HC Deb 24 November 1971 vol 826 cc382-4W
Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking in view of the increasing disregard of the regulations governing affinity group charter flights.

Mr. Noble

This country has not been alone in finding it difficult to police these rules by traditional methods. None the less, the widespread abuse that has taken place this year cannot be allowed to continue and the Government are determined to bring the situation under control. To this end, provision has been made in Section 26 of the Civil Aviation Act, 1971, for the licensing of air travel organisers, and arrangements for this will be introduced as soon as possible after the Civil Aviation Authority comes into operation next spring.

A major obstacle to effective control is the fact that the class of air service licence, known as an E licence, under which affinity groups are usually carried is of a general character and does not provide for the prior scrutiny of the groups. The Air Transport Licensing Board has now decided to add a condition to these licences to be issued for 1972 under which the airlines will be required to submit, three months in advance, particulars of all the groups they propose to carry between points more than 2,250 miles apart. The Air Transport Licensing Board will then ask the airlines to apply for specific licences in respect of any groups about whose qualification the Board is in doubt so that any such case may be fully examined. The carriage of such a group under an E licence would be regarded by the Board as ground for considering revocation of that licence.

My Department will assist the Air Transport Licensing Board in the scrutiny of groups. I am also increasing the number of investigating officers available to conduct spot chacks. An airline which breaches the rules will risk prosecution as well as the loss of its E licence.

In parallel with these measures, I have been reviewing the regulations to see whether a new type of charter travel might be introduced that could be made available to the public at large without those features of the affinity group rules

1. The Law Commission's Proposals
Titles of Relevant Reports Date of Publication Implemented
Civil Liability for Animals (Law Com. No. 13) 21.12.67 Animals Act 1971 (c. 22).
Proceedings against Estates (Law Com. No. 19) 2. 5.69 Proceedings against Estates Act 1970 (c. 17).
Proposal for the Abolition of the Matrimonial Remedy of Restitution of Conjugal Rights (Law Com. No. 23). 26. 8.69 Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970 (c. 45)
Exemption Clauses in Contracts. First Report: Amendments to the Sale of Goods Act 1893. 18. 9.69 Legislation this Session.
Financial Provision in Matrimonial Proceedings (Law Com. No. 25). 23. 9.69 Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act 1970 (c. 45); Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 (c. 33)
Breach of Promise of Marriage (Law Com. No. 26) 15.10.69 Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 (c. 33)
Statute Law Revision: Second Report. Draft Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Bill (Law Com. No. 28). 4. 8.70 Wild Creatures and Forest Laws Act 1971 (c. 47)
Criminal Law: Offences of Damage to Property (Law Com. No. 29). 16. 9.70 Criminal Damage Act 1971 (c. 48)
Powers of Attorney (Law Com. No. 30) 23. 9.70 Powers of Attorney Act 1971 (c. 27)

which are objectionable in themselves or have been difficult to enforce. One possibility might be to adopt for charter flights the advance booking concept which has already been made familiar by B.O.A.C.'s "Early Bird" fares. On this basis, anybody would be able to obtain low-cost flights who booked a certain period in advance, without needing to join a group of any kind.

These proposals and other ideas are still under discussion with other countries, and it will not be possible to give precise details until our talks have been completed. I cannot say whether we shall be able to introduce new arrangements during 1972, although I should like to. I hope, however, to make a further statement in the new year.

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