New Clause 3 - Obligation to operate an air transport service serving a specified route

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 13th March 2012.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport 4:45 pm, 13th March 2012

I welcome the debate and the comments of the hon. Member for Glasgow South, who introduced it, and other Committee members who have contributed. I had no intention of accusing the hon. Gentleman of a Stalinist plot in tabling this probing new clause. I reassure him that I am aware of the concerns that my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (James Wharton) has expressed on related matters; he has conveyed those directly to me and to colleagues at the Department for Transport.

The Government take seriously the matters raised by discussion of the amendment. It is useful to be told that it is just a probing amendment, but it raises important issues. We recognise the vital contribution that regional airports make to local economies and that high-quality regional connectivity is important for our economy. In future, we hope that high-speed rail will provide a viable and lower-carbon alternative to thousands of flights, but we recognise that, particularly for remoter areas of the UK, regional air services will continue to provide a vital lifeline and a means of connectivity.