Does not the hon. Gentleman feel that this is an aspect of airline operation which needs rationalisation? Does he think it sensible for B.O.A.C. to be flying planes only half full over routes for which trooping contracts are being let but for which it is not allowed to tender?
I think that the hon. Gentleman is referring to ad hoc trooping rather than long-term trooping contracts. The value of ad hoc trooping work is by no means negligible to B.O.A.C., and I understand that, over the past 12 months, B.O.A.C. has secured contracts of this kind worth the best part of £1 million.
Is not this as disgraceful as the Minister of Transport's attitude in refusing to allow British Railways to tender for trucks and other things? We are not asking for a monopoly of this kind of work for the nationalised Corporations, but is not the hon. Gentleman aware that, where large amounts of public money are involved, it is right and proper that the two Corporations should have the right to tender along with the independent aircraft operators? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to stop "knocking" the nationalised Air Corporations to the tune of hundreds of thousands of £s of public money?
There is no question of "knocking" here. As the hon. Gentleman knows very well, this goes back in history to the Civil Aviation Licensing Act. The independents attach great importance to these trooping contracts and, until they have gained enough in the way of licensing under the Civil Aviation Licensing Act, we cannot justify a change in the present trooping arrangements. But my right hon. Friend has the matter constantly under review.