Stansted Airport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:32 pm on 28th April 1987.

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Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst , Saffron Walden 10:32 pm, 28th April 1987

Despite the controversy to which the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) referred and in which I have been fully involved in the past, I want to make it clear that I extend a warm welcome to the order. It is somewhat ironic that I should do so because, as some of my hon. Friends and Opposition Members may remember, I spoke in a forthright sense on the question of the utility of a power to limit air transport movements when it was first raised in the Civil Aviation Bill which was introduced in 1984. Those arguments seemed to prevail at the time. Therefore, I accept that it is a quirk of fate that I now grasp the more specific power, agreed by the House in the Airports Act 1986, from which this order devolves. We were able to confine the power given in the Act in such a way that it is tailored to the specific case of Stansted.

The order is very specific. It is intended to deliver the Government's promise on the limitation of the development of Stansted in terms of size. As the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East surmised, the environmental quality around Stansted is of concern to me for the sake of my constituents and neighbouring constituencies. However, the order is aimed simply at the question of size rather than environment.

The Government made two suggestions to limit the size of the development of Stansted. The first was to say that the terminal to be built should not exceed 50,000 sq m and the second was to allow the House, by means of an air transport movement limit, to determine whether Stansted should be allowed to proceed beyond an approximate limit of 7 million to 8 million passengers per annum throughput. I accept entirely the Government's good faith in responding in that way and I accept the nature of the order tonight.

The House could exercise influence over the future of Stansted only through this type of order since the Government had chosen to use planning law to determine whether Stansted should be expanded. This was because they could say either yes or no to the plans presented to them. There was apparently no planning half-way house that the Government could opt for. Therefore, having given the legal planning permission for 15 million passengers per annum throughput, this device is needed to give the House the power to limit the number of passengers per annum to 7 million or 8 million. That is welcomed by my constituents and I trust that it is welcomed generally in the House.