HL Deb 12 May 1983 vol 442 cc551-2

3.13 p.m.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

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

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are in a position to make a statement concerning the outcome of the dispute between the British Airports Authority and certain airlines on the matter of landing charges and, if not, when they expect to be able to do so.

The Secretary of State for Trade (Lord Cockfield)

My Lords, following long and at times difficult negotiations, the American and other airlines which had taken legal proceedings over the Heathrow landing charges discontinued their action. They did this on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding and Settlement Agreement which, inter alia, set out the policies of the British Airports Authority on airport charges. The United States Government, which had initiated action under the Bermuda 2 Agreement, also discontinued their action on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding setting out Her Majesty's Government's policies.

An announcement to this effect was made on 8th April. Copies of the documents are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses. I am glad that these matters, which have been the source of friction and have involved the expenditure of a great deal of time and effort, have been satisfactorily resolved in this way.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, while being glad that this three-year dispute has at last been brought to an end, may I ask the Minister whether what has been agreed includes the fact that in future the British Airports Authority will not rely so heavily on high landing charges to finance its capital expenditure? Secondly, has it also been agreed that in future there will be much closer collaboration among all airlines and the British Airports Authority on any fees levied by the authority?

Lord Cockfield

My Lords, perhaps I may refer to the joint statement which was made by the parties when the actions were settled. It read as follows: Both sides now have a better understanding of each other's position and arrangements are being set in hand for improved collaboration and exchanges of information between the BAA and all its airline customers".

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, as the present Parliamentary Session ends tomorrow, may I ask whether the Minister realises how much I myself and the airlines have appreciated the manner in which he has been prepared to look at well-documented cases? We appreciate the proper answers that we have had in this House and we should like to thank him.

Lord Cockfield

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for what she says. She has herself played a major part in the progress which has been made on these various matters.