It is not the Government's policy to acquire and operate new aerodromes for civil flying. Sale Of part of this airfield to the former owners has been arranged by the Ministry of Defence and the remainder is to be auctioned on 17th April. It will be for the new owners and the local planning authority to decide whether flying can be permitted and the entry in the "Air Pilot" will have to accord with their decision.
Is my hon.. Friend aware that several air charter companies, including Tacair, have been approached by industrial concerns in Herefordshire to ask whether they will expand their services to Shobdon aerodrome? Even at this late hour is there nothing else that he can do? I am confident that, within five years, this aerodrome will be greatly needed for increased civil flying.
I am aware of the facts mentioned by my hon.. Friend but it is up to the local authorities or the air club to acquire the airfield. As I have said, it is not our policy to acquire and operate these aerodromes for civil flying. Perhaps my hon.. Friend will use his good offices to urge the local authorities to purchase the airfield. I think that would be the answer.
My hon.. Friend did not say in his reply whether he had had discussions with the Air Ministry, as I asked him in my Question. Could he answer me on that point now? Will he please note also that this aerodrome is a considerable centre for gliding, flying and parachuting? Is he further aware that there is a lot of anxiety that this land will be taken over and used for industry or agriculture, which is not a very popular idea in some quarters?
Is he also aware that this area is central to all the Border counties both in England and Wales? Should not an inquiry be set up by the Minister of Aviation and by the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade—[HON.. MEMBERS: "Speech"]—with respect, my supplementary question is much shorter than some we have to put up with in this House. [Interruption.] I am glad that certain hon.. Members opposite take umbrage at what I have just said. I have a stop-watch—
Order I think that the hon.. Gentleman had better proceed More normally. It would be good thing if his supplementary question came to an end.
I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. I should like, in conclusion, to ask my hon.. Friend whether he will have an inquiry and discussions with the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development to find out whether this aerodrome has some part to play in the industrial and general economic set-up of the area.
The answer to the first part of that question is "Yes" and the answer to the second part is that these are just the sort of factors that the local authorities should be taking into account and which, I would have thought, would have stimulated them into bidding for the airfield.