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The current contract for air trooping to the Far East and the new contracts which will replace it next September are all long-term contracts and the Corporations were not therefore invited to tender for them.
Why are the Government so persistent in their campaign not to provide the nationalised air Corporations with the same opportunities for tendering as private firms? Are not Service men entitled to the best possible air trooping facilities quite irrespective of who provides them?
Is it not the case that one of the classical doctrines of the Government is to encourage competition? Why is it that in this instance the public Corporations are forbidden to tender by the political acts, discriminatory acts, of Ministers? Why should there be this discrimination merely for the purpose of the Government protecting their friends in private industry?
The policy of the Government has been made quite clear on many occasions, both by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and myself. We believe that the Corporations should concern themselves primarily with the operation of scheduled services.
Will the Secretary of State look again at this matter and consult with his colleagues? It is quite ridiculous that because they are long-term, and, therefore, profitable, these contracts should be given entirely to private companies. Why cannot we have the best that can be produced in British aviation?