My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State meets Sir John Egan, chief executive of BAA plc, from time to time to discuss matters of mutual interest. BAA plc and other interested parties were given the opportunity to comment formally on night restrictions during the public consultation undertaken between November 1993 and February 1994.
As Heathrow Members today week are to meet my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to discuss aircraft noise at Heathrow, will he remember that we and our constituents want a total ban on all night flights, and that the British Airports Authority itself says that night flights are not of crucial importance to it, which is hardly surprising as only one flight in 80 is a night flight, and night flights create noise, disturbance and nuisance out of all proportion to their numbers?
I have never been in any doubt as to my hon. Friend's views on that matter, and he reiterated them today. We have always sought a sensible balance between the interests of the airline industry, which uses Heathrow—our premier airport and a vital link in commercial terms—and the interests of those who live around the airport and who, of course, want to have a decent night's sleep. That is a perfectly reasonable balance and we shall continue to press it and see that it is maintained.