Her Majesty's Government have decided in principle that Prestwick Airport should be developed to enable it to accommodate the big jets. It will be necessary to lengthen the main runway and to provide a new terminal area. I have therefore given instructions for planning and preliminary surveys to proceed as rapidly as possible, while the airlines are being consulted about precise operating requirements. I shall also need to be satisfied that the jets will keep their noise to a tolerable level. I shall, of course, consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland at all stages.
While appreciating that statement, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that it does not go much beyond what we had hoped for? Would he answer one or two further points? When does he think the plans will materialise? Now that we are thinking of a new terminal area, will it be sited so near to the railway as to enable passengers to be transported by rail to Glasgow? Thirdly, in considering with the Secretary of State the necessary diversion of the main road, will he think of tunnelling it under the western end of the terminal?
We have all those things under consideration. The easiest way would be for me to write to the hon. Gentleman in order to set the matter out. I try to set myself a high standard and try to do better than the hon. Gentleman hopes for.
While acknowledging with gratitude this long awaited statement from the Minister and congratulating him on his achievement with the Treasury, which no doubt took place, does this decision in effect mean that Prestwick will be at long last, instead of as hitherto a name, an international airport capable of taking the heaviest airliners the world can produce?
Yes. I think that that is a fair remark by my hon. Friend. That is the programme upon which we are starting. Whilst it will take some time to complete, we have now the necessary finance and necessary plans to go ahead.
Is the Minister aware that last week a delegation from the Russian Minister of Civil Aviation visited Prestwick and expressed itself as satisfied with the arrangements at Prestwick? Is he also aware that this announcement will be welcomed in Ayrshire? [Interruption.] This is a step forward to international friendship which the Prime Minister seeks. But can the Minister assure us that the new runway at Prestwick will take the new Russian jets on their way to America?