Stansted Airport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:52 pm on 28th April 1987.

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Photo of Mr Fred Silvester Mr Fred Silvester , Manchester, Withington 10:52 pm, 28th April 1987

My hon. Friend said that the order was predictable and unsurprising, but perhaps the speech of the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Snape) was even more predictable and unsurprising. He took us through the letter from the North of England Regional Consortium and demonstrated that, even though he is very good at spreading these things out, it was just as thin an argument when he spoke about it as it is in the letter.

I do, however, agree with the hon. Gentleman on one point. It is a pity, but of no great significance in the event, that consultations were not wider and it would have been tactful if they had been. A lot of people put a lot of effort into the development of Stansted and made many representations. It would have been sensible to make the Government inquiries wider.

In effect, it does not seem to have made much difference because, as regards Manchester airport and the regional airports, the central issue is whether or not the limit imposed by this order is too large for the comfort of the regional airports. The consortium has not suggested in its letter or briefing that 78,000 ATMs are dangerous to the development of those airports. We are suggesting an order which will cover the period into the mid-1990s. Unlike the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East, I pay tribute to the Government for making great efforts to develop the regional airports, especially Manchester, and that should be put on the record. Moreover, they continue to do so.

The order is part of a package of measures put together at the time of approval of Stansted and designed to protect the interests of regional airports and to develop them. The order meets that promise and I thank the Government for properly and promptly introducing an order which meets that promise.

To take up the point of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), the order provides the House with a new and greater opportunity to control this area than it has ever had before. As I understand it, the control of the size of Stansted or any other airport does not come before the House, but the order and further additions to it give us an opportunity to keep some control over what happens in future.

The Government are to be congratulated on introducing the order. We shall keep a close eye on this and I make it perfectly clear to my hon. Friend the Minister that if there is any attempt to go beyond the 7 million to 8 million passengers on which the order is based, he had better not try to do so by an order late at night.