Orders of the Day — Civil Aviation (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:54 pm on 14th December 1981.

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Photo of Mr David Ginsburg Mr David Ginsburg , Dewsbury 7:54 pm, 14th December 1981

Like the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins), I do not propose to detain the House for too long. The Bill is necessary because the Government are both the banker and owner of British Airways and the BAA. We are dealing with large sums of money—£175 million in the case of the BAA and £600 million in the case of British Airways.

As has already been said, British Airways face major financial, economic and social problems, but if we are to have an adequate presence in the North of England, the financial infrastructure must be satisfactory. Nevertheless, when looking at nationalised industries as a whole, one must conclude that some of the arrangements for parliamentary accountability are far from satisfactory.

Much of our legislation, although not necessarily this Bill, goes into too much managerial detail and does not give enough thought to financial priorities. Therefore, while I support the Bill because it is financially necessary, I hope that the Government will think about interposing a State holding company into which many of the nationalised industries could be absorbed so that our debates can concentrate on the major priorities.

I think in particular of financial matters. We should view this in the round, not merely in terms of the financial involvement of British Airways or the BAA, but the financial problems of the other industries as well. As it is, our piecemeal debates often interfere with the managerial discretion of the industries concerned. Having said that, I have no doubt that British Airways in particular now face a major financial crisis. It would, therefore, be wrong and churlish of the House to deny the Bill its passage.