HL Deb 28 February 1985 vol 460 cc1012-4

3.6 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

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 have studied the paper published by the Civil Aviation Authority, London Area Runway Capacity and Passengers (CAP 502); and what action they propose to take.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, the Government have noted the publication of the CAA paper. The capacity of the London airports system will be one of the issues my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport and my honourable friend the Minister for Housing and Construction will be considering in the context of their planning decisions arising from the inspector's report on the airports inquiries 1981–83.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Is he aware of the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority takes the view that there will be a shortage of runway capacity in the Greater London area as soon as 1990? If the Government accept that expert view, does not that indicate the need for very urgent remedial action, given that in civil aviation terms five years is a very short time?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, my noble friend will be aware of my very considerable personal interest in these matters. However, I hope that he will forgive me if I do not say anything to anticipate the consideration being given to these matters by my right honourable and honourable friends.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, is it not the case that the CAA report was published on 28th January and that therefore many of us who took part in your Lordships' debate on the inspector's report on 11th February took the CAA report into full consideration when expressing our views? We have no reason now to change the views that we put forward on that occasion. Is it not the case that the capacity of the four London airports, as set out in this document, would meet the estimated demand in 1990 and, with slight adjustments at Luton and Stansted, they could meet demand in 1995, with some slight increase in the regional airports?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I fear that I can go no further than the answer which I gave to my noble friend a moment ago.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, would the noble Lord agree that this report excludes altogether any consideration of the noise and number index, and that if that factor is taken into consideration, then the argument in favour of a reduction, rather than an increase, in Heathrow movements becomes over-whelming?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I dislike being negative in answering your Lordships on this matter—a matter in which, as I said to my noble friend, I have some considerable interest. However, my right honourable and honourable friends are now acting in a quasi-judicial role in this matter. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I do not go further.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that many people who have studied this matter would regard the views expressed from the Front Bench opposite as wildly and irresponsibly optimistic? In view of the urgency of the matter, will he indicate that he will use his own great influence to secure an early decision, whatever that decision may be?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I do not think that I can go further than to say that my right honourable friend and my honourable friend will certainly want to reach conclusions on this matter as soon as possible.