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Mr. Garnier: The hon. Lady will know from her experience that Gatwick is a designated airport under the Civil Aviation Act 1982. I suspect that she would not lobby the Secretary of State for Transport to have Gatwick undesignated. I am sure that she finds that the arrangements whereby the Government, acting as an honest broker, set the limits and the framework within which noise emissions, numbers of aircraft and the times during which aircraft land at Gatwick, Stansted or Heathrow are the best way. If she were required to get rid of that system, I suspect that she and her constituents would be most displeased. What I am after is equality; I want my constituents to have the advantages that her constituents enjoy, knowing that the Government and the Secretary of State underpin the arrangements governing the airport.
The hon. Lady may not realise that Nottingham East Midlands airport already has more night flights between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am than Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, yet we are wholly unprotected. Our only protection so far is the planning authority at North West Leicestershire district council. The shop at NEMA probably has a higher turnover in a week, certainly in a month, than the council's revenue budget of about £10 million a year. There is no equality of arms, so can it seriously be suggested that NEMA will be in the least bit bothered by anything other than proper control by the Secretary of State? Can it seriously be suggested that a high-powered, well-driven, well-managed commercial organisation will be interested in fining its customers for slipping outside the air routes, making too much noise or pushing out too much filth? I do not think so.
Dr. Pugh : The hon. and learned Gentleman makes a good point about the lack of an independent appeal, but the view of many Members that airports would not act impartially probably comes from the provision that states that when penalties are made, payments are made to the community
What do the words "benefit to persons who live in the area" mean? Will my constituents who live 50 miles away from Nottingham East Midlands airport be allowed to apply for compensation for property blight or to put in double glazing? Will they be allowed to apply for compensation for the psychological distress that they suffer endlessly from sleepless nights as aeroplanes fly over their houses every 90 seconds between 11 o'clock and 7 am? No doubt the hon. Gentleman knows that the European Court of Human Rights already recognises sleep deprivation as a
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disbenefit, but I have a suspicion that that will not be taken into account because NEMA and all the other fellows who will be dealing with this private justice system will narrowly define the words "area", "vicinity" and "benefit". Although the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire may see some improvement in the double-glazing regime that pertains in the villages around Nottingham East Midlands airport, no such benefit will follow in the south-west, south-east and north-east of the county.
My point is simple: if the Government want to be taken seriously in their desire to control air pollution, air noise and night noise they had better come up with a more effective set of policing arrangements than they are providing in the Bill. I shall end my speech, as other Members want to talk about their airports and will have much to say. The Government must get a grip on those who are wholly unaccountable to the people of Leicestershire, as I pointed out in an intervention earlier. The airport is owned by 10 local authorities in Greater Manchesterthe former leader of Manchester city council is in the Chamber. My constituents cannot vote for those authorities and they cannot buy shares in the company. All they can do is send letters of complaint that their houses are being overflown at night and receive in reply the kind of meaningless waffle to which my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton referred in his opening speech. The Government should wake up. If they do not, it will lead to the dismissal of yet another aviation Minister. We have already seen off two, and we are not against seeing off another if we do not get what we want.
Graham Stringer (Manchester, Blackley) (Lab): In these debates, I always feel that that I am declaring interests that I do not really have. I was a board member of Manchester Airport plc for 13 years. I chaired the board on three occasions, once for a whole year, and represented the majority shareholder, Manchester city council. However, I have never been to Nottingham East Midlands airport and, when I was on the Manchester Airport board, we had no financial interest in NEMA.
I do not understand the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) that people in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are at a disadvantage because Manchester Airport plc is owned by 10 local authorities. How, apart from the ability to purchase shares, is that different from many privately owned airports? As I have seen in Manchester, being a responsive public body has many distinct advantages in comparison, for example, with Liverpool airport. That airport is owned primarily by Peel Holdings, but in the final analysis by Great Hey, in which one cannot buy shares, so people would be at a further disadvantage if an airport were owned privately rather than by public authorities.
At one time, Nottingham East Midlands airport was owned by the local authorities of Derby city, Derbyshire county, Nottingham city, Nottinghamshire county and Leicestershire county. At that time, the airport authorities showed greater sensitivity to the needs of the community and balanced them with commercial considerations. It was hoped
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that, when the Manchester Airports Group took over, there would be a similar improvement in sensitivity but we have not yet seen it.
Graham Stringer: I have two responses to my hon. Friend's point. First, it was nobody's decision but those local authorities to sell their shares. SecondlyI hope that this is more conciliatorywhen I was listening to the speech made by the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan), I was concerned that people in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire find it difficult to identify a noisy aeroplane passing at 4 am. In a country where we and the Government believe in open government, it is strange and perverse that it is impossible to find out which aeroplane is making a noise. If I am chosen to serve on the Standing Committee, I intend to use my best endeavours to help to do something about that, as it is not a reasonable position. Often, it is an old aeroplane going off its flight path that makes the most noise. If people could identify itunder the Bill, they could not only identify it but fine those involvedit would go some way towards ameliorating the situation. That is an offer to help hon. Members who have that concern.
Before I speak about the clauses that deal with noise, air pollution, public airport companies and the air travel fund, I should like to do what other hon. Members have done and put the Bill in the context of the aviation industry, but I shall do so from a slightly different perspective. Hon. Members have said already that about 600,000 jobs depend on aviation and that it contributes just over £10 billion to our gross domestic product. Its impact is almost equivalent to the whole car manufacturing industry and double the size of the aerospace industry. It has a profound effect on the economy. When we think about aviation, we usually think of the 180 million to 200 million passengers who fly each year, but we tend not to focus on the fact that 20 per cent. by weight of this country's exports go by air. Many industries depend on getting their component parts by just-in-time flights into our economy. The air freight cargo business has grown almost threefold in the past 10 to 15 years. It is a dynamic part of the economy.
I make those points because, hon. Members often talk about their own aerodrome or airport in such debates. On many occasions, they talk about the problems of noise and air pollution that are inevitably associated with airports, but if this country is to earn its living as part of an increasingly globalised economy, international aviation is as important to us as the internet. We cannot compete with the growing economies of India and China, let alone with the United States and the European Union, if we do not support our aviation industry and help it to continue to be successfuland by successful, I mean to grow.
I suspect that it is not well known that this country's aviation sector is the second largest after that of the United Statesit is vital to usso I start from almost the opposite point to some other hon. Members: we must succour and support the aviation industry and then look at how we deal with many of the effects. If we are to have a successful freight and cargo industry, there must be night flights. Given the industry's current structure around complicated integrators, it is simply not possible for this country to compete if we do not have night flights and, probably, an increasing number
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of them. How do we deal with that? We do so with compensation, quieter aircraft and by controlling pollution. That is what we should be debating, not whether we take this country from the forefront of one of the most exciting and important industries in the world economy.
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