HL Deb 23 July 1973 vol 344 cc1554-6

In the Title, line 4, leave out "and aerodromes" and insert "aerodromes and air navigation installations".


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in Amendment No. 33. This is an Amendment to the Title of the Bill and is consequential on Amendment No. 15. It is to leave out "and aerodromes" and insert "aerodromes and air navigation installations". The purpose is to reflect in the Title the extension we have made to cover protection against acts of violence on air navigation installations as well as aircraft and aerodromes. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)


My Lords, we all wish to accept this Amendment. Since it is the last one of a long series, may I again be allowed to say to the noble Lord how grateful we are for the way in which he has listened to discussions and for the readiness to accept representations that have been made. I wonder whether, as a matter of record there has been any Bill at all that has been amended so thoroughly as this measure. When one thinks of what came in so innocently, at the beginning, and now looks at it, I think if any research were done it would show that it has been the most thoroughly amended Bill of all time. Would the noble Lord also agree that what is essential now is that we use Part I in order to ratify the Montreal Convention? What will be important about this, so far as the business of aerial piracy is concerned, is international ratification. May I ask again whether any effort has been made to get a united front among members of the E.E.C. on ratification? The last time I raised this issue the noble Lord said that two European countries had ratified, or had indicated their readiness to ratify, and one of them was not even in the E.E.C. Have we made an effort to get a common front there? Can we do more? It does not require me to say, with the knowledge of what is happening in Kuwait at the present time, how urgent this is.


My Lords, first of all I should like to thank the noble Lord for what he has said. So far as Part I of the Bill is concerned, of course this is largely governed by the Montreal Convention. As to Parts II and III, the point here was that we were trying to do two things. On the one hand, we were trying to provide for the safety of those who travel by air and those who fly in aircraft altogether, and secondly, we were at the same time trying to do that in a way which would interfere with the liberty of the subject to the minimum extent possible. We were therefore particularly anxious to have the assistance and cooperation of all Members of this House, and indeed it has been forthcoming and I am most grateful for the assistance that has been given in this regard.

The next stage is the ratification. What we were particularly anxious to do was to be in a position to say that we were able to ratify when we go on to this conference which is to take place very shortly, in which the noble Lord, Lord Janner, is taking a particular interest. This was the occasion for the question of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, when the noble Lord, Lord Janner, asked a Question. The fact that we and the French and the Swiss have been able to combine together to put forward a recommendation is very good. I do not know that there is actual machinery within the E.E.C. itself for the co-ordination of these matters because they are not exactly covered by the Treaty of Rome; so I am not really in a position to answer the noble Lord's question. But I am quite certain that every effort will be made to obtain the widest possible support among the members of the E.E.C. and other European countries, as well as a much wider range of countries, for the proposals that are being put in in order to secure that where there are instances of hijacking or sabotage, then it will be possible to bring pressure to bear on the members of the international organisation, at any rate the other signatories of the Chicago Convention, and possibly on a much wider range. But our objective, of course, is to obtain the very widest range of agreement. It is not enough only to get agreement within the European countries, the E.E.C. or the other European countries; in order for this to be effective we must involve every possible country, certainly all the countries that have signed the Chicago Convention, and we hope that more will sign in consequence of the action taken.