HL Deb 20 July 1978 vol 395 cc571-4

83 Schedule 10, page 48, line 34, leave out ("Aerodromes")

The Commons disagreed to the above Amendment but have made the following consequential Amendment to the Bill:

84 Schedule 10, Page 67, line 50, at end insert("Civil Aviation ActNot included.") 1978 (c. 8), sections 8 and 9.

9.48 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on their Amendment No. 83 to which the Commons have disagreed, and doth agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 84, with the words so restored to the Bill. I propose, with your Lordships' permission, to speak also to Amendments Nos. 85 to 89, relating to Schedule 10, Nos. 90 and 91 relating to Schedule 13, and No. 92 relating to Schedule 15.

Your Lordships will recall at Committee stage our discussions on aerodromes. At that time the Government laid out their reasons for devolution; reasons accepted by another place after a lengthy debate. It is the Government's intention that the Assembly should have responsibility for aerodromes in Scotland as part of their wide-ranging responsibilities for communications, transport and physical infrastructure. We consider that the Scottish Secretary and the Assembly should assume the necessary powers immediately the necessary commencement order is made under the Scotland Act except in the case of the BAA and CAA. These bodies have invaluable experience in running airports and the Government regard it as essential that the Assembly should have the benefit of that experience. These bodies are listed in Schedule 13 and can therefore be subject to a Clause 64 order.

Once consultations have taken place with the BAA and CAA the Scottish Administration can then decide how best to make use of the skills of those bodies; and ask the Secretary of State to make the necessary order. The order will, of course, be subject to Affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament, which will ensure that the Scottish Administration's proposals are sensible and workable not only from the Scottish, but also the wider United Kingdom point of view. Before leaving this point I should emphasise that there is nothing in the Scotland Bill to force the splitting up of the BAA or the CAA. If the Assembly so decides, and Parliament agrees, the two authorities may continue to operate as at present, but answerable to the Scottish Administration rather than to the Government for their operations in Scotland, looking to the Scottish Administration for the necessary finance.

I should also like to make it clear that the Government propose to devolve aerodromes not aviation. We are talking essentially about the physical entity on the ground designated as an aerodrome, its management, and some peripheral matters affecting the immediate vicinity. The devolved Administration will not, for example, have any powers in relation to flight safety, air navigation, the fixing of international routes or the control of aircraft using airports in relation to noise pollution. All such matters will remain with the Government.

Much has been made both by your Lordships and by another place of the international nature of air travel and the inextricable links between Scottish airports and airports elsewhere in the United Kingdom. I would mention paragraph 136 of Cmnd. 7084, entitled Airports Policy, which stated: As the consultative document recognised, Scotland forms a relatively distinct unit in airport planning terms. The scope for diverting London traffic to Scotland, apart from traffic with Scottish origins or destinations at present interlining through London, is negligable, and, with the limited exception of the extent to which people in the Borders might look towards the North of England, there is no overlap with the catchment areas of airports in England and Wales. Historically, air travel has been more developed on domestic routes in Scotland than in England and Wales". Given this, I see no reason for thinking that the Government's proposals are anything but sensible and workable. On the question of the control of aircraft noise, it is the Government's policy that the Assembly should have no powers in relation to the control of noise pollution or vibration caused by aircraft using aerodromes. Amendment No. 84 will exclude from the competence of the Assembly the matter of making by-laws about that subject. I hope your Lordships will give due weight to the views of the other place.


My Lords, I must comment briefly on this because, although it is only a matter of aerodromes, when this was discussed in your Lordships' House we indicated that it was a matter of anxiety that the whole aviation industry might tend to use Scottish airports less if the procedure became more complicated because of any changes which the Assembly or Executive might make where airports in Scotland were concerned. It was as simple as that; that if one has another set of regulations slightly different from the others in a transport industry affecting different countries, there might he just that disincentive to land in Scotland. Not only would that be had from the point of view of communications, industry and commerce in Scotland, but it would also probably add to the congestion at airfields in the South of England.

We had hoped that the Government might on reflection accept this, and I hope I give no offence to any of the Ministers sitting on the Front Bench opposite when I mention that there were other matters about which the Government changed their mind when the Bill went through another place, but because of the way in which these things are recorded in Hansard of another place, that is not obvious. It simply says, "Amendment number so-and-so agreed", and one does not realise, for example, that that Amendment concerned betting and gaming, a matter which the Government eventually accepted; or the question of the referendum six weeks' minimum period, which I am glad to say, although we voted on it in this House, the Government accepted. There were others, though I will not detail them. Noble Lords who have not been able to follow closely what went on in another place may not realise that the Government accepted a number of Amendments which were voted on here. This could easily have been another one, for the reason I gave; namely, if the Government thought there was a serious danger of the aviation industry being affected by this devolution.

However, having said that, I recognise that the Government have not changed their mind and are putting back in the Bill the original provision.


My Lords, this is the sort of example about which I have been talking. Who on earth could think that a Scottish Assembly would be daft enough to put restrictions or extra charges on Scottish aerodromes to stop aeroplanes landing there? This is exactly the sort of thinking which I consider offensive to any Assembly that is to come.


My Lords, the noble Lord has, I am sure unwittingly, completely misrepresented what I just said. I did not speak of restrictions or extra charges. I used the word "changes", and that is the point. A change of whatever kind, if it means yet another complication, could be a disincentive. That is a fact, and if the noble Lord talks to people in the aviation industry he will find that whether something is regarded as a beneficial change or not, if it is a change it can be a disincentive if it introduces another complication.


My Lords, what the noble Lord is saying is that the changes that any Scottish Assembly might make would be stupid enough to stop aeroplanes coming into Scotland. I think that the explanation he has given reinforces my point. If you are to have devolution, either you say the Scots people are totally unfitted for it or else they are sensible enough not to make changes which will stop aeroplanes coming into Scotland.