Private Flying Clubs

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Aviation – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1965.

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Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central 12:00 am, 17th March 1965

asked the Minister of Aviation what support, other than subsidy, Her Majesty's Government will give to private flying clubs.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

asked the Minister of Aviation what support he will provide for flying clubs other than by subsidy.

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

We give significant support to flying clubs, principally by placing with them substantial contracts for the flying training of cadets and technical personnel, by providing free landing facilities at State-owned aerodromes, and now by helping to finance the development of new British light aircraft.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

Is the Minister aware that the Government give very much less support to flying clubs than practically every other country? Does not he realise that a lot of flying clubs had financial trouble even before the withdrawal of the fuel rebate? Should not his right hon. Friend be encouraging flying clubs and young air-minded people instead of making their activities extremely difficult?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

We want to encourage these flying clubs. I am not at all sure that the withdrawal of the rebate which has been referred to was an undue hardship on the clubs.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that the French Government backs its private flying clubs to the extent of £700,000 a year; that the Italian Government provides duty-free fuel; that the Canadian Government supports its clubs and that the support for our clubs is very poor in comparison?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

I do not wish to be drawn into these comparisons—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—because I am satisfied, having gone into the facts, that we give very important assistance to these clubs. If there are any further suggestions which the clubs wish to make to me they can do so through a Committee which will meet in a few weeks' time.

Photo of Commander Anthony Courtney Commander Anthony Courtney , Harrow East

Is the Minister aware that it is no earthly use for the Government to give £600,000 to the only British light aircraft manufacturer and at the same time abolish the Junior Wing Scheme, take off the petrol rebate and, generally speaking, put flying clubs out of business?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

As the hon. and gallant Member, who is very well experienced in these matters, knows, there are many other ways in which we can assist these clubs and we are doing that. We want to continue with constructive assistance.

Photo of Mr Anthony Fell Mr Anthony Fell , Yarmouth

Could not the Minister have a word with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the First Secretary about the rebate before the Budget?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

The rebate question cannot be re-examined at this stage. We are prepared to look at any further constructive suggestions for assistance to these clubs. In fact, we provide free facilities for them at State-owned aerodromes, and I am proposing to ask the British Airports Authority, when it is set up, to continue the facilities for these clubs.

Photo of Mr Angus Maude Mr Angus Maude , Stratford-on-Avon

Is the hon. Gentleman really saying that if evidence is produced to show that the withdrawal of the fuel rebate is causing grave hardship, it cannot conceivably be re-examined? Is that what he really meant to say?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

What I said was that it cannot be re-examined for this year. If in future years it is shown beyond doubt that any undue hardship is being caused, we will re-examine it. That is not the position at this stage.

Dr. Bennett:

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that the steps he is taking to encourage flying clubs are insignificant compared with the blow struck by the abolition of the rebate?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

I am not satisfied that the withdrawal of this comparatively small rebate will have the effect suggested.

Photo of Mr Julian Snow Mr Julian Snow , Lichfield and Tamworth

Is my hon. Friend aware that, while we must bear in mind the defence aspects of training pilots, there are also the interests of the economy to bear in mind and that we should not necessarily subsidise people who regard this just as a weekend sport?

Photo of Mr John Stonehouse Mr John Stonehouse , Wednesbury

We are aware of those considerations. I ask the House to bear in mind that we are spending over £120,000 in financial assistance to clubs which undertake training schemes on our behalf.

Photo of Mr Ian Gilmour Mr Ian Gilmour , Norfolk Central

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall endeavour to raise the matter on the Adjournment.