HL Deb 24 July 1975 vol 363 cc427-9

Baroness BURTON of COVENTRY: 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, as the United States Civil Aeronautics Board demands compensation for those would-be passengers denied confirmed reservations and insists on the publication of a league table showing the frequencies of overbooking which lists the airlines concerned, they will ask the Civil Aviation Authority to consider similar action in this country.


My Lords, I am informed that the Authority has experience elsewhere very much in mind in studying this matter.


My Lords, I am sorry but I am not very clear as to the Minister's Answer. May I ask him whether he is agreeing to what I have asked him or whether he is not? I really could not follow his Answer.


My Lords, I am telling the House that the Civil Aviation Authority has in mind what the noble Baroness has asked in her Question.


My Lords, arising from that and being glad of that information, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that consumer interests had hoped very much that we should not finish this series of questions on an entirely negative note? Is he further aware that we regret that the Government themselves have not been able to express any opinion whatsoever on this practice, which is detrimental to consumer interests?


My Lords, in her Question the noble Baroness asked whether the Government would ask the Authority to consider the matter. I have gone one stage further than that. I am telling her that the Authority is considering the matter.

The Earl of KINNOULL

My Lords, is the noble Lord able to say whether the Civil Aviation Authority have it in the front or the back of their mind?


My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that the solution to the problem of overbooking to which the noble Baroness has consistently and most commendably drawn attention, is for airlines to be empowered to penalise financially those passengers who do not show up for flights on which they have booked? Although this may not be possible to put into practice so far as flights to overseas destinations are concerned, pending some form of international agreement, there is absolutely no reason why it should not apply to internal flights within the United Kingdom as an interim measure.


My Lords, several attempts have been made to obtain agreement. It has been found either that it has not been possible to obtain agreement, or that some airlines have been charging the fee and others have not. All airlines would have to do it to make it practicable.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that apart from what the Civil Aviation Authority are considering, I am asking whether the Government would recommend that they do so consider. Do the Government wish that this be carried into effect, or have they no opinion whatsoever on the matter?


My Lords, before the Government form any opinion, they want to see the results of the study which is being made by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Earl of ONSLOW

My Lords, is the noble Lord not aware that every time the noble Baroness, Lady Burton of Coventry, gets up and asks questions on this subject, he gives the impression to the House of just stonewalling and of making no attempt whatsoever to try to help consumers? I regret having to say this, because I have great personal affection for the noble Lord, Lord Jacques.

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