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Clause 1 - CAA’s general duty

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:00 pm on 28th February 2012.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Shadow Minister (Transport) 4:00 pm, 28th February 2012

It is a pleasure to see you presiding over business this afternoon, Mrs Riordan. We look forward to your chairmanship of the next few sittings.

We feel strongly about the three amendments, as has been made clear by my hon. Friends’ earlier contributions. We appreciate the endorsement by the hon. Member for Cambridge of the principle, if not of the actual words or, indeed, of his votes—one day, perhaps.

The Minister and the CAA accept that the CAA has a role to play in environmental matters—it had that role previously, and will continue to have it. However, the difference is that we are moving the goalposts in the Bill. We are changing the environment and creating a primary statutory duty to put the passenger at the centre of the CAA’s policy. On the rejection of our suggestion for a supplementary or secondary duty for airlines, the Minister rightly pointed out that the new appeals procedure has a much better way of dealing with regulatory price fixing and so on for airports. We accepted that as an amendment, and we agree that it  will lead to an improved situation. However, there is no such right of appeal in respect of environmental matters. Certainly, we have clauses 84 and 85 on information reporting, and they are very welcome.

When the hon. Member for Amber Valley says that our amendments do not cover airlines, just airports, he misses the point. With respect to him, clause 68 defines airport operator services widely. If he looks at that, he will see that it clearly covers all aspects of airport operation, including take-off, landing and the rest. I hope that he accepts that we are in tune with the Bill’s definition of civil aviation. I have heard the Minister’s explanation, especially regarding the view of the previous Government.