Civil Aviation Bill
Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield, Conservative)
I welcome all Members to the Committee. Before we begin, I have one or two domestic announcements to make. I remind the Committee that there is a Ways and Means resolution, copies of which are available in the Room. I should also remind Committee members that, as a general rule, adequate notice should be given of amendments. My co-Chairman and I do not intend to call starred amendments, so please table them early.
Would all Members also ensure that mobile telephones—the blight of modern society—pagers, Blackberries, blueberries and whatever else people have by way of electronic gadgets are turned off or set to silent during Committee sittings? Finally, if the mood of last night's Programming Sub-Committee is anything to go by, this will be an agreeable and constructive Standing Committee that scrutinises this important Bill very carefully.
The first matter is the programme motion, debate on which may continue for half an hour.
Karen Buck (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Regent's Park and Kensington North, Labour)
I beg to move,
(1) during proceedings on the Civil Aviation Bill the Standing Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 10.30 am on Tuesday 5th July) meet—
(a) at 4.00 pm on Tuesday 5th July; and
(b) at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 7th July;
(2) the proceedings shall be taken in the following order, namely, Clauses 1 to 12, the Schedule, Clause 13, new Clauses and new Schedules, remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(3) proceedings on the Bill shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 4.00 pm on Thursday 7th July.
Sir Nicholas, I hope that raspberries will also not be welcome in the Committee. May I say how pleased I am to serve in Committee for the first time in my present capacity and to do so under your wise and benevolent but firm chairmanship? I recall serving under you on the Greater London Authority Bill, which you will remember lasted for what seemed like several years. Whenever proceedings were interrupted by the Division bell and the Minister was on their feet, you would welcome us back after the Division with the words, ''The Minister was just drawing to a conclusion'' even if they had just risen to respond to a debate. I hope to follow that line, and always to be drawing to a conclusion.
Several Committee members participated on Second Reading and made important points, many from a constituency interest, and I hope that we will have the opportunity to consider the Bill in a more detailed and systematic way. The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) was kind enough to describe the Bill as an ''aviation paella'', which was an unattractive concept, but I understood his meaning. It is a collection of measures, with the giant prawns being the regulation of noise and emissions at aerodromes, the vires of public airport companies, the route licensing appeal mechanism, aviation health and the protection of consumers. I am not sure what takes the role of the spicy sausage, but I am advised by the sommeliers that it should not be accompanied by a bottle of Nightcap.
The Programming Sub-Committee proposes four sittings, which we believe represents adequate time to complete our deliberations. The hon. Members present on Second Reading will know that everyone who wanted to contribute to that debate was able to do so with no time limits. Indeed, we finished with a little time to spare. I hope that we will have an opportunity to consider all the amendments as thoroughly as the Committee would want. The proposed order is a simple way through the Bill's provisions, and I hope that it, too, finds favour with the Committee.
Julian Brazier (Shadow Minister, Transport; Canterbury, Conservative)
I, too, welcome the opportunity to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Nicholas. I have been privileged to speak several times in Westminster Hall debates that you have chaired, and I can match the Minister's anecdote. I remember one particularly high-quality debate in which we got to the bottom of the issue with almost no audience; Westminster Hall was almost empty, with only one person in the public gallery. At the end, you told us what a good debate it had been, which was important to those of us who had worked hard and felt that we might have been wasting our time.
There is huge public interest in this Bill, which covers issues ranging from climate change to the quality of life of ordinary people. The Opposition welcome the fact that there are no knives in the motion, as it gives us the freedom to range as we see fit over the issues. That is particularly important on this Bill because our main complaint is that it is a bit of a mouse and does not do very much. Most of the more lively debates will be on the new clauses.
I see, Sir Nicholas, that you have and your advisers have done a wonderful job on selecting the order of the amendments. With the possible exception of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, I cannot remember serving on a Bill where the arrangements of the amendments could have been quite as conceptually difficult, because so many of them overlap in so many different and complicated ways. I will try hard not to test your patience by dealing with amendments that are further down the list, but there is so much overlap between them that it may prove impossible not to stray from time to time.
Much of the debate will inevitably be on the new clauses, which is why it is particularly good to have no knives on the Bill. A whole variety of areas seem to be missing from the Bill; it confers many powers, but there are few duties to get anything done. It has almost no checks and balances. We will shortly debate new clauses that cover many of those matters. There are a number of more specialist areas, ranging from safety to the Air Travel Trust. This looks like being a most interesting Committee and I look forward to taking part in debates.
Tom Brake (Shadow Secretary of State for Transport (And Scotland), Transport; Carshalton and Wallington, Liberal Democrat)
May I join other Members in welcoming you to the Chair, Sir Nicholas? I always enjoy serving under your chairmanship, whether here in Standing Committee, as I have done on a number of occasions, or in Westminster Hall where you have chaired a large number of debates in which I have participated. I should also like to join the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) in congratulating you and, I guess, the Government, on selecting an order of amendments that demonstrates a clarity that is unusual in a standing Committee.
The progress of the Bill will be intelligible both to members of the Committee and members of the public who are following our proceedings. The process of starting at clause 1 and going on to the new clauses is something that I should like other Standing Committees to imitate. My one regret is that amendment No. 33 relating to the Air Travel Trust fund has not been selected. I may seek to refer to it, but in a way that is acceptable and relevant to other clauses higher on the selection list. Without further ado, I look forward to our first debate.
Question put and agreed to.