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Mr. Clarke: We take exactly the stance that the hon. Gentleman suggests. Obviously it is much easier to remove people to places that are democracies, because all the various issues with which the courts would rightly be concerned must be addressed. If, however, the hon. Gentleman would like a seminar on the specific issues on a country-by-country basis, I should be delighted to give it to him.

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): As the Home Secretary says, this is an agonisingly difficult issue. But even if he will not accept that Zimbabwe is a special case,
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does he not see an inconsistency in the figures for the last quarter? During that period, we appear to have deported more people to Zimbabwe—one of the most brutal and horrible regimes in the world—than to Kosovo, which is currently garrisoned by European Union troops.

Mr. Clarke: I do not think that the comparison has any relevance to the situation. It is a country-by-country situation, which we must assess while—as the hon. Gentleman rightly says—taking the difficult issues into account.

Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con): In 41 minutes, the Home Secretary has made no mention of the dramatically changed circumstances in Zimbabwe. Does he not understand that the totally wicked forced eviction programme has created a humanitarian disaster, as was pointed out by the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey)? Nearly 400,000 people have been evicted, 20,000 of whom have been arrested. Are we not seeing completely changed circumstances?

Mr. Clarke: I am well aware of that. If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said, he might have heard me refer to it a number of times.


Crown Employment (Nationality)

Mr. Andrew Dismore, supported by Mr. Andrew Love, Dr. Tony Wright, Annette Brooke, Keith Vaz, Mr. Andrew Slaughter and Martin Salter, presented a Bill to make provision for and in connection with the removal of general restrictions as to nationality which apply to persons employed or holding office in any civil capacity under the Crown; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on 16 June 2006, and to be printed [Bill 34].

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Orders of the Day

Civil Aviation Bill

[Relevant document: The Fifteenth Report from the Transport Committee, Session 2003–04, HC 806, on Financial Protection for Air Travellers.]

Order for Second Reading read.

4.12 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

First, let me pass on the apologies of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. He cannot be here because he is attending the European Transport Council in Luxembourg.

Aviation makes a substantial contribution to our national economy—about £10 billion in 2002. It represents about 1 per cent. of economic activity in the United Kingdom. The industry provides 200,000 jobs directly, and three times as many indirectly. More and cheaper flights afford opportunities to travel undreamt of by earlier generations. Now half the population fly at least once a year, and many fly more often—on business, competing in the global marketplace or as leisure travellers, taking advantage of the greater opportunities to discover other countries and cultures.

Aviation is our gateway to the world. The range of destinations served directly by our national and regional airports has expanded enormously. Last but not least, air passenger duty contributes just under £1 billion a year to the Exchequer.

Not everyone can view airports in that warm light, however. Many people who live close to them have very different feelings, and some consider that aviation has dramatically reduced the quality of their lives. It is true that over the years during which there has been an increase in air traffic, there have also been substantial improvements in the noise levels of jet aircraft, and noise at many of our major airports has been significantly reduced as a result. Nevertheless, it remains important for communities affected by noise to feel assured that their interests are taken fully into account as the aviation industry continues to develop.

Susan Kramer (Richmond Park) (LD): Does the Minister not accept that for those who live under the flight path, as many of my constituents do—and as I do, which faces me with a conflict on this issue—the number of aircraft movements, especially at night, is just as important as the cumulative noise quotas proposed by provisions in the Bill that would allow an end to controls on the number of movements? For those who are awoken at night by an aircraft, what matters is not the cumulative noise quota but the very fact that they have been woken up.

Dr. Ladyman: The purpose of the Bill, as I will explain in a moment, is to empower those responsible for monitoring noise at a given airport to take the most appropriate action to deal with noise at that airport. The point that the hon. Lady makes is entirely valid in respect of some airports, at which the number of aircraft
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movements would need to be taken into account. At others, forcing people to use quotas, rather than taking account of the noise of individual aircraft, has a deleterious effect on their quality of life, so they would want a different solution. The Bill gives the authorities the power to make those decisions.

Susan Kramer: Will the Minister give way?

Dr. Ladyman: Let me make some progress first. We have a full day's debate, so we will have plenty of time to discuss these issues.

The Bill will, among other things, strengthen and clarify powers to control aircraft noise and emissions, in line with the commitments given in the Government's White Paper, "The Future of Air Transport," which was published in December 2003. First, the Bill will amend the powers through which the Secretary of State currently controls aircraft noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Secondly, it will introduce new statutory provisions for controlling aircraft noise at airports where the Secretary of State does not exercise his powers.

Mr. Mark Todd (South Derbyshire) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend accept that the Bill proposes to give these powers to the airports themselves, and that although many airports might exercise such responsibilities responsibly, some people might want an independent audit of their ability to regulate their own activities?

Dr. Ladyman: The Bill gives such power to the airport authorities, and as my hon. Friend correctly says, in many cases that will be the airport operator. But of course, they will be operating within the planning constraints imposed by the local authority. The existence of these powers will enable local authorities and airport operators, working in conjunction, to provide the controls that my hon. Friend seeks.

John Bercow (Buckingham) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment—I am only sorry that for the second time in succession, he defeated in South Thanet my very good friend Mark Macgregor, who would have made an excellent Member of this House. Will the order-making power provided for in clause 5(3) be subject to the negative procedure of the House, or to its affirmative counterpart?

Dr. Ladyman: I will reflect on that question and let the hon. Gentleman know the answer in good time. I thank him for his good wishes. I had a very enjoyable election with his good friend, but I was delighted to beat him for the second time.

Section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 empowers the Secretary of State to exercise direct control of noise measures at designated airports. Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted have been designated, and noise-control measures at these airports include noise-preferential routes, departure-noise limits and night-noise restrictions. Although we consider the existing powers to be broadly appropriate, the White Paper gives a commitment to amending section 78, so that controls such as night
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restrictions could, subject to public consultation, be set by reference to the amount of noise generated by aircraft on the basis of noise quotas alone, without a separate movements limit. This relates to the point made earlier by the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer).

As a result of this amendment, the primary control at an airport regulated by the Secretary of State could be related more directly to noise nuisance, providing a more effective incentive for airlines to acquire, use and develop quieter aircraft. I emphasise the word "could", by way of response to the question raised by the hon. Member for Richmond Park. However, I should emphasise that amending these powers should not be interpreted as a precursor to any immediate change in policy for noise control at the designated airports. For example, the recently launched stage two consultation on night flight restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted is based on the legislation as it currently stands and the outcome will set the limits for night flights both in terms of movements and noise quotas until 2012.

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