HL Deb 03 June 1985 vol 464 cc481-2

2.38 p.m.

Lord Gainford

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 satisfied with existing facilities for air freight in the North of England.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, air freight facilities in the North of England, as elsewhere, are provided by airlines, airports and freight forwarders in response to demand. The growth of mixed passenger-cargo operations and the developing network of passenger flights out of regional airports, particularly Manchester, make the outlook for freight movement out of these airports brighter.

Lord Gainford

My Lords, the information that my noble friend has given, for which I thank him, is very encouraging. Has he any information about the North-East of England, particularly the airports at Newcastle and Teesside?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I have no figures for freight from those two airports. But, as part of our liberalisation of airlinks with Continental countries my honourable friend is this week visiting Scandinavia, where he hopes to secure agreement that should also lead to further freight traffic.

Lord Bottomley

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the northern airports can handle much more freight traffic if they are only given the opportunity? Cannot the Government do anything to encourage the transfer of flights from other parts of the country, in particular to the North-East?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, the provision of facilities must be a commercial decision for those involved. The Government have helped, and are helping, by encouraging deregulation of the industry and the liberalisation of air services and by providing capital expenditure allocations where justified. Primarily, however, it is a matter for customers themselves to decide where to fly from.

Lord Gisborough

My Lords, with particular regard to Teesside, can my noble friend say whether any reasonable requests for grant aid have been refused and what encouragement has been given for expansion at Teesside?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have any details specifically about Teesside and about whether any grant aid has been refused. I shall have to look into that matter and write to my noble friend.

Lord Mountevans

My Lords, would the noble Lord care to comment on the fact that air freight into Heathrow is trunked to Newcastle for Customs clearance and then moved back to London? Will he examine the Customs side of the business and not the air freight side of the business, because it seems to me utterly irrational that freight should be trunked 300 miles north for clearance and then 300 miles back?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

Indeed, my Lords, it does seem irrational. I shall certainly look into that matter and let the noble Lord know my findings.