§ Mr. Foulkes
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will set out the procedure for the Monopolies and Mergers Commission quinquennial reviews of airports in Britain; which airport companies are to be reviewed; what is the time scale for the review; and if he will make a statement on competition in airport services.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
Airports designated under section 40 of the Airports Act 1986 have imposed on their permissions to levy airport charges conditions regulating the maximum amounts which may be levied during a five-year period. At the end of that period the Civil Aviation Authority may modify those conditions, having first made a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The Airports Act lays down that provisions of the Fair Trading Act 1973 and Competition Act 1980 shall apply in relation to such references. The commission's report on the reference must be completed within six months of the reference being made.
Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports have been designated under section 40, as has Manchester airport. The conditions imposed in respect of the BAA plc airports expire at the end of March 1992, and the CAA proposes to make a reference to the MMC towards the end of this year. The conditions imposed in respect of Manchester airport expire at the end of March 1993.
Designation under section 40 is only one element of the machinery for the economic regulation of airports established under the 1986 Act, which elsewhere empowers the CAA to act against exploitative, discriminatory or predatory pricing by any sizeable airport, including the four owned by BAA in Scotland. I am satisfied that the Act provides a properly rigorous regulatory regime.