Orders of the Day — National Airport Policy

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th June 1967.

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4.14 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I beg to move, That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to set up an independent committee of inquiry into national airport policy in the context of which a decision on a third London airport could be taken; and to delay a final decision on the siting of such an airport until the committee has published a report on this issue. The Motion obviously arises out of the Stansted affair and also obviously includes it within its scope, but it goes much wider than Stansted and, in our view, it is right and proper that it should do so. I would say at the outset of my remarks that the object of our Motion is not to come down either for or against Stansted or to come down for, or against any other particular location for a third London airport.

In the Motion, in effect, we are saying four things. First, we say that a decision to site a new international airport at Stansted, or anywhere else for that matter, ought not to be taken in isolation but ought to be taken only in the context of an overall national airport policy.

Secondly, we say that the case for or against Stansted and the other possible sites is still non-proven—non-proven both in the wider context as being part of the national airport pattern and non-proven also in the narrower sense as affects the best location for a third airport to serve the London area.

Thirdly, we say that there ought therefore, as a matter of urgency, to be an independent and highly professional and comprehensive inquiry into the whole question of national airport policy, and within that context into the need for a third London airport and the best location for it.

Fourthly, we say that no irrevocable action should be taken by the Government to implement their present Stansted decision until the report from such an inquiry has been obtained.

This is not, or at least it ought not to be, a partisan Motion. I want to urge the Government and the whole House to consider it objectively. I believe that the Government will make a very great mistake if a false sense of prestige or a miscalculated judgment of the urgency of implementing some immediate decision leads them to cling obstinately to their present choice of Stansted without subjecting it to the test of an independent and professionally systematic assessment. But that is what they will do if they insist on pressing the Amendment which they have on the Order Paper.

Their decision may be right or it may be wrong. On this side of the House we know that there are strong arguments pointing towards Stansted. We also know that there are strong arguments pointing against it. They may be right in their decision, or they may be wrong. That is not the issue today. If it were, one could understand the Government feeling that they must cling, however obstinately, to their decision. But the Motion has been drawn deliberately not to present them with that issue, and I am sure that many hon. Members on both sides of the House will support me in urging the Government not to regard this as a matter of prestige. Even at this late stage they can think again. To me, as to many people outside the House, of all parties and opinions, there is need and time for the sort of inquiry that the Motion envisages.

I believe that the Motion reflects a very strong feeling, which ought to exist in a democracy, that no Government should high-handedly override a public protest which is as intense and widespread as it is in this case. Let there be no mistake about the scale and intensity of the objection to going ahead on the basis of the present evidence. Of course there is a passionate local protest from the Stansted area, and, of course, there would be a passionate local protest from any other area chosen.

But let not the Government imagine because there will be a protest where-ever they wish to put this airport, that somehow these different local protests cancel each other out or do not matter. The objection in this case is very much more than local. It comes strongly from professional bodies and expert opinion. It comes from individuals all over the country living in areas not remotely affected in any direct way by whether there is an airport at Stansted. I have been surprised—and I know from speaking to them that many other hon. Members have been similarly surprised—by the number of letters which I have received on this subject with no direct interest in it.

For example, I have had a number of letters from my own constituents. If my constituents have any selfish interest in this matter, as they are south of the Thames, it is to see more London air traffic diverted to airports to the north of the Thames. They would suffer some effect, for example, from the location of an airport at some of the sites which have been suggested in south-east England. When I have letters from constituents on the subject protesting against this decision, they are not even to a minor extent serving their own selfish interests and are, in fact, expressing a much wider view. I find that other hon. Members have similar experiences.

The objection is also expressed strongly—indeed, one could say forcefully—throughout the national Press and many responsible journals. It is expressed, too—and I hope that the Government will not treat it as the least serious of the objections—in great strength in the House. Nearly half the hon. Members of the House, including a large number of hon. Gentlemen opposite—getting on for 100 of them—have signed a Motion, not necessarily condemning the choice of Stansted, but asking for the sort of inquiry for which this Motion asks before irrevocable action is taken.

All feel that the decision should not be allowed to go ahead on the basis of the present published evidence and without further inquiry. All feel that the decision-taking machinery has not given full weight to the factors of social cost, national planning, and transport problems ancillary to the development of a major airport. All feel that the way in which the Stansted decision has been dealt with is a matter of importance greater than itself; that it is, in a sense, a precedent and touchstone for future great planning decisions with which we in this country are bound to be faced in a technological world.

These feelings are even shared by people with interests in and a single-minded commitment to aviation, including many who happen to think that Stansted will eventually be proved to be the right choice. To give some evidence of this, I quote from an editorial in the Aeroplane of 17th May of this year. It stated: The long-awaited decision … illustrates the traditional propensity of British bureaucracy to decide issues on the basis of convenience rather than logic. Later, it stated: … the Government … very foolishly decided that 'nothing useful seemed likely to be achieved by initiating a further round of public discussion'. Consequently it proceeded to conduct a very thorough re-examination' in complete secrecy, even suppressing the Blake report till last week. In the context of my quotation, "last week" means the week before, 17th May.

The editorial concluded: All that secrecy in fact achieved was to inhibit serious debate while encouraging wild talk. The moral is clear: future airport planning must allow for intelligent and informed public discussion. This severe criticism came from Britain's leading air transport journal, which, at the same time, made it clear that it supported the Stansted decision.

I have laboured this point because I want the Government to accept that the objection to their proposal and the demand for a wider, deeper and more open inquiry before irrevocable action is taken—are not based only on local opposition and the views of people wherever they live who are somehow opposed in principle to this sort of project. This criticism is also to be found among those who have a committed interest to aviation and who believe that, when it is properly inquired into, the Government's decision on Stansted could be supported by the evidence. However, these people still feel that a decision of this sort should not go forward without the full, professional, technical and open inquiry that it deserves.

This volume and weight of objection should not be overridden. The gentlemen in Whitehall may know best: but especially in matters like this, which have such an enormous impact—and nobody can deny the enormity of the impact on people's lives and the amenities of the area, which are enjoyed by a large number of people who do not live in the area—the gentlemen in Whitehall must be prepared to prove, openly and in public, that they do, in fact, know best. It is rather strange to think that only yesterday the Government published a new White Paper on planning procedures. That document recognises—indeed, if its proposals come into force, will encourage—the need for further improvement based on a system of local autonomy.

Naturally, everybody realises that there are some matters where the decision must be taken by the Government centrally. Everybody realises that in some cases, where there has been a local inquiry, the Government must override the inspector's report. While we all accept that, on such occasions there is a particular duty on the Government to make sure that the presentation of their case is full and scrupulous. We do not feel that the case we have yet had from the Government meets those tests. That is where the Government have so far failed and that is the reason for the weighty and widespread demand for further study before irrevocable action is taken.

I am not speaking in a party sense when I say—indeed, I believe I speak on behalf of many people, both inside and outside Parliament—that it is intolerable that the Government should refuse to put their secretly-made decision to the test of deep, public and open inquiry. It is intolerable, first, because this is undeniably a case of exceptional importance. It is intolerable, secondly, because the views of the inspector and his technical assessor, which the Government are overriding by their present proposals, happen to have been particularly strongly and categorically expressed. It is intolerable, thirdly, because the Government's White Paper, which attempts to justify their action in overriding the local inspector, is a hopelessly inadequate document. It really is a document which is an insult to intelligent people.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The right hon. Gentleman can shake his head in dissent, but I beg of him, if he feels that way, to get out of the corridors of Whitehall and speak to the economists, aviation experts, town planners and university people—and many people who, incidentally, tend naturally to be sympathetic with the thinking of the right hon. Gentleman's party and who, espouse the cause of national planning perhaps more than we instinctively do—when he will find them expressing a feeling of intolerance about the way in which the Government propose to go ahead with this project.

I wish to consider something of the process of how this decision has come to be taken. It started when the Conservative Government were in power. The report of an inter-departmental committee, published in 1964, found in favour of Stansted, and the then Conservative Government supported that choice, subject to the opportunity for local inquiry. That inter-departmental committee—it was inter-departmental in the sense that it contained representatives of more than one Department—was properly predominantly aviation orientated. I say "properly" because it would have been the height of idiocy to have started considering the siting of an airport unless it could be shown to be technacilly feasible as an airport. That is why it is important that the initial stages in a matter of this sort should be conducted by a committee which is strongly aviation orientated in specialisation and outlook.

Having supported that choice on that basis, the Conservative Government of the day made it subject to the opportunity for local inquiry. My right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), the then Prime Minister, made it absolutely clear that no final decision had been, or would be, taken until there has been a thorough public inquiry and, moreover that the door had not been closed against the consideration of alternative sites. He made that clear before the 1964 General Election and the newly-elected Labour Government were quick to reaffirm that view. Indeed, Sir Milner Holland, Q.C., on behalf of the Ministry of Aviation, at the opening of the public inquiry, said categorically that no decision had been taken and that no decision would be made until the report had been received.

That disposes of a suggestion which, I am sorry to say, I have heard in some quarters, that the present Government, when they came into office, found themselves with their hands tied, committed to this decision, and could not run away from it. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman shake his head, because I am sure that that was not the case and, indeed, the Government have openly admitted that it was not the case. Nevertheless, it is a story that has been put about in some quarters.

Having disposed of that suggestion, we are left to consider the inspector's report and the Government's White Paper on their merits. Although these documents have been widely quoted, I think that I ought to give the House four quotations from the published report of the local inquiry, and I start with the general conclusions in paragraph 77 of the report by the technical assessor, Mr. J. W. S. Brancker. He states: I am extremely hesitant to suggest anything which may lead to delay, but much of the evidence submitted seemed to me rather superficial and I would be very much happier to see a general examination in more depth before any firm decision is taken. That was the view of the technical assessor.

Let us see what the inspector, Mr. J. D. Blake, had to say in his report. We read in paragraph 47: I suggest that, when a passenger survey has been made"— I will return to that point later— a review of the national pattern for the major airports be made. In other words, the inspector was suggesting exactly what we are suggesting in our Motion.

Paragraph 21 of the report is the most well known, and this is what Mr. Blake gave as his opinion: It would be a calamity for the neighbourhood if a major airport were placed at Stansted. Such a decision could only be justified by national necessity. Necessity was not proved by evidence at this inquiry. Finally, in this connection, I turn to the last paragraph of the inspector's report, which is his summary. Paragraph 49, in page 8 states: In my opinion, a review of the whole problem should be undertaken by a committee equally interested in traffic in the air, traffic on the ground, regional planning and national planning. The review should cover military as well as civil aviation. The recommendations and conclusions of the inspector and his technical assessor were extremely categorical and strong, and if a Government intend to over-ride such very strong and categorical conclusions from an important local inquiry of this kind the reasons must be given.

It seems extraordinary to us that at the same time as the Government are refusing to reopen the inquiry to institute a new inquiry of a different kind into this matter, they do not hesitate for one moment to ask for a new inquiry into the important but relatively much smaller matter of a hovercraft base at Pegwell Bay. I do not complain about the latter decision, but the two things do not seem to us to be in scale.

To refuse a new and deeper inquiry requested as a result of an inquiry such as this into Stansted, seems to us to be out of all proportion or scale and to have no proper sense of priority compared with other similar decisions that have been taken and are constantly being taken by this and previous Governments.

Instead of having the sort of inquiry asked for by the inspector—independent and open, as was surely meant by him—the Government have clutched the matter to their bosom. They have referred it for consideration to the same people, or at least to the very same organisations, who produced the original idea, but failed to back it at the inquiry with what the inspector and the assessor thought was adequate evidence. Moreover, they have shrouded the report in secrecy until they have come forward with their own White Paper. They have done that until, surprise of surprise, they have come back, after another whole year of cud-chewing, with a decision to adhere to their original choice, and they support it with a White Paper which carries no conviction with any one except themselves.

As I have said, the Government may be right—there are plenty of other people who also think they may be right—but I have met no one, not even including those who do believe that the Government are right, who are convinced of their rightness by the arguments and information in the White Paper. It is superficial, it is incomplete, and in some cases it is misleading. I want to give the House some examples of its defects. I must only take time to give a few examples. I could find many more than I shall give, but I believe that those I shall give are important.

First of all, I want to draw attention to what is said about the utilisation of Heathrow and Gatwick, the existing airports for London, because the degree of utilisation which can be obtained at those airports must affect, at least, the timing of the need for a third London Airport and must, perhaps, affect the capacity required of a third London airport, and must, therefore, affect, perhaps its location as well.

Why is it that in paragraph 7 of the White Paper the Government make the statement that the maximum sustainable hourly capacities at Heathrow and Gatwick are 64 and 45 movements respectively? I ask, because that is very much lower than is achieved in major United States airports—very much lower, indeed; not marginally lower.

The may be good reasons for that—I happen to know, or think that I happen to know, some of them—but what are they? They are not stated in this report.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Raphael Tuck) mutters "Accidents", but if he compares the United States' record with the British record, the comparison in total air accidents does not sustain that charge—

Photo of Mr Raphael Tuck Mr Raphael Tuck , Watford

New York against Heathrow?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I am not making any charges against the safety of Heathrow or of any British airport. I happen to know something of the subject, and once conducted an Estimates Committee inquiry into it. I know that the safety standards of our airports are thought by the pilots and airlines of all countries to be amongst the highest—probably are the highest—in the world. We want to keep them that way.

That is why I say that I know some reasons why I would not support attempts to lying the capacity of utilisation of our airports right up to those of some American airports. But the difference between the two is enormous—it really is. Good reasons for accepting 64 and 45 movements as the maximum sustainable hourly capacity should be given, and this White Paper is incomplete without those reasons.

For example, do the estimates of the maximum hourly movements make allowances for the use of a computer assisted air traffic control system, on which much work has been done and is being done at the Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern? That is an important factor, but it is not stated here. Many experts who have spoken to me over the last few weeks and months genuinely believe that with the latest techniques and equipment we can build up the capacity of existing London airports, if not to the highest American levels at least to levels considerably above the maximum quoted here, and still maintain our record of unsurpassed safety.

Photo of Mr Raymond Dobson Mr Raymond Dobson , Bristol North East

May I draw the attention of the right hon. Member to the general inquiry report, appendix 7, by Mr. Brancker, in which he said that he accepts 64 as the normal rate for Heathrow and 45 for Gatwick? That seems to cut across the case which the right hon. Member is putting.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

All I am saying is that there is this unsupported statement in the White Paper, which may be wrong or right. The White Paper does not attempt to argue, but merely states it as a fact and on a vital matter such as this that is a sign of weakness.

Related to it is the lack of decision in the White Paper about the rôle of Gatwick. The White Paper indicates clearly that no decision has been taken of whether or not, lot alone when, a second runway should be built at Gatwick. Surely a decision about building a second runway there or not ought to precede a decision on the siting of the third airport.

There is the statement that topographical features will never allow Gatwick to be used without restriction by all kinds of long-haul traffic, but who says so? Again, experts can be found who do not rule out the possibility of earth-moving to reduce the tops of hills. Such things are not unknown in the United States. Perhaps it would be wrong to do it, but to say without supporting argument that Gatwick can never take all long-haul jets without restriction is to belittle the whole responsibility of argument in the White Paper.

Then there is the question of traffic control implications. The paragraph contains no recognition of the fact that some highly-qualified experts differ from the official view about the extent to which different locations need interfere with each other and who believe that with the new equipment and techniques it may be possible to compress the air patterns, again without any deterioration in our high standards of safety. These experts may be wrong, but their views cannot be ignored. At least, some argument should be put in support of the statement made in the White Paper.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is now on a very dangerous argument? He is putting at hazard the whole question of safety.[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Of course he is. In view of what he is saying ought he not, for the information of the House, to name the experts on whom he relies, in view of the fact that the airport has its experts also who are guiding it on the lines that lead to greater safety for the passenger?

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The hon. Member is quite wrong, and most irresponsible, in suggesting that anything I am saying is putting safety at hazard. I have been at great pains to pay tribute to our record of airport safety and to say that it must be maintained. What I am saying is that there are people—

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

It is not right or proper in the House to name individuals. This is exactly why there should be an inquiry of the kind we are talking about.

I am, or more accurately was, a scientist. I know from my own experience of mixing with them the clash of opinion between highly reputable scientific and technological experts. No one can be accepted as absolutely certain to be right. The proper course when making extremely important decisions of this kind is to confront the differing views and to try to form a judgment between them. It is our complaint that this is not being done, or that, if it has been done, it has not been demonstrably done by anything which is said in the White Paper.

The statements in the White Paper are not in any way backed up by arguments. Let us look at the comparative costings between Stansted and Sheppey. Again, figures are trotted out without any substantiation and they are disputed by many people with qualifications which make them worthy of a hearing. On the road and rail access costs, it is disputed that British Railways' provision of access to Sheppey would be very much lower than is stated in the report. I do not know whether it would or not, but this should be tested. Some obvious items seem to have been left out of the balance sheet altogether.

There must be a consequential cost of closing down Wethersfield air base which is used by the United States Air Force and would have to be closed if the Stansted project went ahead. Does that come into the calculations? Does it lead to the conviction that these costings have been done with any seriousness? I could go on with more particular examples; but the biggest absence of all in these costings is the absence of any attempt to produce a cost-benefit analysis for alternative sites taking into account total economic and social costs. For example, I mentioned the rail costs which might have appeared favourable to the case of Sheppey, but now I mention an aspect which appears unfavourable to Sheppey.

There must be an enormous extra cost which, with modern techniques, could be given some quantification, of having a major airport at the south-east tip of the country which would mean that all freight and passengers exported or brought in would have to be taken to and from the furthermost tip of the country. That would be an enormous extra cost which could go on the balance sheet against Sheppey and could be shown in the balance sheet in favour of Stansted or other sites to the north or north-west of London, but these items do not appear in the report.

There is no attempt to bring in this sort of proper analysis and planning. That is another reason why I said that the President of the Board of Trade should go out of the House and away from the corridors of Whitehall to talk with people who know about these things. Then he would understand that there are reasons why they have no respect for this White Paper.

Although in the White Paper the Government admit that the strongest of the objections is on regional planning grounds there is no reference to the views of the South-East Economic Planning Council.

The Council was not even consulted. For what reason did the present Foreign Secretary set up planning councils if they were not to be consulted when there were great issues such as this? We are told that the absence of consultation was because of the rules arising from the Chalk Pit case. We believe that is all "hooey". The memorandum of the Stansted Working Party states, in paragraph 8, on page 3 of its report, that the Government did not feel themselves bound in other respects by the Chalk Pit case rules. If they were not acting under those rules in other respects, why did they call them In aid for their failure to consult the South-East Economic Planning Council? I cannot believe that it would have been impossible for the Government to have said that since this public inquiry was completed they had set up the planning councils in each area of the country and they believed it proper that the councils should be consulted. I am certain that from all parts of the House they would have had the blessing of hon. Members for that action.

Photo of Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop , Tiverton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is exactly what the Government are doing in the case of Exeter Airport and the South-West Economic Planning Council? This makes it all the more desirable that they should do so in this case.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

I am glad to hear that at least the Government may be more reasonable about the South-West. In their other policies, towards the South-West, they appear to be behaving most unreasonably.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the South-West Economic Planning Council was consulted over the Portbury scheme? It recommended against the Government's decision, and the Government ignored the recommendation. That, perhaps, is the reason why the Government did not consult the South-East Economic Planning Council.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The hon. Member is less delicate than I was. I was refraining from suggesting to the Government that it was because they feared the advice they were likely to receive that they failed to consult the South-East Economic Planning Council.

Finally, among the examples of defects in the White Paper that I want to give there is no attempt in the White Paper seriously to relate the Standsted decision to any national pattern of requirements for airports, for both international and domestic services. Yet the rapid growth of air transport, particularly in the freight field, makes such a national pattern and policy more vital as each year passes. If there ever was a field where real national planning was required, this is surely it. It is so recognised in other countries.

How can the transport infrastructure, and the regional development policies, be planned, unless the pattern of airports both international and feeder airports, in conjunction with the railway pattern and the main trunk road pattern, has been taken into account? This is a field where a national planning really is required. Yet this Government of planners are failing to provide it.

So I could go on. The White Paper does not meet the need for substantiating the Government's decision. If it is right, it is not proved to be right in the White Paper. We believe that the case for an open independent and highly professional inquiry is unanswerable. Such an iquiry should look into national airport policy as a whole, and the London decision should be taken only in that wider context. Such an inquiry should take into account all related aspects, all implications tied up with airport development, and should be based on an assessment of total economic and social costs.

To use modern jargon—but it is jargon with a lot of expertise behind it—the solution of this problem requires a full systems analysis. There is no sign in the White Paper that anything equivalent to a full systems analysis has been applied to this decision. So the committee of inquiry which we want must include a range of professionally qualified members and must have power and financial resources to commission research and employ consultants as necessary.

If it has to be accepted—I believe anybody who looks at the case objectively must agree that it has to be accepted—that there is a need for a further inquiry, is there time for it? We have made some provisional inquiries—they can only be provisional—about the sort of time needed for what I have called a full systems analysis of the problems involved in reaching this decision. We are told that the time required might vary between one year and 18 months. In any case, we believe one could get firm enough solutions about the answers to the overall national pattern to provide an interim report on the need for, and the location of, the third London airport within a year.

The Government themselves say that a third airport is not required until the 1974–76 period. We believe, therefore, that one year could be afforded for such an inquiry. We believe that, if necessary, the time of coming into operation of the third airport could be stretched by a year to accommodate the inquiry if that were needed. We believe that could be done by greater utilisation of the existing airports, which I have already talked about. We believe that it could be done by the hurrying on of more up-to-date traffic control procedures. We believe that other developments, such as the electronic data processing of freight at London's airports, which shows promise of saving about 60 per cent. in storage space, 50 per cent. in office space, and 50 per cent. in ground personnel, could increase the capacity of Heathrow and, therefore, extend the date at which the third airport must be needed. So we say that there is time for such an inquiry.

To sum up, we believe that Britain must take her full share in what is one of the world's most rapidly growing activities, namely, the transport by air of passengers and freight.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If she is to do that, she must have an adequate network of airports with which to do it, but it must be a cohesive network of airports which has been carefully thought out. We believe—I am glad to learn from the reactions to my last remark that the whole House believes—that, for Britain's commercial prosperity and influence, to play our full part in air transport in the future will be just as important as it was in the past for us to play a leading part in sea transport.

So we have no sympathy with those who want to opt out. We have no sympathy with some of those who do not want any airports at all and who say that it does not matter if the traffic goes off to the Continent. We believe that it matters vitally.

However, it so happens, unfortunately, that the impact of a major international airport on the community in which it is placed is a traumatic one. It really does tear the life of the area to pieces and alter the whole character of living for miles around. It is just because it has that impact in social terms that not only must we take great care to make the right decision, but we must also take great care to convince those whose lives are to be so dramatically affected that it is the right decision.

That is what is lacking here. If the Government have taken the right decision, it is not apparent. It is not apparent to the House, it is certainly not apparent to those concerned. Feelings on this subject run deep, because to large numbers of people air transport and its accompanying airports symbolise, probably more dramatically than anything else, both the hopes and the fears, the benefits and the penalties, of our technological age. We want—indeed, we must have—the economic benefits and the personal opportunities. But in obtaining these benefits we must ensure that we do not become slaves to technology. Therefore, time and money are well spent in taking great care to humanise and control the forces of technology.

This, we believe, is in the nature of a test case. We believe that there is need for further inquiry in an objective sense. We certainly believe that there is need for open inquiry in order to carry conviction with the public. And we believe that there is time for it. We do not believe that the Government should go ahead until such an inquiry has taken place, because, if they do, they will not be praised for the smack of firm Government. They will be blamed, and heavily blamed, for giving us a whiff of petty dictatorship. They will be wrong. I appeal to the Government to think again.

4.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'welcomes the policy of Her Majesty's Government to plan airport requirements in the light of all relevant factors, including the effect on the local population, the needs of the travelling public, safety, agriculture and the protection of amenity; and approves their selection of a third London airport on this basis' The right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) asked me to state what is the Government's airport policy. I will do so. The main objective of our airport policy is to ensure that Britain retains its present European lead in civil aviation and that we remain ahead of our competitors. Today, Heathrow attracts more traffic than any other airport in Europe, with already over 13 million passengers a year and freight traffic growing very rapidly. Clearly—here I am glad to agree with the right hon. Gentleman—international civil aviation will be of the first importance in the future, not merely to the travelling public, but to the United Kingdom balance of payments and, therefore, to our whole economic vitality.

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be careful with his figures, because the figures given by the head of the Airports Authority for the input through London Airport last year was 12 million. The figures for 1967 have not come out yet. I hope that when he gives figures the right hon. Gentleman will give figures which are correct.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If there are too many interruptions, I shall never get to the end. The figure for 1966 was about 13 million. For 1967, it will be still higher.

For a century, shipping contributed very substantially to Britain's invisible earnings, but the share of passenger traffic now travelling by air all over the world is growing fast and is bound to grow in the future. Therefore, unless we hold a substantial share of this growing air traffic, our balance of payments is bound to suffer.

Fortunately, we have so far succeeded in doing so. In 1966, the United Kingdom's exchange earnings from civil aviation were actually double those from shipping. In addition, the direct foreign exchange earnings of the British Airports Authority in 1966 were £6 million, which, incidentally, is nearly twenty times the value of the agricultural imports which we could have saved by using the same area of land for agriculture.

If, therefore, we are to hold this traffic, we must offer to the public and to the airlines the first-class modern airports which they expect. A major effort is now being made by our main rivals to wrest from us the leadership we now hold in Europe and the tourist traffic and trade which go with it. France, in particular, has already settled the site for a major new airport only 15 miles from Paris, and is already planning its development. Holland, also, is extending its main international airport, and a fourth for New York is being planned.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, before they went ahead with their airport, the French considered it in the context of the Paris regional plan and consulted all the regional authorities?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

So have we. I am not responsible for exactly what the French did, but, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have patience, I shall tell him of all the consultations which have gone on.

Mr. John Biggs-Davidson:

Mr. John Biggs-Davidson (Chigwell) rose

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

There will not be much room for other hon. Members if interruptions carry on like this.

Mr. Biggs-Davidson:

Just a sentence. Did I hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he had consulted the regional planning authority?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I said that we had consulted many planning authorities, and we are doing so now.

Mr. Biggs-Davidson:

The regional planning authority?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I shall come to that point if the hon. Gentleman will have a little patience.

Another aim of our airports policy is to encourage traffic at airports well outside London and, so far as possible, in the north of England and in Scotland. Already, this traffic is growing, particularly at Manchester, Prestwick and Glasgow. The international passenger traffic from these and our other provincial airports is now rising at about 14 per cent. a year, and the Government are encouraging direct services from these airports to destinations overseas as quickly as the traffic justifies. I am also now systematically studying the need for new airport facilities in the long term in regions outside the South-East, and these plans will be discussed with the regional economic planning councils.

However, it is no good starting services before they are reasonably likely to be economic, since to do so would merely result in losses, partly at the expense of the taxpayer, to no purpose. At the moment, Manchester, Prestwick and Glasgow all have unused capacity. It will be some years, probably at least 10, before their present capacity is fully used. We must also face the hard fact, though we may regret it—I personally regret it—that 80 per cent. of the international air traffic now entering or leaving Heathrow and Gatwick is coming from and to places in the south-east of England. This was the conclusion, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, of an investigation made by the C.O.I. Social Survey in June, 1965. To ignore it is to be unrealistic.

Also, unfortunately, the 20 per cent. going elsewhere than London is spread out over many areas and not concentrated on one alone. However, not merely is the proportion coming to the South-East thus extremely high, but the total is increasing rapidly, also by about 14 per cent. a year, in the case of the international airports in the south-east of England.

I come now to the question which I was asked about numbers. The number of people likely to use Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted this year is about 14½ million, and this total is increasing by about 1½ million a year. By 1975, the total is likely to be about 30 million. This in itself shows that we are dealing no longer with a small minority but with a total number of persons per year, British and overseas visitors together, which will before very long be several times the whole population of London.

In these circumstances, the only sensible airports policy, in my view, unless we are to relinquish our position in civil aviation altogether—which the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to do—is to develop one more major modern airport in the South-East to accept the traffic as Heathrow and Gatwick become saturated, and then to plan in the longer term for a further major airport right outside the South-East, probably in the Midlands or the North, to come into service later on when the present Midland and northern airports also become saturated. These longer-term plans must, incidentally, take account of a lot of probable technological advance in the meantime. This we are already planning to do, and we mean to use the time available to select the best possible site from all the relevant points of view.

The next necessity is to decide how soon the third inevitable major airport in the South-East will be essential. We can, and we shall, postpone the date by developing Heathrow and Gatwick to their fullest capacity, and that, also, is our present firm policy. First, the No. 1 runway at Heathrow will be extended to the furthest limits practicable, and the Airports Authority will start on this as soon as it can—this year, I hope—so that it can be completed by 1969. These runways are not, unfortunately, built in a few months.

Next, a second main runway will be built at Gatwick, and this will carry Gatwick's development as far as is practicable, in view of the limits set by the railway at one end and rising ground at the other. I noted what the right hon. Gentleman said about that, but I assure him that it has been fully taken into account. This extension should be completed at Gatwick by 1971 or 1972.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Do I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is now making a statement which goes beyond the White Paper? The White Paper is not clear about whether there will or will not be a second runway at Gatwick.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The White Paper mentions the second runway at Gatwick. I am saying categorically that we mean to proceed with it. I have said that that extension should be completed by 1971 or 1972.

If we allow for that additional capacity for peak spreading in the use of airports and for the fact that aircraft in the interval will increase in size, the two airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, are likely to become saturated by about 1974, though, clearly, we cannot be absolutely exact in these forecasts.

If an adequate modern airport equal to the standards of that period is to be ready by 1974, we must start, first, to plan it and, second, to build it many years earlier. The construction of a full two-runway airport with all the necessary terminal buildings—I am sorry that this is so, but it is so—will take about four years. Before that, the necessary planning and some initial building, which must follow the selection of the site, will take two to three years. A start on the terminal complex, therefore, must be made now, and, this, unfortunately, cannot be done unless the proposed pattern of the airport and the number of runways, and so on, is known. That is why a decision has become urgent if planning by all the many authorities concerned is to go forward.

Those who argue that there is no need for an airport at Stansted must, therefore, argue either that there is no need for a third international airport at all or that there is some other site in the South-East which is preferable to Stansted. In making a choice between the alternatives, as it is clear we must, the following salient facts must be recognised at the start. First, we must either choose a site close to a large built-up area, in which case the noise nuisance will be maximised, or we must go to open country, in which case some farm land will be lost and some countryside, unhappily, sacrificed. There is no escape from that dilemma, whatever we do. Secondly, whatever site we select, there is again—much and deeply as we regret it—bound to be local disturbance and very natural resistance from those in the area who do not have to find or name the alternatives.

Thirdly, there already exists over this small island an extemely complex pattern of air traffic every day and every night—in all weathers—with twice as many military movements daily as civil, even at the present time. One aircraft is landing at Heathrow every minute, and collisions must be avoided. Safety must be regarded as absolutely paramount and I am not prepared to take any risks with it.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

My right hon. Friend has just said that in summer one aircraft lands at Heathrow every minute. What does he regard as saturation at the airport, if that is not very near it?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

That is saturation point in the matter of the number of aircraft per unit of time. It is not necessarily the total saturation of the aircraft. I should have said one aircraft landing or taking off every minute.

Fourthly, there are many people who approach the choice—frankly, I did so myself—with the natural belief that we can minimise the local disturbance by choosing a site on our east coast. Unfortunately, this is largely an illusion. As the prevailing winds are westerly in southern England, and as jet aircraft make the most intense noise on take-off, it follows that an airport on our east coast must generate most noise over inland areas.

It is also unfortunate, but true, that in the case of the only practical east coast sites—Cliffe, Sheppey and Foulness—the population living within 12 miles to the west or south-west is particularly large. That is just an unfortunate geographical accident. South-west of Foulness are Southend and Leigh-on-Sea, only about eight miles away, with a population of 170,000. South-west of Sheppey are the Medway towns, 10 to 12 miles away, with a population of over 200,000, and southwest of Cliffe are Gravesend, Tilbury and south-east London.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I am anxious to give way. but I do not want to go on for too long.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

If the prevailing wind is westerly, the wind is from west to east and therefore, surely, it is the population on the east side that matters?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If the hon. Gentleman has ever been to Heathrow he must know that when the aircraft are taking off in a westerly direction the maximum noise is just west of the airport.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The figures of 200,000 and 170,000 compare with a smaller population at Bishop's Stortford, Harlow and Sawbridgworth, which are immediately south-west of Stansted. Even after the planned expansion of Harlow is reached in about 1981 the population will be only about 120,000. [Interruption.] I am not provoking the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) to rise. I fully agree with him that Bishop's Stortford is closer to the airport than some of the other towns I have mentioned.

The only rational way of making a choice, therefore, is to compare all the practicable sites from the point of view of safety, noise, nearness to London, transport, convenience to passengers, local planning, effects on farming and the countryside, and cost to the taxpayers. To be fair to the previous Government, this is what they did. They set up in 1961—six years ago—an inter-departmental committee, which examined this choice so thoroughly that it did not report to the then Minister of Aviation until June, 1963. The then Minister, Mr. Julian Amery, having further rightly examined the Report for many months, published it in March, 1964, with a foreword in which he stated categorically that the Report … concludes that Stansted airport should be selected and designated as London's third airport. The Government believe that this is the right choice". The previous Government thus believed three years ago that, after the preceding two or three years' examination, it was possible for Ministers to make up their minds, and he announced their decision then.

The Minister also then said that there should be a chance …to consider and discuss the reasons for the choice of Stansted. We should notice that he said "the reasons" and not the choice itself. We decided, however, that this was not good enough, and two further inquiries have been held since.

The then Minister of Housing and Local Government—the present Lord President—and my predecessor as Minister of Aviation—the present Home Secretary—set up such an inquiry in 1965. It was not required under planning law and consequently was not a statutory public inquiry.

The nature and function of the inquiry have been somewhat misunderstood. The function of the inspector was not to act as a judge or take decisions, but to hear local objections and make recommendations to the Minister, upon whom the duty fell of taking the decision. It was the function of the inspector at the inquiry to hear local objections to the individual project proposed; but though it was possible for alternatives to be mentioned or argued, the inspector was not asked to recommend an alternative nor to hear full local objections to possible alternatives.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

Before he moves on from the Inspector's Report, could the President of the Board of Trade indicate what conclusion the inspector could have come to that was clearer in its indications than that which the inspector reached, and which might have moved the Government to take some notice of what he said?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I am coming to the inspector's conclusions, and the hon. Gentleman is only occupying time.[Interruption.] If the House does not wish to hear the case I will not make it.

When, in June, 1966, we received the inspector's report, stating very naturally all the local difficulties over Stansted, we were faced with this situation. If all the alternative 10 or so possible sites were to be examined by separate public inquiries, each inquiry would almost certainly find that the objections to that particular one were formidable, as they all are, and each inquiry would take probably a year, if not more. If this procedure were followed, the process might have lasted a very long time, and by the end we should very possibly have had neither an airport nor a decision.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I think that I had better go on.

At that point, accordingly, the then Minister of Housing and I took a decision similar to that taken by the previous Government—indeed the only decision which Ministers could rationally take in such circumstances—to hold a further full review comparing all possible alternative sites, conducted by all the Departments concerned, and from all the relevant points of view—that is, safety, planning, noise, agriculture, transport, costs and so on.

Our review, however, differed from that of the previous Government in 1963–64 in this sense. Theirs—this was publicly stated in the report—consisted almost entirely of aviation and air traffic experts with only two other representatives responsible for housing and transport. Our review went much wider and covered physical and economic planning aspects, and brought in the branches of the Government representing all the interests mentioned by the inspector in his recommendation. Incidentally, the individuals concerned in this inquiry were, with one exception, quite different from those who conducted the previous inquiry, and therefore brought fresh minds to the problem.

In holding this review, including agriculture, we were also carrying out the main positive recommendation of the inspector at the Stansted inquiry. This is what the inspector recommended: In my opinion a review of the whole problem should be undertaken by a committee equally interested in traffic in the air, traffic on the ground, regional planning and national planning. The review should cover military a well as civil aviation. That is exactly what we did.

One hon. Member has raised the question of the South Eastern Planning Council. I think he takes rather lightly the matter of the Council on Tribunals. The advice that I received from all the legal advisers to the Government was that it would have been improper for me vis-ç-vis Parliament to consult not merely the South Eastern Planning Council but even the British Airports Authority, which I was not able to consult following a decision by the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Kilmuir, on 8th May, 1961. The right hon. Gentleman was a little lighthearted in describing the principles of the Council on Tribunals as being "all hooey". That is not the view that we take.[Interruption.] If the right hon. and learned Gentleman has the same respect for these rules as I have, there is no controversy between us.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

While accepting that there is a great deal of controversy about this—this is really a smokescreen—will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he could properly within the rules have taken fresh evidence and either submitted it to the parties or reopened the inquiry?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The right hon. and learned Gentleman calls it "all hooey". His right hon. Friend calls it "all a smokescreen".

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

The right hon. Gentleman must take the blame for this interruption. I did not call the chalkpit rules "all hooey". What I called "all hooey" was using them as a reason for not consulting those who should be consulted, and I pointed out that in other respects the chalkpit rules were not applied by the Government.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If the right hon. Gentleman will look at what his own Lord Chancellor said, he will find that one conclusion follows from another.

This further comprehensive review which we held examined the whole ground over again over a period of five months in the light of the inspector's report and of all the local objections brought forward. That review was concluded last winter, and it came to the conclusion unanimously, just as did the Committee under the previous Government with separate people, that Stansted was the best—or, if hon. Members like, the least undesirable—of the alternatives.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and I, however, were, frankly, not prepared even so—though there had been two inquiries—to take it at that, and we proceeded for a further period of months to re-examine exhaustively the expert evidence—and this was the reason, candidly, for the still further delay in reaching a decision, for which I have frequently had to apologise in the House to hon. Members on both sides who ask me why an urgent decision was being delayed. I have never believed that experts should be assumed to be right even on their own subjects, but if non-experts are going to treat them as wrong they must be able to prove them wrong first.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Surely there is a limit to interventions?

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

On the question of experts, the Deputy Director of Aerodromes (Technical) of the Ministry told the Select Committee on Procedure that its propinquity to Heathrow and the alignment of its runways would limit the use of Stansted Airport especially with supersonic aircraft. Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that advice has now been altered?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I am coming to that point also. In effect, however, the advice is that there is very little difficulty there, though there are a number of other cases of difficulty.

I was saying that as Ministers we reexamined all these points over again. After that my right hon. Friend and I and my colleagues were also firmly convinced that on a comparison of all the alternatives and the relevant factors the previous Government were right in selecting Stansted. We accordingly published the White Paper, which is based on the conclusion of the 1966 Interdepartmental Review.

I will now tell the House—with apologies for going on, but that is due to interruptions—the reason for the selection that we made. The only rational way of reaching a decision here is to examine each of the practicable alternatives in turn. Our own review covered 11: Ferrybridge, Castle Donnington, Dengie Flats, Gunfleet Sands, Plumstead Marshes, Silverstone, Padworth, Cliffe, Foulness, Stansted and Sheppey.

Ferrybridge and Castle Donnington were too far from London to be practicable alternatives, for the reasons I have already given. Dengie Flats and Gunfleet Sands are wholly or partly in the North Sea; and all the expert evidence available to me shows that to build an airport on such sites would be either completely impracticable or, if not that, enormously costly. Plumstead Marshes would both inflict intolerable noise on a very large population and clash from an air safety point of view with planes taking off or landing at Heathrow. Padworth, between Reading and Newbury, is at first sight, so it seemed to me, more attractive, but it also suffers from the fatal defect of lying on the east-west axis of Heathrow, and is, therefore, also unacceptable on safety grounds. Padworth also involves an air traffic clash with Farnborough, now a heavily used research airfield for both civil and defence purposes.

Cliffe also appears promising at first sight, since the land is little used and is sited on the Thames Estuary. Unhappily, it is also too near on the east-west access to Heathrow and will involve a risk of collision on those occasions when the wind is westerly at Cliffe and easterly at Heathrow, which would mean, in effect, that Cliffe would have to be closed in those circumstances.

It is necessary, therefore—I really think that this is not in serious dispute—to find a site which is well clear of the east-west line from Heathrow, Gatwick and Farnborough and not so near heavily populated areas as to impose intolerable noise upon them. This leaves us, in effect, as all three inquiries have shown, with Stansted, Foulness and Sheppey and a possible site at Silverstone in the Midlands between Brackley and Northampton.

If one selected Sheppey, one would have to curtail substantially the use of Southend Airport, thus cancelling out some of the new capacity of Sheppey. One would also have to remove the firing range at Shoeburyness. Even if it were possible to find another site for this range, the removal would cost about £25 million, and—I doubt if all hon. Members have noticed this—one would have to find a new site for the firing range, which might involve about the same difficulties as we have found at Stansted and would not be popular wherever one put it. In addition to all that, the distance from Sheppey to central London is too great, and the accessibility to everywhere except Kent and south-east London is too inconvenient for anyone to be sure that airlines or passengers would be willing, with all the international competition that there is, to use an airport at Sheppey.

As journey times in the air are reduced and other cities compete with short journeys from airports to capitals, passengers will not be willing to tolerate too long a journey from our airports to London. We have to accept that. The journey from Sheppey would be about 100 minutes by road compared with 70 minutes from Stansted. Obviously, one cannot be exact to the minute on this, but the best estimate is that it would be 60 to 70 minutes by rail compared with 40 or 50 minutes from Stansted to Liverpool Street or King's Cross.

Even these times from Sheppey, however, could be achieved only by expenditure on rail and road facilities together of at least about £30 million and possibly over £40 million. This is, indeed, not surprising, because the rail traffic would have to plough through the Medway towns, and the road traffic would have to circumvent them.

The total cost of Sheppey, therefore, compared with the total cost of about £55 million at Stansted, if one includes the possible replacement of the military airfield at Wethersfield, would be at least £120 million, and probably nearer £130 million. In addition to this, the total number of people affected by noise would be greater at Sheppey than at Stansted.

There are two ranges for the calculation of those affected by noise: first, those living in the immediate area of take-off or landing—up to three or four miles; and the larger number still materially affected up to 10 or 12 miles. The White Paper gives the narrower test, and shows that the disturbance at Stansted would be one-twentieth of that at Heathrow, Silverstone one-half of that at Stansted, and Sheppey one-half of that at Silverstone. On this narrow test Sheppey comes out favourably. All the suggested alternatives would thus be far less affected by noise than the Heathrow area, but on this test Sheppey would be even less affected than the others.

On the wider test, however, of the 10 to 12-mile-range, which, in my view, one cannot ignore, there are, as I have said over 200,000 in the Medway towns, compared with 120,000 at Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgworth. If, therefore, we selected Sheppey, we would have to find another site for the firing range; we would spend at least £65 million more than at Stansted; we would cause noise disturbance to a greater number of people in total; and we would finish up with a very much more inconvenient airport, which some airlines might be unwilling to use. I cannot believe that this would be a sensible decision.

Foulness also looks attractive at first sight, because it borders on the coast. Its selection, however, would involve not merely the removal of the firing range, but the total closure of Southend Airport, which now carries a great deal of short-haul traffic. In addition, though, as the White Paper says, the land at Stansted is of higher agricultural value than Cliffe, Sheppey and Foulness taken together, it is actually of rather lower value than the land at Foulness on its own, though higher than the land at Cliffe and on the actual Isle of Sheppey.

In addition, on the wider test of noise, the normal take-off from Foulness would be bound to cause major disturbance to Southend and Leigh, which have a total population of 170,000. On the test of nearness to London, Foulness, at a cost of about £25 million on road and rail, could be brought within 60 minutes by rail compared with Stansted's 40 to 50, and by road within 95 minutes compared with 70. Since Stansted is partly constructed already, the total cost of Foulness, including the removal of the firing range, transport, the closure of Southend Airport, and the use of marshy land—which makes construction more costly—the total cost of Foulness would also be about £65 million greater than Stansted on a comparable basis.

If, therefore, we were to choose Foulness, there would be a longer journey time to London; another site would have to be found for the firing range; the cost would be very much greater; a much larger number of people in total would be affected by noise; and more agricultural land of high value would be sacrificed. I cannot think that this would be a very sensible decision either.

Photo of Mr Richard Winterbottom Mr Richard Winterbottom , Sheffield, Brightside

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we could get three international airports for that price on Humberside and in the South Yorkshire area which would possibly be of greater value to the economy?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If one wanted to go to Humberside, I am sure that that would be a sensible course. That leaves us with Silverstone and Stansted. Silverstone would of course, as elsewere, involve taking more additional land than Stansted, because 800 acres at Stansted is already in use, and would cause corresponding local disturbance in other ways, though fewer people would probably be affected by noise. Silverstone's other obvious attraction is accessibility to the Midlands as well as to London; even though the journey to London would be a good deal longer than from Stansted—60 minutes by rail and 100 by road, against 40 to 50 and 70.

The insurmountable snag about Silverstone, however, it the air traffic control difficulty of fitting it into both the present pattern of military airfields in the South Midlands and the civil air corridor which runs north-west from London over this area. It is not merely—and I have seen this mistake in the Press—that there are eight military airfields in the neighbourhood, and that they are situated in the most inconvenient sites for take-off and landing at Silverstone, but that a major civil air corridor is involved as well.

It is this treble difficulty which means that, to ensure safety at Silverstone, we would have to transfer eight military airfields, whereas at Stansted we would only have to transfer Wethersfield. For a major modern two-runway airport requires not merely safe approach and take-off facilities in both westerly and easterly winds, but two stacking areas also: and all these have to be fitted in to existing traffic patterns.

It is the unanimous view of those responsible for air traffic control—and the House really cannot treat this lightly—that they could not guarantee safety if a major airport were sited at Silverstone, unless the eight military airfields were transferred elsewhere. Not merely, therefore, would this involve an expenditure on these airfields nearer to £100 million than £50 million, over and above the cost of Stansted; but—and some people have not noticed this either—we would have to find eight other sites, with all the local disturbance involved, in addition to the disturbance at Silverstone.

I do not say this would cause nine times the disturbance likely to be caused at Stansted; but it would certainly be a good many times greater. It is perfectly true that, had the previous Government 12 or 15 years ago decided to place these military airfields somewhere else, it might now be practicable to build a civil airport at Silverstone. I do not necessarily blame the previous Government for doing so, because these airfields had to go somewhere. But I am afraid they cannot blame us because their decisions, right or wrong, have made this particular alternative, now impracticable.

Even, however, if we did go to the huge expense now of transferring all these military airfields in order to select Silverstone, we would still have to cause major local disturbance similar to that at Stansted; and we would finish up, at far greater cost, with an airport a good deal further from London. I cannot believe that that could conceivably be a sensible alternative either.

In contrast to those alternatives, Stansted itself has the great merit of being clear not merely of the east-west access from Heathrow, Gatwick and Farnborough, but also of the South Midland airfields, and the main approach across the Midlands to Heathrow. It is, therefore, far and away the best site from the point of view of safety and air traffic control. It clearly enjoys the shortest journey time to London—as I said, without trying to be exact to the minute, about 70 minutes by road and 40 or 50 minutes by rail to Liverpool Street or King's Cross. The cost would be much less than elsewhere at about £55 million, including both the road and rail links to the M11 and the Liverpool Street line and including an allowance for the cost of transferring the Wethersfield airfield. The lower cost at Stansted is due partly to the fact that an airport already exists and partly to the easier road and rail access.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Epping

I believe I heard my right hon. Friend say that the cost of Stansted is now to be £55 million, which is an advance of £10 million on the figures so far cited. Have we already advanced by £10 million on the White Paper?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

It is an advance of £8 million. The White Paper said that it would be about £47 million, plus the cost of transferring Wethersfield. I am giving all the information that I can. The estimated cost of that is £8 million, so that is consistent with what has been said before.

The land to be taken at Stansted additional to the present 800 acres would naturally be less than would be needed elsewhere. There has been much confusion in public comments about the amount of land required which I want to clear up.

There are at present 800 acres occupied by Stansted Airport. To build the two major runways proposed and the terminal buildings would require another 2,800 acres, making 3,600 in all. Only if an eventual four-runway airport were required, which is a distant possibility certainly not needed until the 1980s, if at all, would a further 1,200 acres over and above that be wanted.

In terms of noise at Stansted there would be far less effect, on the narrower test, than at Heathrow, though rather more than at Sheppy or Foulness. But on the 10 or 12 miles test there would be far fewer people affected at Stansted than at either Foulness or Sheppey. The land at Stansted, though less would be needed, would certainly be of higher agricultural value than at Sheppey or Cliffe, but lower than at Foulness.

Stansted, therefore, gives us a far better airport from the air traffic point of view, with a shorter journey to central London, at lower cost both in money and land, and disturbing fewer people by noise than any of the other practical alternatives.

On all these grounds I do not think that any reasonable person who knows the facts and understands the arguments can come to any other conclusion than that reached by the two investigations under both Governments, that Stansted must be, to use Mr. Julian Amery's words, the right choice. Clearly, however, everything practicable must be done to minimise the inevitable local disturbance, which will follow wherever we go, and we should plan the development of the airport and new services needed with the greatest possible care.

Naturally, at Stansted, as would be the case elsewhere, a great many people must be distressed by the changes which such a development must mean to the area they know—I think we should all feel this in areas with which we are familiar—and all possible must be done to meet their anxieties.

The hon. Gentleman did not mention that, although there are strong feelings about it, there are two schools of thought even at Stansted. One organisation has collected as many as 5,000 signatures in favour of the Stansted development and I have seen many letters which have come from Stansted, Bishop's Stortford and Saffron Walden, but not from west London, which welcome the proposed airport development on the ground that it will bring new employment and more variety to the area.

I quote from a letter which has appeared in the Press from four residents of Saffron Walden, who say, We would like an opportunity to say that we are enthusiastically for the airport. It must be good for all of us who live and work in the area. It will create new opportunities for us and our children, more variety of jobs, better facilities for shopping, for leisure time and all other activities. —[Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, but this is a point of view which we must respect. I respect both points of view in this discussion and I hope hon. Members opposite also respect them.

Photo of Mrs Renée Short Mrs Renée Short , Wolverhampton North East

My right hon. Friend pays great attention to letter writers from Saffron Walden and gives weight to their letters, but is he aware that all the local authorities in the area and the Hertfordshire County Council as well as the Essex County Council have all come out unilaterally against the Stansted decision? Does he not give weight to those authorities, which are the elected representatives of the people?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The Harlow Trades Council takes the other view. There are two points of view in this matter and I think that we should respect them both. There are also other points of view in other areas.

Another letter from Leigh-on-Sea, for instance, speaks of … growing alarm amongst a very great number of people in Southend and the adjoining area that the campaign against the choice of Stansted as the third London airport will result in its being situated in the immediate vicinity of this heavily populated resort area. That is a natural local point of view, but the fact is that from a national standpoint we must take account of all these points of view.

One essential in the development of Stansted, if the legitimate anxieties there are to be met as far as is humanly possible, is to ensure that no sort of sporadic sprawl in the building of houses or anything else should be permitted, but that there should be planned expansion at the right time and in the most suitable areas. We are determined to ensure this. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government intends to consult with the Airports Authority and the planning authorities to ensure that the best possible arrangements go forward in good time.

I would also warn the House against assuming that an additional population will necessarily be required corresponding to the whole extra labour force needed by the airport. Some employees will naturally come from those already living in the area and the proportion will depend on the restraint placed on other expansion in the meanwhile.

It is impossible, however, to avoid some extra employment somewhere in the South-East if, for the reasons that I have given, we place an airport in the South-East. This is a difficulty which arises not just with airports, but with all service employment in all congested regions.

Nor, in the Government's view, can any serious case be made out for yet another inquiry into the problem after all those which have been conducted in the six years since 1961. The Minister of Aviation in the previous Government clearly thought in 1964 that the two years' inquiry which preceded that was sufficient when he publicly endorsed its conclusions. Since then more than three years have passed, and one public inquiry has been held and a further and more comprehensive review has been carried out both by experts and Ministers.

There is no ground whatever for believing that another site can be found near London of which no one has yet thought. Though I agree that all estimates of the cost of major building operations some years ahead are, as we all know, subject to margins of error, the comparative magnitude as between the different alternatives have been repeatedly reviewed and are as well known as they can he. No further inquiries would establish them down to the last shilling or even £.

Nor can I agree that this is a decision which ought to be handed over by the Government and Parliament to some outside unofficial body. It is right that all local objections should be heard and that is why we appointed a public inquiry. Indeed, if the Government's decision had been in favour of another site, a further public inquiry would have been necessary for that reason. But the choice nationally among all sites on national grounds is clearly a matter of national policy for which the Government must take responsibility.

After all the investigations which have already been made, there is no more case for handing this decision over to an outside body than there is on the Government's decision on the level of pensions, or the level of Income Tax, or, for that matter, the level of defence expenditure. Nor after six years' examination is there further time to spend if the necessary planning and construction are to be completed soon enough and this airport is to be ready by the time Heathrow and Gatwick are saturated and if we are to keep abreast of our competitors in tourist and trade aviation, with all that that means to our future foreign exchange earnings and our national economic fortunes.

The decision on the third airport is, as I have said, only one part of the wider airport policy which includes the forward development of other airports much further from London as rapidly as the traffic allows, but, for all the reasons which I have given, I am convinced that the Government and Parliament taking a national view must make this decision and make it without delay.

5.52 p.m.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

I have two reasons and, I hope, justifications for intervening in the debate. The first is that I have a very strong constituency interest, having the privilege of representing Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth and other smaller places which will be manifestly affected if the airport is sited at Stansted. That is a privilege which I have now had for 22 years. My other reason is more general, and dates back even longer. Throughout my adult life I have taken a close and continuing interest in matters of town and country planning, and that also provides a major incentive for me to intervene in the debate.

The siting of an airport is, of course, a major exercise in town and country planning, and in this case we are faced with the melancholy paradox of seeing the Government, in taking this major planning decision, wholly disregarding, or at best shrugging off, those material considerations which an ordinary authority making an ordinary planning decision is under a statutory duty to observe. Of course, in a small and crowded island such as this, we have many conflicts of land use which give rise to difficult and complex issues. They require, before a decision is taken, a full, informed and objective assessment of the considerations involved. The more difficult and complex the issues, the greater the need for full, informed and objective assessment.

All this is the A.B.C. of planning, and I would apologise for referring to it in the House were it not for the fact that it is evident that in this matter the Government so far have failed to get out of the kindergarten. They do not seem to have realised these fundamental and elementary principles of planning. These principles apply just as much, or more, in the siting of an airport as in any other decision about the use of land. The differences are differences of degree rather than of kind. They are differences which accentuate rather than derogate from the need for full planning consideration before the decision is taken.

The size of the area involved and the technical aspects of the matter do not lessen the need for taking these planning considerations into account; they increase them. The factors of air traffic control themselves are no doubt unique; but it is not unique to have to take account of complex technical and operational requirements. Where they arise, they must command careful and expert assessment, but they do not override all the other planning considerations and human factors. All the considerations have to be taken into account and an overall balance struck and decision made when, and when only, they have been taken into account.

This is the basis of planning, and this is precisely what the Government have not been doing. They are allowing one or two factors, important as they are, to pre-empt the decision without regard to the others. If a local planning authority acted in such a manner in the discharge of its planning duties, it would probably be liable to an action for breach of statutory duty.

There is no mystery about what are the material considerations to be taken into account. Each of the normal material considerations applies in this case. The House can judge how much or how little regard the Government have given to them. First, there is proof of need in general; and then, if there be need in general, the question as to whether that need can be satisfied only or best in the particular area concerned. Only after that has been established does one come to the factors affecting the site itself, seeking to balance the technical advantages claimed for the site against the claims of competing or existing uses, together with any detrimental effect which there may be on the amenity and life of the neighbourhood, and taking into account cost and economic considerations, road access, traffic and so on.

These tests and the balancing of these considerations are fundamental to any planning decision, great or small, and should be done meticulously and openly. A major decision such as this requires, one would suppose, particular closeness of analysis, objectivity of judgment and openness of procedure. In fact, it seems to have received precisely the reverse. The Government seem simply to have assumed the tests of need to be in their favour. They have, as it were, put their starting post two hurdles down the course, that of need and that of locational need; and these are pretty stiff hurdles in the ordinary way for any private developer seeking permission to institute a use of land.

But it is quite apparent from this and many other things in this case that the Governmental gander feeds on quite a different sauce from that which the ordinary private citizen goose has to put up with. It is not only that they have assumed the need for a third national airport in general, and that quickly, but they have assumed the need for a third London airport. They assumed it and excluded this matter from the consideration of the 31-day inquiry. The need for a third London airport was postulated on the ipse dixit of the Government and forbidden to be canvassed or put in question at the public inquiry. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) has said, it was a case of the doctrine that the gentlemen in Whitehall know best. The published material on which such a conclusion has been based provides only a very slender basis for what is at best a very improbable assumption of omniscience.

The White Paper applies two tests, that of existing capacity and of the likely growth of traffic. In regard to that, the White Paper says at paragraph 7 that these considerations point to maximum sustainable hourly capacities in all weathers at the existing two London airports of 64 movements an hour at Heathrow and 45 movements an hour at Gatwick in the early years of the next decade. We do not know whether that is the best and most realistic assessment or a cautious and pessimistic assessment. It is right that safety is the paramount consideration in this matter, but we know—it is referred to in the technical appendix to the report of the inquiry—that at New York and Chicago over 100 movements an hour have already been achieved.

The Government claim for a third London airport is based primarily, apparently, on a survey undertaken in 1965. In the White Paper, we read at paragraph 21: Furthermore, a survey conducted for the Board of Trade by the Social Survey in 1965, of the origin and destination in the United Kingdom of international passengers passing through Heathrow and Gatwick, indicated that as much as 80 per cent. of London's international traffic is generated by the London conurbation and South-East England. We see from the report what sort of survey that was from the following words in paragraph 21: It was not conducted on such a scale that its results can be accepted as of great precision but it gives sound indications of the broad orders of magnitude. Almost every word of that sentence which I have quoted cries out for examination and elucidation. It has not been subjected to examination and elucidation, however, because the objectors at the inquiry again were precluded from going into these matters.

Even so, the inspector found in his report, at paragraph 42, that No origin and destination survey has been made of the passengers using Heathrow and Gatwick. Before deciding the location of the new airport it is, I think, essential to know where passengers are coming from and where they are going to. Insufficient attention has been given to the fact that the problem lies as much on the ground as in the air. All that we have is some sort of sample survey conducted on what sort of basis and with what degree of intensity nobody knows.

It is incredible that the need for a third London airport should be regarded as finally established on such slender evidence and research. The Government may accept it, but it is not a conclusion which can be taken as proved to the reasonable satisfaction of anybody outside the charmed circles of the Government.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

I will, but it will probably be the last time. I do not want to take too much time.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

I am obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. From what he is saying, am I to understand that the position of the Opposition officially is that the case has not been proved for the need for a third London airport?

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

As the hon. Member should know, I do not speak officially for the Opposition. I speak for myself and I speak for many thousands of my constituents, and I speak sometimes, at least, I hope, in the language of reason and good sense. More than that I cannot claim. I am putting my point of view.

I come, then, to the question of the balancing of the pros and cons in the balance sheet which one has to strike in these planning decisions. The main advantages claimed are those of the viability of air traffic control and cost. They are, obviously, important, but not necessarily decisive. The viability of air traffic control could only be decisive, first, on the assumption that need is proved for a third London airport and, secondly, if Stansted were the only site where that viability could be obtained; and that we know is not so.

The President of the Board of Trade very fairly said costs were subject to margins of error. I respectfully suggest that they are subject to the widest possible margins of error when one looks at the cursory way in which the figures are given in paragraph 65 of the White Paper for Stansted and in paragraph 49 for Sheppey. The figures cry out for particularisation, especially the £40 million at Sheppey for the rail traffic and the £25 million relocation of Ministry of Defence facilities at Shoeburyness—what The Times has called "this dubious figure".

All those figures are necessarily imprecise. I am not a civil engineering contractor; but have a good deal of experience of civil engineering contracts in my professional capacity and I know how very widely estimates of cost may be defeated in the event, even with the advantage of detailed specifications, detailed bills of quantities and competitive tendering.

Is there any of that here? Are there any specifications or bills of quantities? Can anybody see them? I would be very much surprised if there were any, or they would be referred to in the White Paper. The margin of error is enormous. Put forward in the form that they are, the figures are of very little value.

As to the £40 million traffic figure, paragraph 64 of the White Paper is clearly over-optimistic about both road and rail access to Stansted. The road access by the M11, already overdue and already very much required for the relief of existing traffic congestion, would be partly defeated by introducing more traffic on to it; and the rail access is described in the White Paper as being admittedly … a circuitous route", which I take to be a masterpiece of understatement in the context. It is very difficult, to the point of impossibility, to believe that one would get road and rail access at Stansted for one-seventh of the cost, for example, at Sheppey, as claimed in the White Paper—£6 million as against £42 million. The House and the public should not be asked to accept a conclusion on such summary statistics and cursory costing.

I come next to the disadvantages admitted by the Government but undervalued and glossed over by them. First, the competing and existing uses, primarily, though not wholly, in this case agriculture. On this, the White Paper states in paragraph 66: The area around Stansted consists of land of particularly high agricultural quality and the Government agrees with the inspector that the loss of many thousands of acres of Stansted is a substantial argument against this location for a third London airport. Not only is it a question of money: It is a question of the loss of a way of life. Here in this part of south-east England we have a balaced community partaking of urban and rural alike—a rare thing An many parts of the country.

If the airport comes, that pattern will be irreparably damaged.

Next we come to the question of amenity—a compendious term in town and country planning but by no means abstract, vague or esoteric. Amenity means all those things which dignify and enrich life—quiet, privacy, freedom from intrusion and the like. All these things the siting of the airport would inevitably destroy, in a large area over two counties.

The greatest destruction of amenity comes from noise. One has to accept a certain amount of noise as the price of advance and progress in the 20th century; but here the price would be beyond the limits of acceptability. The report states it thus: The Herts and Essex Hospital"— which is in my constituencywould have to close. This gives some indication of the nuisance to which houses, shops and other buildings will be subject. Soundproofing measures include closed double windows and air conditioning—the peak noise periods are in the summer when such conditions would not be popular. Nothing can be done to mitigate noise out of doors. At least 7,000 houses would be subject to grave nuisance by noise. In answer to that, what the White Paper has to say sounds like slender special pleading. It says, on the question of noise disturbance: However, the evidence of witnesses for two of the main objectors … as well as the evidence of the Ministry witness, was that the position in schools, and to a lesser extent in hospitals, was rather special in that it depended on the degree of interference with speech rather than on more generalised feelings of annoyance. It is therefore not possible to relate the effect of a major airport on schools and hospitals in the vicinity in its effect on houses, shops and other buildings. Is it, then, suggested that my constituents should no longer speak in their houses? Is it suggested that the people of Bishop's Stortford and other places in East Herts should become a community of Trappists, and go round mute and dazed with the thunder of Stansted forever sounding in their ears?

It will be a matter of grave inconvenience and distress to thousands of households and a mortal blow to hospital and educational establishments in this area. Such injuries to amenity on an infinitely smaller scale have proved fatal to innumerable applications for planning permission throughout the country. How comes it, then, that the Government, having strained so often at the gnat, are now prepared to swallow this outsize camel?

Then we turn to the question of services. Further evidence of the planning failure of the Government is this proposal to place the burden of further services and facilities of the new airport population on an area already stretched and strained in the matter of services by the rapidly expanding population of the postwar years and in the teeth of the widely proclaimed policies for the south-east region. I do not expect everybody to share my concern about the trials and troubles of my constituents. But I do expect them to share my concern about what it symptomises—the Government's failure of planning, aggravated by the procedures they have followed. They start with the assumption of various matters which should be proved and the consequential exclusion of those matters from the public inquiry. They then prepare to place their own idiosyncratic interpretations on the inspector's basic recommendations in paragraph 49. They reject an independent commission in favour of a Governmental review. On what grounds? Partly because of urgency, which depends on the cautiously pessimistic assumption of capacity, and partly because of what they say in paragraph 40 of the White Paper, namely, Accordingly, nothing useful seemed likely to be achieved by initiating a further round of public discussion of the same material. They then go on to talk about renewed work and expense in preparing and submitting evidence. It depends on what is meant by useful. To most people the ability to come to a right decision on a comprehensive consideration of all the factors would be undeniably useful; but to a Government already committed in their mind and heart, and which is only going through the motions of rethinking, such ability is not only useless but inconvenient.

Is this the Government's position? With their minds made up from the start do they propose to remain deaf and blind, however clear the message may be. There is no doubt about the message. It is not a message pointing specifically to any one alternative site. The message points, however, unmistakably and unchallengeably, to a proper review and reappraisal, giving weight to all considerations. In doing that the matter must be broadened beyond the mere technical aspects.

I forget whether it was Lloyd George, Clemenceau, or who, who said that war was too important a matter to be left to the generals.

Hon. Members:

It was Clemenceau.

Photo of Mr Derek Walker-Smith Mr Derek Walker-Smith , Hertfordshire East

It was Clemenceau. I am obliged. I knew that it was one of those great men upon whom the Prime Minister models himself. Applying that to this case, the siting of an airport is obviously too important a matter to be left merely to the aviation experts.

Let the Government, even at this late hour, twixt the stirrup and the ground, resolve to abjure past error and to free themselves from the albatross of this premature and ill-considered decision. Let them do that which the Prime Minister always seems so strangely reluctant to do, but which wise and even great men have done through the ages—confess to the possibility of error and admit to the wisdom of second thoughts based on a full understanding of the complex issues involved.

6.18 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Renée Short Mrs Renée Short , Wolverhampton North East

If my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade had wanted to persuade anyone to agree with his case, he did not succeed. He has a poor case, and his arguments were the sort of arguments that indicated that he was trying hard to scrape round the bottom of the pot. I am happy to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) to Bishop's Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and other small villages in Hertfordshire, because I, too, have a considerable interest in what happens in Hertfordshire today, having for many years, until recently, been a county councillor. This was at the time when the previous Conservative Government took the decision, misguidedly as we believe, to place the third airport at Stansted.

I was the leader of the Labour Group on the County Planning Committee. I hasten to tell my right hon. Friends, as the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) said, this is not a party political issue. At that time it was a Conservative Government and Minister making a decision which was opposed by a Conservative county council, which opposition found no dissent on the county council.

In other words, the people most concerned locally on the county council—the planning authority—agreed that this was not the correct decision and opposed it because of the adverse effects it would have on the quality of life generally in Hertfordshire and especially that part which would be affected by the siting of this airport. Therefore, this is not a party political issue; I would add my plea to my right hon. Friends to reconsider, to be a little more forward-looking and to think a little less conventionally.

My right hon. Friend's speech showed that he is considering the problem of airport planning in the light of today's thought, but we are thinking of something which will be fully operative in 15 or 20 years and serving us at the turn of the century. Our ideas about how to service aircraft, about where to send and how to land them, will change rapidly in that time. My right hon. Friend's arguments showed an absolute lack of imagination.

I wish to speak about the effect on Hertfordshire. My right hon. Friend said that there will need to be an increase in population to serve the airport, and the county council have suggested that it will have 20,000 employees, with a considerable number of people providing their services. My right hon. Friend is wrong to say that a large proportion will come from people already there. Hertfordshire is not, fortunately, an area of unemployment; people will have to be imported, and this increase will be about 100,000 or 150,000 people.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing has great responsibility in this matter. The county council have supported the opposition to moving people into Hertfordshire. As they opposed the decision on Stansted in 1964 and the decision to increase the size of Stevenage—both by a Conservative Minister—both sides of the county council are united in their opposition to this proposal. It means that, in addition to the equivalent of four new towns in the county since the end of the war, and the equivalent of four new L.C.C. estates, with more planned, which create tremendous pres- sure on the county's resources and have more than doubled the population since the war, there will be another 20,000 people.

The pressure on Hertfordshire's schools and land is considerable, and an increase of up to 150,000 people, whether in new towns or in the existing towns and villages, would be disastrous. I beg my right hon. Friends, in the interests of planning and of their policy on the South-East, for heaven's sake to think again. We do not want more growth points in the South-East. We have set our face against it. We are concerned about the drift from the North, and rightly so, as it has been going on for years and is a serious problem. Hertfordshire has had its share of new population from other parts of the South and has its plate full dealing with the present natural population increase which will occur every year now as a result of the increase in population from outside since 1945.

The arguments about the site of the new airport or whether we need one were unimpressive as my right hon. Friend stated them. This has not been thought out on a National Plan basis. I find the reasons why the relevant bodies in the South-East were not consulted quite unacceptable, and the needs of other parts of the country have not been considered either. The site in the Midlands has been subordinated and suppressed because of present military needs, but these also will change. I would not like to think that, for the next five or six years, there will be eight military airfields in the Silverstone area. My right hon. Friends have not given sufficient weight to this probable change.

Figures given in 1965 to the county council showed that at least 15 per cent. of the estimated increase in passengers by 1970 would need to change routes in London, involving travelling from Heathrow to Stansted by road. I do not want to belabour the point about connections between the two, but my right hon. Friend talked of 50 minutes at certain times of the day, when at the moment it is two and a half hours—but no doubt my right hon. Friends think that they will improve on that.

If 15 per cent. of the passengers were in this position in 1965, the figure is obviously much greater now and will be even greater when the full requirements are met. I have a strong constituency interest in the Midlands and know that, in the Birmingham area, in April, 1966, B.E.A. introduced direct flights from Birmingham's Eldon Airport to four European centres, Amsterdam, Paris, Dusseldorf and Barcelona. In the short period since that limited number of flights was introduced, the company has found a considerable increase in passenger traffic of 13·6 per cent., and a 60 per cent. increase in cargo traffic, which is phenomenal. This shows the enormous potential for passenger and freight traffic in the Midlands.

Also, 40 per cent. of the cargo handled at Heathrow is generated in the Midlands and must travel by road to Heathrow and then to the Continent. This deals with my right hon. Friend's point that 80 per cent. of the traffic to London wants to stay there. It has not much choice at the moment, because the connections between the Continent and other airports in this country are minimal, but if facilities were provided, passenger and freight traffic would increase considerably, as Birmingham's experience has shown.

My right hon. Friends should consider the needs of expanding Birmingham airport or having another site in the Midlands or the North so as to ease pressure on Gatwick and Heathrow, as I am sure that demand exists in other parts of the country. My right hon. Friend said that all these matters had been considered by the inter-departmental working party, but the civil servants who made the original decision—as early, probably, as 1960–61—which was published in 1964, are the same people who have been examining the question again. They have been judge and jury in their own case. The trained civil servants have merely reinforced and underlined the decision which they made seven or so years ago. That is very unsatisfactory. I hope that my right hon. Friends will bear in mind the great concern which has been shown by the decision to go ahead with this site. It has caused controversy and very great disappointment, and I hope that my right hon. Friends will look at the matter again.

May I ask my right hon. Friend a specific question? There has been an exaggerated number suggested for the schools likely to be affected. I do not agree with the figure of 80 which has been mentioned, but I know that the county council are concerned about the effect which this will have on schools. Both local authorities and private owners are concerned about the effects on a large number of houses. We know that by 1975–80 the line of the maximum noise nuisance around Stansted Airport will run straight through a hospital, and heaven help the patients and the nurses and doctors working in that hospital. Will my right hon. Friend say whether the £2½ million which the county council estimate will be the cost of soundproofing the schools—which will be required if the Stansted Airport goes forward—will be met by the Government? Will they recompense the county council for this sum? Or is this to be a rate burden on the county, which is not likely to receive any advantage or rate income as a result of siting the airport at Stansted? This is a matter which will affect private house owners and local authorities which are housing authorities in the area.

I know that many hon. Members wish to take part in the debate, and I will therefore conclude. I sincerely urge my right hon. Friends to give consideration to the matter again. I find it impossible to support them on it, and I shall abstain in the Division tonight.

6.33 p.m.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) said in opening the debate, we are considering a national problem, but it will not have escaped notice that it has acquired a local angle rather sharply in the course of the debate. I welcome that for one reason if for no other—it enables me to agree with every word said by the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Renée Short). That is the first time that it has ever happened to me, and I strongly suspect that it will be the last, but at least we can enjoy it while we have it. She has put forward the case of one who lives near the area, I want to put forward one or two reflections as the hon. Member who represents the area in which Stansted is situated. Although it is true that the constituents of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) will probably suffer more from the noise than will mine, the physical disturbance will almost entirely be within the Saffron Walden division over the county boundary.

As has been indicated in the course of the debate, there is a history going back some way. Both parties and both governments are involved. The plain fact is that if we look at the matter clearly there has been no airport policy in this country for the last 20 years. A decision was made to build the major London Airport in the wrong place and on the wrong design, and ever since then we have been improvising to try and catch up. What is happening at Stansted is the last but the worst of the improvisations. This is the strongest argument of all for the type of review which my right hon. Friend urged, and the type of review urged in the Motion by the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) and myself which has attracted the support of 289 hon. Members, which, I think, is an unprecedented total.

If I look at the purely Standsted part of the history, I suppose that the immediate past starts with the report of the sub-committee of the Estimates Committee on London's airports, of which my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham was Chairman. The evidence given in relation to Stansted was quite clear. The only advantage of Stansted, the only reason it was being held and why it was proposed to put it on a care-and-maintenance basis at £100,000 a year—which made the estimates Committee lift up their eyebrows—was its runway. Again and again witnesses referred to "the asset that we have here—11,000 feet of concrete which the American have left behind". Nobody in his senses would ever have dreamed of siting a major international airport at Stansted if that runway had not been there and if it were not held in the possession of the British Airports Authority, as it is now, or in those days of the Ministry of Aviation.

There have been four inquiries—the Estimates Committee, the first interdepartmental committee, the inspector's inquiry and the secret inquiry; and all through them they have been rapidly adapting their plans to try to make some sense out of the development of Stansted. At the time of the Estimates Committee's inquiry, it was said that it was impossible to make Stansted function without con- flicting with Heathrow unless there were an east-west runway as well as the present runway, north-east to south-west. When I first became hon. Member for Saffron Walden about two years ago, before the inspector's inquiry, we were told that two runways were needed, 6,000 feet apart, with the possibility of a third and shorter runway later. By the time the inquiry came around, the shorter runway had been dropped. After the inquiry, without any evidence having been heard, we were told that it was two pairs of parallel runways, 6,000 feet apart, each being 800 feet apart. This afternoon my right hon. Friend referred to building four runways at a later stage. Whether this was another two pairs of parallel runways or a second pair was not entirely clear.

In the course of the six years that this discussion has been going on, we have had four separate plans for Stansted. It will be interesting to know how many more will be produced before the airport is finally built. There have been four inquiries, one of which, and only one of which, was held in public and at a time and place when it was possible for people to make their views known. They could make them known on a very limited scale, but it is fair to recognise that the present Government and the former Minister of Aviation at least had a wider view than in the case of the Gatwick inquiry ten years ago. One must give the Government the fact that they allowed this slight widening of the chink. They may be regretting it now, but at the time they did it.

The result was an inquiry at the end of which, although the inspector was not allowed by his terms of reference to make any recommendation about alternative sites, he implied, as clearly as it was possible for him to do, that, on the evidence submitted to him, Stansted was not the right place and that a further and more general inquiry should take place to see whether a better site could be found. He divided his conclusions under six headings, five of which were against Stansted and one of which was in favour of Stansted.

The one in favour of Stansted concerned the question of air traffic control. He did not say, as some have implied, that this was the only site where it was possible to have an airport which did not conflict with Heathrow. What he said was that it was true that air traffic control for Stansted was all right. But at the same time the technical assessor, Mr. Brancker, criticised what he regarded as the immutability of some of the evidence given by Government witnesses and the feeling that the airways were set for all time and could not be altered. When the right hon. Gentleman said that Cliffe was found to conflict with Heathrow, that is true of the present air lanes, but if he looks at the technical assessor's report he will find that the assessor thought it possible without much difficulty to rearrange the airways so that Cliffe became technically possible on the ground of air traffic control. On the ground of noise there is another argument, with which I may deal later.

On all five other grounds, the inspector found against Stansted. On town planning grounds, he said that it was an unsuitable site for a major new growth point. Perhaps I should mention in this connection a point made by the right hon. Gentleman—that there is considerable support for an airport at Stansted. As the Member of Parliament concerned, I know this to be true. I should not like to estimate the size of the support. In my own postbag I have received since 12th May just over 900 letters in favour of my point of view and four against it. Whether the support can be divided in that proportion I would not like to say, but it is fair to say that there is such support, although I do not believe that the support is for an airport. The support is for more diversified employment in the area and this is the real point to consider. But to achieve that by putting down a major international airport in the wrong place is a drastic cure for a mild social problem.

He found against Stansted on the question of access. We have heard a lot about this subject and we are told that, by the new road access, the journey could be made in 70 minutes. This view was heavily challenged at the inquiry and, in winding up, the principal counsel for the Ministry of Aviation, Sir Milner Holland, in an attempt to justify that 70-minute argument, was driven to a piece of verbal legerdemain and said: If you felt, Sir, and I cannot put it better than this, that in the end the right thing was, on this method, to take the 50 minutes which is the contour line on this map and which is, in fact, one mile up M.11, as Mr. Ker said, then add on whatever you think right for what is left which is 24 miles of motorway, if you take 50 m.p.h. for the motorway or something of that order at present, that gives you 79–80 minutes. I agree that if, as in the strictness of the law court, you took 50 minutes to Hackney Wick, as my witness so often repeated that it was 50 minutes to Hackney Wick, then you would get 50 minutes to Hackney Wick, then 4½ miles from Hackney Wick to the bottom M.11 (I think it is proposed the road should be improved), the Eastern Avenue extension, then the motorway, and then you would get 60 m.p.h. all the way from Hackney Wick to the airport. He did not say how much time that would take, but obviously it would be considerable time.

When distinguished lawyers are reduced to that sort of argument to prove that it is possible to get not from the East End of London but from the West End of London to Stansted in 70 minutes, one realises just how weak their case must be. At one point, one of the road experts, when asked what would happen if there was a major traffic jam at the end of the motorway, said that people would have to go by rail. What will happen if they are unable to do so? This shows up the first major defect in this proposal. In any case, what has happened to the White Paper? That document stated that the rail connection had to be with Victoria. The President of the Board of Trade did not even mention Victoria today. His connection appears to be with Liverpool Street or King's Cross.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If the hon. Gentleman will look at the relevant sentence in the White Paper he will see that the journey to King's Cross would take less than an hour.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

The right hon. Gentleman was referring to Liverpool Street. When considering the journey from Stansted to Liverpool Street, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman looks at the timetable. It takes 45 minutes. The whole of the inter-departmental committee's deliberations, and the inquiry, was concerned with this point to such an extent that Sir Milner Holland said that his case rested on it. The case was that access would be to London's West End and not to the City. Indeed, people wanting to go in the area of Grosvenor Square would not be able to do the first bit of the journey by car in under about half an hour.[HON. MEMBERS: "Longer."] I agree with my hon. Friends that it would probably take a good deal longer, but I am being generous.

Equally, the White Paper has apparently made a £15 million mistake in the costings. British Rail have discovered that it will not cost the amount stated in the White Paper to get to Sheppey. Apparently all the costs in the White Paper must be changed because the President of the Board of Trade has today given a totally different estimate from the one in his document. The White Paper estimated that it would cost £45 million to get to Stansted. That has gone up to £55 million. Meanwhile, the White Paper estimate of £132 million for Sheppey has gone down to £120 million.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The hon. Gentleman is being perverse about this. I said that if one added £8 million to £47 million, one got the figure of £55 million. The White Paper referred to the fact that the removal of Wethersfield airfield would be additional. If the hon. Gentleman had been listening to what I said he would agree that I was consistent in my remarks.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

I was certainly listening. Reference has been made to Weathers-field as if there were some doubt about whether it should be replaced. There was never any doubt mentioned at the inquiry or in the White Paper. The need to remove Wethersfield was stated as a necessity. The figure for doing that could have been put in in the first place, and that would have saved a lot of difficulty. I do not accept £8 million as a reasonable figure, although it was given at the inquiry, and I have mentioned it merely to be charitable.

Gradually the figures are coming closer together. The right hon. Gentleman may have noticed some costings arrived at by other experts—there is no reason to think why they should not be as good as the right hon. Gentleman's—and stated in the Evening Standard. Those costings were precisely the other way round compared with the right hon. Gentleman's costings. "You pay your money and take your choice", is a reasonable adage in this connection.

Let us consider the question of noise, a subject on which the inspector also found against the Government. This afternoon the right hon. Gentleman initi- ated a new theory on noise which does not come within the White Paper. He said that there are two ways by which we must measure noise. The first is in the area immediately around—the generally accepted method—and in this case it man's own experts at the inquiry insisted is the area which the right hon. Gentle-was the area within 45 n.n.i., noise and number index, plus a mile around the edge for safety.

The right hon. Gentleman referred, secondly, to people living 10 to 12 miles away, as though this were a radial manner of judging noise. But sound does not move in this type of radial way, particularly when we are concerned with airports. When on television last week—and a most pleasant experience it was—the right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, "You should not try to tell that to people who live in Putney, Richmond and Kew, because they live 10 to 12 miles away; and would you say there is any noise?" However, the people who live there are already within the 45 n.n.i. contour.

The final report of the Wilson Committee contains a map projecting noise contours up to 1970. It shows that the 45 n.n.i. contour has already reached Richmond and that it will have reached those other areas by 1970. The fact that people live 10, 12 or 50 miles away from an airport is really irrelevant, since the important factor is the n.n.i. noise contour.

A small body of which I have the privilege to be chairman issued a document overnight. They also sent out some noise maps which show clearly the effect of the 45 n.n.i. contour on Stansted and Sheppey. Perhaps I should mention that the only reason why I have taken Sheppey for this example is because the White Paper refers to Sheppey. Comparisons must be made, and it is only fair that we should make the Sheppey comparison. A look at that map makes it plain that the 45 n.n.i. goes nowhere near a built-up area except Eastchurch Prison, and one cannot therefore, put that against Bishop's Stortford. Here again we have had a complete change of front.

Then there were the arguments which, to the inspector, were important and which, I believe, are generally accepted by the Government as being true. The first is the change of character of the neighbourhood and the second is the loss of valuable agricultural land. The comparison of agricultural land between Foulness and Sheppey that the right hon. Gentleman made is not quite right in that the quality of the land, according to the records, is exactly the same. It is fair to say that the land is Stansted and Foulness is no better or worse than that in Sheppey. However, 60 per cent. of the Foulness land is under military occupation and cannot be worked, anyway.

The inspector's report must have been received with some dismay by the Government, and this may account for the curious fact that neither in the right hon. Gentleman's statement of 12th May, nor in the White Paper, nor in the President's speech today has the right hon. Gentleman or anyone else on behalf of the Government rendered a word of thanks to the inspector for the work he did. Usually on such an occasion there is a ritual of tribute being paid to the gentleman in question. On this occasion no word of thanks has been said by anybody to him. Instead, the Government went ahead, sat on the White Paper for 12 months and set up a secret inquiry.

Today we are given the first hint of who carried out that secret inquiry. We are not actually told the name of the persons, although I wrote a letter to the right hon. Gentleman a month ago on this very topic; but I got no reply. We are told that this individual was the same person as one of the individuals who carried out the earlier inquiry. I think I know who it is and I think the right hon. Gentleman knows how his evidence was received by the inspector. This is on the assumption that it is the same man.

The President said that there had been wide ranging consultation. There are one or two matters about which they should have consulted before Stansted was fixed. For example, they should have considered the basic services and the question of water. Even more fundamentally, they should have gone into the question of sewage. I have with me a letter written by the League Conservancy Catchment Board, a Ministry of Housing and Local Government body, written on 16th June of this year referring to earlier correspondence with the Government, at the end of 1965. The letter points out that there would be great difficulty if the airport was established at present and suggests that there should not be a final decision on the expansion of the airport on the lines proposed by the Ministry of Aviation … unless your Ministry is satisfied that feasible solutions to the problems that would arise … as a result of the proposed airport development … could be evolved In a letter dated 3rd December, 1965, the Ministry gave an assurance that the matter referred to in its earlier letter, of 18th November, 1965, would not be overlooked. But no further communication was received from the Ministry either in reply to my letter of 15th December, 1965, or prior to or following the Government's decision that the third London Airport should be sited at Stansted. So, although these vital questions were not to be overlooked, it was found impossible to carry out any consultation with the catchment area on water and sewerage—two absolutely vital matters on which those authorities should have been consulted before any decision was taken.

The regional planning council was not consulted. The right hon. Gentleman said that that was because of the Chalkpit rules, but if he stuck so rigidly to the Chalkpit rules in that case why did he not stick to them all the way through? Why did he not recall the inquiry and give notice to the objectors that further evidence was being called? None of this was done there, but in the one case where the Minister is vulnerable the Chalkpit rules are sacrosanct. The Ministry of Transport stated in The Times a few days after the right hon. Gentleman's statement on 12th May that it had not been effectively consulted—and clearly British Rail was not consulted because the Government's costings of the railway line were all wrong.

I maintain that there is need for a new inquiry, at least at Stansted, but that all these facts make all the more important the need for a wider general inquiry into the whole subject. This is no new idea. I have been asking for it ever since I became involved in the matter. I can remember conversations I have had on it with the then Minister of Aviation, and I now discover to my surprise that I had a very distinguished predecessor in asking for it. On 10th August, 1964, the then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister, wrote to a constituent of mine a letter of which I have now been given a copy. It reads: With regard to Stansted Airport, the Labour Party is committed to a complete review of the internal transport system of the country, and, with this in mind, has already stated that it would stop further railway closures pending such review.The question of air travel, including the siting of airports, clearly comes within the scope of our investigations and would suspend the decision to develop Stansted until our planning is completed.We do not believe that the Government"— that is, the Conservative Government— has paid sufficient attention to such important issues as the ever increasing noise factor, and we would take this into account.We are also aware of the problems of travel between the centre of our cities and our airports, and are studying the possibilities of new and faster forms of travel. It may well be that this could enable the siting of new airports at greater distances from residential areas, while still ensuring faster transport arrangements.With due regard to the problems voiced by those living in the proximity of Stansted we would give priority to an investigation of the matter.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The hon. Gentleman ought to add that three years have passed since then, and that two further inquiries have been held.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

But what the Prime Minister was there talking about was a general inquiry; not a specific inquiry, but a general inquiry into all our transport problems—precisely what I have been asking for for two years and what we on this side are asking for today. The Prime Minister is absolutely right in this respect. His logic cannot be faulted, and the only pity is that it has not been carried out.

If I wanted a stronger argument in favour of a general inquiry, the House had it from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon. What did he do? He took site by site in watertight compartments, examined them all in their watertight compartments, and turned them down. He made no attempt at a general review. Each individual case was examined under the microscope, each little flaw was shown up—except, of course, in the case of Stansted, where the advantages were loudly proclaimed. The right hon. Gentleman satisfied himself that he had produced incontrovertible proof that he had carried out a wide-ranging inquiry.

The one thing the Government have always prayed in aid is the timing. They say that the matter is so urgent that it cannot wait. I might say that this is one of the arguments they promised would never be used. It was promised by the right hon. Gentleman the former Minister of Aviation and I do not think he has ever denied it. The quotation is fairly well known that the Government would never plead urgency in aid of Stansted, but they do plead it in the White Paper.

What is the timing here? The right hon. Gentleman himself has confirmed this afternoon, on a matter of some importance, that a second runway will be built at Gatwick. In the document I sent out last night, there is an appendix compiled by Mr. Andrew Sharman, an associate partner in the firm of Sir William Halcrow & Partners. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will accept his credentials. In Table 1 in page 17 we find revised estimates taken from the figures in the Government's White Paper, of the saturation point of Gatwick plus Heathrow. It gives an S.B.R. of 109, as compared with 104 in the report of the inter-departmental committee. If it is now confirmed that a second runway at Gatwick is to be built it appears from incontrovertible evidence, unless the Minister is intending to deny the figure, that the saturation point Gatwick plus Heathrow will not be reached until 1977. In any case it is clear that work at the new runway at Stansted will not begin until 1974, and granted that we have planned the terminal buildings—is the right hon. Gentleman denying that work will not begin until 1974?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

What is intended is to have the additional capacity ready in 1974, as I said.

Photo of Sir Peter Kirk Sir Peter Kirk , Saffron Walden

That totally conflicts with what Mr. Masefield said in the television programme in which we appeared together. The right hon. Gentleman will recall this, because he was there. I asked Mr. Masefield: … at what date do you propose to start work on the second runway? That was granted that one already existed: Masefield: About '74. Either the right hon. Gentleman is right or Mr. Masefield is right, but I wish they would get together to decide who is right. Even on Mr. Masefield's date of 1974, we have seven years, and although it is perfectly true that one has to plan the terminal buildings, and so on, the pace of civil aviation today must have slowed up very considerably if it takes seven years to do all the preliminary work before starting. In a Report of the Estimates Committee in 1960 it will be found that when the people giving evidence for the Ministry of Aviation were asked: How long will it take you to create another London airport? they replied that it took five years in the Gatwick case and that they saw no reason why it should take any longer—five years—from the first proposal and White Paper, through the inquiries and the preliminary planning. If it took five years in the 'fifties, why, with, presumably, increased technological work, must it take seven years before we can even start work on the runway? And this does not mean having the airport running on stream.

I hope that I have not spoken for too long, but the House will understand that this is a matter of some importance to my constituency. I hope that I have said enough to show that there is a strong case, certainly, for reconsidering Stansted, but that, in itself, is a small point. There is an even stronger case for a general public review, either by a Royal Commission or a technical committee, and it will be possible for such a review to take place within the time scale.

I would say to both right hon. Gentlemen, before they leave, that I will give an undertaking that if this review takes place and it is decided that Stansted is the right place, I will use all the influence I have to ensure that the decision is accepted. The same undertaking has been given by the leaders of the protest movement; there will be no further delay. In that case, what has the right hon. Gentleman to lose? But if he goes on, I must tell him, that although he will win his majority vote tonight it will be totally meaningless, because the Whips are on, and it will not be the end of the story. We shall go on opposing as long as there is a chance to obstruct or oppose this plan. We shall do so because we have been imposed upon in a way that is a disgrace to any normal democratic procedure. Do not let the right hon. Gentleman imagine that because he gets his automatic majority tonight his troubles are over—they will only just have begun.

7.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Epping

I accept that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has made a strong case for a third London Airport. I accept that on the basis of prospective growth of passenger and freight traffic there is a need for a third airport, or additional airport facilities, in the London area, but this evening I want to follow the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) by putting forward some of the arguments why I think the case has certainly not been made for siting the third airport at Stansted.

My right hon. Friend suggested that there was considerable support in the locality for establishing the airport there. Today I have had 30 telegrams. During the period I have been dealing with this matter, I have had several hundred letters and only a very small number have supported the idea of siting London's third airport at Stansted. This is not at all a party question. I have received letters from Conservatives, Liberals, Labour Party members and people who are independent. The Eastern Regional Conference of the Labour Party recently went on record by a substantial majority against siting the third airport at Stansted. I have even received a communication from the South-Essex District of the Communist Party opposing this decision. So I can assure the House that there is a great degree of unanimity in this opposition.

My arguments are certainly not based only on local objections. The House has to face the fact that we are taking one of the biggest national planning decisions of this decade. An airport is not merely a place used by air traffic. It is an important growth point, as we have seen in the case of Heathrow. It is absolutely vital that we should take a decision to site the new London Airport anywhere only after taking all the facts into consideration, but as yet this has not been done.

The Labour Party came to power as a party dedicated to planning. If we go ahead now and site the third London airport at Stansted, it will be the negation of all those things we said in favour of the idea of planning. The case that has been made almost entirely on air traffic grounds by air traffic experts. The Regional Inter-Departmental Committee set up by the previous Government consisted of 16 members, 14 of whom were air traffic or aviation experts. Only one was from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government and one from the Ministry of Transport.

The public inquiry came out wholeheartedly against the case made on all counts except that based on aviation considerations. The British Airports Authority has run a Press campaign on this matter. An article in the Sunday Telegraph of 4th June said: To persuade the Labour Government of their case the British Airports Authority could hardly have chosen a more suitable public relations company. It is the public relations subsidiary of the London Press Exchange where the account is handled by Mr. Terry Burke and Mr. Michael Pendreth. Mr. Burke worked for the Labour Party for two years. Mr. Pendreth was also employed there and accompanied Mr. Wilson during the General Election in 1964 When we are talking about public relations, please do not forget that the British Airports Authority has played its part in this respect.

Whatever has been said on air traffic grounds has in no way been substantiated in other respects. The case for siting a new growth point at Stansted has not been made out. Some hon. Members have referred to the fact that the appropriate regional planning council, which the Labour Government set up, was not consulted. Neither was the Standing Conference on London Regional Planning nor the Town and Country Planning Association. It is rumoured that at the public inquiry the Government had to search around seriously to try to get a reputable town and country planning expert to appear. I do not think that they were eventually successful.

I know Essex very well. All the available open land there is being developed very rapidly indeed. A considerable number of sites in Essex have been taken by the G.L.C. since the war. Another is to be established at Waltham Abbey and there will be considerable expansion of Harlow New Town. The M11 will take up a large strip of land in West Essex. The former air station at North Weald is to become an Army station. Commuter expansion is taking place in the area.

If, in addition, we site the third London airport there, inevitably there will be a very considerable further increase in the population of Essex which will make absolute nonsense of all that was said about the need for avoiding the South-East drift. The South-East Study referred to a new town of 100,000 being required if Stansted were to be the site of the third airport. Reference has been made to the question of water supplies. In all south-east England, Essex has more difficulty over water supplies than any other county.

Let us look at the question of transport and travelling. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is no longer in the Chamber. The figures he quoted relate to cloud cuckooland. I travel from a place a mile south of Stansted regularly to Westminster by road. Except at times right away from peak hours, it is quite impossible to achieve the times originally set out and still quoted by people when talking about access between Stansted and central London. North-east London is an extremely congested area already. Because of geographical factors, particularly because the River Lea ran down to the Thames, there are only a number of crossings over the Thames and a large number of bottlenecks are caused, some of which are in my constituency. These will have to be contended with if traffic is to fan out from the eventual end of the M11, which as yet has reached only to Woodford.

These facts have not been taken properly into account and definitely the costs have not been included in the assessments which have been made. The costs set out in the White Paper are primitive in the extreme. There has been no effective cost-benefit study. All the costs which are listed are highly selective. No cost is included for the construction of new roads in north-east London. No cost is stated for replacing and soundproofing schools, which will run into millions of pounds. I will not argue about the figure, but it will add considerably to those which have already been given. No cost is included for protecting homes against noise.

I must make it clear that I am not advocating Sheppey as an alternative. A different approach has been adopted in relation to the cost of developing Sheppey. The figure of £40 million for the rail link has been over-estimated. The report in The Times on Monday made this clear. The additional construction costs referred to of building an airport on low lying land, estimated at £15 million, are considered by experts to be much exaggerated.

In all these costs, no estimate has been made of the economic gains which would arise from closing down other facilities. If we could relieve Heathrow and surrounding areas of part of the burden, many of those living in the vicinity of Heathrow would be delighted. If Southend Airport or Shoeburyness Firing Range were closed, the land would be available for other purposes. Why has the economic benefit of doing these things not been included in any assessment which has been made? The costing of this exercise is absolutely primitive.

I am deeply concerned at the alarming way in which the advocates of Stansted have shifted their ground. It seems to be the pattern, first to deny awkward facts as long as possible, then to try to ignore them, and subsequently to change ground. Today my right hon. Friend said that the cost of Stansted has already been increased by £8 million as a result of including the closure of Wethersfield. Up to the present time the advocates of Stansted have been saying that they did not know that it would be necessary to close Wethersfield. At one time the figure was increased by £3 million. Today it has been increased by £8 million. Most hon. Members will realise how quickly in practice, on all sorts of issues, particularly on matters of air traffic, costs escalate.

On the traffic question, central London and Grosvenor Square have been mentioned. Now we are talking about the railway link with Liverpool Street or King's Cross. This is another example of how people are shifting their ground.

The noise question particularly illustrates my contention that people are shifting their ground. Both in his broadcast and today, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade said that the noise situation at Sheppey would be worse than that at Stansted. That may or may not be true. Whether it is or not, it contradicts the White Paper, which is supposed to set out the facts. Paragraph 48 on page 15 of the White Paper, speaking of Sheppey, says: The noise problem would be relatively small. Paragraph 63 on page 18 is even clearer: It is true that the noise problem at Stansted would be rather worse than at Sheppey". My right hon. Friend has completely denied those statements in the White Paper, a White Paper which he presented to Parliament. Further, paragraph 15 of Appendix 3, which appears on page 30, says that the relative extent of the noise nuisance would be four times as great at Stansted as at Sheppey.

My right hon. Friend has changed the basis of his arguments about the question of determining noise and talks about all those people who live within 10 or 12 miles of the airport. In doing this, he is renouncing the stand which was taken by the Ministry of Aviation witness, Mr. Sawyer, at the public inquiry, because it was shown clearly—the contour maps exist; I have copies of them and could supply them—that the agreed area was to be an area bounded by a line one mile outside the 45 NNI contour. The agreed maps of Sheppey show the Medway towns outside the area bounded by a line one mile outside the 45 NNI contour. Once again, the question of noise shows that the advocates of Stansted have changed their stand.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

What my hon. Friend is saying is very interesting and cogent. I had thought that he would complete the sentence he partially quoted from paragraph 63 on page 18. Perhaps he would permit me to complete it for him: … the number of people around Stansted subjected to very high noise exposure would be only one twentieth of the number around Heathrow".

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Epping

I agree with that point. I think that the position around Heathrow is terrible. We should take great pains to ensure that we do not create a problem at Stansted where it does not exist now.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

In view of the interruption by my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), could my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) explain why the number of houses at Heathrow and the number of people there have gone on increasing, despise the effect of noise?

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Epping

I can explain it easily—because people must go where there is work. The creation of a growth point attracts people to that area. We should realise what is likely to happen in the Stansted area. People are often attracted to live and work in places which they would not choose otherwise.

I do not consider that the noise nuisance factor is the be all and end all. I would not say on that basis only that the airport should not go to Stansted. However, as there is such a great need for people to shift their ground when arguing about noise, and as the facts are shown to be so unsubstantial, how can we accept the rest of the facts, which have not been disclosed, on which these decisions have been taken? The decisions have been taken behind closed doors. There is need for a further inquiry by an appropriate body, because justice must not only be done, if it is being done; it must also be seen to be done. At present any reasonable observer would take the view that decisions are being taken on botched-up evidence.

The hon. Member for Saffron Walden has already discussed the question of the time available. I maintain that there is time for a further assessment. Such an assessment is essential because the present decision has been made entirely without any basis of sound planning policy. In this connection, right hon. and hon. Members opposite, as the previous Government, must take full blame. They made a start in the matter. I had it in mind to quote the statements made at the time by Mr. Julian Amery. The previous Government were moving towards this decision, and it would be hypocritical for the Opposition now to attack the present Government for taking a decision which they would have made. But it would be most regrettable if any of us were to try to make party political capital out of this issue. When all is said and done, there is a strong case for avoiding being compelled to take the sort of decision which the previous Gov- ernment would have taken, on grounds which are no better established now than they were then. Ordinary people in the area of Stansted are disgusted not so much at the decision to put the airport there but at the way it was reached behind closed doors. It is high time that all the factors were fully considered.

There has been another influence on this decision, that is, the military side of it. I have always been most concerned about the economic effects of military commitments east of Suez. Now, when I go into the question of Stansted, I find that I have to be concerned about the economic effects of military commitments east of Stratford-on-Avon. There would be a strong case for putting the airport in one of a number of other places if the military authorities had not expressed themselves strongly against it. We have been told about Silverstone. That is ruled out because of military considerations, on account of the military airfield. In Bedford, the question of the military air base comes in. In Padworth, in another direction, questions of military air space come in. At Foulness and Sheppey, there is the question of the Shoeburyness firing range and certain other unmentionable activities. I have not been issued with a D Notice, but I shall not trespass on that ground tonight. Everyone knows that serious military considerations have prevented us from giving these other sites the full consideration which they should have.

In my view, by a process of elimination, the military authorities have, virtually, whittled down the effective choice to Stansted. The time has come when the people of this country, even in their own country, must choose whether they wish to pay the price of all these military commitments. It is taking things a very long way to suggest that, because we are linked with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and certain agreements have been entered into for the use of air space in this country, areas vital for our economic development are to be ruled out on military grounds.

In view of all the facts, it is nonsense to suggest, as the Government's Amendment does, that all aspects have been taken into account. A very effective public relations job was to be mounted to suggest just this, but that public relations job has come unstuck because the so-called facts have been questioned and been shown to be either false or quite unsubstantiated. I tell the Government frankly that this sort of thing just will not do. It is not planning. It is merely taking over a policy which we inherited, and which, with all respect, was, to a large extent, hammered out by civil servants and experts without proper consideration of all the factors which this Government promised to take into account when working out our economic policies.

To my mind, it will be most unfortunate if we in the Labour Party are obliged to receive brickbats for doing that sort of thing. It is abhorrent to me, as a Socialist, to carry on in that way. For these reasons, I shall be unable to support the Government in the Lobby tonight. I hope that my right hon. Friends will go into the question again and change their minds before laying the Order before the House. They have a great deal to gain by so doing. If we proceed with Stansted in the way now set, and the decision proves to be a mistake, it will always be hung round the neck of the Labour Party. A review could only strengthen the Government's case if it eventually brought forward further facts to substantiate the choice of Stansted.

In my view, there are strong arguments for having the site completely away from the South-East, somewhere in the Midlands or between London and the Midlands. But, if we are to have it in the South-East, it should at least be considered for the coast. In any event, it must have far more consideration than has been given to it so far.

I appeal to my right hon. Friends not to write off my protest as one coming from only a few people, not to imagine that I have in some way been "conned" by a few country landowners in the area. That is just not on. The Harlow Trades Council may have come out in favour of the Government's decision, but the Harlow Urban District Council has come out completely against it. At a meeting called by the urban district council which between 300 and 500 people attended, all except 10 voted to oppose the decision to go ahead at Stansted.

I am not for a moment arguing that some other site ought to be taken. I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Boston) that I am not arguing that the airport should go to Sheppey. What I say is that there should be a review of the whole issue once again in order to work out a properly planned policy. It is in this frame of mind that I appeal to my right hon. Friends to think again.

7.28 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

In opening the debate, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) rightly said that the main object of our discussion would be Stansted and the location of a third London airport. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman's speech was very fair. It was unemotional. It was not partisan. He attempted to deal with this immense problem in an objective manner. As he said, this is essentially a non-party issue. I shall try to approach it in a equally unbiased fashion.

I am particularly sorry to cross swords with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, partly because of my considerable respect for him and my appreciation of the splendid work which he is doing in his high office, but, more than that, because in listening to his speech today I felt myself to be somewhat like King Agrippa before Paul, and on the point of saying to him, "Almost thou persuadest me." But, against that, I am bound to take notice of the overwhelming public objection which has been raised to the proposal to locate the third London airport at Stansted.

I am the Liberal Party spokesman on transport matters. During the 2½ years that I have held that post, I have never received anything approaching the amount of correspondence which has reached me in the past few weeks on the issue of Stansted. I have brought into the Chamber only a very small number of the maps, papers, letters and newspaper articles which have been drawn to my attention on the issue. I have not had a single letter or one expression of support for the proposal. Among the objections I have received have been some from my own constituents. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that Stansted Airport affects the people of southeast Cornwall.

It is a remarkable fact that in all the speeches we have heard today there has not been one single word in support of the contentions of the President of the Board of Trade. Every speech has been in opposition. The overwhelming volume of public opinion is opposed to the proposal, and the Press and the vast majority of the technicians who have written or spoken on the subject have joined in opposing it.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

The hon. Gentleman says that so far nothing has been said in support of the Government position. But does he not realise that every speech that has been delivered so far has been animated by one thing and one thing only—selfinterest?

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

That is a particularly unworthy remark. I have a high regard for the hon. Gentleman but to suggest that his hon. Friend who spoke a moment ago, the hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens), was activated by nothing but self-interest, when I am confident that he was speaking in the interests of his constituents, is a most unworthy statement.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

I have heard every speech, and the theme has been, "Don't put this airport at Stansted".

Photo of Mr Peter Bessell Mr Peter Bessell , Bodmin

That has been the theme, but I do not think that all hon. Members who spoke in that way have been motivated by selfishness.

I return to my point that the Government have a duty to take heed of the overwhelming volume of public opinion which has been mounted against their proposal. I recognise the very great difficulty with which the right hon. Gentleman is confronted. First, there must be a plan for a third airport; I accept that without question. I am glad that he has thought in terms of a location fairly far removed from Gatwick and Heathrow. We all know the great error made, for example, in planning New York's airports, where there are the J. F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia and Newark in close proximity to one another. I believe that it is now accepted that on average there are five near misses a day in the New York area. That is an indication of the great dangers of planning airports very close to each other.

There is also the anxiety which has been expressed by airline pilots. Against those two points we have the excellent record of safety which has been achieved at Heathrow and Gatwick and which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to preserve in the future. I am satisfied that he has taken account of this in his calculations. I recognise the limitation imposed on him in choice of locations because, as he said in his speech, this is a very crowded little island and the airlanes are certainly in danger of being overworked. There is also the problem of access to London, which the right hon. Gentleman must take into account in his calculations.

There have been many suggestions that it would be possible to locate a new airport at a considerable distance from London and link it to London by a fast rail service, or even a monorail service. That would present a problem of inconvenience to passengers, but the suggestions should be examined carefully and that would happen if the terms of the Opposition Motion were accepted by the Government. Secondly, there is the suggestion that the alternative locations at roughly the same distance from London as Stansted should be more carefully examined than they have been so far, and this too will occur if the Motion is acted upon.

Then, too, there is the question of long-term planning of airports throughout the country. In the context of London, Manchester and Prestwick—the three main air terminals in this country—we must consider the development areas and the necessity for providing airports in them. There is, for example, the everlasting problem of whether there shall be an airport at Plymouth or whether we shall have a small airport at Newquay and another small one at Exeter. This matter has been endlessly debated, but it could be quickly resolved and action could replace discussion if the Government accepted the terms of the Motion.

Finally, I return to my first point. What concerns me above all about the decision is that the Government are riding roughshod over the clearly-stated and unequivocal opposition of the vast majority of people concerned, not only the majority of people concerned in the area but the majority throughout the country who have given expression to opinion.

People today are becoming more and more critical of the dictatorial powers of the Executive and the abuse of those powers. If there is one political issue which I believe concerns people above all others at the moment it is that abuse of power. For the sake of sensible long-term airport planning, for the sake of air safety, and for the sake of public convenience, the Motion should not be rejected. There is nothing wrong in accepting the suggestion that there should be an independent inquiry into the whole problem of Britain's airports. It is long overdue, and within that context Stansted would be reconsidered.

The basic principles of democratic Government, as the right hon. Gentleman well recognises, demand that the Executive should take proper notice of the wishes of the people. For that reason, if for no other, I hope that there will be a careful reappraisal of the proposal, which has attracted so much opposition and which I believe must, therefore, be basically wrong.

7.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr Terence Boston Mr Terence Boston , Faversham

Unlike the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell) I have a fairly considerable constituency interest in the debate. But first I wish to say a few words about the Opposition's attitude over the past two weeks. On 14th June 234 Members signed a Motion calling on the Government to reconsider their decision. The next day came the statement that the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Cabinet had decided to call on the Government to reconsider their decision. What a splendidly courageous decision by the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Cabinet that was! As soon as they saw that more than 200 Members had signed that Motion, the Tory leader decided to weigh in too. He waited to see which way the bandwagon would roll and then bounded on to it. What a magnificent sight that presented—the leader of a mighty army, Sir Super MacHeath, riding like a knight in full shining armour behind 250 people who did not even know that he was with them and, in view of his own Government's attitude, were probably convinced that he was against them.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

Is the hon. Gentleman making a positive virtue of the fact that his leaders pay no attention whatever to their followers?

Photo of Mr Terence Boston Mr Terence Boston , Faversham

I recognise that it is customary on the other side of the House to attack the Government, but it is not very much liked when the Opposition are attacked. Hon. Members should not be as thin-skinned as that. The Leader of the Opposition has caused very real resentment by attempting to cash in in this way for party purposes.

I want to say a word or two in the Sheppey versus Stansted part of the debate and refer in particular to the meeting on last Tuesday week in the Palace of Westminster at which the chairman was the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk). I am sorry that the hon. Member is not here at the moment, because I am going to pay him a compliment and thank him for having the fairness at that meeting to call me first for questions, which I thought was very kind.

It was said by the chairman at the outset that the anti-Stansted lobby was not putting forward any particular place as an alternative site. But I was very surprised to see that, by sheer coincidence, there happened to be behind the platform two maps on the wall, one of Stansted and the other—by sheer coincidence, no doubt—of Sheppey. In my mail this morning, when I received a copy of the anti-Stansted lobby's working party's report, I also received the selfsame two maps. It is fair to say that more than one of the leading experts at the meeting admitted in so many words that it was the Isle of Sheppey that they had in mind, and a number of them implied this in their answers to questions. So I do not think there is any doubt that Sheppey is regarded as the alternative by the Stansted people.

I shall seek to show, first, that the most frequently suggested alternative to Stansted is not as straightforward as all that and, secondly, that any land-based site that one cares to think of would be open to very similar objections. I do not think that any of us in this debate, whatever position we take, could be accused of hypocrisy if we said that we have the greatest of sympathy for anybody who lives near an airport from the noise point of view. Anybody with the slightest amount of humanity would take that view.

I want also to refer to the need for an airport and to the question of urgency and speed. My right hon. Friend has done a great deal to convince the House on this score. I should also like to refer to the attractions which I find for an offshore site. There is no doubt that until recently the Government's case has been going by default, and so has the anti-Sheppey case. Therefore, I make no excuses for being to some extent parochial in this and stating the case for the Isle of Sheppey. I shall try not to overstate it, but in the circumstances I do not think that anybody would complain if I did not understate it, either.

I feel that there has been a conspiracy of silence in some quarters on anything but the case against Stansted itself. Let us look at the Isle of Sheppey and the surrounding area, which has in a good many quarters been almost written off as of no significance whatsoever in terms of the people affected. One would imagine that it was a derelict, unpopulated area. I was disturbed to see some of the distorted pictures which have appeared in certain sections of the Press.

What is this area that is being written off in this way? The island has a permanent population of more than 28,000, and in the summer months the holiday population brings it to 57,800, and I shall say a word about that in a minute. Farmland has been referred to. The article in the Sunday Times this week made the point that the development of an airport in that area would be bound to spill over to some extent on to what is referred to as "the mainland", an area of the highest grade horticultural land in the country. This afternoon my right hon. Friend went into detail on some of the comparative figures for the sites, and I shall not duplicate what has been said.

Who are the people who are being written off in this way in some quarters? If a certain amount of emotion is capable of being whipped up for Stansted, equally it is possible for a considerable amount of emotion to be whipped up in the case of Sheppey or any other area. I have referred to the holidaymakers on the island—30,000 at any one time, giving a total island population in the summer of 57,800. These are people who come down from London for a comparatively inexpensive holiday. Even assuming that everybody who comes down there comes for two weeks—that is, taking the turnover over the whole season—it amounts to 300,000 people. The fact is that most of them do not come for two weeks. The most they can afford is a week or, in a great many cases, a weekend or a day. So the actual turnover here—like the hon. Member for Saffron Walden earlier, I am being generous, and this is a conservative turnover figure—is above 300,000. Many of these are people with families of two, three or four young children.

I should be the first to admit—I am taking a risk in saying this—that Leysdown, the main holiday centre, is not as intrinsically beautiful as Thaxted. But the error made by some people in comparisons of this sort is in forgetting that amenity means more than just one thing. It means more than beauty. It means holiday and leisure facilities. Leisure facilities are something that we shall be in greater need of, not less, in the years to come, So this area is one of the main lungs of London.

The House should face the fact that if we wipe out the chalets now housing 30,000 people, we shall have to find somewhere else to put them. I should like to know who would be the first to suggest a place in the south-east of England, within easy reach of London, a place on the coast, which is ready, willing and enthusiastic to provide a site for chalets, bungalows and caravans capable of housing 30,000 people at any one time. That is what we shall have to do—we must face this fact—unless we intend writing off these people's holiday and leisure facilities altogether.

The people of Sheppey may not be able to fork out such large sums as those in other parts of the country, but I assure the House and my right hon. Friend that the protests will be loud and long if there is a further threat to this or, I take it, any other area, even if they are not in my area couched in quite such elegant phrases as have been used in some other places. The article in the Sunday Times—I have only one complaint about it—said that there was no grass roots appeal in the Government's case. The fact is that, on the whole, people do not tend to protest when things are done that they approve of—or, to put it another way, they do not tend to protest when things are not being done which they disapprove of.

But I assure the House that there is a vast reservoir of latent support for the Government in places which, once the final moves are made, are no longer threatened in this way. There is another view of Stansted which has already been referred to. Amongst the letters on this subject that I have received is one from a Mr. Victor Curtis, on behalf of the Stansted Area Progress Association, who confirms the point made by my right hon. Friend when he says: We … are battling for our future, and have in the last two weeks"— this was written a week ago— collected over 4,000 signatures in favour of the Government's decision. This is just locally, and not as our opponents are doing on a nationwide scale. We have the backing of the Harlow Trades Union Council, with a membership of 8,000. These are people who want the facilities at Stansted. I do not make too much of the point but it exists.

I want to mention briefly the whole question of the time for consideration of other sites. The House should face the fact that delaying tactics which are good for one area are equally good for another. Like others, I have been given assurances that full opportunities would be given to people in my area or any other to present their case, just as the opportunity has been given to people in the Stansted area.

It has been suggested that a Royal Commission or some other body should be appointed. It may sound a good idea on the face of it but who would be appointed? To whom would the Royal Commission be responsible? Where would Parliament come in? Where would the Government come in? Are we to have government by Royal Commission, abdicate our responsibilities and hand over to another body not answerable to Parliament the duty of dealing with public expenditure amounting to £47 million or £55 million or £132 million or whatever the figure happens to be in any future case? What would the situation be if the Royal Commission were to recommend another site?

Photo of Mr John Osborn Mr John Osborn , Sheffield, Hallam

Does the hon. Gentleman think that Parliament will have any control over this decision if the Government Amendment is passed tonight?

Photo of Mr Terence Boston Mr Terence Boston , Faversham

I am glad to see that the hon. Gentleman has just played a part as a Member of this House in expressing an opinion on this subject which the House is dealing with today.

What would be the position if the Royal Commission were to recommend another site? Would the people there have the same chance? How long would all this procedure take? It has been suggested that the Royal Commission would, on the most optimistic estimate, report within a year. I have yet to see many Royal Commissions conducting their business quite as quickly as that. A more realistic figure would be two years and that is being fairly optimistic.

What would happen after that? We would need three months more for Ministers to consider the report in their Departments. We should then need to set up an inquiry at the place in question. Again, on the most generous basis, the smallest possible amount of time for preparation would mean a further two months before the inquiry could start and it would sit, if we take Stansted as an example, perhaps a couple of months. Then the inspector would have to make his report—an important matter—which would mean another two months delay probably. His report would then be circulated and considered by Ministers and their Departments—say, three months at a conservative estimate. We should then need the tabling of the Order, which would need to be debated.

All this would entail another 12 months and the total would be a minimum of one or two years for the initial inquiry plus another year for all these procedures—and then possibly we should have a writ. I wonder whether this could not go on indefinitely. The fact is that, with any land-based site, there are bound to be similar objections to those at Stansted. This point was accepted at the meeting last Tuesday week. I emphasise that all of us sympathise with the people in the areas around airports.

I want now to refer to the question of an offshore site. This attracted me at first because, obviously, it would save people from noise and would conserve land as well. I think that there is little doubt about the technical feasibility of such a project. Chicago is building its third airport four to five miles out into Lake Michigan. We have done similar operations at staging posts in the Indian Ocean. When it was first put forward last November in an article in the Consulting Engineer by a civil engineer called Mr. Gerald Bratchell, I was quite attracted to the idea. The basic idea of the scheme was to reclaim land on the Goodwin Sands and build an island four and a half miles by one and a half, with the possibility of extending the airport further by reclaiming a further island later on. I was taken by surprise when this suggestion was first made.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

The hon. Gentleman's advocacy of this idea, which has an air of science fiction about it, considerably weakens the force of what he has been saying hitherto. Does he advocate it on the grounds that, as no one lives on the Goodwin Sands, there would be no necessity for a public inquiry or is he seriously advancing economic advantages in this connection?

Photo of Mr Terence Boston Mr Terence Boston , Faversham

If the hon. Gentleman will be patient I shall deal with the economics of the scheme.

The, basic idea was for a link by either a bridge or a tunnel—probably a tunnel—with the mainland, with fast rail or road connections into London. This scheme would have had advantages in terms of saving people from noise and of saving valuable land. The disadvantage is that the site would cost £50 million more than any other site. I felt that this scheme should be put to the Stansted experts at their meeting last Tuesday week, and their feeling was—and it was something that perhaps they might have seized on as an alternative—that it was not very different from the scheme for using the Foulness mud flats site.

At the anti-Stansted lobby's meeting, the feeling was that the country was not yet economically ready for a scheme of this kind. But for the long-term we must consider, as other countries have begun to consider, sites of this kind and I hope that the Government in their long-term appraisal of national airport siting policy will consider a feasibility study of an offshore site in principle.

What the Government have had to say in the debate, accepting the point about land-based sites, is that a third London airport is needed, and needed quickly, and that there has been a long delay already against growing European com- petition. Having heard my right hon. Friend putting forward this argument in a most cogent way, I think that there is no doubt that Stansted emerges as the most suitable site—or, rather, the least objectionable site, in the term used by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government. All I have tried to do in this contribution is to show that there is no automatic alternative to the site at Stansted.

Those who protest against one site may find themselves having to protest in due course against another site if they proceed with the idea of a Royal Commission or some other body. People sometimes sign Motions without altogether realising the full implications of what they are signing. Many of us have reasons for being parochial about specific sites, but I feel that we have to accept in this matter the over-riding national interest which has been made out by my right hon. Friend.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Sir Lionel Heald Sir Lionel Heald , Chertsey

I am glad to support the Stansted case. I will not take up much of the time of the House as the argument has been put so eloquently by two hon. Members opposite. This is one of those occasions when we can get away from party politics. The hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Boston) thought there were many party points. He appears to think that anybody who signs a Motion does so under a misapprehension. Let me make it clear that I understood the point.

Photo of Sir Lionel Heald Sir Lionel Heald , Chertsey

There are many hon. Members who wish to speak and I will not give way.

Photo of Mr Terence Boston Mr Terence Boston , Faversham

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Sir Lionel Heald Sir Lionel Heald , Chertsey

No. I wish to be brief. I want to follow the line of thought of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell). This matter raises fundamental questions. The hon. Member for Faversham did not direct any attention to the Motion before the House. He did not deal with the point which concerns my constituents, who do not live near Stansted but do live very near to Heathrow. That point is whether one of the greatest planning problems of the 20th century, as has been said by some hon. Members opposite, which was not tackled when Heathrow was dealt with, is to be tackled.

I agree with the hon. Member for Bodmin that we are laying down in this Motion a very important principle. It is an essential part of that principle that it should be a question of national policy which should be considered by an independent committee and not to be decided behind closed doors in Whitehall. The President of the Board of Trade was 100 per cent. in support of the gentlemen in Whitehall knowing best. That is something we are, and should be, concerned about. A matter of national policy of this kind should be something which the country can discuss; not something which is dictatorially decided in Whitehall and we are then told what we have to do. This is one of many examples, and I am delighted to be able to follow the representative of the Liberal Party in making that clear today.

We still have problems at Heathrow. A good practical demonstration of the reality of what is behind the Motion is to be seen when one looks at the report of the inspector and what is contained in the White Paper. We find reference to unsolved problems that still exist at Heathrow. My constituents are concerned with the problem of noise. It is still not clear whether No. 1 runway at Heathrow will be lengthened or whether there will be a proposal for the independent use of parallel runways. We do not know the future of Heathrow.

There is the clearest possible demonstration of the necessity for doing this as part of a big policy. Instead of saying, "We must have a third London Airport; let us consider that in isolation", it is a question which has to be considered in a very much larger context.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

Was not the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself a member of the Government which first instituted an inquiry and led them to say that Stansted was the choice for a third London airport?

Photo of Sir Lionel Heald Sir Lionel Heald , Chertsey

I ceased to be a Member of the Government in 1954. The hon. Gentleman is a little out of time.

The subject is a big one and I will not go into it in detail, but it is as well to point out that there is a great deal of knowledge and expertise to be found in other countries. If we had a full-scale inquiry all the best brains in the country could be used. Instead, who are the people who have been responsible for the making of this great decision? We do not know. Someone said he knew who one of them was. He was the gentleman who took part in the previous decision and who also gave evidence at the inquiry with not quite as much success as he might have done.

We have in mind something which will be of importance in 50 or 60 years' time with all the developments in technology and aviation that may take place during that time. That is what we are planning for, but what others in Whitehall have been planning for during this time is a much more temporary present-day position and to that we are to be committed. This is a very serious matter.

Another aspect is the ignoring of the effect of the public inquiry. What has been the value of this public inquiry? According to the President of the Board of Trade, absolutely none at all. He said, "What is the good of having another inquiry? We shall have the same thing again and we shall turn it down again. That is all you need worry about."

We have heard this about public inquiries before. Sir Hartley Shawcross—a personal friend of mine—had this same subject to talk about on one occasion. He unwisely said, "The public inquiry is there for the purpose of allowing people to blow off steam. It does not necessarily affect anything which will happen afterwards, but people will think they have had an opportunity of expressing themselves."

That appears to be the importance which the Government attach to this inquiry. Not a word has been said by the President of the Board of Trade about being anxious to carry out recommendations or anything of that kind. The public inquiry is dead. The report is of no importance. The Government go into a huddle behind closed doors in Whitehall and they come out and tell us, "There it is. That is what you have to do.

That is the kind of thing which we have in mind in this Motion, and it was very striking that the representative of the Liberal Party argued in the most logical way that he was bound to support it. I hope that hon. Members opposite will also support it.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan 8:10 pm, 29th June 1967

When I said earlier that certain hon. Members appeared to allow personal self-interest to dominate their attitude in this debate, I was not casting aspersions against any individual. I was referring to the fact that until that time the voice of Stansted had overwhelmed the debate and that this was not a debate about Stansted. It is a debate about a matter affecting the national interest. It is on that basis that I welcome the Government's policy to plan airport requirements in the light of all relevant factors, including the effect on the local population, the needs of the travelling public, safety, agriculture and the protection of amenity and which approves the selection of a third London airport on that basis.

From what has been said by many hon. Members, it would appear that time is with us, but my view and the view of many hon. Members who have not yet spoken is that time is against us. When one considers the enormous increase in scheduled flights, in holiday traffic, in all-inclusive tours and in air cargo, and a facet of air travel which has not yet been fully developed, winter holidays, one can appreciate the tremendous pressure on present airport capacity, pressure so great that it makes delay in selecting the third London airport dangerous for the future health of this great industry.

Hon. Members have to realise that 254,000 industrial workers in Britain are interested in our decision tonight, people whose employment and wages depend on the number of aircraft produced and flying. There are 18,000 people in London working at the Ministry who are interested and all over Britain thousands of people are employed in the airports themselves and in the offices of the operating companies. Therefore, to consume time with a further inquiry into matters which most people regard as sufficiently established would be wrong and could be injurious to the industry in which we are all tremendously interested.

Photo of Mr Raymond Dobson Mr Raymond Dobson , Bristol North East

Will not my hon. Friend take the opportunity to tell the House that 1,000 flights were turned away from Heathrow this year and that the number will probably treble next year?

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. I meant later to refer specifically to Heathrow and Gatwick, but I want first to deal with something which my right hon. Friend mentioned. He said that the Government had now decided to establish a second runway at Gatwick, a decision which I welcome. He went on to tell us that the Government propose to extend the main runway at Heathrow. I felt like interrupting him at that point, but I forbore to do so. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing will say a little more about the extension of the main runway, not that that is not necessary, but because we have to remember that we used to have two sets of parallel runways at Heathrow. The summer before last we had only one. These runways have been eaten up by the extension of necessary facilities for passengers, but now the main runway is to be extended to accommodate the increased number of flights coming to Heathrow in the near future.

What will be done about extending facilities to accommodate that increased number of passengers? How are we to bring them from Heathrow to London? On Friday nights, every plane leaving Heathrow starts 20 minutes late, because buses cannot get to Heathrow from the Cromwell Road Terminal in time to allow the plane to leave on schedule, so great is the congestion on the way out. My hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens), who made such a good case for not having the airport at Stansted, said that houses had been built at Heathrow because of the number of workers who had gone to Heathrow to work and who had had to get housing accommodation close by. But he forgot that I travel the route from Cromwell Road to Heathrow twice a week and know that the problem of congestion caused by people who live around Heathrow and work in the centre of London is part and parcel of the reason for the congestion of the roads.

Obviously, if we increase the facilities for handling aircraft, we will have to increase accommodation for passengers, and if there are more passengers, we will slow down still further the horrible crawl from the airport to the terminal. I fly from Glasgow to Heathrow, 400 miles, in 51 minutes and then I take more than an hour to do the remaining 14 miles from London Airport to the centre of London. My right hon. Friend touched on this problem without fully appreciating its importance when he mentioned his intention of extending the main runway at Heathrow.

I welcome the opposition which has been manifested to the Government's decision. This opposition is nothing new and it happened when under the Coalition Government the airport at Heathrow was suggested. When it was proposed that Heathrow should be developed as an airport, we were told that we could never create an airport in a place which was full of gravel pits and water holes and overwhelmed by floods and hidden by fog. That was the language employed about Heathrow in 1943 and 1944. It was not until the summer of 1957, however, that serious protests began to be made, and they occurred because of the noise and the low flying of aircraft at night. At that time, London Airport was surrounded by three little villages—Feltham, Harlington and Datchet. Naturally, the protests of those little villages cut no ice.

The strange thing is that despite all the protests that were made, and despite the talk about noise and night flying at London Airport, there is now, around it, a new and beautiful town. Houses began to be built and more and more people have gone out there to live. Last year, those who live around London Airport spent £60 million among the shopping facilities which are now provided in the area and to which incoming aircraft brought to Britain £5½million in currency.

The opposition to Gatwick was much stiffer. It took place when the Opposition were in power. The full panoply of protest associations, protest funds, letters to the editor, leaders in The Times, public inquiry and changes in Government policy were involved. All that happened when the party opposite were in power.

At the public inquiry, Crawley Development Corporation, West Sussex County Council, Surrey County Council, Gatwick Protest Association, Crawley Industrial Group and the Surrey branch of the Country Landowners' Association were all heard. Following the report of the inquiry, the Government published their decisions in a White Paper. After that White Paper was published, public criticism rapidly died down about a project which had exercised the minds of Ministers for years.

Under a Labour Government, the chorus has broken out again and in all probability will disappear as quickly as it did in 1964. The interest aroused by the Stansted agitation is, however, a good sign. People should be interested in what Parliament does and also in what it does not do.

I welcome the resolutions which I have had from parents, teachers, headmasters, ratepayers and others. Teachers have threatened in letters to me that if the airport comes to Stansted, they will resign their job at once. When the airport is in operation and the big jets are landing and taking off, my view is that as many children and parents will journey from Farnham, Bishop's Stortford, Harlow and Thaxted as now crowd the balconies of Heathrow.

There will be more noise from Stansted, but people today ask for noise—not deliberately, I agree; yet everybody wants nowadays to move more quickly. There is greater speed on the roads. We have now to impose limits and penalties against moving too quickly on the roads. Though seventy miles per hour is permitted on the M4. Even when that speed limit is broken, there are few prosecutions.

There is greater speed by rail. Today, the electric train goes from London to Liverpool and to Manchester as quickly as the aircraft was going last year. The airline service has become so depleted that it now barely operates those services. Even today, there is greater speed in the air. That is one of the problems which Stansted faces. If a parent were to wheel a baby in his pram more quickly, the child would gurgle with delight.

With greater speed there is greater power. With greater power we have much more powerful engines as the sequel to more specialised research, ultimately expressing itself in the great Olympus engine which will drive Concord at 1,450 m.p.h. and send her across and above the Atlantic in three hours, which is the time that it took me 18 years ago to fly from Glasgow to London in a D.H. Rapide. That is the significant change in speed which has taken place during that period.

There are compensations for the noise of these mighty machines. Aviation research and development has brought us into a new field. For example, the science of technology is expanding our knowledge and easing our human burdens in scores of different ways. Last Sunday, its wonder was brought inside every home in Britain which possessed a television screen. I am sure that there came to many minds last Sunday afternoon those oft-quoted words of Shakespeare when Puck told his audience I'll rut a girdle round about the earth In forty minutes. Elizabethans slipped out of their seats with laughter at the joke, but last Sunday, with the aid of a technology, nursed and nourished in aviation, which will bring to Britain greater prosperity than ever before, we went round the world in two minutes. The fun of the 16th century has become the fact of the 20th. That heritage of the pioneer, embodying hard work, great knowledge and profound research, has been handed on to the people of Britain. Whether they live near Abbotsinch, Heathrow or Stansted, I am certain that they will never cast that heritage aside.

8.29 p.m.

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) will not object if I do not follow him in his remarks. I agree with practically everything that he said. I want, first, to comment on the remarks of the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. Boston) a neighbour of mine, in which he seemed to find something cynical, unpleasant or objectionable about the fact that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition noted that 249 Members had signed a Motion. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be generous enough to accept that it is as a result that this debate is being held today, and that he and others are able to express their views in it.

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

I am sorry—I want to get on. The debate has given the House an opportunity to express itself on a matter which is of great concern to 249 hon. Members.

I do not want to deal with the question of Stansted, which issue has been debated strongly and fairly by hon. Mem- bers on both sides. It is surprising how non-political the debate has been. Hon. Members will find that I shall not be particularly controversial in my remarks. I am directly interested in aviation, and I am therefore concerned about airports policy. If the Government take note of the Opposition Motion regarding the need for a national airports policy and take it to heart and do something about it they will have taken a considerable step towards ensuring that Britain, in the future is in the position referred to by Sir Sefton Brancker who, speaking in 1922 to the Institute of Transport, said: Our future lies in the air just as our past has come from the sea. How prophetic were those words. If the Government will accept the necessity to consider the situation from that point of view the debate will have proved of great advantage.

Enormous strides have been made in civil aviation since that statement by Sir Sefton Brancker. Last year civil aircraft carried about 250 million passengers in 50 million flying hours. Such is the rate of growth of air transport that it is almost doubling every five years. Air freight is growing at an even faster rate—increasing by about 23 per cent. per annum, and in my opinion this rate is likely to accelerate.

What is Britain's place in the world in this enormous growth industry? These matters are relevant, because they highlight the position and the need for future thought and planning. In 1966 United Kingdom airports handled a total of 22 million passengers and 350,000 tons of cargo, plus car ferries. By 1980 about 100 million passengers are expected to pass through United Kingdom airports, and cargo traffic is expected to rise to about 3½ million tons.

This is an enormous and yet reasonably predictable rate of growth. The Board of Trade must keep constant note of the fact that the air industry situation is such that it needs constant investigation and research if we are to keep abreast of it and take advantage of the opportunities provided, while foreseeing the difficulties. Those in the industry must appreciate, as I hope the Government do, the need for dynamic and imaginative planning. In the past, there was insufficient consultation in the development of many aircraft between manufacturers and all the air operators. There was too much inclination to deal with one particular corporation, whereas, if the manufacturers had consulted all operators more closely they might have come up with some better answers.

Therefore, now, even with the airport planning, it could well be desirable and necessary to have an investigation by a planning body comprising representatives of the manufacturers, the corporations, the Airports Authority and other interests. This is a wide issue of great importance to the future of our aviation and I hope that it will be borne in mind. To take advantage of our opportunities, we need a properly thought-out airport network—an essential for a great trading nation.

Air is replacing sea as a means of communication, and will do so even more in future, and if we are to remain an important trading nation, we must seize our opportunities. Our catering for the inevitably great increase in cargo and passenger traffic is one of the yardsticks by which our efficiency will be judged. We should arrange our airports to ensure easy access to growing areas of industry and commerce, and they should be efficiently managed and equipped with the best traffic control and accommodation, and should have facilities for passengers which would compare with any others in the world.

An example of the growing importance of such a network is that Heathrow, because of the enormous post-war growth, is the third British port after London and Liverpool. In 1965, 11 million overseas passengers travelled through our airports and about 8 million through our seaports, compared with 3 million in 1956. The Minister said that last year's figure was 13 million, although I have a figure of 12 million. This is a phenomenal growth and an indication of both the opportunities and the difficulties which lie ahead.

There are problems associated with the control of airports. At present United Kingdom airports are owned and operated, in the first instance, by the British Airports Authority. Through these airports 60 per cent. of all United Kingdom traffic flows; 30 per cent. flows through municipal airports, about 8 per cent., through Board of Trade-owned airports and about 2 per cent. through privately-owned airports.

In "Airport Planning and Administration", in Political Quarterly, of October-December, 1966, Mr. R. S. Doganis, of Birmingham University wrote: Such a structure of ownership and responsibility is not conducive to a planned and regulated development of the airports concerned. This is not a question of political ideology, of State ownership versus municipal ownership or even private ownership. It is purely a question of establishing a system of ownership and administration which allows for overall planning on broad lines of policy. The complexity of the present system patently does not. These are important words. Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to read that paper, if he has not done so, because it is important and it will give him much guidance and advice. It emphasises the need for planning in an overall pattern the future airport requirements of the country.

Heathrow dominates all other British airports in the number of passengers and in the cargo carried, but it has almost reached the ultimate in development and capacity. When Gatwick is fully developed it will still not be able to take up the growth which is ineviable and which must be linked with the great Metropolis of London. I am sure that a third London airport is necessary. I have no wish to prejudge the situation. I ask the Government to take note of the intensity of the views expressed not only by Conservative and Liberal Members but also by their own colleagues and to look at the question of Stansted again in order to be absolutely sure that when the final irrevocable decision is taken, it is the right decision.

Stansted is operational and can be used at present. Is there not time, because of the situation, to look into the matter again so that the Government, the House and the country may be absolutely sure that the right decision has been taken? The final decision should be taken only after the most searching inquiry has been conducted into the long-term aspects and the problems which will be created wherever the airport is sited. I was glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman had to some extent looked at other sites but we all know that if we wish we can weight the case a little one way or the other. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not do that. Britain's whole future economy could be seriously upset if we make the wrong decision now.

When looking into future requirements for airports, we must make a proper assessment of the areas of population and commerce. Airports must be placed where they are most likely to be of the best commercial value. In this connection, we must carefully examine the future air traffic requirements of this country should we join the Common Market. It is clear that if we enter the E.E.C. goods must come in not just to London Airport for despatch and onward transmission to European centres, but to parts of the country like Lancashire, for textiles, Birmingham for manufactured goods, and so on. The lines of air traffic within Britain must radiate out from those areas to our Common Market customers.

Development must be regulated in forming these plans to ensure that the best use is made of land and that airports are placed where they will gain passenger and cargo traffic over a wide catchment area. We cannot constantly be developing and enlarging our major airports as an afterthought.

It is not wise to have two major airports within 25 miles of each other, as in the case of Birmingham and Coventry, or even 35 miles distant, as with Liverpool and Manchester. We must also examine the situation in Scotland to ensure that adequate air opportunities are provided.

I believe that had more imagination been shown, Prestwich could have been linked with Glasgow, and probably Abbotsinch would not have been built. Instead, there would have been an airport midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that would not have been fair to Glasgow's conurbation, which provides the traffic, in view of the long road journey from Glasgow to Prestwich; about 26 miles?

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point of view, but we must look at this not only from the road traffic angle but of fast rail and even monorail traffic. Tremendous thought must be given to developments of this kind.

The point is that, wherever we build airports, we must ensure that there is an adequate system of communications spidering out into the countryside around them. We must not only ensure that there are extremely good road connec- tions but, and this is terribly important, if freight growth is to receive the attention it must have there must be rail connections, with proper provision for palleting and boxing of the goods to go through to the airport. The major airports must also be designed to offer regional services throughout the country. This, again, must be part of the whole plan.

What I ask for, and what I believe to be absolutely right, is that we should accept that this is a very great challenge and that there are great opportunities but that it is not enough to create a hotch potch of airports. We have to realise that this is an immense task, and one that requires a imaginative and highly forward thinking planning. The Airports Authority is a great body, but I do not believe that it has nearly enough control. Through the Airports Authority, Government control over airport development must extend far wider, and I hope that the Authority will be encouraged to bring in people who can give it the right sort of technical advice that will ensure that a whole network of airports is laid down so as to cope with the enormous future that lies ahead.

8.53 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Howarth Mr Robert Howarth , Bolton East

From the right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) we had a political opening speech—quite naturally, I suppose—after which we had a series of constituency contributions which, again, is quite understandable. The discussion has gradually come back to the real question of the country's need to establish a commonsense and objective airport policy. It is to that aspect that I wish to address myself.

Like the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden), I do not believe that sufficient of the population outside this House or, unfortunately, sufficient hon. Members, appreciate the importance of the growth of air transport. We have had figures showing the growth in passenger and cargo air transport and my information is that London Heathrow is now the major point of entry for passengers to this country. It has overtaken our seaports. In fact, Heathrow is the major European airport, and if we now ensure that London has a third airport we can do much to retain our leadership in European aviation.

I start my argument on the basis that I am convinced of the need for a third London airport. At least one hon. Member opposite has questioned its necessity but, having studied the question—and here I speak with great regret, as a Lancashire Member—I accept the need. I have been a campaigner for growth points well away from the South-East, but the figures produced by the Government, and particularly by the Airports Authority, convince me of the need to take steps now to provide a third airport. At a meeting in the House last evening, we were informed by the Chairman of the Airports Authority that Heathrow is already turning away traffic at peak periods. At this moment in 1967 at peak times traffic is being turned away, and the position, of course, will worsen very rapidly.

With the advent of very large subsonic transport aircraft such as the Boeing 747 this possibly will reduce the estimate of aircraft movement in future. In the opinion of the Airports Authority the Jumbo jets will contribute to the generation of new traffic and new aircraft movement. This would seem to suggest that the matter is very urgent indeed.

We have not a great deal of time. I do not think hon. Members opposite have appreciated that this proposal has been under study for six years. They should know this better than newcomers such as myself who have been in the House only since 1964. Their Government in 1961 began the study which led them to conclude that Stansted was a good choice for the third London airport.

The urgency which is now facing the country is best explained by the claim that not only does it take many years to plan and then to construct a major airport, but the operators themselves need considerable advance warning as to which airport they will be using in the early 1970s. The Airports Authority Chairman told the meeting last night that one major operator is already asking the Authority to indicate what capacity will be available in the early 1970s, capacity which it seems doubtful can be provided at Heathrow. In the early 1970s, now that we are beginning the era of Jumbo jets and we shall have the Concord project, the matter will be very pressing.

There is the problem of what Government and national authorities have to plan for road and rail services for the third airport. If we were to defer the decision as is suggested by the Opposition Motion, hon. Members opposite would be the first to criticise the Government for not making provision if when we reach the 70s the facilities were not available. The history of this decision goes back over six years. Three interdepartmental studies have all come to the same answer. It is accepted that the arguments that have been brought forward against Stansted could be used against any other selection for a third London airport. Any of the arguments we have heard today could be used against any of the alternatives which have been studied in depth.

We had the opportunity last night of listening to an explanation of the alternatives to Stansted. They were listed in a table of which I have a copy. They were listed under various headings of access, air traffic control, cost, effect on defence establishments, identifiable costs, engineering, road and rail services and the like. If we take the seven alternatives, Stansted, Cliffe, Sheppey, Foulness, Bedford, Silverstone, Padworth, Stansted ultimately comes out as the one site with the smallest number of objections to it. On some of the claims one could fault Stansted, but when we draw up a balance sheet, of all the objections to the seven choices which were listed in the chart Stansted comes out as the one with the smallest number of objections.

I want to summarise the view of the Chairman of the Airports Authority. He has given permission for this to be quoted in the debate. He states, after having studied all the alternatives I have listed: I am absolutely convinced that Stansted is the right choice for a third London airport. This is a man of great prominence and importance in the aviation world, as those with aviation experience know. Those who have been given the job by Parliament of running our national airports have studied this matter and are convinced that Stansted is the right choice for a third London airport

I hope that we shall support the Government Amendment, because I think that it is urgent that a decision be made if Britain is to continue being Europe's major aviation carrier. We can hold up the decision and cling to the rural Luddites of Essex. We appreciate their concern, because they are directly affected. Viewing this in the national interest, Mr. Deputy Chairman, it appears to me that, on the best information available, and as a result of very expert consideration, the Government's choice of Stansted as the third London airport is the right one.

9.1 p.m.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

The debate, when it is all weighed up at the end of the day, has once again exposed what is the fundamental weakness of the Government: they persist in thinking that standing firm on the wrong policy is a sign of strength. What they talk about as being firmness appears now to very large numbers of people, notably on this issue, as just plain, ordinary obstinacy.

As I listened to the President of the Board of Trade, I felt that now that he has taken over responsibilities for Aviation he should bear in mind that minds are like parachutes: they do not function unless they open. I do not think I need say a very great deal by way of sharp criticism of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. His hon. Friends have done that for me already. The hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) was particularly sharp and pointed in her observations. Indeed, the Government have found very few supporters on their side of the House today.

The trouble is, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that over Stansted, and indeed in all the matters discussed in the debate, the Government have consistently failed to appreciate the need for a national airport policy in a wide social and economic context. I appreciated, as I am sure the House did, the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Burden) and of the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Robert Howarth). They discussed eloquently the importance of aviation to Britain. They spoke of the rapid growth of air transport, freight as well as air passenger, and of the tremedous implications that has for our future. I am sure there is no dispute on either side for that issue.

I have to declare an interest in the aircraft industry, but tonight, at this stage of the debate, I shall be mainly concerned with the broader planning aspects which are raised in the Motion. Not only is there no national plan, but no proper or sufficient use has been made even of such regional planning as exists. Even if it were true, which it is not, that the Conservative Government were committed to Stansted, the use of that argument to justify the Government's present position shows a pathetic inability to understand and to react to all that has happened and all the discussion which has taken place since the Inter-Departmental Committee's Report was published in March 1964. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) talked about Gatwick. The Government have not even taken on board the lessons of the Gatwick inquiry, which was reported on in July, 1954.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) reminded us, the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Third London Airport, which reported in June 1963, was predominantly composed of technical representatives of the Ministry of Aviation and the airlines. That was perfectly right at that stage, because they were concerned with eliminating possible sites. It was the necessary first stage, and their main recommendations were inevitably concerned with traffic control, air routing and so on. Therefore, Mr. Deputy Chairman, it is wrong to suggest, as the White Paper does, that those technical representatives either did or could go deeply into the wider considerations. Equally, it is wrong to say, as the President of the Board of Trade said, that the previous Administration endorsed—"endorsed" is the word used in the White Paper—the conclusion of the Inter-Department Committee that Stansted was the right site for London's third airport.

The President of the Board of Trade quoted Mr. Julian Amery—this is page (iii) of the Report— The Government believe that this is the right choice. Ministers choose their words carefully. When one says at that stage that the Government "believe" that Stansted is the right choice, one is not saying, "I am satisfied", "I have decided", or, as the hon. Member for Bolton, East said, "I am absolutely convinced". In the very next sentence, Mr. Amery said: It is, however, only proper that all those likely to be affected should be given the opportunity to consider and discuss the reasons for the choice of Stansted. The President of the Board of Trade said that the Government had gone further than that because they had had two inquiries, but it was always envisaged that there should be a public inquiry into this matter. That was stated clearly in the letter which the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) sent on 12th September, 1964, to Mr. Butler, as he then was. It is worth quoting in full what my right hon. Friend said, because the position has been so badly distorted: You have been telling me of the problems which arise over the choice of a third London airport following upon the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee set up to consider the question. The Committee's recommendations in favour of Stansted were derived from a study of the operational and other technical requirements of an airport. The Government recognises that, while these technical considerations carry weight, many other considerations arise, such as the disturbance to local life in the villages and towns in the neighbourhood, loss of amenities and loss of good agricultural land.The Government, therefore, decided that the public inquiry should take place some time next year, and I am aware that you would not like this to be too long delayed. It is important that this inquiry should be thorough and genuine, and I want to make quite clear to you that the Government has in no way made its final decision and cannot do so until it receives the report of the inquiry. It would, therefore, be fully understandable if your constituents concentrated on preparing their case for the inquiry meanwhile.I further say that not only has the Government not made its final decision but that the door is not closed to suggestions of alternative solutions, if they are put forward. This is in fact a long-term matter which can be decided only after a thorough public investigation has taken place. It is perfectly clear, therefore, Mr. Deputy Chairman—

Photo of Mr Sydney Irving Mr Sydney Irving , Dartford

Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has more than once referred to me as the Deputy Chairman. May I remind him that we are in the House and I have another hat?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I beg your pardon, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had taken the error up from the hon. Member for Bolton, East.

That letter made it perfectly clear, first, that there was no final Government decision, second, that no final decision was to be made until a thorough and genuine public inquiry had been held, and third—this is particularly important—that the door was not to be closed at the public inquiry to suggestions of alternative solutions if they were put forward.

Photo of Mr Arthur Newens Mr Arthur Newens , Epping

I think that I have made my case very clear during the debate. Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not deny that the previous Government bear a considerable share of the responsibility for the decision? Does he not agree that it is very unfair to imply that anything else is the case?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

I should have thought that the letter was perfectly clear. I can rely on that.

The Conservative Government had full regard—and this is also important—to what happened at the Gatwick inquiry, when two points were made by the inspector. The first was that it was important to have early consultations with the local authorities concerned. Therefore, after the publication of the Inter-Departmental Committee's Report in 1963 there were informal discussions with the councils, and Ministry officers explained the position to them.

The second criticism made after the Gatwick inquiry was that its terms of reference were not wide enough to allow alternative suggestions to be canvassed. That raises two problems that we must consider tonight. First, the terms of reference of any inquiry into a major national airport, and secondly, the form that the inquiry can properly take.

I think that it is now clear that, unfortunately, the terms of reference at the Stansted inquiry were far too narrow to permit any case for an alternative to be properly deployed. That meant that the Government effectively closed the door to the alternative suggestions which the then Prime Minister had indicated would be considered in the letter of 12th September, 1964, from which I quoted.

We must all understand that it is difficult to open a public inquiry of the kind undertaken at Stansted or Gatwick to every conceivable proposal, because there is then the problem of allowing other people who may be affected in other areas opportunities to come forward. My hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) illustrated the difficulties into which the Government have got themselves because the President of the Board of Trade, faced with that situation, thinks that it is sufficient to say two or three sentences about each alternative in brief amplification of the White Paper, and say that we must accept it because the Government say so.

It is because of these difficulties that we now suggest in the light of experience that the Government should set up a somewhat different form of inquiry. Some people have suggested a Royal Commission. Certainly it should be an independent body on which a number of people of various qualifications serve. For example, it could adopt the procedures of, say, the Herbert Commission, which inquired into the future pattern of London Government. It could meet the local authorities on their own ground and it could take written or oral evidence.

It might not be necessary, and indeed it might not be feasible, to have everybody represented by counsel and have every document cross-examined to at length by every potentially interested party. But it would be a body of men who would cross-examine the officials concerned, and cross-examine the Government on the statements they make in the White Paper. There would be an opportunity for an independent body to probe some of the issues raised by many of my hon. Friends today.

It appears that the Government themselves believe that this is the right way to deal with matters of this kind. This is stated to be the Government's view in paragraph 29 of the White Paper on planning policy, Town and Country Planning, published yesterday. It states: The Government are also reviewing the procedure for cases that raise wide or novel issues of more than local significance. Although these cases are few in number, they are important in themselves and the inquiries into them arouse widespread public interest. Yet, by their nature, the decision in these cases often turns on matters that cannot satisfactorily be deployed at a public local inquiry of the conventional kind. For example, there may be issues of national or regional policy that should be settled before a project can be properly weighed in its local context. Again, there may be important underlying questions arising out of new developments either in the technological or economic field which cannot fully be elucidated at a public local inquiry. Again, a proposed development may have important effects on the level of population and employment over a wide area; or the possibilities of carrying out the development in another way or another place may not have been fully examined by the developers. That could apply directly to Stansted. There is no need for anybody to call for a new planning Bill. It can be done straight away. That is all that we are asking.

Quite apart from the form of the inquiry that the Government instituted, it is their behaviour since the report was received that seems to be inexplicable and in some instances completely outrageous. Many hon. Members have quoted the paragraph in the White Paper in which the inspector comments that there is a necessity to have a wider review bringing in all the questions of traffic in the air, traffic on the ground, regional planning and national planning, a review which he said must cover military as well as civil aviation.

On this the key sections of the White Paper are paragraphs 40 and 41, in which the Government explain why they decided against an independent Commission. That was their first fundamental mistake. They decided against an independent Commission, according to those paragraphs, for two reasons. One reason was that a decision either for or against Stansted was becoming urgent. In saying that, the Government neglected two things. The first one was that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, as Prime Minister in 1964, had described this as a long-term matter and promised full inquiry. They ignored also the letter by the present Home Secretary—he was then Minister of Aviation—to Essex County Council on 24th September, 1965, in which he said: If the outcome of the inquiry is that another site is to be preferred to Stansted, this will be followed up, and it will not be ruled out for lack of time to study and survey the site. The urgency of the time factor, quite apart from the undertakings given, does not even stand up in the light of the declaration in the White Paper that the requirement may be for a new date between 1974 and 1976. My hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden has already pointed out the discrepancies between what the President of the Board of Trade said today and what Mr. Peter Masefield said yesterday. These are the sort of matters that an independent Commission could properly inquire into, and inquire into very quickly.

The second reason for refusing the independent Commission was that the Inter-Departmental Committee had already made a thorough examination of the question in 1962 and 1963. That is simply not true. There are two short sentences that I will quote from the Report. Item 8(f) of the summary of recommendations says: The area is in many ways suitable for a planned influx of population such as a major airport would inevitably attract. It then refers to paragraph 63, and all that that has to say is: Stansted is within a convenient distance of Bishop's Stortford, which today has a population of over 18,000 and lies in an area offering scope for large-scale population growth. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have pointed out that the development of an airport here, together with the associated industry and housing, would mean a loss of good agricultural land; but against this may be set the economic value of the new airport in promoting industry and in maintaining London's position as one of the chief air traffic centres of the world. That cannot be regarded as a deep study into the matter eliminating the need for any further consideration.

Instead of the independent Commission we had a new inter-departmental review, and that is from every point of view a thoroughly unsatisfactory process. It was rightly described in The Guardian as a bit of: inter-departmental in-fighting—a monument to non-planning". The hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) today called it the negation of planning.

It is extraordinary that the Government never even sought the views of the South-East Regional Economic Planning Council or the Standing Conference on Greater London Planning. As speaker after speaker today has pointed out, the White Paper admits that in the Government's view the strongest of the objections to Stansted was on regional planning grounds. We cannot dismiss in a couple of paragraphs the difficulties involved in the creation of a new community of 100,000 people even if the Government have taken some sort of preliminary decisions which might be necessary.

As the hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East said, we have to look at the whole problem in a much wider context—whether London is to grow in this way and how we are to reconcile this with our policy of diversification to the regions. It is not sensible to consider Stansted or, for that matter, any other international airport except in the context of the general plan in the regions concerned. I understand that the Standing Conference on Greater London Planning is about to report. We know nothing of its views on the matter.

It is not only a question of whether there is to be a third London Airport, but there is even talk of a fourth. The Inter-Departmental Committee said that we should consider in about 1968 whether London needs a fourth airport. Mr. Masefield, who has been quoted frequently because he is responsible in this matter in relation to the Airports Authority, said the other day that there would be no decision yet on how many international airports we are to have, much less where they are to be, quite apart from the subject of the domestic airports which we may require.

To tear this out of context is not only unreasonable, but manifestly not in keeping with the Government's own declared policy. Why do not the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Housing and Local Government take a look at the White Paper on Transport Policy issued in July, 1966? I am not surprised that the Minister of Transport says that she has not been very much consulted. She could hardly have been consulted by her right hon. Friends in the light of what she said in that White Paper in paragraph 71. She said: The main transport system—the railways, the inter-urban road network, the ports and airports—must be planned centrally and investment must be co-ordinated. The central Government must therefore draw up the broad framework for the development of the system in the light of the total needs of the economy, and determine the main priorities within it. It is equally important, however, that the overall transport plan should reflect the needs of the individual regions. Decisions about road, rail and airport investment need to be taken in the light of comprehensive studies of the transport needs of each region, though in the case of air transport the international aspect is at least as important as the domestic. These studies in turn are dependent on, and must be related to, the overall planning of objectives for the region, and must take into account not only the existing transport requirements, but also future population growth, changes in the structure of industry and employment, and the importance of safeguarding and improving environmental standards.The Regional Economic Planning Councils have an important part to play in the planning of transport. But they are not even consulted. It is an extraordinary state of affairs, and if a copy of that White Paper is not available to the Minister of Housing and Local Government he might like to take a look at the extraordinary set of Answers given by the President of the Board of Trade on 21st June in reply to a number of Questions. He said that the Government could not hold the consultations—and this is significant—that they would have wished—presumably because they realised that they were necessary— … following the rules laid down by the Council on Tribunals."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st June, 1967; Vol. 748, c. 1720.] Today, the President of the Board of Trade referred again to the matter of the Chalkpit case, but it is doubtful whether this applied since it was not an inquiry in the normal way under Section 22 or Section 23 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1962.

Listening to the President of the Board of Trade, no one would have gathered that these rules were designed to protect the private citizen against the Government and not to shield the Government from criticism. In any event, there is no reason why the Government should not have taken evidence from these bodies and then have submitted it to the objectors for their comments or even reopened the inquiry.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham said this is what has been done recently in another case. If the normal planning course had been adopted, the procedure that the Government have used in the White Paper would certainly have been thoroughly objectionable. A secret inter-departmental inquiry of this kind is much more seriously damaging to the interests of objectors than it would have been to have taken the evidence which was required and to have given the objec- tors a further opportunity to comment on it.

Another aspect of this matter, with which I will deal briefly, is the criticisms which have been raised about the way in which the White Paper is riddled with defects, inaccurate statistical calculations, and wild generalisations. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), in a characteristically powerful speech, showed clearly how those generalisations ought and would have been scrutinised by any Commission of which he was a member or any Board before which he might have appeared. He made reference to the survey carried out for the Board of Trade in 1965 which, according to paragraph 21 of the White Paper, indicated that as much as 80 per cent. of London's international traffic is generated by the London conurbation and southeast England. If one examines the survey it shows somewhat different statistics. It shows that 73 per cent. of departures and 81 per cent. of arrivals are from the London conurbation and south-east England. That may be a minor statistical variation, but the White Paper happens to take the most favourable figure from the Government's point of view.

What the White Paper does not show is that the survey dealt with only 423 passengers arriving and 448 departing during four weeks in July, 1965. I think they were probably asked the wrong question. The question was, "In which town in the United Kingdom did you start your journey to the airport. or, alternatively, to which town in the United Kingdom are you now travelling?" Many might well have said London, even though it was not their ultimate destination, because the question did not say. "What is your ultimate destination?". The survey is absolutely useless.

The White Paper in paragraph 25 says, … the recent fast growth of air freight has only taken place at the London airports; it has not been reflected in other parts of the country. This is not true. The hon. Lady the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East spoke of 60 per cent. growth in Birmingham. The hon. Member for Gillingham gave formidable figures of the growth in air freight. Last year it represented 8 per cent. in total value of our imports and exports—about £800 million.

One of the worst features of this sort of inter-Departmental inquiry, particularly this one, is that there is no confidence in the statistics which have been produced. This applies to costs. The estimates are not only open to question as they stand on particular items; they are clearly based on false considerations. They have given no, or no adequate, consideration to consequential or social costs. I have a feeling that one of the difficulties has been that the inter-Departmental argument turns to some extent on whose Vote it is going on. If it does not go on any Department's vote and is a social cost it does not matter, because the Treasury, always adopting the narrowest possible attitude on these matters, rarely has regard to the national interest in determining the cost of a particular project. It is not a factor which bears very much weight in the Treasury mind when trying to decide what the annual cost for the budgetary purpose may happen to be. All this shows an utterly deplorable situation.

The Government are very foolish to ignore the weight of national public opinion upon this matter. We are not concerned with local objections of interested parties. It was wrong for the President of the Board of Trade to quote letters saying that certain people are for in one part of the country and certain people are against. That is not the point of the controversy.

We are asking for a national inquiry because the Government have adopted the wrong sort of inquiry. They have ignored the wider considerations, they have ridden roughshod over the regional economic councils and the professional bodies, they have betrayed their own undertakings, and they have undermined their now declared policies. In consequence, there is no public confidence in their judgment and good faith in this matter.

This debate has reinforced the anxieties which were expressed by the Presidents of three important institutes in The Times yesterday when they said that the Government's case rests upon "shaky assumptions, inadequate data, and questionable arguments". I would like to think that even at this late stage the Government would listen to common sense and reason. It may be that I am a bit optimistic about that. As the Irishman said, it is no good going to the goathouse to look for wool.

But if the Government refuse, as I am afraid they may, to see the error of these ways, we shall certainly continue to press the matter to a Division, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden said, we shall continue to press the matter in the country. The Government may win in the Division Lobby tonight, but they will do so only at the sacrifice of the principles and convictions of a large number of their supporters in the House. Those outside will be taught once again the lesson that the last thing which the present Government will do is admit a mistake, no matter what the national or individual consequences may be.

9.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

While my blood is still running cold, I think that I should declare two conflicting interests. The first is that I have a cottage in Essex and therefore a vested interest in preserving the calm of the county and the peace of the skies above it. Secondly, I am in the rather ironic position of being involved in the litigation which the county council has launched and, as a ratepayer, presumably contributing to the costs of that litigation. My real reason for mentioning it is that I have to be even more discreet than usual and even more select in what I say for fear of saying anything which might seem to be prejudicial to the cause which has been started.

I confess that I have a strong emotional prejudice against using Stansted Mountfitchet in this way. I have known the area since I was 12. It is an area of great sentimental importance to Socialists on this side of the House. I used to go there at the age of 12 to visit the famous Red Countess of Warwick at Easton Lodge. I remember visiting H. G. Wells at the delightful old rectory which was the Matchings Easy home of Mr. Britling, and I first worshipped at Thaxted in the days of the great Conrad Noel. This area is as beautiful as anywhere in the kingdom, with names which are symbolic of England itself, names like Wendens Ambo and Margaret Roding and Good Easter and Hatfield Broad Oak and a host of other names of that kind. I can genuinely sympathise with the obviously very deep local feeling which exists in that part of Essex, and I hope that the House will acquit me of being a Philistine in matters of this kind.

But being a planning Minister is a thankless task and there are times when I look back nostalgically to my quieter days at the Colonial Office when British Guiana with all its problems was a less explosive subject than Stansted Mountfitchet. The right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Can) put his finger on the nub of the problem when he reminded us that everybody dislikes an airport in his own area. Anxious as I always am to follow the example of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), and I wish that I could follow him on this occasion in paying regard to the wishes of the people, as he advocates, the difficulty is that wherever one wants to put an airport the wishes of the people are always against it. This is one of those difficult subjects in which one has to try to strike a balance. As hon. Members on both sides of the House have said and as the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) reminded us, there was an almighty row when it was proposed to put the airport at Gatwick, and I am absolutely certain that there would be an almighty row if we decided to change from Stansted and go instead to Sheppey. We should be told, perfectly properly, of its holiday importance to tens of thousands of people in London and we should be told of the danger or nuisance to Canterbury or Rochester cathedrals.

When my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) was talking about Heathrow, I could not help recalling that the Queen's own home at Windsor is only 6½ miles from Heathrow, as, indeed, is St. George's Chapel. I understand that the effect of the stacking arrangements if Stansted is put into operation will be much less on Epping Forest than the present stacking arrangements for Heathrow in the case of Windsor Great Park.

It is regrettable but true that everyone believes in airports in somebody else's district. That was what I had in mind when I used the phrase quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Faversham (Mr. Boston) when I said that Stansted was the least undesirable site. Wherever there is an airport there is noise, there is danger to amenity and there is possibly a risk to historic buildings. The task of the planner is to choose a site where we can strike a proper balance between a number of considerations. On the one hand, there is what I believe to be the overriding consideration of the safety of air travel. We heard from the right hon. Member for Mitcham and other hon. Members today interesting information about the way in which the safety of air travel could be imperilled if the provision of airports was inadequate.

One has to balance safety, accessibility and reasonable economy, on the one hand, against, on the other hand, the destruction of amenity, the loss of agricultural land and the damage to regional planning. I agree entirely with a point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) when he said that all the factors have to be taken into account.

To establish that one site is better than another on grounds only of economy, only of accessibility, only on grounds of agricultural land, or only on destruction of amenity is not enough. It is the totality of the considerations which really matters. Some sites are better on certain grounds than on others, but we have to decide which of them will meet fully the criteria which I have described. That is what the previous Government and the present Government have tried to ensure.

I wish tonight to stick almost entirely to the procedure that we have followed and the procedure which we propose, because they have provided the main subject of criticism from the Opposition Front Bench. I should like to take the House back into some of the history of the Stansted proposal. I make no apology for doing so because, in spite of the fact that 250 or more hon. Members have signed a Motion, the average attendance in the House during the afternoon and evening has been between 30 and 50; and there may be some right hon. and hon. Members present who have not heard some of the historical considerations which have been deployed earlier in the day.

I should like to take the House back to 1953, when Stansted was one of the seven airports in the London area operated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The policy at that time was set out in Command Paper 8902 of July, 1953. The White Paper said that it was proposed to hold Stansted in reserve in case a further London airport—that is to say, in addition to Heathrow and Gatwick—should be needed later. But, as one hon. Member opposite pointed out, keeping Stansted as a reserve and training airport was an expensive undertaking. It is not surprising that the Select Committee on Estimates, in its Fifth Report for the Session 1960–61, concluded that the time had come to reassess Stansted, and it recommended that the Minister of Aviation should undertake an immediate study of Stansted's propects as the third airport for London.

In November, 1961, the Minister of Aviation appointed the Hole Committee. The right hon. Member for Mitcham described the composition of that Committee. It consisted almost entirely of aviation experts; indeed, of the 16 members, one was from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, one from the Ministry of Transport and 14 represented various aviation interests. Like the right hon. Member, I make no complaint of that, because the Committee was clearly principally concerned with the feasibility of Stansted as an international airport in respect of problems of air traffic and problems of the safety of aircraft.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Rippon Mr Geoffrey Rippon , Hexham

Will the right hon. Gentleman try not to deal with matters about which he makes no complaint, and deal with those matters about which we do make complaint?

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

I am afraid that if I dealt only with matters of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman complains the debate would be a very long one. There are two sides to the House and I am addressing myself to my hon. Friends as much as to hon. Members opposite. If anybody thinks that the composition of that Committee was blameworthy—and that criticism has been made in the Press—the blame does not rest with us. It rests, if anywhere, with hon. Gentlemen opposite.

The recommendation of the Hole Committee was published in 1964. I was interested to hear the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham refer only to Recommendation 8(f). If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had got as far as Recommendation 10(a), (b) and (c) he would have read that: London will need a new airport by the early 1970s. The new airport should be planned to deal ultimately with a similar level and type of traffic to that expected at Heathrow. It must, therefore, be able to have at least one pair of parallel runways. The new airport should be sited at Stansted, Essex. The Minister of Aviation, in a foreword to the Report, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not seem to think constituted a commitment for the Government, was certainly—as far as one can read—enthusiastic about the Report. He said: The choice of a site for a new airport will not please everyone. Wherever it is put, it will take away land that could be used for other important purposes. There are those who viewing the choice from the aspect of amenity alone would like to see it anywhere but in their own neighbourhood. Others would welcome it as near as possible to their factories or offices. The choice is limited by technical considerations. The Report discusses these in detail."— whatever the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham may have said— It concludes that Stansted Airport should he selected and designated as London's third airport. The Government believe that this is the right choice.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. If the Minister does not give way the right hon. and learned Gentleman must resume his seat.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

I did not interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I have already given way to him.

Mr. Julian Amery's foreword to the report ended: I hope that there will be a full public discussion of this report and I shall welcome constructive suggestions for making Stansted an efficient and attractive airport"—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The Minister is obviously not giving way—[Interruption.] Order. There is a little too much airport noise at the moment.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham said that the Government did not endorse that Report and that a second inquiry was always envisaged. The remarkable thing is that the Report was in 1963 and it was only in the middle of the General Elec- tion of 1964 that the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir A. Douglas-Home) wrote to the present Lord Butler making it perfectly clear that, although there would be an inquiry, nevertheless, it would be the Government who ultimately took the decision. That is the practice—

Hon. Members:

Sit down.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

That is the procedure which we have followed—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I thought that the Minister had given way. Mr. Greenwood.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

I am afraid that the right hon. and learned Gentleman lost his opportunity—

An Hon. Member:

Throw him out.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. If the Minister does not give way, the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) knows that he should not persist.

Hon. Members:

Shame.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

I think it was the right hon. Member for Mitcham who said that we had complained that our hands had been tied; it is quite clear, looking back, that, at least from 1953 onwards, the assumption was consistently made that Stansted would be the third London airport. That assumption helped to determine the routing of air traffic, including military traffic—hon. Members must remember that there are twice as many military movements as civil movements every day—and also helped to determine the distribution of military airfields and other installations.

If we had sited the airport at Silver-stone, which, on planning grounds, I thought a most attractive proposition, it would have meant that eight Royal Air Force stations would have been completely out and the use of 13 would have been severely limited. Although my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Newens) objects to defence considerations intruding on matters of this kind, I hope that he will remember that this would have cost about £100 million, which I believe could probably be better used for hospitals, schools, houses and other provision of that kind.

It is worth dwelling a little on the various planning processes involved in this type of case. The need for a new airport arises from the requirements of air commerce. The right hon. and learned Member for Hexham complained that the Government's claim that about 80 per cent. of air passengers are going to and coming from London was based on calculations made from a specimen of between 400 and 500 people. This, I think, is a characteristic miscalculation on the right hon. Gentleman's part. The figure was in fact 11,000—perhaps a trifling mistake for him, but one which would strike most of us as at any rate reasonably substantial.

We referred to the need for diversification of industry. The present Government have certainly done more than any other Government to procure the diversification of industry, but it must be absolutely clear that an airport does not come into this category. However much I, as a Lancashire Member, might like the new airport to be in Manchester, there is not much point in putting it there if in fact, between 70 and 80 per cent. of the people want to go to London or are travelling from London.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

Two new towns have been built just underneath the gliding area of Stansted—Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City. They are in my constituency. Aircraft will fly over them at 2,000 feet. Was a survey conducted among people living in those two new towns?

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

That is an entirely different point from a survey of the requirements of air passengers. In any event, it is a point which could have been raised much earlier in the discussion. The noble Lord's attendance during the day has not been, shall we say, obtrusive.

The right hon. Gentleman quoted, not I thought with adequate appreciation, paragraph 29 of the Government's White Paper on planning policy. He did not quote the following paragraph, which says: Where issues of this sort arise, the ordinary public local inquiry is not satisfactory either as a method of permitting the full issues to be thrashed out or as a basis for a decision which can take into account the whole range of practicable alternatives. The Government are, therefore, examining whether and how procedures can be changed for these exceptional cases while avoiding unreasonable delay or impairing existing rights of making objection and being heard. I should have thought that the House would be pleased to know that the Government are seized of the importance of this problem and that they have under consideration the very difficult problems which we are discussing today.

I turn to some other points which have been raised in the debate. The right hon. Gentleman was very indignant when he said that we had not consulted in the inquiry the South-East Economic Planning Council. We did not consult that Council because it was not set up until a fortnight after the inquiry had ended.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

I will not give way. Obviously, if we were starting now we should consult the Economic Planning Council in a case of this kind. The question which we had to decide was whether the Council should be consulted during the time that the inspector's report was under consideration by the Ministry concerned. This was not a question of the Lord Chancellor's rules, because the inquiry was non-statutory and therefore not covered by the rules. We were much concerned, however, with the question of the propriety of consulting outside bodies, and we decided that it was right in the circumstances to consult no outside bodies at all. If at that stage we had consulted outside bodies, it would have meant starting the inquiry all over again with the consequent delay which would have been involved.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) made one or two remarks about the composition of the inter-Departmental review which, I must confess, I regretted, because the composition of that inter-Departmental review reflected the interests which the inspector had said should be consulted. Unlike the Committee which the previous Government set up, it was under the chairmanship of the Department of Economic Affairs. Its members were the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury.

The hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) asked a number of questions, one of them about a remark made by Mr. Masefield on television the other night. I am authorised by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to say that Mr. Masefield had misunderstood the question.[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am sorry if hon. Gentlemen opposite are not prepared to do justice to the Chairman of the British Airports Authority, who is very much involved in this. The point is that the runway will need to be in operation by 1974 and that work will have to begin in 1971–72.

The hon. Member for Saffron Walden spoke of the problems of water and sewerage in the area. I am happy to tell him that since the Report was published the inspectors of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government have looked into the problem and now say that there will, in fact, be no difficulty.

Before leaving the remarks of the hon. Member for Saffron Walden, I would like to pay tribute to the work of the inspector in this inquiry. He did an extremely good job; but an inspector is, of course, not an umpire but a reporter. The House would no doubt criticise me much more frequently if I never rejected the advice I got from inspectors appointed to consult at inquiries.

We really cannot shuffle off our responsibilities on to further committees of inquiry, Royal Commissions or any other bodies of that kind. The time has come to make a decision on a problem which has been the subject of discussion since at least 1953. We must make a decision.

This has been an interesting exercise—[Interruption.]—a particularly interesting exercise in public relations. The Sunday Times stated, in a charming phrase, that … it will provide a fieldday for connoisseurs of the wilder reaches of do-it-yourself It described the proposals for Sheppey and Foulness as "genuinely bizarre", while the Economist stated on 3rd June: The opponents of Stansted do not help their case by putting forward cockeyed alternative proposals for airports in bogs, miles away from anywhere, on the Isle of Sheppey

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk) had a good innings. He must control himself.

Photo of Mr Anthony Greenwood Mr Anthony Greenwood , Rossendale

There has been a well organised campaign, on which I congratulate the organisers. I sympathise with the feelings they have, but the interests of the nation must come first. I therefore hope that the House will support the Government in the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down—[Interruption.]

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. I hope that the House will remain good natured as it has been throughout the debate. I want to hear the last minute of the debate.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Would the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether a proper cost-benefit analysis was made about all the different sites; and will he publish the results of it?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Wanstead and Woodford

I have sat in the House throughout the debate and have not heard a more deplorable speech than that of the Minister. He totally failed—[Interruption.]—to answer any of the cogent and reasonable arguments adduced by my hon. Friends. He has entirely failed to answer the debate.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose

Hon. Members:

Answer. Shame.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The Opposition do not want to talk this out.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 303.

Division No. 402.]AYES[10.0 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Corfield, F. V.Grieve, Percy
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Costain, A. P.Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Astor, JohnCraddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir OliverGurden, Harold
Awdry, DanielCrouch, DavidHall-Davis, A. G. F.
Baker, W. H. K.Crowder, F. P.Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)
Balniel, LordCunningham, Sir KnoxHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Barber, Rt. Hn. AnthonyCurrie, G. B. H.Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)
Batsford, BrianDalkeith, Earl ofHarris, Reader (Heston)
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonDance, JamesHarrison, Brian (Maldon)
Bell, RonaldDavidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.)Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryHarvie Anderson, Miss
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)Hastings, Stephen
Berry, Hn. AnthonyDeedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Hay, John
Bessell, PeterDigby, Simon WingfieldHeald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel
Biffen, JohnDodds-Parker, DouglasHeath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Biggs-Davison, JohnDoughty, CharlesHeseltine, Michael
Birch, Rt. Hn. NigelDouglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir AlecHiggins, Terence L.
Black, Sir CyrilDrayton, G. B.Hiley, Joseph
Body, Richarddu Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardHill, J. E. B.
Bossom, Sir CliveEden, Sir JohnHirst, Geoffrey
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnEmery, PeterHobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardEyre, ReginaldHogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin
Braine, BernardFarr, JohnHolland, Philip
Brewis, JohnFisher, NigelHornby, Richard
Brinton, Sir TattonFletcher-Cooke, CharlesHowell, David (Guildford)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col.Sir WalterForrest, GeorgeHunt, John
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Fortescue, TimHutchison, Michael Clark
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Foster, Sir JohnIremonger, T. L.
Bryan, PaulFraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone)Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Buck, Antony (Colchester)Galbraith, Hon. T. G.Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Bullus, Sir EricGibson-Watt, DavidJennings, J. C. (Burton)
Burden, F. A.Giles, Rear-Adm. MorganJohnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Campbell, GordonGilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Carlisle, MarkGilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Jopling, Michael
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertGlover, Sir DouglasJoseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Cary, Sir RobertGlyn, Sir RichardKaberry, Sir Donald
Channon, H. P. G.Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.Kerby, Capt. Henry
Clark, HenryGoodhart, PhilipKershaw, Anthony
Clegg, WalterGoodhew, VictorKimball, Marcus
Cooke, RobertGower, RaymondKing, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillGrant, AnthonyKirk, Peter
Cordle, JohnGresham Cooke, R.Kitson, Timothy
Knight, Mrs. JillOrr, Capt. L. P. S.Stodart, Anthony
Lambton, ViscountOrr-Ewing, Sir IanStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Lancaster, Col. C. G.Osborn, John (Hallam)Summers, Sir Spencer
Legge-Bourke, Sir HarryOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Tapsell, Peter
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Page, Graham (Crosby)Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Page, John (Harrow, W.)Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)Pardoe, JohnTaylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Longden, GilbertPearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)Teeling, Sir William
Lubbock, EriePeel, JohnTemple, John M.
McAdden, Sir StephenPercival, IanThatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Maclean, Sir FitzroyPeyton, JohnThorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Macleod, Rt. Hn. IainPike, Miss MervynTilney, John
McMastar, StanleyPounder, RaftonTurton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enochvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Maddan, MartinPrice, David (Eastleigh)Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Maginnis, John E.Prior, J. M. L.Vickers Dame Joan
Marples, Rt. Hn. ErnestPym, FrancisWalker, Peter (Worcester)
Marten, NeilQuennell, Miss J. M.Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Maude, AngusRawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir PeterWall, Patrick
Maudling, Rt. Hn. ReginaldRees-Davies, W. R.Walters, Dennis
Mawby, RayRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir DavidWard, Dame Irene
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Ridley, Hn. NicholasWeatherill, Bernard
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Ridsdale, JulianWells, John (Maidstone)
Mills, Peter (Torrington)Rippon, Rt. Hn. GeoffreyWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)Robson Brown, Sir WilliamWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Miscampbell, NormanRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)Wilson Geoffrey (Truro)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Monro, HectorRoyle, AnthonyWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Montgomery, FergusRussell, Sir RonaldWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)St. John-Stevas, NormanWoodnutt, Mark
Morrison, Charles (Devizes)Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.Worsley, Marcus
Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesScott, NicholasWright, Esmond
Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughSharples, RichardWylie, N. R.
Murton, OscarShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Neave, AireySinclair, Sir GeorgeTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Nicholls, Sir HarmarSmith, JohnMr. R. W. Elliott and
Nott, JohnStainton, KeithMr. Jasper More.
Onslow, CranleySteel, David (Roxburgh)
NOES
Albu, AustenCarter-Jones, LewisFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Chapman, DonaldFletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Alldritt, WalterCoe, DenisFoley, Maurice
Allen, ScholefieldColeman, DonaldFoot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)
Anderson, DonaldConcannon, J. D.Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)
Archer, PeterConlan, BernardFord, Ben
Armstrong, ErnestCorbet, Mrs. FredaForrester, John
Ashley, JackCrawshaw, RichardFowler, Gerry
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Cronin, JohnFraser, John (Norwood)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)Crosland, Rt. Hn. AnthonyFraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. AliceCrossman, Rt. Hn. RichardFreeson, Reginald
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Cullen, Mrs. AliceGalpern, Sir Myer
Barnes, MichaelDalyell, TamGardner, Tony
Barnett, JoelDarling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeGarrett, W. E.
Baxter, WilliamDavidson, Arthur (Accrington)Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P.C.
Beaney, AlanDavies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Gourlay, Harry
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Bence, CyrilDavies, Harold (Leek)Gregory, Arnold
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)Davies, Ifor (Gower)Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Bidwell, SydneyDelargy, HughGriffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)
Binns, JohnDell, EdmundGriffiths, Will (Exchange)
Bishop, E. S.Dempsey, JamesGunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.
Blackburn, F.Dewar, DonaldHale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Blenkinsop, ArthurDiamond, Rt. Hn. JohnHamiton, James (Bothwell)
Boardman, H.Dickens, JamesHamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Booth, AlbertDobson, RayHamling, William
Boston, TerenceDoig, PeterHannan, William
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurDonnelly, DesmondHarper, Joseph
Bowden, Rt. Hn. HerbertDunn, James A.Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Boyden, JamesDunnett, JackHart, Mrs. Judith
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)Haseldine, Norman
Bray, Dr. JeremyDunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)Hattersley, Roy
Brooks, EdwinEdelman, MauriceHazell, Bert
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Edwards, William Merioneth)Henig, Stanley
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Ellis, JohnHerbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)English, MichaelHilton, W. S.
Buchan, NormanEnsor, DavidHobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)Hooley, Frank
Butter, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)Homer, John
Butter, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Fernyhough, E.Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. JamesFitch, HaroldHowarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Cant, R. B.Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)
Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Manuel, ArchieRowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Howie, w.Marsh, Rt. Hn. RichardRyan, John
Hoy, JamesMason, RoySheldon, Robert
Huckfield, L.Maxwell, RobertShinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Mayhew, ChristopherShore, Peter (Stepney)
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)Mellish, RobertShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Mendelson, J. J.Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Hughes, Roy (Newport)Mikardo, IanSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Hunter, AdamMillan, BruceSilverman, Julius (Aston)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Miller, Dr. M. S.Skeffington, Arthur
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)Milne, Edward (Blyth)Small, William
Janner, Sir BarnettMitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)Snow, Julian
Jay, Rt. Hn. DouglasMolloy, WilliamSpriggs, Leslie
Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)Moonman, EricSteele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)Stonehouse, John
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Morris, John (Aberavon)Swain, Thomas
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Moyle, RolandSwingler, Stephen
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)Mulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickSymonds, J. B.
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Murray, AlbertTaverne, Dick
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)Neal, HaroldThomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Judd, FrankNoel-Baker, Francis (Swinden)Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Kelley, RichardNorwood, ChristopherThornton, Ernest
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)Oakes, GordonTinn, James
Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)Ogden, EricTomney, Frank
Kerr, Russell (Feltham)O'Malley, BrianTuck, Raphael
Lawson, GeorgeOram, Albert E.Urwin, T. W.
Leadbitter, TedOrme, StanleyWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Ledger, RonOswald, ThomasWalden, Brian (All Saints)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)
Lester, Miss JoanOwen, Will (Morpeth)Wallace, George
Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Padley, WalterWatkins, David (Consett)
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)Paget, R. T.Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Lipton, MarcusPalmer, ArthurWeitzman, David
Lomas, KennethPannell, Rt. Hn. CharlesWellbeloved, James
Loughlin, CharlesPark, TrevorWells, William (Walsall, N.)
Luard, EvanParkyn, Brian (Bedford)White, Mrs. Eirene
Lyon, Alexander W. (York)Pavitt, LaurenceWigg, Rt. Hn. George
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)Wilkins, W. A.
Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonPeart, Rt. Hn. FredWilley, Rt. Hn. Frederick
McBride, NeilPentland, NormanWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
McCann, JohnPerry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
MacColl, JamesPrice, Christopher (Perry Barr)Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
MacDermot, NiallPrice, Thomas (Westhoughton)Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Macdonald, A. H.Price, William (Rugby)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
McGuire, MichaelProbert, ArthurWillis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
McKay, Mrs. MargertPursey, Cmdr. HarryWilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Rankin, JohnWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Mackie, JohnRees, MerlynWinnick, David
Mackintosh, John P.Reynolds, G. W.Winterbottom, R. E.
Maclennan, RobertRoberts, Albert (Normanton)Woof, Robert
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Wyatt, Woodrow
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)Yates, Victor
McNamara, J. KevinRobertson, John (Paisley)
MacPherson, MalcolmRobinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St. P'c'as)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)Mr. Charles Grey and
Mahon, Simon (Bootle)Roebuck, RoyMr. William Whitlock.
Mallalieu, J. P. W.(Huddersfield, E.)Rogers, George (Kensington)

Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—

The House divided: Ayes 303, Noes 238.

Division No. 403.]AYES[10.13 p.m.
Albu, AustenBennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Bidwell, SydneyBuchan, Norman
Alldritt WalterBinns, JohnBuchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)
Allen, ScholefieldBishop, E. S.Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)
Anderson, DonaldBlackburn, F.Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)
Archer, PeterBlenkinsop, Arthurcallaghan, Rt. Hn. James
Armstrong, ErnestBoardman, H.Cant, R. B.
Ashley, JackBooth, AlbertCarter-Jones, Lewis
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)Boston, TerenceChapman, Donald
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)Bottomley, Rt. Hn. ArthurCoe, Denis
Bacon, Rt. Hn. AliceBowden, Rt. Hn. HerbertColeman, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Boyden, JamesConcannon, J. D.
Barnes, MichaelBraddock, Mrs. E. M.Conlan, Bernard
Barnett, JoelBray, Dr. JeremyCorbet, Mrs. Freda
Baxter, WilliamBrooks, EdwinCrawshaw, Richard
Beaney, AlanBrown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)Cronin, John
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Bence, CyrilBrown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard
Cullen, Mrs. AliceJackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)Palmer, Arthur
Dalyell, TamJanner, Sir BarnettPannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Darling, Rt. Hn. GeorgeJay, Rt. Hn. DouglasPark, Trevor
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Pavitt, Laurence
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Davies, Harold (Leek)Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)Pentland, Norman
Delargy, HughJones, Dan (Burnley)Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Dell, EdmundJones, Rt. Hn. SirElwyn (W. Ham, S.)Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Dempsey, JamesJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Dewar, DonaldJones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)Price, William (Rugby)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. JohnJudd, FrankProbert, Arthur
Dickens, JamesKelley, RichardPursey, Cmdr. Harry
Dobson, RayKerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)Rankin, John
Doig, PeterKerr, Dr. David (W'worth. Central)Rees, Merlyn
Donnelly, DesmondKerr, Russell (Feltham)Reynolds, G. W.
Dunn, James A.Lawson, GeorgeRichard, Ivor
Dunnett, JackLeadbitter TedRoberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)Ledger, RonRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Edelman, MauriceLee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)Robertson, John (Paisley)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Lestor, Miss JoanRobinson, Rt. Hn. Kernieth (St. P'c'as)
Edwards, William (Merioneth)Lever, Harold (Cheetham)Robinson, W. O. J. (Waith'stow. E.)
Ellis, JohnLever, L. M. (Ardwick)Roebuck, Roy
English, MichaelLipton, MarcusRogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Ensor, DavidLomas, KennethRowland, Christopher (Merlden)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Loughlin, CharlesRyan, John
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)Luard, EvanSheldon, Robert
Fernyhough, E.Lyon, Alexander W. (York)Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Finch, HaroldLyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Mabon, Dr. J. DicksonShort, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)McBride, NeilSilkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)McCann, JohnSilkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Foley, MauriceMacColl, JamesSilverman, Julius (Aston)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich)MacDermot, NiallSkeffington, Arthur
Ford, BenMacdonald, A. H.Small, William
Forrester, JohnMcGuire, MichaelSnow, Julian
Fowler, GerryMcKay, Mrs. MargaretSpriggs, Leslie
Fraser, John (Norwood)Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)Mackie, JohnStewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Freeson, ReginaldMackintosh, John P.Stonehouse, John
Galpern, Sir MyerMaclennan, RobertStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Gardner, TonyMacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Garrett, W. E.McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)Swain, Thomas
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.McNamara, J. KevinSwingler, Stephen
Gourlay, HarryMacPherson, MalcolmSymonds, J. B.
Gregory, ArnoldMahon, Peter (Preston, S.)Taverne, Dick
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mahon, Simon (Bootle)Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Griffiths, Will (Exchange)Manuel, ArchieThornton, Ernest
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.Marsh, Rt. Hn. RichardTinn, James
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Mason, RoyTomney, Frank
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Maxwell, RobertTuck, Raphael
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)Mayhew, ChristopherUrwin, T. W.
Hamling, WilliamMellish, RobertWainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Hannan, WilliamMendelson, J. J.Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Harper, JosephMikardo, IanWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Millan, BruceWallace, George
Hart, Mrs. JudithMiller, Dr. M. S.Watkins, David (Consett)
Haseldine, NormanMilne, Edward (Blyth)Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Hattersley, RoyMitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)Weitzman, David
Hazell, BertMolloy, WilliamWellbeloved, James
Healey, Rt. Hn. DenisMoonman, EricWells, William (Walsall, N.)
Henig, StanleyMorgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)White, Mrs. Eirene
Herbison, Rt. Hn. MargaretMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Hilton, W. S.Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Wilkins, W. A.
Hobden,Dennis (Brighton, K'town)Morris, John (Aberavon)Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Hooley, FrankMoyle, RolandWilliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Horner, JohnMulley, Rt. Hn. FrederickWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Houghton, Rt. Hn. DouglasMurray, AlbertWilliams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)Neal, HaroldWilliams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Howell, Denis (Small Heath)Norwood, ChristopherWillis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Howie, W.Oakes, GordonWilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hoy, JamesOgden, EricWilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Huckfield, L.O'Malley, BrianWinnick, David
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)Oram, Albert E.Winterbottom, R. E.
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)Orme, StanleyWoof, Robert
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Oswald, ThomasWyatt, Woodrow
Hughes, Roy (Newport)Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)Yates, Victor
Hunter, AdamOwen, Will (Morpeth)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Padley, WalterTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Paget, R. T.Mr. Charles Grey and
Mr. William Whitlock.
NOES
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Goodhart, PhilipMunro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Goodhew, VictorMurton, Oscar
Astor, JohnCower, RaymondNeave, Airey
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)Grant, AnthonyNicholls, Sir Harmar
Awdry, DanielGresham Cooke, R.Nott, John
Baker, W. H. K.Grieve, PercyOnslow, Cranley
Balniel LordGriffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Barber, Rt. Hn. AnthonyGrimond, Rt. Hn. J.Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Batsford, BrianGurden, HaroldOsborn, John (Hallam)
Beamish, Col. Sir TuftonHall-Davis, A. G. F.Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Bell, RonaldHamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)Page, Graham (Crosby)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bennett Dr. Reginald (Cos. & Fhm)Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)Pardoe, John
Berry, Hn. AnthonyHarris, Reader (Heston)Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Bessell, PeterHarrison, Brian (Maldon)Peel, John
Biffen, JohnHarrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Percival, Ian
Biggs-Daviaon, JohnHarvie Anderson, MissPeyton, John
Birch, Rt. Hn. NigelHastings, StephenPike, Miss Mervyn
Black, Sir CyrilHay, JohnPounder, Rafton
Body, RichardHeald, Rt. Hn. Sir LionelPowell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Bossom, Sir CliveHeath, Rt. Hn. EdwardPrice, David (Eastleigh)
Boyd Carpenter, Rt. Hn. JohnHeseltine, MichaelPrior, J. M. L.
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir EdwardHiggins, Terence L.Pym, Francis
Braine, BernardHiley, JosephQuennell, Miss J. M.
Brewis JohnHill, J. E. B.Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Brinton, Sir TattonHirst, GeoffreyRees-Davies, W. R.
Bromley-Davenport,Lt. -Col. Sir WalterHobson, Rt. Hn. Sir JohnRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Hogg, Rt. Hn. QuintinRidley, Hn. Nicholas
Bruce-Gardyne, J.Holland, PhilipRidsdale, Julian
Bryan, PaulHornby, RichardRippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Buck, Antony (Colchester)Howell, David (Guildford)Robson Brown, Sir William
Bullus, Sir EricHunt, JohnRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Burden, F. A.Hutchison, Michael ClarkRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Campbell, CordonIremonger, T. L.Royle, Anthony
Carlisle, MarkIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Russell, Sir Ronald
Carr, Rt. Hn. RobertJenkin, Patrick (Woodford)St. John-Stevas, Norman
Cary, Sir RobertJennings, J. C. (Burton)Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Channon, H. P. G.Johnson Smith, G. (E. Crinstead)Scott, Nicholas
Clark, HenryJones, Arthur (Northants, S.)Sharples, Richard
Clegg, WalterJopling, MichaelShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Cooke, RobertJoseph, Rt. Hn. Sir KeithSinclair, Sir George
Cooper-Key, Sir NeillKaberry, Sir DonaldSmith, John
Cordle, JohnKerby, Capt. HenryStainton, Keith
Corfield, F. V.Kershaw, AnthonySteel, David (Roxburgh)
Costain, A. P.Kimball, MarcusStodart, Anthony
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Stoddart, Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir OliverKirk, PeterSummers, Sir Spencer
Crouch, DavidKitson, TimothyTapsell Peter
Crowder, F. P.Knight, Mrs. JillTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Cunningham, Sir KnoxLambton, ViscountTaylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Currie, G. B. H.Lancaster, Col. C. C.Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Dalkeith, Earl ofLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryTeeling, Sir William
Dance, JamesLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Temple, John M.
Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire,W.)Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
d'Avigdor-GoMsmid, Sir HenryLloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)Longden, GilbertTilney, John
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Loveys, W. H.Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Digby, Simon WingfieldLubbock, Ericvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Dodds-Parker, DouglasMcAdden, Sir StephenVaughan Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Doughty, CharlesMaclean, Sir FitzroyVickers, Dame Joan
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir AlecMacleod, Rt. Hn. lainWalker, Peter (Worcester)
Drayson, G. B.McMaster, StanleyWalker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
du Cann, Rt. Hn. EdwardMacmillan, Maurice (Farnham)Wall, Patrick
Eden, Sir JohnMaddan, MartinWalters, Dennis
Emery, PeterMaginnis, John E.Ward, Dame Irene
Eyre, ReginaldMarples, Rt. Hn. ErnestWeatherill, Bernard
Farr, JohnMarten, Neilwells, John (Maidstone)
Fisher, NigelMaude, AngusWhitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMaudling, Rt. Hn. ReginaldWills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Forrest, GeorgeMawby, RayWilson, Geoffrey (Truro).
Fortescue, TimMaxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Foster, Sir JohnMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh(St'frord & Stone)Mills, Peter (Torrington)Woodnutt, Mark
Galbraith, Hon. T. O.Mills, Stratum (Belfast, N.)Worsley, Marcus
Gibson-Watt, DavidMiscampbell, NormanWright, Esmond
Giles, Rear-Adm. MorganMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Wylie, N. R.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Monro, Hector
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Montgomery, FergusTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Glover, Sir DouglasMorgan, Geraint (Denbigh)Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Glyn, Sir RichardMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Mr. Jasper More.
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles

Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.

Resolved,That this House welcomes the policy of Her Majesty's Government to plan airport requirements in the light of all relevant factors, including the effect on the local population, the needs of the travelling public, safety, agriculture and the protection of amenity; and approves their selection of a third London airport on this basis.