The Government have given us something of a dilemma, because Members in all parts of the House agree that the Lords amendments are flawed. Clearly, we do not want to impose regulations on every small airport in the country. The difficulty is that they reflect the frustrations with this empty Bill felt not just in another place but among Opposition Members—and, indeed, many Government Back Benchers.
The Minister's predecessor admitted that
"the provisions in the Bill have been introduced specifically in response to some airports—I name Manchester airport in particular—that have made it clear that they seek legal clarification of the powers that they wish to use. Manchester airport may want to fix its charges by reference to aircraft noise or emissions, and it seeks the cover of legislation to do so. It intends to make use of the provisions".—[ Official Report, Standing Committee B,
In fact, when we last considered these matters on the Floor of the House, on
"The power to charge by reference to noise has been available to airports since 1982 and many of the larger airports already use it".—[ Hansard, 8 May 2006; Vol. 446, c. 42.]
Tonight I shall be visiting Nottingham East Midlands airport with my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Garnier. Whatever its failings in terms of night flights, and I shall be looking hard at those tonight, NEMA has for many years been charging on the basis of noise.