HL Deb 12 July 1990 vol 521 cc431-2

Baroness Burton of Coventry asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have now received the report from the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority advising them on the adequacy of United Kingdom airport capacity in the period to 2005 and, if not, when they expect to do so.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State expects to receive the Civil Aviation Authority's report shortly. I have, as I promised, made sure that the noble Baroness will receive 1 personal copy without delay, and copies will be placed in the Library.

Baroness Burton of Coventry

My Lords, may I take the term "shortly" to mean any day now —even tomorrow? As the House will shortly be going into the long Recess, may I have an assurance that the Government not take any decision on the report before Parliament has had an opportunity of debating it?

Finally, perhaps I may thank him for a slightly more helpful reply.

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I am delighted by the last part of the noble Baroness's supplementary question, and I thank her. I regret that I cannot improve on "shortly", but I do not believe that the noble Baroness will have to be patient for much longer.

I believe that I can assure her that decisions on the report will not be taken during the Recess.

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove

My Lords, will the Minister include this side of the House when he sends a copy of the report to the noble Baroness? We should also like to see it.

Can the Minister tell the House whether the report will also be read in conjunction with the recent reports of IATA which deal with the question of international air traffic? Assuming that he has had some view of the report, does it deal in any way with regional airports?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, on 24th May I replied to a similar Question from the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, whom I am sure the House will be delighted to see is sitting in his place again. I can only ask the noble Lord to refer to the reply that I gave on that occasion.

The Government are keen to encourage the use and development of regional airports to handle all the traffic that they can attract. The Government have approved capital allocations totalling over £240 million since 1981–82 for development and expansion of local authority airports. Our most recent forecasts predict that regional airports' share of all traffic will increase significantly. It will grow faster than that of London airports and that is welcome.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, may I also put in a bid for a copy of the report? In view of the great and long-term importance of the decisions in this matter, will your Lordships' House be given the opportunity to debate the matter before the Government come to a final decision?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, I shall certainly pass on my noble friend's remarks to my right honourable friend. I am quite certain that he will find an opportunity for initiating a debate—if he can do so before the noble Baroness.

My noble friend referred to putting in a bid. I should like to know what bid he is making. However, I shall ensure that he receives a copy of the report.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon

My Lords, when the Government consider the adequacy of capacity at the airports, will they also consider the adequacy of access to and from the airports? Will they also take into account the environment for those people living in areas around airports who are put to great inconvenience through noise and fumes?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, yes. The Government take all these matters into consideration.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, will the noble Lord indicate whether the Secretary of State has considered the use, to some degree at least, of military airfields for civil and commercial flying? If so, what discussions have taken place with the relevant authorities to procure that objective?

Viscount Davidson

My Lords, that again is a matter that is being considered all the time.

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