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 5:00 pm on 13th March 2012.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport 5:00 pm, 13th March 2012

On a point of order, Mrs Riordan. If I may delay the Committee for a few more minutes, I should like to thank you and Sir Roger, in his absence, for managing proceedings in such an exemplary fashion. A Public Bill Committee is a fairly new experience for some hon. Members, and I am sure that your gracious and helpful chairmanship has eased their introduction into what can sometimes feel like a rather arcane and technical aspect of parliamentary work. Arcane and technical though it can be, it is hugely important, so I thank all members of the Committee, on both sides, for their thorough scrutiny of an important Bill.

I will pick out just a few. My hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley demonstrated a formidable technical grasp of the Bill, as well as a determination to address the issues. My hon. Friend the Member for Daventry highlighted the concerns of his constituents who depend on the continued success of East Midlands airport and DHL. I hope I have provided some reassurance on that. My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South had a close eye on the consumer interest.

The hon. Member for North West Durham made many thoughtful and incisive contributions, enlivened by anecdotes to illustrate how important the issues dealt with by the Bill are. The hon. Member for Bolton West brought to bear the considerable expertise on transport matters that she demonstrates so regularly in the Select Committee on Transport. Of course, the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton was rigorous in challenging the Bill’s provisions and asserting the need to avoid over-regulation.

I thank the Opposition Front Benchers for raising a wide range of interesting and important points, giving the Committee the opportunity to consider all the key issues in the Bill. We had well informed and detailed debates, particularly on the environment, information powers, aviation security and extension of the ATOL scheme. The extent of their support for so much of the Bill is much appreciated and reflects the fact that the Bill can be said to have more than one parent. Both the previous and present Governments can claim some credit for the positive response the Bill has received  from a wide range of stakeholders, although I must correct one point. I had been happy to share the credit for a move to an outcomes-focused, risk-based approach to security with the previous Government, but it seems that I was incorrect and the credit for the change can therefore be claimed solely by the present Government.

I am pleased to note that the Committee has covered all 112 clauses in and 14 schedules to the Bill with informed and thorough debate, which has provided rigorous scrutiny. I am sorry that I have had to appear with my arm in a sling. Sometimes low-carbon transport choices come at a price. However, I can warmly recommend a combination of paracetamol, codeine and diet Red Bull as a way to survive a Public Bill Committee when recovering from an injury.

We have done the Bill justice, and the fact that we have done so in a timely and efficient fashion to enable us to finish early is a credit to the Chairmen, to the usual channels and to all members of the Committee. My Whip, my hon. Friend the Member for North Herefordshire, has done a sterling job. The usual channels have worked well together in aiding the management of the work that we have undertaken, ensuring that we have had ample time in each sitting for detailed and serious consideration and scrutiny of the Bill.

I thank the Committee staff for their excellent work and the Hansard reporters. I commend the Bill to the Committee and look forward to our further deliberations on Report.