance to be given under Clause 3(2). In moving this particular pair of Amendments I need not say much more. My noble friend Lord Kinnoull and the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, sought in the earlier Committee to strengthen these intentions, if I may express it that way, by amending Clause 2 in such a way as to make it the function of the Authority to safeguard the interests of consumers. However, this would not have been a good way of meeting the point because Clause 2 is descriptive of functions which are provided for elsewhere and are being transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority. This is not a function which is at the moment specifically provided for elsewhere. Moreover, as I have said, it is not really a function in itself. I think we are all agreed about that. It is more about the way in which the Authority should perform all its many functions. Therefore Clause 3 is a better place for it. Her Majesty's Government have therefore put down Amendment No. 4, in effect to elevate the consumer interest, which we are all so rightly concerned about, from the supplementary guidance to be given under subsection (2) and to include it among the main objectives in subsection (1) of Clause 3. In this way it will be given specific mention in the Bill itself, as many noble Lords have asked for, and in effect it will enjoy an elevated status. I believe all the noble Lords who have spoken will welcome this.

The matter will still be amplified in the policy guidance under subsection (2) but it will now hang on an objective set out in the Bill itself. If I anticipate him correctly the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, is seeking an alternative to Amendment No. 4 by putting down Amendment No. 5. If I understand his intention correctly it is the opening words of Amendment No. 4 which he does not like and which read"subject to the preceding paragraphs," so I will now deal with that. I have carefully considered this matter and have concluded that Amendment No. 4 is to be preferred for these reasons. The purpose of the opening words of my Amendment is to guide the Authority as to the relative weight it should give to the four objectives in order to help it to reach a decision. I believe that the noble Lord's reformulation of it would tend either to guide the Authority wrongly in some respects or, more likely, tend to lead to some confusion.

Let me say straight away that I believe that in general the duty which each of our Amendments sets out, to further the interests of the consumers, will seldom conflict with the preceding objectives, and I do not think it would be right to regard it in that way. The objectives in paragraphs (a) and (b) are certainly intended to benefit the users of the transport services, and things like the lowest charges consistent with a high standard of safety will benefit air travellers. The objective of paragraph (c) goes rather wider since this is intended to benefit the country as a whole, and likewise the reference in paragraph (a) to safety embraces not only the safety of people in the aeroplanes but also the safety of the people on the ground. So in these particular respects, at least, it could sometimes be the case that the interests of the users of air transport services are not the only interests that the Authority would need to weigh. Therefore it would be wrong to say that the Authority must at all times further the interests of the users of air transport services to the exclusion of other interests, which is what Amendment No. 5 would occasionally be saying.

Reverting to Amendment No. 4, I would point out that the words"subject to the preceding paragraphs"mean no more in practice than that the Authority must weigh the interests of the users intelligently against other and wider interests, where these are relevant. These words also mean that the Authority should take a long view and not too narrow a view of what the interests of the users really are. These words mean no more than that, but, as I have tried to show, I believe they are necessary and are the correct words to use in this context. I beg to move.


I was going to suggest that it would be to the convenient, of the Committee if we discussed the Amendment under my name on the Marshalled List together with the one moved by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford. Therefore, I beg to move Amendment No. 5, page 3, line 18, at end to insert the words on the Marshalled List. May I first say that I am grateful to the noble Lord—


With great respect, I do not think that there can be two Amendments before the Committee at the same time. No doubt it would be acceptable if the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, were to speak to his Amendment, but I do not think he can move it when another Amendment has already been moved.


I quite agree that it would be wrong if my Amendment were put to the Committee, and I suppose it is equally wrong if I move it, but I hope the noble Viscount will agree that it will be for the convenience of the Committee if we discuss these two Amendments together. I was saying that I was grateful to the noble Lord and to his right honourable friend for his readiness to discuss this matter with members of the Select Committee, and I am grateful for the efforts that have been made to meet the very firm views which were expressed at the Committee stage, but we have only to read the words in the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, to realise that they are inadequate. Here we are dealing with a consumer interest, the man or woman who is a passenger in the airline, the person all the organisation is destined to serve. As I said at the Committee stage, there is no point in building aircraft or in laying down a runway, or indeed in having an airline, unless it be for the purpose of giving adequate service to the passenger. We wanted to have in the Bill something which would make it quite clear that the customers' interest was after all paramount. I had indicated that certainly up to now in aviation legislation we had recognised that there was this need. Although this view was supported by both sides of the Committee, and although views were expressed very forefully, we now have the following Amendment. subject to the preceding paragraphs, to further the reasonable interests of users of air transport services; I do not think it sounds sufficiently virile; it does not seem to mean what we want to say, and therefore I have ventured to put down some other words.

The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said that if we do not have regard to the preceding paragraphs we should not have regard to safety. Safety is in one of the preceding paragraphs. It would surely be unreasonable to say that we are looking after the interests of the passenger if we do not have regard to safety. Would it not be unreasonable if we were to say that we ignore paragraph (c), which makes reference to the need to make a contribution towards a favourable balance of payments? If we were looking after the interests of the consumer and jeopardising the balance of payments of this country that surely would be unreasonable. At the same time, I think it is wrong to say that before we can look after the interests of the consumer we have to have regard to the need expressed in paragraph (b) to secure that at least one major British airline which is not controlled by the British Airways Board has opportunities to participate in providing…services… I am not, of course, raising the purpose of paragraph (b). I simply say that it gives an entirely wrong impression if we say that before we look after the passenger, the customer, we have to see that one major British airline is properly provided for. I feel, therefore, with all respect and in all gratitude for what has been put into this Amendment which the noble Lord has moved, that we ought to go a little further. I hope very much that he will accept that although there may conceivably be legal objections to the wording that I am proposing, nevertheless if one interprets the words in a common sense way including the requirement about the"reasonable interests of users of air transport services ", his fears in relation to the balance of payments and in relation to safety are not really justified. On reflection, I hope very much he will feel able to withdraw his Amendment and accept the Amendment in my name.


I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, in everything he has said. I am, however, slightly worried about the tactical position and what the best tactical way to approach this is. I know that this is very presumptuous in the face of the Labour Party Chief Whip. I hope that the Minister will indeed agree to withdraw his Amendment and to accept that of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick. If he does not, I would suggest that possibly the best way of tackling this is to accept the Government Amendment and then put down an Amendment to strengthen it at Third Reading. Presumably the Government, since they have seen the three Amendments, have already formed an opinion as to the relevant merits. If the Government go ahead with this, I think it would be wrong to oppose the Government Amendment as it stands, in which case the Labour Amendment, unless it is slightly altered in manuscript, more or less falls, because it no longer makes much sense. I hope that the Government will accept Lord Beswick's argument and will accept Amendment No. 5 and withdraw Nos. 3 and 4. I hope that if Nos. 3 and 4 are pressed the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will propose a strengthening Amendment on Third Reading. I think that would be the best way of dealing with it if the Government are not, as they often are not, ready to see the light.


I should like to add my support to those who consider that the consumer interest is of paramount importance. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, described the Government's Amendment as not being virile enough. I have suggested already that it could be if the Government were to agree to omit these offending words,"subject to the preceding paragraphs"and simply add,"to further the reasonable interests of users of air transport services ". That would meet the wishes of the entire Committee.

I would agree with the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. As there are very few Members present, it may stop the proceedings if we press this to a vote.

9.14 p.m.


I think the Minister's point is really rather a narrow one. It may be that a compromise Amendment is the answer. After all, if you look at Clause 3(1)(a) (which is one of the things the authority have to do first, the consumer interest coming second according to the Minister), it says: to secure that British airlines provide air transport services which satisfy all substantial categories of public demand (so far as British airlines may reasonably be expected to provide such services) at the lowest charges… The point is that if you really wish to be difficult and split hairs you can say,"All right, yes, that is what they do, but they are not in the least concerned about whether the aircraft are half filled, and the public are paying far more than they ought to. They are nevertheless providing air transport services which satisfy all substantial categories of public demand, and really they should not take into account the consumer angle at all when thinking about this ". I merely make the point that you can read it several ways if you wish to. I do not feel that the Government Amendment is strong enough as it stands.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for his acknowledgment and recognition that the Government have taken considerable pains to meet the points expressed in the earlier Committee and in putting forward our Amendments Nos. 3 and 4. I confirm that we have gone as far as we feel it is right to go, and that after due consideration of all the points that were raised—and no fresh points have been raised to-night—we feel that we have now got the balance right. I would not agree that we have put the consumer interests second by any means. We feel that it is necessary to strike a balance, and we believe that we have the terms of that balance right in Amendments Nos. 3 and 4. I cannot give any further assurance that we can make any further modifications. Therefore, I will ask the Committee to accept Amendment No. 3, which is a paving Amendment to Amendment No. 4.


Before we collect the voices, may I deal with the esoteric point which the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, put about procedure? The answer is surely that if we want to try to secure a strengthening of the clause, we should first have to divide on the Government Amendment. If that was defeated, then we go on to consider a vacuum. I quite agree that we are in something of a difficulty, but I am not sure that the words which I am moving would not fill that vacuum if we accepted the first of the two Amendments of the noble Lord opposite, and then if the second was defeated we could accept the third. That would seem to be the position. Before we come to that, I wonder whether the noble Lord would at least look at the proposal which the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull put. If they left out these words:"subject to the preceding paragraphs ", I would be happy with that. If we have those words in as well, then I really feel that we are not meeting the wishes that were firmly expressed on both sides of the Committee in support of the consumer point of view. I ask, therefore, that the noble Lord should give an undertaking to look at that. If he will not, then I am afraid I shall recommend my noble friends to vote against the second of the two Amendments which the noble Lord is moving; namely, Amendment No. 4.


I would give an assurance that we would look at that if I was not satisfied that we had already looked at it very carefully. Clearly, to leave this out is the simple kind of solution which, at first sight, does have attractions. But on reflection we feel that it is necessary to strike the balance for the reasons I have set out, and therefore those words are needed. I do not think that I can add any more.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 4.

Amendment moved—

Page 3, line 18, at end insert— (" and; (d) subject to the preceding paragraphs, to further the reasonable interests of users of air transport services; ").—(Lord Sandford.)

9.20 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 4) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 66; Not-Contents, 24.

Aberdare, L. Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Netherthorpe, L.
Ailwyn, L. Falkland, V. Northchurch, Bs.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Ferrers, E. Oakshott, L.
Amory, V. Fortescue, E. Orr-Ewing, L.
Balerno, L. Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Redesdale, L.
Balfour, E. Gage, V. St. Aldwyn, E.[Teller.]
Beauchamp, E. Gisborough, L. St. Helens, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gowrie, E. St. Just, L.
Belstead, L. Gray, L. St. Oswald, L.
Berkeley, Bs. Grenfell, L. Sandford, L.
Bolton, L. Grimston of Westbury, L. Savile, L.
Boyle of Handsworth, L. Hatherton, L. Selkirk, E.
Brecon, L. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) Sempill, Ly.
Colville of Culross, V. Killearn, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Conesford, L. Kilmany, L. Somerleyton, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Latymer, L. Strange, L.
Craigavon, V. Lauderdale, E. Trefgarne, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Tweedsmuir, L.
Daventry, V. Merrivale, L. Vivian, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Monk Bretton, L. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Digby, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. Windlesham, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Napier and Ettrick, L. Wolverton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Foot, L. Kennet, L.
Beswick, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Kings Norton, L.
Blyton, L. Gardiner, L. Phillips, Bs.[Teller.]
Brockway, L. Garnsworthy, L. [Teller.] St. Davids, V.
Burntwood, L. Greenway, L. Seear, Bs.
Collison, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Shackleton, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Hanworth, V. Tanlaw, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Janner, L. White, Bs.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

9.28 p.m.

VISCOUNT HANWORTH moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 3, line 25, at end insert— (" ( ) It shall be the duty of the Authority to consider any representation from any person relating to, or to facilities in connection with, air transport services by means of aircraft registered in the United Kingdom, or with respect to the tariff or other charges in respect of any other such service or facilities: Provided that the Authority shall not be required by this subsection to consider any representation if in their opinion—

  1. (a) the representation is frivolous or vexatious; or
  2. (b) the matters to which the representation relates have already been sufficiently considered by the Authority; or
  3. (c) the matters to which the representation relates are for the time being regulated by an international agreement to which Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is a party.")

The noble Viscount said: The justification for this Amendment is, in broad terms, that which I put forward when moving Amendment No. 1. However, this Amendment is rather different; it is designed to provide a complaints procedure. This procedure, exactly as it is in my Amendment, appeared in the Civil Aviation (Licensing) Act 1960, but for some reason or other it has been omitted from this Bill. I should like to remind your Lordships that both the Air Transport Licensing Board, in paragraph 11 of their last Report, and the Edwards Committee Report, on which this Bill was based—and paragraph 1,018 refers—stressed the need for adequate consumer representation and mechanisms for dealing with complaints. I have a feeling that the Government will argue that all this will be put into effect later on by the Authority, and need not in fact appear in the Bill. I am afraid that all my experience in these sort of circumstances indicates that nothing nearly as effective will occur. The plain facts are that it will probably be only when the case is taken up by somebody in Parliament that it will ever reach the top level.

If we make this Amendment to the Bill, with all the provisos that it has, it will not be time-wasting because the Authority need not look at a representation if it is frivolous or vexatious; they need not look at it if the matters to which the representation relates have already been sufficiently considered by the Authority "; and they need not look at it if the matters to which the representation relates are for the time being regulated by an international agreement to which Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom is a party. Can we have anything more reasonable than that? If this is not put in the Bill, I do not believe that this sort of mechanism, certainly not such an effective mechanism, will ever come into being by itself. I beg to move.


May I say a word in support of the noble Viscount? He sets down, in words which are probably more appropriate, part of the original Amendment which I had down on the Committee stage. Again I would emphasise, despite how the voting went on the last Amendment, that in fact the unanimous view of noble Lords on both sides of that Committee was that we should have words of this kind in this Bill. I hope that from time to time the noble Lord will accept the proposition that what is the general feeling in this Committee should have some relation to the nature of the Bill which goes out of this House. I hope, therefore, that he is able to say that he will accept the Amendment.


The noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, asked"Could you have anything more reasonable? ". No, you could not. He leaned over backwards to meet the Government. We were asked earlier whether we could not have some more virile words. These are not at all virile. They are merely the kind of rather despairing words which anyone who had anything to do with consumers must put forward to a Government which destroyed the Consumer Council. This Amendment says that …the Authority shall not be required by this subsection to consider any representation if…representation is frivolous or vexatious; or matters to which the representation relates have already been sufficiently considered… and these words are prefaced by"their opinion "; that is, with no appeal from their opinion whatsoever. This immediately rules out a great number of the things which should be considered by the Authority. We all know that it is a fact of human nature that in any institutions (this is not to cast any aspersions on the people who run authorities of this kind, people who run Government Departments or Government institutions or businesses of this sort) there are those who do not really want to consider a number of the more annoying and boring matters which are brought forward, one or two of which may be valid complaints by the consumer. All these are ruled out in this Amendment. It is entirely up to the Authority to decide whether it is going to look at these complaints or not. It is a very, very mild Amendment. I sincerely hope that the Government are going to accept it.


I should like to add a word of support in principle of the noble Viscount, Lord Han-worth. I would remind noble Lords that it was a Conservative Government which brought these words into the 1960 Act—and I understand from the A.T.L.B. that they have worked very well. I would make one suggestion on the lines of reducing the size of this Bill. Could we not agree that this matter could come under Schedule 11 and that this important section should not be repealed?


While I am wholly in sympathy with the purpose behind the Amendment, I have some doubts regarding the proviso at the end of it. It is only too easy for any transport authority to disclaim responsibility for attending to a complaint by saying that the complaint has already been dealt with, or to pass on the responsibility to somebody else. One sees it every day in the rules of London Transport. One sees this every day—on the railways, on London Transport and everywhere. I feel that the proviso as worded is perhaps opening too wide a door, but apart from that I am absolutely in sympathy with the Amendment.


As the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, has said, his Amendment follows the words of Section 4 of the Civil Aviation (Licensing) Act, 1960, but omits the concluding words about what is to be done with a representation when the Authority has considered it. I have two points to make on this Amendment. The first is that the 1960 Act is much narrower in its scope than the Bill now before us. For example, in Clause 26 the present Bill provides for something new. It provides for the licensing of the organisers of air travel. This in itself is a very important new measure which will operate very much in the interests of consumers. Air travel organisers may, and often do, make use of the services of foreign airlines, but the effect of this Amendment would be to limit the duty of the Authority to the consideration of representations about flights on British-registered aircraft. The result would be that the dissatisfied holidaymaker who arranges his holiday through a British air travel organiser but flies on a foreign-registered aircraft would have no opportunity to have his grievances considered.

The Authority will of course also have responsibilities for a wide range of matters going well beyond air transport licensing matters and there is no reason why the interests of consumers should be limited in the way proposed by this Amendment. The second point I make is an even more important objection. We want to get away from the concept of consumer complaints. Once again I remind your Lordships of what the noble Baroness, Lady Burton, said on the Second Reading of this Bill: There are many consumer matters affecting travellers that are not complaints…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9/7/71; col. 1268.] I and, I think, many noble Lords agree with that. For that reason we want the Authority to consider and take account of all representations from air travellers but I do not think this can be achieved by a specific Amendment on the lines which the noble Viscount has proposed. It is not just a question of drafting because air transport is one of the fastest growing and fastest changing industries and it is important that the matters to be pursued by the Authority in the interests of air travellers should be subject to review in the light of changing circumstances. That is why we attach so much importance to the policy guidance to be made under Clause 3(2)—as I have said several times, it can be amended from time to time—and why we regard that provision as the most suitable mechanism for dealing in such detail as is necessary with consumer interests. For that reason, I hope that the noble Viscount will not press his Amendment because it would have these limiting effects; if he does press it, I would advise the Committee to reject it.

9.38 p.m.


May I ask the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, to look again at this Amendment and to consider it in conjunction with what has been already agreed by the Committee when it accepted Amendment No. 4? There is no question of limiting anything; this is a question of adding something. We already have provision for the reasonable interests of air transport users to be considered. In addition to that, this is a requirement that proper complaints should be considered by the Civil Aviation Authority. I said before that I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Burton, that we should not consider consumer interests simply as a matter of looking at complaints; but I do not believe she intended that any organisation which looks after consumer interests should not consider complaints. The point is that we do not want to limit it to this. The noble Lord is really wrong in trying to use that argument against this Amendment. There has been this provision in other aviation legislation and although this Bill covers a somewhat wider field, it is still necessary, possibly even more necessary, that representations from the consumers on individual matters should be considered.

I make this further point. When this Authority is set up, it will engage in a good deal of market research, endeavour to keep itself in touch with what is going on and find out how operators who are licensed are carrying out the provisions of their licences. The possibility of receiving complaints from members of the travelling public is a valuable way of keeping in touch with the market and I should think that this is a valuable addition to the kind of customer research which the Authority is required to do or have done for it. No possible damage can be done by accepting this Amendment and I believe that a certain amount of advantage would result. It is a positive Amendment and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley's conscience will not be troubled by it. On this occasion, therefore, I hope that we will be able to support the noble Viscount, if he sees fit to press his Amendment to a Division.


I do not think that the answer of the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, was in any way satisfactory. I have every sympathy with him. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, in a very delicate and barbed compliment-cum-insult to me on Second Reading, said that I made a very good speech, considering that I knew less about civil aviation than anyone speaking except himself. I am not quite certain that I can put it so delicately to the noble Lord, Lord Sandford, except to say honestly that his speech has landed him in a lot of trouble. To talk about the whole problem of national airport planning as a problem in landings planning is bad enough but to say that we want to get away from the concept of consumer complaints is a dreadful remark to have to read out. Of course, we want to get on to other and better things as well as consumer complaints but we do not want to get away from consumer complaints.


I was repeating the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry.


But the noble Lord was presumably repeating them verbatim? Yes, that is all right. I have the greatest respect for the noble Baroness but I do not have to defend her every word in the House. Obviously, the line the noble Lord was taking was that we had to get away from consumer complaints. I am a consumer, we are all consumers, and I hope that none of us wishes to get away from the concept of consumer complaints. The broader, the wider and the deeper the whole concept is made, so that we have

people to look after us and represent the community and do all the things we want to see done, the more room there will still be for the little complaint of the single consumer on the matter which affects him or her. We do not want to get away from consumer complaints. This Amendment does not stop any wider, broader or deeper concept being involved as well. There is no reason why we should not have this Amendment and I hope your Lordships will vote for it.


I am afraid that, like other speakers, I am not satisfied with the Minister's reply. He makes one point, which is true, of course, and that is that this Amendment is limited to aircraft registered in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, there is nothing to prevent the Authority from doing what it can with aircraft that are not registered in the United Kingdom. Had I tried to include them, no doubt I should have been told that they have no jurisdiction in many of the matters with which this Amendment hopes to deal. I am afraid I dismiss that argument completely, and I am totally dissatisfied with the other arguments which the Minister has put forward. I must therefore press this Amendment to a Division, even at this late hour. I feel that consumer representation is a most important principle, and it is only too clear from the Bill, and from the Minister's reply, that we are retrogressing rather than progressing in this direction.

9.46 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 6) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 27; Not-Contents, 62.

Auckland, L. Gaitskell, Bs. Monson, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Garnsworthy, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Greenway, L. Phillips, Bs. [Teller.]
Beswick, L. Hanworth, V. [Teller.] Seear, Bs.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Janner, L. Shackleton, L.
Burntwood, L. Kennet, L. Somers, L.
Collison, L. Kings Norton, L. Strange, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Kinnoull, E. Tanlaw, L.
Foot, L. Merrivale, L. White, Bs.
Aberdare, L. Balerno, L. Belstead, L.
Ailwyn, L. Balfour, E. Berkeley, Bs.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Beauchamp, E. Bolton, L.
Amory, V. Belhaven and Stenton, L. Carrington, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Gray, L. Redesdale, L.
Conesford, L. Grenfell, L. Redmayne, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Aldwyn, E.
Craigavon, V. Jellicoe, E. (L. Privy Seal.) St. Helens, L.
Craigmyle, L. Killearn, L. St. Just, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Kilmany, L. Sandford, L.
Daventry, V. Latymer, L. Savile, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Lauderdale, E. Selkirk, E.
Digby, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Skelmersdale, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Monk Bretton, L. Somerleyton, L.
Emmet of Amberley, Bs. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Trefgarne, L.
Falkland, V. Tweedsmuir, L.
Ferrers, E. Napier and Ettrick, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, Bs.
Fraser of Lonsdale, L. Netherthorpe, L. Vivian, L.
Gage, V. Northchurch, Bs. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Gisborough, L. Oakshott, L. Windlesham, L.
Gowrie, E. Orr-Ewing, L. Wolverton, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

9.53 p.m.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Special provisions as respects certain functions]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 7: Page 5, leave out from (" 1958 ") and insert (" 1971 ").

The noble Lord said: These are just drafting Amendments. The Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1958 has been replaced by the new Act of 1971, and these Amendments merely reflect consequential new references. I beg to move.


I beg to move Amendment No. 8:

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 31, leave out (" 5 ") and insert (" 8 ").—(Lord Sandford.)

Clause 5, as amended agreed to. Clause 6 [Financial Provisions]:

LORD SANDFORD moved Amendment No. 9: Page 5, line 38, after (" revenue ") insert (" (including any grant towards revenue made to it in pursuance of section 10(1) of this Act) ").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 9 on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Carrington. In the earlier Committee on this Bill there was some uncertainty among your Lordships, as there was also in another place, in inter -preting the duty laid down in Clause 6(1) of the Bill. Amendment No. 9 has been put forward with the intention of making it clear that the revenue of the Authority will include grants which may be made available by the Secretary of State, as well as revenue which the Authority may obtain in the form of fees and charges. The Authority will thus be able to aggregate all forms of revenue so as to balance its books and meet the duty in this clause from the outset. This duty is something quite distinct from the question of the Authority's becoming self-supporting, without further need of subvention. The question of the full recovery of the cost of the Authority's functions and the time by which the Authority should become self-supporting is a separate matter on which the Authority will be given guidance under Clause 3(2) and on which there may be something more to be said on the next Amendment. I beg to move.


As the noble Lord said, this subject was raised on the Committee stage. He said there was some uncertainty about Clause 6. It was not uncertainty, it was dissatisfaction. We thought the clause was a mistake. It was a mistake that this Authority, which is not a commercial authority but a body which has the responsibility of regulating a whole field of air transport affairs, should be expected to pay for itself, one year with another. We thought it could not be self-supporting. The noble Lord has gone some way to emphasise the fact that there will be grants and that paying one year with another can include a grant from Her Majesty's Government. I should have thought that the next Amendment on the Marshalled List in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, would have gone further in some respects, but in other respects I can accept that it is difficult to see how the Government could place upon themselves such an obligation. I am grateful that Her Majesty's Government have seen fit to meet our point to this extent.

I want to ask only one question, and whether one undertaking can be given. It was not simply a matter of the Authority's having to pay its way, one year with another. A doubt which we expressed was the possibility that the Authority, in arranging its own affairs, would have to cost-subsidise one aspect of its responsibilities with revenues received from another aspect of its responsibilities. We thought it was quite wrong to have to collect from, say, aircraft engineers or from the aircraft manufacturers fees for simplification which would be required to pay for administrative work and regulatory work in other activities of the Authority. I want an undertaking as clearly as it is possible to express it that there shall be no requirement on this Authority to cross-subsidise one function with revenues received from another. If the noble Lord can give us that assurance in clear terms then we shall be most grateful to him.


So far as I concerned it was a matter more of confusion than dissatisfaction. I felt that, in a phrase which became well known to those of us who served on the Select Committee, there was very little between the two sides on this particular subject. I therefore welcome the Amendment which clarifies a situation that was rather obscure beforehand. Since we are taking the two Amendments separately, I will reserve what I have to say on the further implications of this matter to Amendment No. 10.


I should like to give a brief welcome to this Amendment and thank my noble friend who gave an undertaking at the last stage of the Committee to look at this matter again. I am grateful to him for moving the Amendment and for clarifying this issue.


The Amendment is not designed to deal with the rather wider issue that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, went on to mention in response to my moving Amendment No. 9. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick asked me about cross-subsidisation, and I am glad to be able to give him the reassurance that he wanted. I do not think this arises on the Amendment, but I can assure him that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has no intention that any one broad category of function should subsidise another. The revenue obtained from fees and charges in respect of the regulation of the industry will not, for example, be used to subsidise losses in providing the air navigation services. The Secretary of State has adequate powers to deal with that under Clause 9.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 [Grants and loans by Secretary of State]:

10.3 p.m.

LORD BEAUMONT OF WHITLEY moved Amendment No. 10: Page 9, line 14, at end insert (" and shall make such grants as he considers sufficient to defray the costs of general administration of the Authority's functions ").

The noble Lord said: As I have already said, there is not very much between the Government and those of us on these Benches and, probably, those noble Lords who spoke on this matter in the Committee. We are all agreed that revenue should cover expenses for the Authority, and in the last Amendment it was spelt out that revenue should include the grants from the Government. We are all agreed, and have had notable assurances, that the Government intend to make adequate grants over a period of time at the beginning of the Authority's life to enable it to do its job well. I think I understand—and I should be grateful for an answer from the Minister on this matter—that in the foreseeable future the Government consider that their grants will cover the administrative costs on these matters of the general administration of the Authority's function that my Amendment covers.

The general feeling in the Committee was, and certainly the feeling of people I have talked to since is, that it would be highly unfortunate if such costs of running the Authority, which have little to do with running an airline in the terms which our competitors know, had to be passed on to the airlines themselves and were not carried by the Government. It is the established practice for Civil Service functions like these to be funded by the Treasury even in this country. There is an almost infinite variety of Government functions in the same broad category whose costs are not passed on to the operating body themselves: for example, by the Department of the Environment, the railways, the road transport operators, and by the Department of Employment for industrial relations service.

Abroad, too, there are similar situations. In the United States, costs of the Civil Aeronautics Board and a substantial proportion of those of the Federal Aviation Agency are borne out of public funds. Australia recovers only about one-fifth of her expenditure of more than 100 million Australian dollars a year on the direction of civil aviation; and this type of cost is carried in Canada, in Japan, in France, West Germany and the Netherlands. If costs of this kind are passed on to British Overseas Airways or British European Airways, or the other bodies concerned, it might put them at a serious competitive disadvantage because they themselves would then have to charge more. It is my understanding that the Government do not want to see this happen and are going to ensure that it does not happen. But so far as the Bill stands, and as far as the assurances we have received stand, we have at the moment merely assurances that the Government are going to give particular subventions which they hope will cover the immediate future. But of course the Government cannot ensure what is going to happen after that. Nor are the Government in any way bound to covering these particular expenses. As I say, I think there is a general feeling that these expenses should be covered by the Government.

Therefore, I have put forward this Amendment which suggests that the Secretary of State shall make such grants as he considers sufficient to defray the costs of general administration of the Authority's functions ". This is to ensure that those fields of expenditure which cannot and should not be reclaimed from the operating airlines or from the customers in any shape or form should be covered by the Government. It goes considerably beyond Clauses 33 and 34, I think—subsection (4) of each was quoted by the Government at the last stage. We are talking about much wider expenses than these. What we are saying is that the Government should see that the basic charges which are not part of the commercial set-up should be looked after by the Government.

I put forward an Amendment submitted to me by the advisers in the airways, which said: and shall make such grants as are necessary to defray the costs of general administration of the Authority's functions ". But I took considerable note of what was said on all sides again in the Select Cornmittee—that there must be very strong financial control over these matters from the very beginning, and that there should be a financial discipline accepted by the Authority. Therefore, I have amended the Amendment which was suggested to me, by saying: and shall make such grants as he considers sufficient to defray the costs of general administration of the Authority's functions ". That covers the point made by noble Lords in the Committee, that it is up to the Secretary of State to say:"No; you are spending too much on these functions and I am not going to give you as much as you want or as much as you spent last year. I am going to give you as much as I consider sufficient." I cannot see what there is in this Amendment that the Government should object to; but I can see that if the Government accepted it it would allay a great many fears in the whole of the industry at the moment. I beg to move.


Before my noble friend replies may I make a few comments? This Amendment is remarkably similar to the one moved in Committee. Indeed, when I first saw it I thought that the noble Lord had received his brief a couple of days later than I had received mine. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has already mentioned that it could be argued that the whole of the financial clauses, Clauses 6 to 10, are indeed wrongly set This new Authority is not a commercial operation. The new Authority will not be supported in a similar way to the F.A.A. and the C.A.B., and all that we can do to assist it in persuading the Government to give an undertaking that grants will be available for certain services, should be done.

I think there is some difficulty in regard to the Amendment that is now before us, and perhaps my noble friend will draw attention to this, because as I read it the Amendment is mandatory whereas the clause is permissive. Also the question of administrative costs as phrased in the Amendment possibly goes a good deal wider than might be generally acceptable. I should like my noble friend to give a clear undertaking that grants will be available for certain services for years to come, not just the five-year or the seven-year period that we have heard about so far, and particularly for services such as the statistical section which we hope will be set up, and possibly the enforcement bureau and policing, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, mentioned at the last stage. I hope my noble friend will be able to give us this undertaking in clear and unequivocal terms.

10.12 p.m.


I am afraid I cannot recommend the Committee to accept this Amendment, but I hope to show that there are good reasons for that and to satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, that the airlines—and particularly the British airlines—will not be put at any serious disadvantage by the arrangements that are proposed. I confirm that it is the general policy of Her Majesty's Government to adhere to the principle that air travellers should not be subsidised by the taxpayers and that these broad aviation services about which we are speaking should be, generally speaking, financed by the air travellers, particularly as air transport is not a service which is enjoyed by all members of the community, some of whom indeed suffer only the discomfort of aircraft noise.

I recognise that other civil aviation administrations throughout the world—and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont, mentioned some of them—; may not be pursuing an overall comprehensive policy of full cost recovery as vigorously as we are doing, but I would remind the noble Lord and the Committee that by far the greater part of the Authority's expenditure—80 per cent. of it—arises from the provision of air navigation services. In that respect the process of cost recovery is being undertaken in orderly stages by international agreement, at least in respect of the Euro-control countries, which are the ones that are chiefly affected and with whom we are in competition.


May I ask the noble Lord a question? Did he say that 80 per cent. of the costs are recovered from the air navigation services?


No, I said that 80 per cent. of the Authority's expenditure arises from the provision of air navigation services—much the greater part—and in respect of those the process of cost recovery is by international agreement and is planned in a series of stages.

My noble friend Lord Kinnoull referred to Clauses 33 and 34 and I have already indicated that there is scope under those clauses for negotiation of the precise functions for which the Secretary of State may accept financial responsibility. The negotiations and the discussions of details will be a matter for the Secretary of State and the Authority, although clearly the Secretary of State will need to obtain normal Parliamentary agreement to make public funds available. The question of cross subsidisation is also relevant here, and I have already confirmed that the Secretary of State has powers to ensure that the revenue under one group of services will not be used to subsidise another.


Before the noble Lord finishes, I would point out that he seems to have forgotten the unequivocal undertaking that he was going to give me.


Is the noble Lord going to rise to give the unequivocal undertaking?


I wonder whether the noble Earl could remind me of the particular point.


I asked the noble Lord whether he would give an assurance that grants will be for a longer period than the five years we have so far heard about.


I think I dealt with that point by explaining—or maybe I was relying on our earlier discussion— that the greater part of the Authority's expenditure, 80 per cent., arises from the provision of air navigation services, and the present intention is to recover the cost of those by international agreement over a five-year period. Another point on which I can give an assurance is that there is scope for negotiation under Clauses 33 and 34 over certain functions for which the Secretary of State assumes financial responsibility. There is no time limit to that. But beyond those two assurances I cannot go.


Am I not right in saying that as in this Bill we are proposing to saddle the Authority with a debt of between £30 and £50 million, and as it was recognised that it would never be possible within the next decade for the Civil Aviation Authority to meet its costs and service a debt of this magnitude, my right honourable friend was given an undertaking that the transition would be extended? Is not this what the noble Earl is asking for—that it should be repeated by the noble Lord?


If the noble Lord would like to have another question, to gather the whole thing together, would he care to comment on the other 20 per cent. of the costs? Eighty per cent. is a lot, but 20 per cent. in real terms is a great sum. What is going to happen in regard to that?


I think we are going rather wide of the Amendment, which related to costs of general administration. But as I have been asked the question about the initial debt and charges on it, I would confirm that this amounts to something of the order of £1.5 million, and depreciation charges £1.8 million—something of that order. But the point I was making was that much the larger section is the air navigation charges, and there are safeguards in the process of cost recovery in respect of those which will go a long way to give assurance to our own airlines in respect of the disadvantage they might be placed in vis-à-vis their international competitors if this part of the costs were being recovered other than by international agreement.


I should like first of all to say that the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, was not entirely right; I did not get my brief two days later than he did. I actually listened to the debates in the Select Committee and the admirable Amendments which he put forward, and thought that as a result this particular Amendment needed to be put forward at the next stage. I have heard nothing in this debate to make me think otherwise.

I should like to comment briefly on his point that this is a permissive clause into which I should put a mandatory Amendment. I do not think there is any substance in that point. To say that the Secretary of State may at the beginning, and then"and shall ", is perfectly possible; I do not see that there is anything very wrong with the Amendment there. I must confess that again I find all this extremely baffling. The noble Lord, Lord Sandford, said some words about"cost retrieval ", and not necessarily a passing on of the costs of air travel to the whole community and to the poor old taxpayer, with which I felt considerable sympathy. But the fact remains that the Bill, and the assurances that we have had from various Ministers about how it is to be implemented, do seem to me to leave the various authorities in the maximum uncertainty as to what is to happen.

On the one hand they are not being given the sort of full old Tory, and indeed full old Whig, treatment of"Cover the costs. Get all your costs back, and get on with it." They are given assurances that a great many of these things will be covered for a number years, and that the situation will not be such that they become uncompetitive with other airlines. On the other hand, they are not being given the real security they need. They are neither being given the full competition treatment nor the real security.

This is a situation in which you get the maximum amount of muddle. It is exactly the same kind of situation as that which has led to the position we have to-day with Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, where people really do not know what is going on. The law gives a very broad framework within which you have assurances from Ministers which may last a number of years, or may not last very long; one does not really know, and the situation is such that a Government can change its mind.

I am obviously not going to press this Amendment. The noble Lord who is actually in charge of this Bill has arrived, and in his presence I would not dare to do anything so much like lèse-majesté as to press an Amendment. But I think that we really can ask for a much more serious explanation of the Government's intentions on Clauses 6 to 10 than we have had so far, and I hope that at the next stage we shall have it. I beg leave to withdraw this Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clauses 11 to 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Compensation in respect of planning decisions relating to safety of aerodromes, etc.]:

10.24 p.m.

On Question, Whether Clause 17 shall stand part of the Bill?


I should like to ask my noble friends two points on Clause 17, and I have given them notice. I am sorry to bring them up at a comparatively late stage of the Bill. As I understand it, the point of Clause 17 is that where there is, as is usually the case, a public safety zone at the end of the runways of an aerodrome, in the case of planning permission being refused for the erection of a building there, or any other development, or possibly the erection of a building above a certain height, the owner of the land may serve what is known as a"purchase notice"on the local planning authority saying that his land is perfectly useless without the planning permission, and requiring the planning authority to buy it. Under this clause, the liability is then passed to the Civil Aviation Authority. It is their public safety zone; it is their fault that development cannot take place, so they have to buy it. This seems to be eminently reasonable. Indeed, nothing that I say should be interpreted in any way as affecting the improvement in the situation which I think this provision will bring about in relation to the C.A.A.'s aerodromes. Presumably, they are those set out in Schedule 2, and I do not want Aberdeenshire, Argyll, Inverness-shire Orkney, Ross and Cromarty, Caithness and Shetland to think that I am wishing in any way to derogate from what they are getting under the Bill.

That was all very well when the Bill was introduced, because it dealt only with the Civil Aviation Authority's airports. But now, under Clause 29, which was introduced at a late stage in another place, the Secretary of State has taken powers to deal with all aerodromes. I wonder whether my noble friends can tell me why it is that it is only in the case of these, at the moment, rather minor Civil Aviation Authority aerodromes that the duty of paying compensation on a purchase order has been placed upon the aerodrome operator. It seems to me that public safety zones around some of the larger airports are probably more onerous on the planning authorities concerned, and it is of course by no means always the local planning authority in whose area the airport actually exists that gets the majority of the benefit from it. Very often the aerodrome is outside the large town which is the focal point upon which the aerodrome centres. That is what I should like first of all to know why it is only the C.A.A.'s aerodromes that are affected, and not aerodromes designated by the Secretary of State under Clause 29.

The second point is possibly even broader, but it is one cognate to this subject. It is not only public safety zones that cause planning restrictions as a result of the operation of aerodromes. Some county councils—and I am sorry to see that the noble Lord, Lord Garnsworthy, is momentarily not in his place, because Surrey is one of them—have accepted as a matter of policy certain levels of noise on what is known as the N.N.I., the Noise Number Index, within which certain sorts of buildings shall not be allowed to be erected. This is particularly relevant in the areas immediately at the end of the runways of aerodromes. If the public safety zone is a matter which in the case of a purchase notice for refused planning permission is going to attract compensation from the C.A.A., and I suggest also from the operators of other designated aerodromes, have the Government any views about extending this provision more widely, where an enlightened local planning authority has decided to adopt rather wider restrictions based not so much on the physical requirements of a public safety zone, but on the environmental requirements in regard to the noise caused by the aerodrome?

This must be of great interest to people who live around Heathrow, Gatwick, and, at any rate for the moment, Stansted and Luton; and, no doubt in years to come, Essex and possibly Kent when Foulness comes in to existence. There are also many other large aerodromes, such as Ringway and Elmdon. All those local planning authorities have, at the moment, the possibility of this liability falling upon them for the public safety zone, and also for the noise standards, and I should be grateful if one of my noble friends could say what it is that the Government are thinking of doing, if anything, about this.


On the second point that my noble friend has raised, the Committee and he will be aware that the Government are reviewing the whole question of compensation, including the effects of aircraft noise, public safety zones and so on. The view of my right honourable friend is that it will be more appropriate to consider points such as my noble friend has just raised in the light of the findings of that review, rather than to try to relate them to compensation in the field of safety arrangements. On the first point which he raised, I will, if I may, write to my noble friend.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Clauses 18 to 21 agreed to.

Clause 22 [Grant and refusal of air transport licences]:

On Question, Whether Clause 22 shall stand part of the Bill?


I am sorry to intervene on these Questions, Whether the clause shall stand part, but this is a small point and I hope an assurance can be given by my noble friend. As I understand it, this particular group of clauses is a new provision taking over from the Air Transport Licensing Board the duties of issuing licences, revoking them and suspending them. At any rate hitherto there have been a set of regulations which have governed the procedure and the sort of notices which have to be given. I think they provide for a hearing at which certain people may appear before the Board and make representations whether or not the licence should be granted or revoked, and matters of that sort. It is not altogether clear to me from reading this group of clauses—and I think Clause 22 is the relevant one on this point—whether there are to be hearings, but certainly something is to be prescribed by regulations because there is the word"prescribed"in Clause 22(1).

The point on which I should be glad if my noble friend could give some sort of guidance or assurance is this. Under the old regulations there was a large number of types of people who were entitled to be heard as of right at the hearings before the Board and, for all I know, on appeals, if there were any, afterwards—and there is provision for appeals in this Bill. The moment has arrived, or may arrive, when we have the possibility of different forms of air transport services being provided (I am particularly thinking of short take-off and landing and vertical take-off and landing services, which could be on quite small sites; and, for all I know, there may be helicopter provisions as well) where the people vitally concerned are not only the sort of people who used to be involved in the old regulations. I am on a local authority point again, and really a local planning authority point. Could my noble friend tell me whether, at hearings of this sort—they may not happen very often, but there should be provision for them, I think, in the regulations—local planning authorities will be able to come and make representations, preferably as of right, when a new service such as I have mentioned is being proposed which could have a substantial impact upon the inhabitants of the surrounding area and as to which it would he the very proper duty of a local authority or a local planning authority at least to make its voice heard by the Civil Aviation Authority when they are considering the application for or the possible suspension or revocation of a licence? I hope my noble friend will be able to give some assistance on this matter.


My noble friend has asked what the situation will be with regard to people having a right to be heard by the Civil Aviation Authority. I can assure him that the persons who will have the right to be heard by the Authority in connection with air transport licensing matters and such things as he has referred to will be set out in the procedural regulations which the Secretary of State will be drawing up. Careful consideration will certainly be given to the points which my noble friend has raised, but whatever conclusion is reached I am sure that in practice these large planning authorities—such as, for instance, the Greater London Council, and so forth—will be consulted on all significant developments which are of concern to them.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clause 23 agreed to.

Clause 24 [Supplementary provisions relating to air transport licensing]:

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 11: Page 25, line 41, leave out from beginning to (" to ") in line 42.

The noble Earl said: Perhaps I may speak to Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 at the same time. During the earlier Committee stage of this Bill considerable doubts were expressed about the provision of an unrestricted right of appeal to the Secretary of State. I emphasised then that the Government had considerable sympathy with the points made, and I repeated assurances which my right honourable friend the Minister for Trade had given in which he said that the Secretary of State would uphold the Authority's decision unless there was a major reason for departing from it. However, this did not satisfy your Lordships, and an Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Kinnoull was passed and went into the Bill. I hope that my noble friend will not think it churlish of me to say that the object of this Amendment, No. 11, is to remove the words which he successfully persuaded your Lordships to put into the Bill. But the object of the next one, Amendment No. 12, is not only to put back the effect of his Amendment but actually to strengthen it.

My noble friend's Amendment would have obliged the Secretary of State to have regard to the objectives put on the Authority by Clause 3; but this Amendment will oblige the Secretary of State to take into account the policy guidance as well. I trust, therefore, that my noble friend will realise that the Government have been concerned to meet the point of view he put forward and which your Lordships expressed the desire to put into the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, chided me on the last occasion, and the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, reiterated the chiding this afternoon, for saying that there was not very much between us. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will realise that in fact there was not very much between us and that we have tried to meet the points which were made. When speaking on Amendment No. 6, the noble Lord said that he hoped that the Government would have some regard to the views expressed in Committee. I hope that this Amendment will clearly convince him that the Government have had regard to the views expressed and that we have tried not only to support those views but actually to strengthen them.


May I assure my noble friend that I have never considered him churlish; in fact, I have always felt him to be none other than magnanimous. He has been particularly magnanimous over this Amendment, to the extent that the Government have changed their mind and have gone a certain distance to meet the wishes of the majority in the earlier Committee. It gives me great pleasure warmly to support this Amendment to a clause which I, and others, believe to be one of the most crucial in the Bill.


It only emphasises the fact that it is a pity that this important Bill should be brought on at this time of night, that we are really unable to say in sufficient words how grateful we are for the way in which the noble Earl's right honourable friend the Minister listened to the representations which we made to him following the last Committee stage. I am extremely grateful to his right honourable friend for the way in which he has considered what we had to say. The noble Earl said that this Amendment strengthened what his noble friend put into the Bill. I wanted to go even further; but the fact that we have gone some little way is something for which I express gratitude.


I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Kinnoull and to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for welcoming these Amendments. I will only say, after the strictures which Lord Beswick passed earlier, that his pleasantries on this occasion will taste like nectar to my right honourable friend.


I beg to move Amendment No. 12.

Amendment moved— Page 26, line 12, at end insert (" and the Secretary of State shall, when considering whether to give a direction in pursuance of regulations made by virtue of paragraph (b) of this subsection and when considering the terms of any such direction, have regard in particular to the duties imposed on the Authority by section 3 of this Act.").—(Earl Ferrers.)

Clause 24, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 [Regulation of provision of accommodation in aircraft]:

10.42 p.m.

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 27, line 34, at end insert— (" (d) for appeals against refusals, variations, suspensions or revocations of licences to lie to a prescribed body or person (which may be a court, a Minister of the Crown, a body or person constituted or appointed by or under the regulations of such other body or person as the Secretary of State thinks fit) and for applying the provisions of any enactment, with or without modifications, in relation to such appeals;").

The noble Earl said. During the Committee's consideration of Clause 26, doubts were expressed whether the county court was the right place to consider appeals in respect of the Authority's decisions on travel organisers' licences. Your Lordships felt very strongly about the Amendment which was put forward, pressed it, and succeeded in having it accepted. Unfortunately, the effect of the Amendment was to remove entirely from the Bill any right of appeal against refusal by the Authority to grant a travel organiser's licence. I am sure that that was not the intention of your Lordships.

The question is not whether provision should be made for such an appeal, but what provision should be made. I think this is a difficult question. It was one which was touched on in the Air Transport Licensing Board's Annual Report and there have been further consultations with that body about it since the Report was written. It is a question which I think should be discussed a little further, not only with the Board but also with representatives of the travel trade, with whom there will be consultations when the regulations are being drawn up. I think noble Lords will agree that more time should be allowed for this. The purpose, therefore, of this Amendment is to reinstate the provision for right of appeal in terms which will allow any arrangement to be made by regulations when there has been time for those consultations to take place and for all the problems to be looked at in greater depth. I hope that this will meet with the acceptance of your Lordships. I beg to move.


As the noble Lord has said, this is a holding operation. I think it is as good a solution as we can find at the present time.


Perhaps I may add my thanks to my noble friend and to his right honourable friend for meeting the Committee's wishes on what again I stress is a very important clause. I believe the Committee put up a good case and I am glad that it has been accepted.

Clause 26, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 27 [Design, construction and maintenance of aircraft]:

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 14: Page 28, line 28, at end insert (" and, if the advice was given in consequence of consultations required by virtue of this subsection, to publish particulars of the case forthwith in the prescribed manner ").

The noble Earl said: This again is an Amendment which gives effect to the concern which was expressed by my noble friend Lord Balfour in the Committee stage. He expressed the desire that it should be possible to publish differences of opinion should they occur between the Airworthiness Requirements Board and the Civil Aviation Authority. My noble friend was good enough to withdraw his Amendment and this Amendment has been put down to try to meet the point with which he dealt. He rightly made the point that the Bill as drafted could lead to serious delays before differences of view became known. We accept that if the Authority decided not to proceed on advice from the Board on matters on which they are required by the Bill to consult—for example on such things as airworthiness standards—it is right that the particulars should be published forthwith. The Amendment, if accepted, will provide for this and I hope that it will meet with your Lordships' approval.


This Amendment entirely meets the point I made on Second Reading and again in Committee, and I am grateful to Her Majesty's Government for having put this Amendment down. It fulfils what I desired in a much better way than the Amendment which I drafted and withdrew on Committee stage.

10.45 p.m.

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 15: Page 29, line 21, leave out from (" shall ") to end of line 22 and insert (" designate as the chairman of the board a member of it nominated by the board ").

The noble Earl said: Again this Amendment arises out of a point made during the earlier stage of the Bill, when the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, and other noble Lords presented an Amendment, the purpose of which was to provide that the Authority should designate as Chairman of the Airworthiness Requirements Board a member nominated by the Board. Although the Government had some dubiety about this at the time, we, reasonable as we always are, considered the point in detail and came to recognise the force of the arguments put forward in Committee. We accept that the Board should nominate its own Chairman. However, I hope that in practice it will transpire that it will be possible for a member of the Authority with executive responsibility for airworthiness also to be Chairman of the Board. We are grateful to noble Lords for raising this matter. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, will not consider it churlish of me to cavil at the wording of the Amendment he put forward, but I am advised that, though there is nothing between us, as he will appreciate, what we want to do is more appropriately expressed in the words of our Amendment I beg to move.


I suspect that the noble Earl has difficulty in coping with all the nectar falling around him, but I am grateful to him and to his right honourable friend for meeting the point I tried to make.

On Question, Whether Clause 27 shall stand part of the Bill?


On this clause the noble Earl, who now has so much nectar around him, undertook to consider the drafting. I pointed out that it seemed to me clumsy in relation to the specification of persons appearing to the Authority to be representative and the noble Earl undertook to look again at the wording. No Amendment has appeared on the Marshalled List and I wonder if he can say whether the task of making it tidier was beyond him and his advisers.


I should hate to say that it was beyond us. We looked at this point carefully. I am glad the noble Lord has mentioned it, because I was going to refer to it if he had not done so. We have looked at this again, but I am advised that any attempt at simplification would result in less and not greater clarity. If I may illustrate this by referring to the two proposals made in Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, suggested that paragraph (a) should be omitted on the ground that paragraph (b) did all that was necessary. If that were to happen, this would mean that the representative members could all be manufacturers or all operators or all insurers or all pilots. This is because the list of persons at the end of paragraph (b) is linked by the conjunction"or ". It reads: …appearing to the Authority to be representative of manufacturers or operators or insurers of pilots of aircraft);… The noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, then put forward the ingenious suggestion that this difficulty could be overcome if the words were linked by"and ". He insinuated that his expertise of half a century of doing The Times crossword puzzle enabled him to come adroitly to this conclusion. I thought, on reflection, that he must have been doing The Times crossword ten years before I was born, which did give a certain satisfaction to me, but probably not to the noble Lord. But perhaps he does not always get the crossword puzzle right. I am bound to say that on that occasion, having the mental alacrity of a snail, I was unable to respond quite as quickly as I might have done to his non-manuscript Amendment. I think he would agree, on reflection, that this would mean that the body or persons nominating the members of the new A.R.B. would have to be representatives of all four groups of person. I do not think there is a body which could do this. I hope that this explanation will satisfy noble Lords that the simplification of Clause 27(4) is not quite as easy as it might appear at first sight. The clause may appear to be complicated, but there is no ambiguity in it, nor any doubt, I suggest, as to its meaning.

Perhaps I might make it clear to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, how it would operate. If there were to be, for instance, a Board of, say, 16 members, one must represent a manufacturer, one must represent an operator, one must represent the insurers and one must represent the pilots. That gives us four members, and therefore satisfies paragraph (a). In order to satisfy paragraph (b) five more members must represent manufacturers, operators, insurers or pilots. For example, there could be two more manufacturers representatives, two more operators' representatives and one more pilots' representative, which would bring the Board up to nine—more than half. The remaining seven members can be anyone at all, including four manufacturers' representatives and so on. I hope that that has explained the position to the noble Lord, and that he will accept that this is the best we can do.


I am most interested to have the explanation the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, has just given. In point of fact, I think my suggestion was a sound one. It is what in crossword puzzle circles we call a clue, and we leave it to the solvers to work out the solution. This, I assure the noble Earl, could have been done. Nevertheless, I am prepared to say that this, complicated as it is, worked out by appropriately clear-headed people, will produce a Board of the right composition.

Clause 27, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 28 agreed to.

Clause 29 [Regulation of noise and vibration of aircraft]:

10.54 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 33, line 15, at end insert— (" ( ) No action shall lie against the person who is the operator of an aircraft, his servants or agents if the requirements of this section are complied with in relation to that aircraft.")

The noble Earl said: This Amendment deals with the welcome new clause introduced in another place at a fairly late stage, dealing with the regulation of noise from vibration of aircraft. It has been pointed out to me by my advisers that the clause provides penalties for non-compliance, but no safeguards for the consequences of compliance, or, for that matter, protection aganst litigation. I understand that both British and international carriers are genuinely worried about this aspect of the Bill, being quite often concerned with costly claims for injunctions which turn out to be claims that have occurred under normal operations. There is a general belief that there should be a protection, which this small Amendment I am moving would provide. In view of the nectar that has been falling on all sides of the Committee, I hope that my noble friend will be able to accept this simple Amendment. I beg to move.


I cannot recommend the Committee to accept the Amendment, but I do not think I am in any danger of spoiling our happy relations, because I am pretty sure that I can satisfy the noble Earl that the purpose of his Amendment is in fact fully achieved by the clause as it stands. I am advised that no action will lie at common law in respect of an act carried out in compliance with a statutory requirement. Here the aircraft operator will be under a statutory duty to comply with the requirement, and so long as he does so without negligence he cannot be sued for doing so. If he does not comply with the requirement he may be liable if he flies in a way that is actionable, though like other operators, he will still have the protection of Section 40(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1949. I hope, in view of that explanation, that the noble Earl may feel able to withdraw his Amendment.


I am grateful for the assurance given, and I am happy to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10.56 p.m.

LORD KENNET moved Amendment No. 17: Page 33, line 30, leave out from (" which ") to (" is ") in line 32.

The noble Lord said: Clause 29(1) says that the Secretary of State may publish notices telling the operators of aircraft what to do in order to avoid noise and vibration when they are operating from designated aerodromes. To see what that means we have to turn to subsection (11) of Clause 29, and we read there that"designated aerodrome"means any aerodrome which is designated by the Secretary of State. So that is all right. But there are other qualifications: it must not only be designated, but vested in or managed by the Authority, or licensed for public use in pursuance of an Air Navigation Order. That looks all right at first reading, but I understand that"licensed for public use"covers aerodromes which are licensed for public transport or instruction and it does not cover aerodromes used by flying clubs or private transport, for private instruction and that kind of thing. There are a lot of rather small aerodromes up and down the country from which people are flying small aircraft which, if they are flown in a certain way and, above all, at a certain frequency—if they are flown very often, buzzing round and round—may give rise to a noise nuisance. It seems to me that the Secretary of State should be as much empowered in giving directions in respect of those aerodromes as he is in respect of all others. I therefore seek to remove those two subsidiary qualifications and to allow the Secretary of State to designate any aerodrome for the purpose of giving directions to those operating from them. I beg to move.


The problem of disturbance from noise is most serious around major airports—that is obvious enough—and those are the ones presently vested in or managed by the British Airports Authority, or those licensed for public use. However, the Government accept that other and smaller aerodromes may in certain circumstances cause significant disturbance in their immediate vicinity if aircraft are flown in a particular way or at a particular frequency or at night. While there is some scope for local planning authorities to control the growth of aerodromes within their areas, it is true that unforeseen changes and increased activity can result in increased noise disturbance, sometimes at night, which could not be effectively controlled through planning procedures which were not designed for developments of that kind. We are therefore disposed to accept this Amendment, so that central Government will have at their disposal powers to control noise at any aerodrome. I ought to make it clear that these potential powers will not be invoked lightly. We shall look to the local population, perhaps through the local authority, to conduct a useful dialogue with the aerodrome management, who rarely fail to take careful account of local opinion. But when it is clear to the Secretary of State that a substantial body of responsible opinion is calling, and has been calling unsuccessfully, for relief from aircraft noise nuisance, he will then consider taking action under this clause of the Bill in the case of non-public aerodromes. He will also wish to satisfy himself that the problems of enforceability and manpower which the Department would have to face in exercising these controls over these aerodromes can be resolved.

On Question, Whether Clause 29, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?


I have, I am sorry to say, four more planning points to put before the House. Two conveniently arise on this clause, and I hope that I may seek assurances briefly from my noble friend on both of them. The first, I think, is already implicit in what he has said: that in subsection (4)(a) there is a statutory duty for the Secretary of State to consult any body appearing to him to be representative of operators and aircraft using the aerodrome he proposes to designate. There is no statutory requirement in the Bill that he should consult the local planning authority. In view of what he said, I apprehend that he will have no difficulty in giving the assurance that the Secretary of State will do so before making a designation order. The second point is an ancillary one and does not actually arise on this clause but out of the designation procedure. The Airports Authorities Act 1965 is being amended so that in the case of any designated aerodrome within the meaning of Clause 29 schemes for sound insulation can be instituted. Again I hope that my noble friend can tell me that before any such scheme is instituted in any area as a result of designation of an aerodrome or in connection with a designated aerodrome the local authority will be consulted.


I can give my noble friend the assurances he asked for, namely, that the local authorities would be consulted about the designation of aerodromes in or adjacent to their areas and also about possible noise abatement requirements.


I am sorry. My noble friend has not quite got the point. It is not the noise abatement requirements only; it is also grants for insulation schemes under the 1965 Act which is being extended as a result of and consequential upon the designation procedure in Clause 29. I feel sure that before any such scheme was brought in the local authority would be bound to be consulted, but I would like an assurance from my noble friend.


I meant to include that in the general phrase"the noise abatement requirements ".

Clause 29, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 30 [Management etc.]:

11.4 p.m.

THE EARL OF KINNOULL moved Amendment No. 18:

Page 34, line 18, at end insert— (" ( ) (a) The Authority having the management of any aerodrome to which this section applies shall provide for users of the aerodrome, for any local authority in whose area the aerodrome or any part thereof is situated or whose area is in the neighbourhood of the aerodrome, and for any other organisation representing the interests of persons concerned with the locality in which the aerodrome is situated, adequate facilities for consultation with respect to any matter concerning the management or administration of the aerodrome which affects their interests. (b) It shall be the duty of the Authority to report annually to the Secretary of State of any such consultations.")

The noble Earl said: This clause deals with the management of airfields which the Authority will be taking over. The point was raised in another place and I do not think it was fully answered at that time—perhaps they thought to come to it later on and they never did. Despite Section 8 of the 1968 Act giving those operators and users and residents around the airfield the right to form consultative committees, there had been a general lack of consultation in certain airfields. Under this Bill, with the Authority having the power to designate airfields, there will be no power to set up consultative committees. This Amendment is lifting Section 4 out of the 1968 Act to give the Authority power to set up these consultative committees and, at the same time, putting a duty on the Authority to submit an Annual Report to the Secretary of State. I hope the Government will see that this is a reasonable safeguard for those who are users and residents of the designated airfields, and that they will be able to agree to the Amendment.


Once again I seek to demonstrate to my noble friend that his Amendment is satisfactorily met in other ways, and is therefore not necessary. Everyone will sympathise with the purpose and thinking behind it. Subparagraph (a) seeks to require the establishment of consultative machinery on the lines set out in Section 8 of the 1968 Act. I am sure we all agree that there is need for the Authority to consult local interests, but I do not see any necessity for it to be spelt out in the Bill. We can safely rely on the Authority to do this on its own initiative. Secondly, if there were any real failure on the part of the Authority to consult local interests, the Secretary of State can always designate any of the Authority's aerodromes under existing legislation in Section 8 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1968.

With regard to the second part, the proposal that the Authority should report annually to the Secretary of State on any consultation that may have taken place, I am not convinced this would serve a sufficiently valuable purpose—although it would serve some purpose—to justify making statutory provision for it.

With those explanations, I hope it will be agreed that the first objective of my noble friend is already met under existing legislation, or can be met, and that the second is not really needed.


I am grateful to my noble friend for his assurance upon this matter, and I do not intend to press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 30 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Additional Provisions Relating to Constitution, etc., of Civil Aviation Authority]:

11.8 p.m.

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 19: Page 65, line 21, at end insert (" or employed by the Authority in pursuance of paragraph 13A of this Schedule.").

The noble Earl said: Perhaps I could be allowed to speak to Amendments Nos. 19, 20 and 21 together. I am sorry it was not possible to table these Amendments earlier, and I apologise for the short notice. I hope, however, that they will meet the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, and the noble Lord, Lord Burntwood, at an earlier stage on this Bill when they expressed concern that the terms and conditions of employees of the A.R.B., and the Civil Service should remain the same when they are transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Amendment No. 21 provides for the staff of the Air Registration Board to be offered employment by the Authority, and for their terms and conditions of employment, taken as a whole, to be no less favourable than those they had when they were in the Air Registration Board. Provision is made for the offer to be irrevocable for three months so as to give the employees an opportunity of considering it and either accepting it or rejecting it. Similarly, Amendment No. 20 places an obligation on the Secretary of State to satisfy himself that the terms and conditions of employment offered to civil servants who transfer to the Authority are at least as good as those which they have at the date on which the contract is offered.

As I explained previously, the Minister for Trade has given an explicit assurance that former A.R.B. staff and civil servants transferring to the Authority will have terms and conditions of service at least as good as those they had previously.

We felt that this assurance was enough. Noble Lords opposite felt that they would like it written into the Bill. We have written it into the Bill, and I therefore hope that these Amendments will satisfy noble Lords.


Certainly in replacing the Amendment which I proposed in Committee, and withdrew, by these three Amendments here, the end which I sought has indeed been achieved. I am extremely grateful to the noble Lords opposite for putting into this Schedule the assurance which we had had orally. I am sure that everyone in the present Air Registration Board will feel greatly comforted by this. It is an excellent thing that the Amendment seeks to give the same kind of assurance to civil servants. But I should like to mention, although it might be difficult to do anything about it at this stage, a letter which is in Flight of to-day, headed,"Staffing the C.A.A.", where aparently some civil servants feel that, in transferring even in conditions which are as good as they have, their future promotion possibilities are restricted because they are in a smaller organisation than the one they were used to. Whether anything can be done about this, I do not know. But, in expressing pleasure at this Amendment, I wonder whether the Government could look at this particular difficulty which has been raised in this letter, because it might be that some people transferred will still be rather dissatisfied.

11.13 p.m.


I fear that I cannot be quite as eulogistic about these Amendments as the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton. I accept that the Government have gone some way to meet the views which were expressed during the proceedings of the Select Committee. But at the same time certain questions remain unanswered. May I take the liberty of reminding the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, that I put to him on the Select Committee the point that, according to the civil servants' union itself, an undertaking had been given by the Minister of State in another place, though at a private meeting, to the effect that he would establish an independent arbitration machinery whereby contracts offered could be vetted and approved as satisfactory. In his reply during the Select Committee proceedings, Lord Ferrers said that, whereas I had pleaded for carrying out this alleged undertaking, he offered that the Minister would in due course appoint an independent Advisory Committee. I refer to col. 118 of the proceedings of the Select Committee. Indeed, he repeated that offer in col. 121.

I do not see those words—" an independent panel "—in these Amendments, and I am wondering why that is. I hope it is not going to be pleaded that it is not necessary to write it into the Bill. It has been said so often that courts, or equivalent bodies in the future, will not take the trouble to plough through discussions in either House; they go by what is in the Act. I therefore ask whether we can have some explanation, and possibly even an Amendment at this stage, although I am afraid it is too late, which would embody the words"an independent panel"in the Bill.

The other point I want to raise, which is of a more general nature, is something which has been brought to my attention not only by the article to which the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, referred just now but as the subject of correspondence I have received. It is the long-term position of some of the civil servants who will lose the jobs which they hold at present. A letter which I received to-day, I presume from one of the people concerned, says: The intention of the Government appears to be that people shall be directed into other employment, and the manner of accomplishing this is worthy of comparison with the war-time direction of labour, which of course was very necessary then because the country was in a particular situation. The writer then continues: Is it right that the Government in its actions, as exemplified by this Bill, should once again use the precedent created in peace-time, which will lead, I fear, to repetition? I know it is felt in some Civil Service quarters that the present policy of the Government of hiving off certain sections of the existing structure of a nationalised industry like this will mean that they will hive them off into a limbo, where they will have to take their chance as to whether they can secure a job which not only is equitable in terms of remuneration, pension rights, and so forth, but takes advantage of their skills. It is now being thought that the Government will tread very cautiously on this matter, because if they are going to hive off more in the future they will be gradually building up a pool of people who will feel that they have a right to some form of employment which can use the skills that they have acquired. I suggest to the Minister that in the last stage of this Bill in this House he should make a more detailed statement as to what the Government have in mind about this question, so that the anxieties which have been expressed can be allayed.


May I just express my regret again that we are dealng with this Bill so late at night, because this matter is something into which we should go rather more closely. In moving this Amendment the noble Earl said, rather grandly, I thought, that those concerned would have three months in which either to accept or to reject the offer of employment. That sounds very grand, but it is rather like saying,"You can have what I am offering you or you can go without "—especially when we are dealing, as my noble friend Lord Burntwood said, with some individuals who have particular skills which can be employed in this particular direction, although they would have difficulty in finding other places where they could be employed. It is a fact that here, by Act of Parliament, we are deliberately transferring a whole body of men and women from one employer to another. There has been no real consultation with them. They have had nothing to do with this; they are just told that they can have three months in which to make up their minds whether they will change or not.

This is a matter which I think we ought to consider very carefully in the future. In the meantime, I should like to ask one question. I have not gone into this subject, but I take it for granted that there will be a transference of pension rights from the present position to the new position. Supposing that in six months' or a year's time one of the civil servants transferred to accept alternative employment finds that he can take up employment again within the Civil Service, would there still be transferability of pension rights? Are they protected for the future? Is this something which could go some way, at any rate, to give them the feeling that they are not being all that limited in this new field of employment?


I am grateful for what has been said. I am bound to say that I had hoped that these Amendments might have been received with a little more enthusiasm, but I recognise the hesitation which noble Lords have over them, and that it is a genuine hesitation. I will try to deal as best I can with the points which have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Burntwood, was concerned that those civil servants who are transferred should, if necessary, have the right of appeal, and that this was not written into the Bill. If I may say so with the greatest respect, I feel that his fears over this matter are a trifle groundless, because it is written specifically in this Amendment No. 20 that at the moment when these people are transferred from their existing employment to the Civil Aviation Authority the Authority must give contracts of employment and terms and conditions of service equally as good as those which they have received previously. That is absolutely written into the Bill, and therefore this is an obligation upon the Authority. Equally, written into the Bill—I think it is Schedule 9—is an obligation on the Secretary of State to ensure that these contracts are fully as good as the ones which they had received prior to that date. In the event of a dispute, as I explained at an earlier stage, my right honourable friend has said that he will set up a panel to consider such disputes; if these two provisos do not satisfy the people concerned, my right honourable friend would be prepared to set up a panel to investigate, and if necessary the findings of that panel would be made known to those who were complaining. I should have thought that was as good an assurance, both oral and written into the Bill, as one could get.


The noble Earl does mean an independent panel? That was the expression used on the Select Committee, twice.


I think I am right in saying it would be an independent panel, yes. The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said that I had rather grandly suggested that this offer was open for three months. I think that is a harsh way to put it. The people involved in both the A.R.B. and the C.A.A. know that this transfer is hound to take place. They are going to be required by the Civil Aviation Authority because of their expertise. They have the assurance that their new employment is going to be at least as good, taken as a whole, as the employment they have already got. Having received this assurance and having known these facts, they are then given three months in which to make up their minds. But that does not mean they have not been thinking about it. In other words, when the formal otter is made, it is open for them for three months, if they do not wish to make up their minds earlier. I should have thought that this on the whole should satisfy most people. I accept what the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, said about the article that appeared in Flight. I have not seen it but I understand the reasons which might have prompted it. I think it would be impossible to say that once people have become members of a new authority, and are therefore no longer civil servants, the whole way through their life their conditions should be absolutely parallel to those which would have existed had they remained Civil Servants. Their expertise is required, and the Authority will be a responsible body to liaise, discuss and negotiate with the people concerned on their terms and conditions; and they will have their contracts of employment. Obviously the numbers of personnel in the Civil Aviation Authority are going to be fewer than in the Civil Service, but I should not think that in the long term it would necessarily affect the livelihood of those concerned, although by its very nature it may curtail the promotional prospects. If there are fewer positions to be promoted to, the number of promotions will be fewer—but then there will be fewer people to be promoted.

I hope that what I have said will have gone some way to meet what I recognise are genuine worries. We think that we have met these points not only in the assurances, but also by what is written into the Bill. My understanding is that pensions will be transferable as well.






I am sorry, I was simply trying to find out whether there would be a possibility of going back and taking back pension rights?


If I understand it correctly, when they move from the Civil Service to the Civil Aviation Authority they will take their pension rights with them, and if there is occasion for them to move back again, those pension rights will go with them.


I beg to move Amendment No. 20.

Amendment moved— Page 65, line 26, at end insert (" ;and before the Secretary of State approves in pursuance of this sub-paragraph the terms of a contract to be offered to a person employed in employment to which paragraph 1 of Schedule 9 to this Act applies it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to satisfy himself that those terms, taken as a whole, are not less favourable to that person than the terms on which he is employed as aforesaid on the date when the offer is made.")—(Earl Ferrers.)


I would only say that this is another point which I made forcibly in Committee and, so far as I am concerned, it has been met admirably by means other than those I proposed.


I beg to move Amendment No. 21.

Amendment moved—

Page 66, line 5, at end insert— (" 13A.—(1) Notwithstanding anything in the last two preceding paragraphs, it shall be the duty of the Authority to make, to each person who at the passing of this Act and on the date when an offer is made to him in pursuance of this paragraph is employed by a relevant body, an offer of employment by the Authority on terms which, taken as a whole, are not less favourable to that person than the terms on which he is employed by the relevant body on the date when the offer is made; and an offer made in pursuance of this paragraph shall be so made before the expiration of such period as the Secretary of State may determine and shall not be revocable during the period of three months beginning with the date on which the offer is made. (2) In the preceding sub-paragraph"relevant body"means a body which by virtue of section 27(1) of this Act is to cease or has ceased to have functions conferred on it in pursuance of section 7 of the Civil Aviation Act 1949 ".)—(Earl Ferrers.)

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules 2 to 4 agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Application of enactments relating to statutory undertakers, etc.]:

On Question, Whether Schedule 5 shall stand Part of the Bill?

11.29 p.m.


Paragraph 7 of this Schedule is a very technical point. At the present moment the aerodromes which are to be transferred to the Civil Aviation Authority belong to the D.T.I. Therefore, if development is proposed to be carried out in aerodromes in the hands of anybody else, the Department does not have to apply for planning permission, but works under the Circular 100 procedure, whereby it consults with the local authorities concerned, and one hopes that they reach agreement. On transfer, the aerodromes are to become the operational land of the statutory undertakers under this Schedule to the Bill. There will have to be regulations made, first of all defining the classes of operational land and, secondly, I should think, inserting a new class in the Schedule to the general development order, whereby certain development on the operational land will be given planning consent. On both of those points, I would expect it to be normal for the Department concerned to consult with the Association of Local Authorities, and to do that before the Statutory Instruments are presented to Parliament. I hope my noble friend can tell me that, as in the past, this will be done.

There is, however, one subsidiary point. I believe that even when development which is permitted by the general development order is carried out, if it is of any importance, the Government have an undertaking from the British Airports Authority that in those circumstances they will still consult the local planning authorities. I hope that in a similar type of case the Department will obtain an assurance that the Civil Aviation Authority will also consult the local planning authorities. Incidentally, paragraph 5 of Schedule 5 should delight the heart of my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, since it looks like part of the Marshalled List of the Industrial Relations Bill.


I really do not think we want to start on that topic at this hour of the night. But the Government will consider seeking from the Civil Aviation Authority an assurance, similar to that which was given by the British Airports Authority, to consult with local planning authorities, save in very minor works which are urgently required when that would be unreasonable.

Schedule 5 agreed to.

Schedules 6 to 8 agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Transitional provisions]:

11.32 p.m.

EARL FERRERS moved Amendment No. 22:

Page 86, line 49, at end insert— (" 3A. For the purposes of paragraph 10(2) of Schedule 1 to the Contracts of Employment Act 1963 and section 13(1) of the Redundancy Payments Act 1965 (which relate to changes of ownership of businesses), there shall be deemed to be transferred to the Authority on the appointed day the business of any body which by virtue of section 27(1) of this Act is to cease or has ceased to have functions conferred on it in pursuance of section 7 of the Civil Aviation Act 1949 and a body whose business is deemed for those purposes to be transferred by virtue of this paragraph shall on the appointed day be deemed for the purposes of the said section 13(1) to terminate in connection with the transfer its contracts of employment with persons employed by it immediately before the appointed day.").

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is also to meet the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton. We really have listened to what noble Lords have said and have tried to meet their points. At an earlier stage of this Bill, we undertook that if the noble Lord, Lord Kings Norton, would withdraw his Amendment, we would try to put down a suitable Amendment to deal with the position, under the Contracts of Employment Act 1963 and the Redundancy Payments Act 1965, of the employees of the Air Registration Board who are later in the employment of the Authority. For the purposes of the relevant parts of the Acts, the A.R.B.'s business is deemed to be transferred to the Authority with effect from a day to be appointed. For the purposes of Section 13(1) of the 1965 Act, which deals with the change of ownership of a business, contracts of employment with the Air Registration Board are deemed to be terminated immediately before the appointed day. This will ensure that service with the Board will count as continuous with service with the Authority, and so will affect the amount of any entitlement under the Redundancy Payments Act should a person be declared redundant while he is in the Authority's employ. The Amendment will also prevent entitlement to payments under the Redundancy Payments Act arising on transference, in order to ensure consistency with the treatment to be accorded to civil servants who are transferred to the Authority, and because if redundancy payments were made that would frustrate the objective of providing for continuity of service. I trust that this meets the noble Lord's point. I beg to move.


All I wish to do is to express my satisfaction, and that of my colleagues, with this Amendment. It is certainly very different in form from what I proposed earlier in Committee, but it produces the same effect and I am very glad to have it.


The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, was claiming a good deal of credit for having listened to what was said at an earlier stage. He might also have paid a little tribute to the quality of what was said, which may well have had something to do with the fact that he has been able to meet our position. Since he appears positively to enjoy wallowing in nectar, I am pleased to add my thanks to those that have already been expressed.


I am quite sure the noble Lord would not think I did not consider the remarks which were made to be of the highest quality. Of course they were. That is the reason why we have been able to accept so many of the points which were made. I believe they really have improved this Bill, and we are very grateful for what noble Lords have said.

Schedule 9, as amended, agreed to.

Remaining Schedules agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with the Amendments; Report received.