HL Deb 07 June 1973 vol 343 cc189-90

3.22 p.m.


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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take all necessary measures to ensure that Aldergrove Airport, a vital link between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, remains open.


Yes, my Lords. Security is kept under review, and all necessary measures are, and will continue to be, taken. Her Majesty's Government fully appreciate the importance of air services between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Security precautions at Aldergrove Airport are maintained at a high level.


My Lords, is the noble Lord the Leader of the House—and I am glad to be able to address him in that way—aware how gratified people in Northern Ireland will be by that Answer? Does he also appreciate the fact that we have been drawing a comparison between the calm, cool and collected way in which British Caledonian Airways have been reacting to the threats and the apparent "flap" which B.E.A. has recently shown? Is it a fact that mail and papers, et cetera, have not been delivered because of that recent "flap"?


My Lords, I should say that I am replying to this Question rather than my noble friend Lord Belstead, who will be joining the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, simply because I have a direct responsibility for the arrangements for security at Aldergrove Airport. I am therefore familiar with the background to this question. We have had discussions with the main users of Aldergrove Airport and I have had an opportunity to meet the chairman of British European Airways. The airlines are properly concerned to ensure the safety of their passengers, of the freight they carry, of the aircraft that operate in and out of Aldergrove and of the airport terminal. We have reviewed the nature of the risk and have had the closest possible consultation with the airlines at senior official level since the meeting that I had some two weeks ago. There have been some delays and some cancellations; but I understand that only one flight, in and out of Glasgow, has been cancelled this week.