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The Minister could and should have taken the opportunities presented by the Bill, which includes a major shift in security procedures, to guarantee parliamentary scrutiny of the move to a risk-based system. Under new clause 3, a resolution to permit the move would require the approval of both Houses of Parliament and give us the opportunity to consider several important issues. It would allow us here in Parliament to consider the reliability of the Government’s estimated cost of changing the regime, which stands at £23.7 million over 10 years.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer), who is no longer in his place, pointed out, there are already concerns about whether the figure of £23.7 million over three years will allow for sufficient levels of training and staffing to fulfil security arrangements.

The new clause would give Parliament the opportunity to consider whether there is a risk that removing a one-size-fits-all approach to security creates the possibility of different levels of security at different airports, and the possibility at smaller airports of more lax security arrangements, which—ostensibly, given their lower threat level—terrorists could exploit.

The new clause would give Parliament the opportunity to consider whether there is a risk that the removal of the one-size-fits-all approach to security will create different levels of security at different airports, with more lax security arrangements at smaller airports, which ostensibly have a lower threat level, that could be exploited by terrorists. It would give Parliament the opportunity to consider how well the new aviation security regime will cope with emergency situations such as the liquid bomb plot of 2006. It would give Parliament the opportunity to consider whether the Civil Aviation Authority has demonstrated that it has the ability and resources to regulate a risk-based system effectively following the transfer of security functions under the Bill.

I repeat that Opposition Members are not against the move to an outcomes-focused regime in principle. However, this is a major shift in an area of high risk and it needs to be scrutinised properly by Parliament to give confidence not only to this House, but, more important, to the airline travelling public.

Gavin Shuker: It is a pleasure to speak to this group of amendments, because it is probably the most important one that we will discuss, other than that on environmental protections, which we will come to later.

To put the proposals in context, we are discussing a big shift in aviation security. This is not a peripheral part of the Bill, but a cornerstone. In Committee, we had robust debates about how best to arrange aviation security. I want to put it on the record that I do not believe that the Government wish to weaken aviation security. However, their ideological position is that it is important for the Government to withdraw, where possible, and to pass responsibility to other groups, whether they be agencies, third sector organisations or quangos.

Bob Stewart: I apologise for intervening for a second time and thank the hon. Gentleman. The key thing is that, whatever the Government do and whoever is responsible for the security at our airports, security is at least as good as it is now. It might be better or even different. Difference is a good thing in security, as long as the people are well-trained and have decent equipment.

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Gavin Shuker: The hon. Gentleman goes to the heart of the issue. I agree with him completely that the regime that comes in must be as good as, if not better than, the one it replaces. That is why amendment 13 would require the Secretary of State to carry out a full assessment of the change. I hope that there will be support for that if it is pressed later.

The hon. Gentleman’s second point was that change is important. Change is essential in aviation security and in all aspects of security so that we do not get into the pattern of doing the same thing day after day and thereby miss the threats. This country has an advanced aviation security regime. There is good partnership between airports, the Department for Transport and the agency within the DFT to ensure that it is implemented. When I sat on the Transport Committee, I was pleased to accompany its Chair, who spoke earlier in this debate, to speak to the officials who are charged with our aviation security in the run-up to the passage of the legislation. It is clear that we have major expertise in this, which we can share across Europe.

The key issue is not whether the Bill will strengthen or weaken our aviation security, nor what operational procedures or equipment we should use, but the question raised by the hon. Member for Beckenham (Bob Stewart): will the regime be better? At this stage, I do not have the information that is needed to answer that question. More important, I fear that the House has not had an opportunity to explore and answer that question fully. The new clause seeks to bring about such an opportunity, which is extremely welcome.

When we consider what the role of the Government should be, we see that the public expect there to be a hierarchy of interventions. There are places where they do not want government at all, and there are places where it is very much required. Security and the protection of the people are at the top of that hierarchy. Although the change being made in the Bill is not in any way designed to push the matter off the Secretary of State’s desk, it is a change to a system that has by and large worked very well.

The change is very big, however, and as I said in an intervention, it comes in the context of changes that are happening around Europe. I visited Brussels two weeks ago to talk about a number of subjects, and the extent to which the UK has become a tarnished brand was clear. Ever since the Conservative party moved to a more right-wing grouping within Europe, and more recently because of the veto that the Prime Minister exercised—although many of us would question what it actually stopped—our Government’s ability to influence other national Governments’ policies on various matters that we should agree on as a bloc has been diminished.

Mrs Villiers: I think the hon. Gentleman would be interested to know that the last time I attended the Council of Ministers, the Danish presidency proactively raised the issue of security reform, drawing on a number of the principles that we were considering in the UK. There is already interest in Europe in what we are doing, and we as a country can take a leading role in the debate on how to deliver a much more effective and passenger-friendly security regime.

Gavin Shuker: I absolutely agree that we have great expertise to share across Europe, and I am pleased to hear that the Minister has been making that point in

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Brussels. If she were being charitable, though, I think she would accept that the atmosphere there has changed.

Mrs Villiers indicated dissent .

Gavin Shuker: No, she is not going to be charitable. Okay.

The Minister rightly gave the example of the ministerial team at the Department for Transport having acted in response to concerns about European guidance on security related to the Sikh community. The current system allowed her to take that action, but we are about to change that system.

Mrs Villiers: I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that the move to an outcomes-focused, risk-based system will not change the responsibilities in relation to directions such as that given by the former Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond). Under the new system, the Secretary of State will still have the power to make directions such as he did in relation to the problem of religious headgear.

Gavin Shuker: I am extremely grateful to the Minister for giving me that assurance, but I would like her to give it to the House in a full debate about aviation security. By 7 o’clock tonight, the House will have finished Report stage. My party’s Front Benchers made their arguments so forcefully that I am sure they will carry the day if the amendments are pressed, but if not, we will have to go on assurances from the Government, not on assessments such as those we call for in the amendments or on positive resolutions of both Houses such as could be made if new clause 3 were accepted.

I accept the Minister’s point about leadership and am pleased that she is being responsive on the matter, but we must not ignore the fact that a big change is being made to aviation security. The public will want us to be able to account for what we have done. The change should not be made lightly; it should be made with the full, cross-party support of the House.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): I apologise for coming into the debate somewhat late. I was at a ministerial meeting about issues to do with Heathrow, particularly deportation and the detention centres at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook.

I wish to make two simple points. The first is about new clause 3 and relates to an issue that has come up time and again in debates about airport security. Members may recall that I chaired the meetings at Heathrow after 9/11, at which we brought together all the companies, BAA, Ministers and others. Two things came out of those discussions. One was the need for training, which has been mentioned today. There was a lack of training at the time, particularly on lower-level perimeter security. The second was the difficulty of recruiting and attracting sufficiently qualified staff, largely as a result of the low pay levels. We sought to resolve that in discussions with the Government. We wanted not only to bring all the agencies together to improve training, but to have it recognised that pay levels for security workers at Heathrow,

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some of whom at best lived on just above the minimum wage at that time, needed to be addressed if we were to recruit and retain appropriate staff.

4.15 pm

I support new clause 3, which is why I put my name to it. If we are to get the CAA to discuss a new framework, it needs to include a further discussion not only about training but about pay. Levels of pay at Heathrow are under significant pressure at the moment, and the workers under the most significant pressure are those in the security industry around Heathrow. I believe that some pay levels are causing problems in respect of the recruitment and retention of sufficiently trained and professional staff. I raise that because we seem to be debating the agenda of work for the CAA as it takes over such responsibilities. The new clause would set out the framework under which the CAA must introduce its agenda of issues to be addressed, which I welcome.

My second point concerns amendment 11, to which my right hon. Friends the Members for Warley (Mr Spellar) and for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) and others spoke. We have been talking about the religious clothing issue certainly for the 15 years that I have been in the House and probably for the century that my right hon. Friend the Member for Warley has been here. Amendment 11 refers to users of the service—that is completely right and I support the amendment, because it would set religious clothing as a priority for the CAA and its agenda of work—but workers at the airport are also affected, in respect of both the turban and the kirpan.

We have come to a clear agreement at Heathrow—I congratulate the previous and current Governments on assisting us in achieving a consensus—whereby workers are not in any way discriminated against for abiding by their religious tenets, including by wearing the turban and the kirpan. There are two problems, however. First, new security firms that start operating at the airport and in associated industries around the airport have in some cases failed to comply with the agreements reached at Heathrow. Some bizarre cases in which people have been discriminated against have arisen as a result. I want to ensure that the CAA recognises that religious clothing requirements affect workers and not just users of the service, as amendment 11 states.

Secondly, our work force at Heathrow and elsewhere are naturally mobile—they work at airports across Europe. We therefore need to tell the CAA that it has a role in leading the debate within Europe and in trying to get other sectors together. We have resolved the problem with regard to both the turban and kirpan for workers at Heathrow and elsewhere in the British Isles, but we can now seek to get a common agreement across Europe. In that way, Sikh workers will not experience difficulties and will not be discriminated against when they start working at other airports across Europe, as they will in increasing numbers because of their mobility and the integration of companies that operate at more than one airport in Europe.

For those reasons, new clause 3 would be incredibly valuable. Amendment 11 would give the appropriate indication to the CAA of the significance of the issue, not only for hon. Members but, more important, for the Sikh community of this country.

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Mrs Villiers: Government amendments 17 and 18 have not had much attention so far, which is probably a good thing for Government amendments. They are minor and technical, and provide for a change to section 12(3) of the Aviation Security Act 1982 by substituting the words “that Authority” with “the CAA”, thereby removing any doubt that the CAA is the authority referred to.

Amendment 11 to clause 80 deals with religious headwear. Committee members will recall that I raised this matter to illustrate some of the points we were discussing. I am sure the House will agree on the importance of ensuring that passengers are treated with respect at all points during their journey through an airport and that our system of security checks is operated in a culturally sensitive way. I welcome the work of colleagues such as my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton South West (Paul Uppal) and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) on this important issue.

Each passenger departing from a UK airport undergoes a standard security process, irrespective of their age, gender or ethnic background. The problems highlighted today relating to religious headwear emerged in April 2010, when new EU regulations came in that required a physical hand search to be carried out in relation to turbans. As hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) and the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East, have mentioned, physical contact with the turban causes considerable distress and offence to Sikhs. That was a concern not only for passengers but for many members of staff, as Heathrow is lucky enough to draw many members of staff from the Sikh community.

The former Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), acted swiftly and instructed airports to suspend temporarily the application of the new EU rules. As I mentioned in response to the hon. Member for Luton South (Gavin Shuker), the ability to take such a decision will remain in place under the new approach, because the Secretary of State will retain responsibility for policy and directions.

Airports were instructed to revert to the old systems while consideration was given to how to resolve the concerns expressed by the Sikh community. After intensive work over a short period, a trial was put together with the assistance of members of the Sikh community and is now under way at almost all the UK’s major airports. It uses a combination of explosive trace detection and hand-held metal detectors as an alternative to a hand search of the turban. This technology is successfully deployed in the United States as part of their aviation security regime. The trial is going well and is being carefully evaluated, and we are keeping the European Commission up to date with the results.

I have also written to European aviation and security Ministers to highlight the importance of the issue and to draw their attention to the trial, conscious of the sort of points made today about the UK’s responsibility as a country with a significant Sikh community. We very much hope that the trial will provide a sound basis of evidence for the EU in deciding whether it is possible to change the European rules on security to meet the concerns of Sikhs and ensure that the rules operate in a culturally sensitive way. The trial runs for 18 months up

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until this summer, and we are currently engaging with the EU with a view to continuing to conduct searches in this way.

Mr McFadden: I am grateful to the Minister for updating the House on the progress of the trial. Has she received any indication from the European Commission about its willingness to adopt this approach more widely, if the UK Government conclude that it does not compromise airport security?

Mrs Villiers: As I recall, it featured in my discussions with Siim Kallas last time I was at the Council of Ministers. We get the impression that the Commission is interested and has an open mind, and, in respect of the immediate prospects, we will consider whether we need to start a further trial when the current one expires in July. We are considering various ways of solving the problem, because it is important that we find a solution that works for the community.

Mr Spellar: Given that the trial must have been running for about 12 months, will the Minister tell us whether it has been a success? Most of the evidence will have come in the first month.

Mrs Villiers: As I have said, we believe that the trial has been positive so far, but it would not be appropriate for me to pre-judge the results before they have been properly assessed.

By way of further reassurance on this issue, clause 80 secures the same outcome as amendment 11, by inserting a new section 21I into the Aviation Security Act 1982, which will require the CAA to provide aviation security advice to airports, airlines and other groups. That would, if the CAA considers it to be appropriate, include advice on security checks on passengers wearing religious clothing. Therefore, although amendment 11 has provided a valuable opportunity for the House to discuss the matter, the Bill already provides for the outcome that it seeks. The Government will continue to engage with both the Commission and other member states with a view to finding a long-term solution to this important issue.

Let me turn to an outcomes-focused risk-based security regime. I welcome the words of support in principle for that direction of travel which we heard from the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (John Woodcock). We have put together a joint Department for Transport-CAA team with the relevant skills and knowledge to develop, trial and implement the new regulatory regime. We have consulted stakeholders and hosted several interactive events with industry to explain our position. A range of trials will be carried out applying the new regulatory approach. We are conscious of the importance of retaining staff, if we can, when the posts are transferred from the Department for Transport to the CAA. We are working to ensure that we retain those staff when the posts are transferred.

The hon. Gentleman has made points about secondments in the past. We do not see a major difference being made to the retention of staff when a secondment ends, although we certainly do not rule that out as part of our strategy for retaining expertise. To respond to the points that the shadow Minister made, we agree that we are talking about a significant change to aviation security.

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To respond to the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer), we believe that this move could reduce costs for industry, but that is certainly not the driving factor. The paramount priority must be to ensure that aviation security remains robust at all times. I believe that moving to a more outcomes-focused and risk-based approach could well enable us to deliver higher standards than apply currently, as we will be giving the airport industry more opportunity to develop innovative ways to deliver security outcomes and apply principles of continuous improvement. We are absolutely certain that we must in no way allow the security standards applied currently to slip. We are confident that that will not happen with an OFRB approach, and we believe that the reforms we are proposing could make passengers in the air even more secure than they are today.

Bob Stewart: Training is crucial, and we have to ensure that it is as good as it possibly can be. Speaking as someone who has been involved in such security matters, I can tell my right hon. Friend that the real problem is that people lose focus if they do the job for a long time. Training can help with that. We must ensure that our training is good and that it includes keeping a focus on the job when it can sometimes become repetitive and boring.

Mrs Villiers: My hon. Friend makes a good point with which I completely agree. He also made an important point earlier, which is that some variation in the way security is delivered in different airports can assist in maintaining the highest standards of security, because it injects a further element of unpredictability, which can help us frustrate the evil intentions of those who would do us harm.

In addition, we also see an advantage to the aviation industry of moving to a system that it can run more efficiently and, we hope, in a more passenger-friendly way. When we respond to the consultation on such security, we intend to provide as much detail as possible about how the new approach will work. I cannot support the proposal in new clause 3 for the Secretary of State to be obliged to require the approval of each House before such measures could come into force. I fear that that would slow down reform and could jeopardise our ability to respond swiftly to security threats. The Secretary of State intends to take forward the reformed approach to aviation security under powers in part II of the Aviation Security Act 1982.

Part II gives the Secretary of State the power to give directions to industry for the purpose of protecting civil aviation against acts of violence. The Secretary of State's decision-making powers do not require the approval of Parliament before they can come into force. Changing that as proposed by the new clause could damage our ability to keep passengers secure. Directions from the Secretary of State often contain security-sensitive information which, if widely disclosed, could be used by people who mean to do us harm. Obtaining the approval of the House via secondary legislation inevitably takes time, even with the most efficient business managers in charge of Parliament’s agenda. Aviation directions sometimes have to be made quickly to respond to new

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threats—in some cases, within a matter of hours or days. For example, swift action had to be taken in response to the liquid bomb plot. If it had been necessary to recall Parliament so that the matters could be debated by both Houses it would have been impossible to respond effectively.

The House will also recall the printer bomb plot in October 2010, when it was necessary to place emergency restrictions on air cargo very swiftly. If the Secretary of State had not been able quickly to ban certain consignments, it could have left us exposed to similar attacks. I am sure that the Opposition would not want that, so I hope that they will consider withdrawing the new clause.

4.30 pm

John Woodcock: In our mind, there is no question at all that emergency provisions such as those introduced after the liquid bomb plot would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny, so I do not understand why the Minister is suggesting otherwise.

Mrs Villiers: I am afraid that that is how I interpret the new clause. There would be a serious risk that it would have that result, although I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman has assured the House that that is not the intended outcome. He will appreciate that that would be damaging to our efforts to keep people safe.

Gavin Shuker: The new clause states:

“An order under this section must be approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament. ”

There is nothing in the measure, as far as I can see, that would prevent the existing powers of the Secretary of State “to direct” from being taken away. It is more about the transition from one regime to another.

Mrs Villiers: That may be the Opposition’s intention, but I am advised that the effect could prevent the Secretary of State from taking swift action on the sort of plots that I have outlined.

Turning to amendment 13, clause 82(3) requires the Secretary of State to consult the CAA before making a transfer scheme. Such a scheme would allow, for example, the transfer of relevant staff. I can assure the House that the Department has begun to work with the CAA on understanding how the transfer of staff and property to the regulator might impact on the delivery of the CAA’s functions, whether it is safety, economic regulation or new security functions. The Government’s priority is to ensure that our aviation security remains robust before, during and after the transfer to the CAA. We have begun work to assess the impact of the transfers, for example, to ensure that the CAA has access to the right information and knowledge on aviation security, and we are looking too at how best to integrate aviation security in the CAA, including synergies between safety and security. The CAA is considering how best to manage security at board level, as well as how it can be most effectively managed at operational level. We remain committed to ensuring that the CAA continues to conduct its regulatory functions to a high standard and that it fulfils its aviation security functions to an equally high standard. I therefore urge my colleagues to oppose the amendments and new clause, because I do not think that they are necessary to deliver the outcomes that they are intended to secure.

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John Woodcock: I will seek the leave of the House to withdraw the new clause, but I hope that the Minister will continue to look at the staffing issue raised by amendment 13, given our concerns about the potential for problems further down the track. The Minister has given clear reassurances on religious clothing and headwear, and I hope that the strength of feeling expressed in today’s debate will strengthen her hand in achieving the necessary requirements.

On the issue of the parliamentary scrutiny of risk-based security, I continue to fail to see how our amendment could hold things up in an emergency, as the Minister suggests. We will withdraw the new clause, however. I simply urge the Government to continue to take the issue incredibly seriously, and to consider ways in which the House could properly scrutinise the issue, as and when she decides that a move would be appropriate and would enhance security. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 4

Accounts and audits

‘(1) Section 15 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 (Accounts and audit) is amended as follows—

(a) In subsection (1), leave out paragraph (c) and insert—

“(c) to send copies of the statement of accounts to the Secretary of State and the Comptroller and Auditor General before the end of the November following the accounting year to which the statement relates.”.

(b) In subsection (2), leave out paragraph (a) and insert—

“(a) The National Audit Office shall examine, certify and report on each statement of accounts received under subsection (1) and shall lay copies of the statement of accounts and its report thereon before each House of Parliament.”.

(2) In the National Audit Act 1983, Schedule 4 (Nationalised Industries and Other Public Authorities) Part 1, leave out “Civil Aviation Authority”.’.—(Jim Fitzpatrick.)

Brought up, and read the First time .

Jim Fitzpatrick: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 5—CAA general financial duties

‘In section 8 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 (General financial duties) after subsection (4) insert—

“(5) It shall be the duty of the CAA to conduct its affairs in such a manner as to fulfil a general duty of efficiency in the use of its financial resources.”.’.

Amendment 2, page 2, line 11, clause 1, after ‘economy’, insert ‘, effectiveness’.

Amendment 1, page 3, line 8, clause 2, after ‘economy’, insert ‘, effectiveness’.

Government amendments 14, 15 and 19.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I do not expect to detain the House for very long on the new clauses, as they are primarily probing, but we are interested in Government amendment 19, which deals with clause 77. The apostrophe and full

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stop in the amendment look very curious indeed, and we look forward to receiving an explanation of their significance.

In Committee, the Minister teased us about our change of position on the Pilling report and on our support for National Audit Office oversight of the CAA. We said, in justification, that the world had moved on, and that evidence was coming forward, particularly from the British Air Transport Association at that time, in respect of the Government’s explanation of the CAA’s audit arrangements. BATA stated that it in fact involved a normal company audit to ensure that there was no fraud, whereas we were proposing an NAO audit examination of efficiency and value for money.

Only this week, Members will have seen the correspondence from Virgin Atlantic citing the example of the Financial Services Authority. The CAA will be run along similar lines to the FSA. Although the NAO is tasked with keeping track of taxpayers’ money, it has oversight of the FSA, which receives no income from the taxpayer. The CAA will be in the same position. There are clear parallels between the two organisations, so why will the NAO not have oversight of the CAA as well? Other industry-funded regulators are subject to NAO oversight, including Ofgem, which is funded by the energy companies, Ofwat, which is funded by the water companies, and Ofcom, which is funded by broadcasters, the media and communications providers. We are trying to address that anomaly in new clause 4.

Moving on to new clause 5, the Minister stated in Committee that she had written to the leadership of the CAA to say that she expected it to

“lead the Authority in such a way that it: is run efficiently and effectively, thereby minimising the cost on the aviation sector, and providing value for money”.––[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 13 March 2012; c. 344.]

We received evidence at the time, however, from British Airways, which stated that

“the CAA has scope to make significant improvements in efficiency”.––[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 13 March 2012; c. 342.]

That statement was referring to the CAA before it got its new powers and responsibilities, which placed even greater pressure on it. My hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman) and for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) raised this matter in Committee several times, and they might well try to catch your eye again today, Madam Deputy Speaker, in order to reinforce the point.

In Committee, the Minister pointed out the technical flaws in our original amendment, so we have tidied it up. We have taken her advice and ensured that the new clauses are more appropriately worded. She also said that she would reflect on the matters that we had raised in Committee, and we would be grateful if she would share her conclusions with the House today.

Chris Heaton-Harris: Before I start, may I say in passing how much I admire the rulings of the Chairman of Ways and Means? He is a great gentleman and I apologise for having been told off by him earlier.

The Minister will know that in Committee I raised one point about regulation. As she will recall, I raised the concerns of a very big business and a large industry

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in my constituency—DHL and the industry trade body, the Association of International Courier & Express Services—about the information provisions. I thanked the Minister then and I thank her now for the positive comments she made about the express services sector. As she acknowledged, DHL is a very significant employer in my constituency, and obviously a key player in the wider UK exports market.

As the Minister knows, the express sector as a whole is broadly supportive of the Bill and wants to work with the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure that the security aspects are implemented effectively and in consultation with all stakeholders. However, AICES members are concerned that express services have been incorporated into the information on services provisions, which they feel are not appropriate to the sector.

First, express services operate in a different and a very competitive marketplace, and failure to provide the necessary information to their customers would simply result in those customers moving their account. It is a very fluid market indeed. As the Minister acknowledged in Committee, this is mainly a business-to-business sector rather than a business-to-consumer sector, which makes it very different from passenger traffic on airlines. In consequence, the level of regulation required is also very different. I know that the Minister has acknowledged this key difference in the sectors being regulated—between air passenger traffic and express—and it would be helpful to know whether she believes that the CAA shares her views.

Secondly, as I said in Committee, Ofcom already has the relevant powers on the provision of information on express services under the enabling provisions of the Postal Services Act 2011. I was concerned about a possible duplication here. The enabling provisions under section 51 of the 2011 Act could further extend to cover under subsection (3)(d)

“the information that is to be made available by postal operators to users of their services about service standards and about the rights of those users”,

and under subsection (3)(e)

“anything else appearing to OFCOM to be necessary to secure effective protection for those users.”

That is effectively duplicated in information terms in the Bill. Under this particular section, express services constitute postal operators.

Ofcom has judged that there has been no market failure in the provision of information and that the powers in the Act are not required to be used at present. They are still there, however, so conferring the CAA with the same powers will lead to regulatory duplication. Existing legislation already provides for the required “future-proofing” that we talked about so much in Committee.

Finally, but crucially, the express sector is different from air passenger traffic because the mode of transport is not relevant to the consumer. The key factor is the time required to get a package from A to B. How it gets there is completely irrelevant. Most of the time it will be done by air in this particular sector, but sometimes it will be done by truck—and sometimes, perhaps, on public transport. Obviously, the same cannot be said for

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air passengers unless they are unfortunate enough to land on the wrong runway at Heathrow and want to get to terminal 4. That fact means that the consumer would expect Ofcom, not the CAA, to be the relevant regulator. Making the CAA the regulator for the provision of information services in the express sector would be confusing, and unlikely to bring any benefits to consumers.

I hope that the Minister will comment, will look again at the issue, and will perhaps even consider meeting me, along with representatives of the Association of International Courier & Express Services, to discuss the association’s legitimate concerns.

4.45 pm

Graham Stringer: Amendments 2 and 1—that is the order in which they appear on the selection list—may be considered to be either relatively minor or the most important amendments to the Bill, depending on how they are interpreted.

This is the “minor” aspect. I asked in Committee why the word “effectiveness” was not included in clause 1(3)(c) and clause 2(4)(c), along with the words “economy” and “efficiency”. The Minister’s responses are always very courteous and comprehensive, but on this occasion, unusually, I was not satisfied that there was a good reason for the absence of the word “effectiveness”.

When I was more centrally involved in local government, we regularly spoke to the Audit Commission. It used to refer to the “three E’s”—effectiveness, efficiency and economy—and used to joke that “economy” was usually left out. That is not surprising in view of the dictionary definitions of all three words. “Effectiveness” apparently means

“to accomplish the purpose, producing expected results.”

The meaning of “efficiency” is self-evident:

“performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort”.

Those are clear and relatively objective terms. “Economic”, however, is defined as

“pertaining to the production, distribution, and use of income, wealth, and commodities.”

It is a much more general term, and it is the one that the Audit Commission used to say was left out. Why on earth do clauses 1 and 2 not state that the holders of licences should be effective, which is surely very important? Although I consider that to be the relatively minor aspect of the amendments, it goes to the heart of the Bill. As I have said on a number of occasions, although the Bill gives the CAA new responsibilities to look after the interests of consumers, it does not tell us either how that is to be done or what the consumer’s interests are.

The Bill states that the CAA must oversee airports to ensure that there is continuity, and that air transport services have regard to

“the range, availability, cost and quality of airport operation services.”

That in itself is fair enough, but the Bill does not give the CAA the overarching purpose of improving aviation and ensuring that it continues to form a major part of the United Kingdom economy.

Our demand for the inclusion of the word “effectiveness” highlights the strong deficiency in the Bill that we debated in Committee. No real political controversy is involved in changing the nature of the functions of the

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CAA, whether we are talking about the regulation of air space or the ensuring of economy and safety. That is not a matter of great debate between the parties. There is a great debate between Members and parties, however, about how aviation should develop and whether we should continue to be a leading country in aviation, and about whether our economy, which depends on aviation, should be hindered by not having the aviation facilities we deserve. I could make a very long speech about these matters. I shall not do so, but I do want to make a few important points.

I believe that many Conservative Members, and many members of the Government, want to improve our aviation facilities, including by increasing the capacity of airports in south-east England. Unfortunately, however, they are caught in a situation where the tail is wagging the dog. Indeed, there are two tails. Dogs with two tails are usually known to be particularly happy, but not in this instance. There is the Lib Dem tail, as the Lib Dems have for historical—and, I think, mistaken—reasons always opposed increasing airport capacity in south-east England. The Government tail is also being wagged by Boris Johnson, current Mayor of London, who believes he can win the mayoral election only by opposing the expansion of airports within the London system, and by proposing instead an absurd island airport in far east London—in the Thames estuary, in fact. That may be good for his chances in the mayoral election, but it is extremely bad for the country.

Mrs Villiers: I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government’s policy on airport capacity is not driven by tails or dogs or anything like that. It is driven by an understanding of the importance of ensuring that aviation has the space to grow, but also that it does so within parameters that address the local impacts of aviation, such as aircraft noise and air quality, which, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree, can be corrosive. We also need aviation to play its part in our efforts to tackle climate change. Our approach is, and always will be, based on a sound and sensible assessment of the evidence on how best to have a growing aviation industry that also plays its part in addressing its environmental impacts.

Graham Stringer: The Minister makes a consistent case on that, but she will not be surprised to learn that I do not accept it. The noise around airports is diminishing as planes get quieter, and air quality is regulated by European regulations, with most of the pollution around airports being caused by cars and other road traffic. That needs to be dealt with, but the levels are set by European regulations, and those levels cannot be surpassed.

Those arguing against increasing airport capacity often say that that will help in our commitments to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. As we demonstrated in Committee however, that is not the case, because as a result passengers on intercontinental journeys often have to fly via other countries, so they have to take off twice, which produces extra pollution and extra carbon dioxide.

If the Government carry through their intention to put aviation into the European emissions trading scheme, as with the polluter on the ground, aviation will be dealt with on a Europe-wide basis, so we do not need an extra domestic policy to address the issue. The Government’s current policy is strangling the British economy.

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Angie Bray (Ealing Central and Acton) (Con): It is absolutely true that Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has always opposed the third runway at Heathrow. I live in west London and represent a west London seat, and he is right to do so given the threat a third runway would pose to the health of west Londoners. Ken Livingstone, the Labour party candidate, has also always opposed expansion at Heathrow airport. Indeed, this is one of the few topics on which all three main parties in the London mayoral campaign agree.

Graham Stringer: The hon. Lady is right in what she says, but all three mayoral candidates are wrong on this matter.

It is completely legitimate for any constituency MP, including the Secretary of State, to oppose what they think their constituents do not want. However, it is also incumbent on any Government to consider the national interest, not just the interest of people representing west London. Exactly the same argument is used about High Speed 2, and the analogy is a good one. I chair the all-party group on high speed rail, but if somebody was driving High Speed 2 through my constituency, I would oppose it, because I would like to carry on being an MP and representing my constituents. That is a reasonable thing for an MP to do, but I also know that HS2 is good for the economy. Similarly, I know that constraining runway capacity in the south-east is extremely bad for the economy. It will do no good for the environment; it will just strangle the British economy.

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (Con): The hon. Gentleman implies that there may be a tension between a constituency interest and the national interest, but the Government’s policy and the Conservative party’s policy of being against a third runway at Heathrow precedes the previous Secretary of State. It has really been this Minister, when in opposition and in her current role, who has taken on the vested interests and put forward a policy that protects the environment, as well as the national interest. I do not believe that there is any relevant constituency interest here.

Graham Stringer: I have great respect for the hon. Gentleman, and I agree with him on a number of policies, but he is in error in his understanding of the history of the development of the Conservative party’s policy. To be fair to the Lib Dems, they have always opposed the third runway at Heathrow. The Conservative party was in favour of it until Boris Johnson thought he had a chance of winning the previous mayoral election—that changed its national policy. The Labour party was in favour of a third runway. When the Conservatives became the Government, the shadow Secretary of State said that she would change the Labour party’s policy—I do not agree with this, but I can see why she did it—so that there could be a discussion about how to deal with the problem facing us.

That problem—this is the final point I wanted to make—is that Heathrow is losing destinations and business, and not just because of the capacity on runways. We face at least a double whammy: air passenger duty is having an effect, too. The situation is directing passengers to airports in Europe that have added extra runways, such as Madrid, to where British Airways has moved much of its operations, and Charles de Gaulle. The hon. Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) was talking

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about integrators. The two main centres for freight in the aviation industry are Brussels and Charles de Gaulle; we have already lost out on those issues. Passengers are going to Madrid, Charles de Gaulle, Schiphol and Frankfurt, and, increasingly, to Copenhagen, at the expense of London. That is damaging not only the London economy, but the UK regions, because of the decreasing number of routes from the regional economies into Heathrow, in particular, and into the whole of the south-east system.

Jim Shannon: The hon. Gentleman has hit on a very pertinent point. Four countries in the world are expanding their economies at the moment and doing well: Brazil, Russia, India and China. Is not the hon. Gentleman’s point that if we want to increase our trading with those four countries, we need better airport contacts? Is that not the very issue on which we seem to be losing out?

5 pm

Graham Stringer: I could not agree more. Before the debate, I looked up on the internet how many cities in China have a population of more than 1 million—the size of Birmingham. There are 160 cities that are bigger than or the same size as Birmingham and five cities that are bigger than London, three of which are not very well known. The biggest, Chongqing, has a population of 31.4 million, but how many air routes do we have to Chongqing? There are routes to Shanghai from London but from nowhere else in the UK. The others are Beijing, Guangzhou—or Canton, as most people would know it—and Tianjin. Those cities are all bigger than London and there are very few routes to them. The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) mentioned India, Brazil, Russia and China. This country wants to be the centre of the financial world through the City of London and, as Europe gets itself into a mess with deflation, our future must increasingly rely on trading with the growing economies of the world. However, at the same time, we are cutting off our links.

Mrs Villiers: I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that he should not necessarily believe all the propaganda he reads on the posters in Westminster tube station. If flights to Hong Kong are taken into account, Heathrow delivers more services to China than any of its continental rivals. London is one of the best connected cities in the world. We have five highly successful airports serving the south-east, six if we count Southend.

Graham Stringer: Since the second world war, as the Minister will know, Heathrow has been the largest international airport in the world. Soon it will no longer be that. It is still bigger than Frankfurt as regards its international destinations, but—I do not have the figures in front of me—the number of destinations served by Heathrow has gone from something like 220 to 180. Increasingly, the passenger numbers are going up because larger aeroplanes are going to fewer and fewer destinations.

I wanted to make both that small point about why the word “effective” is not in the first two clauses and the larger point that I would like not only the words to be in the Bill but there to be an effective aviation policy, which the Government do not have. On this issue, although not necessarily on others, the Government’s

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policies are anti-business and anti-growth. They are damaging the UK economy and they need to change them. Changing the wording of the Bill would help.

Mark Reckless: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer). First, let me respond to what he said about Heathrow and China. We all see the adverts in Westminster tube station, but there is a fundamental inconsistency in the line being pushed by BAA and the Mayor of London, among others, that Heathrow is essential as a hub but that we do not have enough point-to-point flights to different places in China. The model used by BA and its oneworld alliance relies not just on Heathrow as a hub but on Hong Kong, too. It is deciding that it is more effective to use Hong Kong as a hub, for all the reasons given by the hon. Gentleman and others, and to fly to all those Chinese cities with greater frequency and service out of Hong Kong. I do not accept the argument that a lack of point-to-point flights from Heathrow to cities in China makes the case that Heathrow needs a third runway to be a hub airport. The very economies of the hub and of the Heathrow and Hong Kong dual hub model for service for China lead to the system that we have.

Graham Stringer: The hon. Gentleman is making a very sensible point about where hubs develop in the world. Hubs developing in the middle east are doing a similar job in serving parts of China and there are also hubs in south-east Asia. A better measure of the failure of Government policy is the number of airlines that want to get into Heathrow from all parts of the world but cannot do so. A number of those airlines, some from China and some from other developing countries with large growth rates, have applied but cannot get their aeroplanes into Heathrow. Does he not agree that that is a better measure?

Mark Reckless: The reason there is unsatisfied demand for Heathrow and people who would like to fly from there but cannot is that landing slots at Heathrow are still cheaper than those at other airports and certainly cheaper than they could be. BA uses most of those landing slots, has capitalised the value and does not sell many of them on, partly to ensure that there is only limited competition so it can maximise its profits. I will return to that point, but I have quite a lot of sympathy with the hon. Gentleman’s arguments that the regulator should look to ensure that licence holders—airports—are effective as well as economic and efficient.

I also have considerable sympathy with the shadow Minister’s new clauses on National Audit Office oversight. However, I understand that those are only intended to be probing. I hope that that will also be the case with his amendments, because ultimately I trust the Minister on this issue. I do so for the ultimate reason that, in so many areas of public policy one can pretty much know what the policy will be by looking at where the money is—where the vested interests lie—and at what the civil servants are pressing. Too often Ministers merely oversee that policy solution. In this area I believe that it is the personal, political intervention of the Minister, both as shadow Secretary of State in opposition and now as Minister responsible for aviation policy, that led to, and kept, the Conservative policy against a third runway at Heathrow.

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Gavin Shuker: Twice now the hon. Gentleman has referred to the blocking of a third runway as a policy, as in an aviation policy that could deliver some outcomes. Does he not accept that that is not a policy—it is just saying no?

Mark Reckless: No. I think we need a basket of options. I am delighted to hear that at Luton, in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, there are such significant plans for expansion. At Gatwick, too, there is significant expansion, even of the one runway, and the possibility of a second runway from 2019. I wonder whether one option might be rail links between Heathrow and Gatwick and/or Luton, and whether the charges could pay for those. I am interested in hearing about the Northolt options and what the impact might be if Northolt were linked in to Heathrow. I very much believe that Birmingham airport, in terms of being half an hour from Old Oak Common or 40 minutes from Euston on High Speed 2, can become a very significant player in the south-east aviation market.

Pat Glass: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mark Reckless: I will finish the point, if I may. I do not understand why so much aviation demand from the north and the midlands has to come all the way down to Heathrow when, perhaps, Birmingham or Luton could satisfy much of that.

Gavin Shuker: All those potential options with different airports are hugely interesting. Unfortunately, we have not heard from the Government what their policy is—their strategy. The options have to fit into some kind of framework, and still as we speak, two years into the term of this Government, none exists.

Mark Reckless: The policy is for a south-east airports consultation. The previous Government sought to conduct such a consultation, and would not even consider as an option a second runway at Gatwick until I, along with Medway council, Kent county council, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Essex county council, backed a judicial review which overturned that policy.

Pat Glass: Will the hon. Gentleman accept that now only two regional airports in this country have flights into Heathrow? Therefore, if we are travelling to New York, South Africa or Australia from the regions in this country, it is far easier to go to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt or Schiphol. That is not good for Heathrow, it is not good for the British economy and it is certainly not good for business in the regions.

Mark Reckless: I strongly support our policy of promoting High Speed 2 for inter-regional transport within the UK. I recognise the value of transfer passengers at Heathrow for the provision of the network it has, but I do not ultimately see how it is a disaster for the British economy if some people from the regions transfer at a European hub for some flights, rather than always coming to Heathrow. What I would like to see at Heathrow are high value flights that produce the best outcome for the country as a whole. Having Heathrow operated effectively would be very sensible. It has significantly increased its landing charges in order to pay for the third runway and, under the quinquennial review,

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Heathrow-BAA has carried on raking in that money, even though it is not investing in the third runway that that money was meant to fund. I do not see how that makes sense.

Most people refer to the CAA as a good and effective regulator, but how will it remain so? What certainty do we have about that? That is why a role for the NAO, expectations that it should be efficient in its management, and a role in ensuring the effectiveness of licence holders are, in principle, sensible things to ask for. I hope the Minister, the Department and in due course the CAA will listen to Members and ensure that those things happen.

The point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) about freight transport—that the consumer is indifferent to the mechanism used for that freight transport—may also apply to Heathrow. As an economist, my assessment is that the end user, the consumer of flight services through Heathrow, may be indifferent to the level of landing charges—to the extent that the price of tickets is set by the scarcity and the monopolistic pricing at Heathrow, rather than on the basis of the cost of using Heathrow. Therefore, just as I previously suggested that there might be a great deal of investment in Heathrow, which could be good for consumers without pushing up prices for those end users, so, if the CAA were to be a flabby and inefficient regulator that was putting its own charges on the industry, it could do that without the statutory constraint of acting in the interests of the users of those services.

We have seen that the scarcity at Heathrow has become capitalised in the costs of slots. When they are traded, it can be £5 million or £10 million now per pair of take-off and landing slots, to the great benefit potentially of BA, but to who else’s benefit? That has happened not through a decision of the House, and not even through the development of the common law, but through the development of European jurisprudence in this area. There is very significant value there. The CAA could transfer that value from BA to BAA with little, if any, impact on the consumer, or it could allow for significantly greater investment, or it could be quite flabby and inefficient or, to the extent that Government policy influences this and we have air passenger duty which is higher for the south-east or particularly higher for Heathrow, that might raise money to help the Government close the deficit, without having a negative impact on the users of Heathrow. All these are significant points that need to be considered, along with the value for money and the effectiveness propositions.

I should like to address briefly the issues raised in Government amendment 19 in relation to the market power determination. I support the Bill and the Minister, and I will defer to her judgment on this, but I am nervous about the extent to which we are giving power to the CAA to make this market power determination. It used to apply to Manchester; it no longer does. I have heard arguments with respect to Stansted and to Gatwick as to why it should not apply. The risk with Stansted, I would have thought, is not so much that it would shove up the prices massively, but that Stansted may not be competing effectively with Heathrow as it would if it were under separate ownership.

We have just heard comments about flights to Asia and emerging markets, but we have recently seen significant openings of routes into and out of Gatwick to places

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such as Vietnam and South Korea. There may be the prospect of significant further movement in that direction. But larger airlines—A380s and so on—currently do not have particularly good service at Gatwick, and it is difficult for Gatwick to invest to service the A380s and to have people transferring straight from the plane into the terminal, because of the significant cost involved and the need at least to bring along the current airline users of the airport and the great difficulty of putting through the investment if they are fighting it tooth and nail.

If Gatwick feels that it should invest significant sums of money in better terminal facilities in order to service the A380s and the type of airline that flies them, and allow the sorts of routes to high-growth markets in Asia that we so strongly support, I see no strong reason why it should be prevented from doing so and charging what the market will bear. I believe that that could be to the benefit of the consumer. The CAA might be a good regulator and take that into account, but at least the idea, in principle, of allowing freer competition and having less regulation and fewer airports with the market power determination—it is only really Heathrow where there is clearly substantial power—might lead to a more competitive system in which Gatwick and Stansted were free in the way Manchester now is. I am not certain, but it might do so. Under the Bill, it will now fall to the CAA to make that decision, unless this is reconsidered before the Bill is passed. I would like to pay my regards to the Minister and say that I trust her position on this and hope that the CAA will make the right decisions as well.

5.15 pm

Mrs Villiers: I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Mark Reckless) for his kind words and contribution and all Members who have taken part in the debate on this group of amendments. I was grateful that the shadow Minister expressed an interest in amendment 19 and am delighted to talk the House through the Government amendments; like those in the previous group, they are very dull and technical.

Amendment 14 rectifies a drafting omission in clause 63 by specifying that the functions captured by the references to “relevant 1998 Act functions” in clause 63 are the functions specified in clause 62(2). Amendment 15 enables further clarification of how clause 70 will operate. Clause 70 provides that two or more persons are joint operators of an airport where they jointly have overall responsibility for the management of all the area. It is important to be able to identify the operator or joint operators so that there is clarity about who is appropriately subject to regulation.

Concern has also been expressed, for example by British Airways, that the test could draw some companies into the regulatory system in a way that is not intended, for example when an airline is involved in running the terminal from which its flights take off. Amendment 15 provides that the Secretary of State has the same powers to make regulations when two or more persons are to be treated as having overall responsibility for the management of an area, as she already has for sole operators under the Bill. If unforeseen problems emerge, further clarity could be provided by secondary legislation.

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On Government amendment 19, the intention of clause 77(5) is to exclude persons carrying out exempt Crown functions from economic regulation under chapters 1 and 3 of the Bill. The Bill already provides that the UK Border Force and the police, who currently carry out exempt functions on behalf of the Crown, are not subject to the prohibition on levying charges in clause 3. Amendment 19 ensures consistency, removing the possibility of the CAA being required, in response to a request under clause 7(2) to make a market power determination in respect of a core airport area operated by a person exercising exempt Crown functions. It also disapplies the requirement under clause 14(4) to treat persons carrying out exempt Crown functions as having applied for a licence if there is a positive market power determination.

After the excitement of Government amendments, I now turn to new clause 4, which relates to the National Audit Office. I fully agree with Opposition Front Benchers and others about the need for the CAA to be efficient in carrying out its functions, but I am afraid that I am not persuaded that the NAO would deliver more effective scrutiny than the current mechanisms by which the CAA’s functions are audited and scrutinised.

Moreover, the CAA is overwhelmingly funded by the aviation industry, whereas the NAO’s role is to scrutinise public spending on Parliament’s behalf, and the income the CAA receives from the industry is not classified as public spending. Parliament recognised that by removing the NAO’s role in 1984. As the shadow Minister acknowledged, the issue was considered by Sir Joseph Pilling in his 2008 review of the CAA. He concluded that there was no need for NAO involvement, and that recommendation was accepted by Ministers under the previous Government, and I have yet to see convincing reasons why they were wrong.

There are other examples of industry-funded regulators that come under the scrutiny of the National Audit Office, as the shadow Minister said, but most either are non-ministerial Government departments or rely on Government funding for a significant amount of their income. Others, such as the Financial Services Authority and the Office of Rail Regulation, are funded by industries that receive or have received significant taxpayer support—distinguishing them, again, from the aviation sector, where such indirect taxpayer support is not present.

To provide reassurance in response to the concerns that have been raised, I shall highlight the strength of the current scrutiny arrangements. The Secretary of State appoints the CAA’s external auditors; she presents the CAA’s accounts to Parliament by placing the annual report statement in the Library; she is involved in the development of the authority’s corporate plan; with the Treasury’s consent she approves the national loans and sets the CAA’s required rate of return on capital; and she will continue to approve the pay of the chairman and the non-executive members of the CAA board. That oversight, combined with the work of the CAA’s independent auditors, gives a strong incentive to secure value for money and offers accountability to Parliament.

I also advise the House that the CAA has implemented the Pilling recommendation on establishing a programme of value-for-money audits. The CAA also consults on its charges and fees, giving stakeholders the opportunity

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to raise any concerns that they have—they are always robust in making their views known—and the Bill makes such consultation an explicit legal requirement.

There are therefore already effective mechanisms in place to ensure that the CAA acts efficiently. As the shadow Minister said, however, when we considered a similar new clause in Committee, I undertook to reflect on these issues and whether additional reassurance could be given on them. I am therefore today announcing a change to the CAA’s accounting direction, which I hope will provide some further reassurance.

Every year the DFT issues a report direction and an accounts direction to the CAA, specifying the matters that should be addressed in the authority’s annual report and accounts. The Secretary of State intends to make an addition to the accounts direction for 2013 and succeeding years which will for the first time require the CAA to include an efficiency statement in the annual report. The CAA has also agreed to do so for its activities in the current financial year.

The efficiency statement will be subject to validation by the external auditors, whose statement in the annual report will contain a summary of their findings on it, and the Department for Transport will approve the terms of reference for this work. Industry representatives on the CAA’s finance advisory group will be given an opportunity to discuss the statement.

One advantage of such action over the Opposition’s proposed change is that it strengthens the existing annual process of scrutiny, with transparency in relation to industry and to Parliament when the Secretary of State presents the accounts, whereas the NAO’s focus on the CAA would inevitably be less frequent than any annual one. Our approach also enables the CAA to continue to pursue value for money through the selection of its external auditor by tender.

Although I agree with the Opposition about the sentiment of new clause 5, which would impose an explicit efficiency duty on the CAA, I think its adoption is unnecessary because the authority is already subject to such a duty in all but name. The CAA’s strategic plan contains the objective

“to ensure that CAA is an efficient and effective organisation which meets Better Regulation Principles and gives value for money”.

Subsections (3) and (4) of clause 1 already require the CAA to carry out its economic regulation functions under part 1 of the Bill transparently, accountably, proportionately and consistently. To meet its statutory obligation to act proportionately and to target activity only on cases where it is needed, the CAA is obliged to act efficiently and to have regard for the costs and benefits of its activities.

Moreover, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 provides that all statutory regulators

“should be accountable for the efficiency and effectiveness of their activities”.

The Secretary of State for Transport writes to the CAA chair setting objectives for its term, and the most recent such letter makes it very clear that the Government expect the CAA to operate efficiently and to minimise the cost to industry. That oversight, combined with the work of the CAA auditors, gives a strong incentive to

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secure value for money and offers accountability to Parliament. Over the past 10 years, the CAA has reduced its operating costs in real terms by more than 20%.

I turn now to the points made by the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer). I will not trespass on your patience, Madam Deputy Speaker, with a broad-ranging discussion of aviation capacity, given that that was the subject of a new clause that was not selected, but I reassure the hon. Gentleman that we take this issue seriously and that our approach on a third runway at Heathrow is driven by the evidence on the impact that such a project would have. We believe that it is essential to find an alternative way to meet the long-term capacity needs of the UK economy.

Building a third runway at Heathrow would have a significant noise impact. People who live near Heathrow account for about 70% of the people in the UK and more than one in four of the people in Europe who are exposed to an average noise from airports of more than 55 dB. Thousands of people live with a plane going overhead every 90 seconds on a daily basis, not to mention the planes that wake them up at 4.30 in the morning. The quality-of-life impact of a third runway, which would mean 220,000 more flights every year over a densely populated part of London, would be significant. There is no technological solution in sight to ensure that planes will become quiet enough quickly enough to make the burden tolerable.

Mr Donohoe: Just to put it on the record, is the Minister saying that there is no possibility of expansion at Heathrow or near Heathrow, say at Northolt?

Mrs Villiers: What I am saying is that we are opposed to a third runway and that we believe it is essential to protect the quality of life of the communities who would be affected by it.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): Is the Minister aware of the paper by the Aviation Environment Federation for WWF UK on capacity across the country? It found that there was space for

“a 52% growth in passengers”

and a twofold increase in air traffic movements with existing capacity. Does that mean that there is less need for the expansions that the Opposition seem to be keen on?

Mrs Villiers: I warmly agree with my hon. Friend that it is essential to make the best use of the existing capacity in the south-east and around the country. We will explore that in the process that we are undertaking on the future of our aviation capacity needs.

Gavin Shuker: I agree with the Minister that we need to make better use of the capacity that we have. Of course, Luton airport in my constituency has more capacity and we are willing to share it. Does she not accept that we have a problem, in that there is no proper UK aviation hub at present?

Mrs Villiers: As I said, London is one of the most well connected cities in the world and arguably the most well connected. It has five or, depending on one’s definition,

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six successful international airports that serve our economy very well. We need this debate to be based on evidence, not on the propaganda that one reads on BAA posters.

As I said, that matter is not, strictly speaking, germane to the motion, so before I try your patience, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will turn to amendments 1 and 2 tabled by the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton. His intention is that “effectiveness” should be construed as spending wisely. Imposing such an obligation on the CAA could pull it into an inappropriate management role over regulated airports. I am sure that that is not his intention, given that he is rigorous in opposing disproportionate regulation.

My concern is that it is one thing to specify an output that is required, but quite another to specify the manner in which the operator should meet that obligation. The Bill gives the CAA the power to ensure that airports with substantial market power do not impose unreasonable charges on their customers or exploit them. The amendment might oblige the CAA to start telling an airport how to run its business in the most effective way. That outcome would be disproportionate.

The current wording in clause 1(3) is broadly understood by the stakeholders who are affected by the regime. Inserting the word “effectiveness” at this stage might undermine the clarity of the duties to which the CAA is subject, when clarity is one of the most important goals in the Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris) is a staunch defender of the air freight industry, and it is always a pleasure to hear his contributions. I repeat the comments that I made in Committee about my admiration for the efficiency and success of that industry in the UK, and I reassure him again that in exercising its information powers in relation to the freight industry, the CAA is obliged to take a proportionate approach. The degree of intervention required in a business-to-business market may be less than is appropriate in the consumer market, and I am sure the CAA will take that on board in ensuring that it takes a proportionate approach.

5.30 pm

I am sure that Ofcom and the CAA will take care to avoid regulatory overlap. We do not believe that there is a significant danger of that, but there are ways to deal with such risks if they emerge in future, for example through memorandums of understanding. My hon. Friend also asked whether I would be happy to meet representatives of the air freight industry, and I would be delighted to do so.

I hope that the Opposition will not press the new clause and amendments, but if they do, I must ask the House to vote against them.

Jim Fitzpatrick: We are very grateful to the Minister for her reassurances, and we certainly welcome the strengthening of the auditing arrangements for the CAA that she has outlined. We will be very keen to get the views of those who lobbied all the members of the Public Bill Committee to ensure that the CAA became even more efficient. From her explanation, it sounds as

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though it has been recognised that it needs strengthening. With the reassurances that she has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 6

Compensation for noise pollution

‘The CAA must ensure that airport operators establish and implement a scheme to compensate persons residing in or occupying business or community premises in an area designated in the licence conditions for the noise pollution arising from activities within the airport area, including the landing and taking off of aircraft.’.—(Seema Malhotra.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Seema Malhotra: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: amendment 3, in clause 1, page 2, line 17, after ‘Chapter’, insert—

‘(ea) the need to work with NATS, the Secretary of State, the Committee on Climate Change and air transport service providers towards meeting the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gas emission reduction obligations as set out in the UK’s Carbon Budget, including the UK’s share of international aviation emissions’.

Amendment 4, page 2, line 17, after ‘Chapter’, insert—

‘(ea) the effect on the environment and on local communities of activities connected with the provision of airport operation services and air transport services at the airport to which the licence relates,’.

Amendment 5, in clause 2, page 3, line 10, leave out ‘and’ and insert—

‘(ca) the effect on the environment and on local communities of activities connected with the provision of airport operation services and air transport services at the airport to which the licence relates, and’.

Amendment 7, in clause 83, page 51, line 22, at end insert—

‘(d) greenhouse gas emissions resulting from both domestic flights and flights to European Union Member States, with greenhouse gas emissions for an equivalent journey via rail or coach.’.

Government amendment 16.

Amendment 6, in clause 84, page 52, line 11, at end insert—

‘(d) greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of international air transport services from a civil airport and domestic air transport services to or from a civil airport.’.

Seema Malhotra: The new clause is intended to ensure that airport operators establish and implement a noise pollution compensation scheme for residents and organisations around an airport.

I welcome the Government’s recognition of the need to address the environmental impact of aviation, which the Minister has expressed on many occasions. In Committee, I moved an amendment with similar intentions to those behind the new clause. I asked the Minister about the possibility of adding to the Bill a provisional compensation scheme for noise arising out of licensed activities affecting persons residing in, or occupying business or community premises in, an area designated in the licence conditions.

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The Minister responded that the meaning of “licensed activities” was not entirely clear, and that if I intended to refer to the definition of airport operation services as licensed activities in clause 68, the amendment could not be accepted, as the clause expressly excluded air transport services from that definition. She added that a more substantive reason for her opposition to the amendment was that she believed that

“environmental protection measures should not depend on whether an airport happens to be subject to economic regulation. If there is a case for environmental regulation, this should depend on the airport’s environmental impact, regardless of whether the airport happens to have substantial market power and fall within the scope of the economic regulation framework set out in the Bill.”––[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 6 March 2012; c. 216.]

New clause 6 is intended to deal with some of those issues.

We all recognise the need for aviation to support our economy and the vital importance of airports in providing local employment. I may well recognise that more than many others, as my constituency borders Heathrow airport, which supports more than 110,000 local jobs—approximately 22% of total local employment—and provides gross value added of £5.3 billion. It is a vital national economic asset, but for Hounslow’s quarter of a million residents and the residents of neighbouring boroughs, the daily environmental impact of Heathrow includes flights overhead every 60 seconds. The majority of the borough is located within the 55 dB(A) Lden aircraft noise contour.

New clause 6 has the support of my local authority—the London borough of Hounslow—and of neighbouring MPs. In essence, it seeks provision relating to a compensation scheme for noise pollution. The measure would support local residents, business and community premises to be insulated according to a formula based on geographic zone or noise level, which could be decided or kept under review by the Secretary of State as a minimum level of the airport’s responsibility to its local area.

All hon. Members know that noise impacts on health and well-being. That debate continues. For example, the secondary analysis of the London Heathrow sample of children from the RANCH project—the EU project on road traffic and aircraft noise exposure and children’s cognition and health—examined the effects of daytime aircraft noise exposure at home and at school. It concluded that aircraft noise exposure at school had a significant effect on children’s cognitive development, and that schools needed to be an important focus for the protection of children from aircraft noise.

I have drawn on examples from my local area, but aircraft and aviation noise is a national issue that affects neighbourhoods in every airport location. The good practice guide on noise exposure and health from the European Environment Agency states that 27% of people in the 55 dB(A) Lden areas are highly annoyed by aircraft noise, and there are implications for irritation, anxiety and stress. However, one set of stakeholders whose needs are not sufficiently well recognised or reflected in the Bill or the CAA’s environmental consultation documents are local residents who live around airports and are exposed to aircraft and other noise that results from licensed activities such as aircraft taking off and landing and surface transport.

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The CAA is the regulator of aviation activity in the UK, but its responsibility for the environmental impact of aviation continues to be the subject of debate, not least today. The new clause seeks to ensure that the CAA has authority to help to control the effects of noise and the quality of insulation and noise mitigation schemes that each of the major UK airports operates in the interests of local residents and the local work force. The idea is particularly relevant in respect of a change in our airport infrastructure that could mean multiple operators at a single airport. That could result in confusion over who has responsibility.

Dr Huppert: The hon. Lady makes an interesting argument. Will she help me by saying how many people and premises would need to be given compensation according to the new clause?

Seema Malhotra: That is an interesting point. I have mentioned that compensation could be determined by geographical zone or noise level. In Hounslow, all households have been assessed, as have households further afield, on where they sit within the noise contours. That minimum standard should be kept under review. If a person has had access to insulation measures in the past, they might not need them again, notwithstanding any new developments. We know that the third runway is off the agenda, but we should not have such conversations only as part of a new planning application on a new development; the matter should be kept under review all the time.

The idea is not without precedent. For American airports, airport-related noise-insulation schemes are not only regulated but administered by the Federal Aviation Administration. The UK, on the other hand, has implemented only a voluntary system of noise insulation for communities affected by aircraft noise. In Heathrow’s case, BAA administers a voluntary scheme that provides noise insulation grants. There is a review of its adequacy and we await the results of the response.

In Committee, I welcomed the CAA’s reporting of environmental impacts, and I do so again here, because it will lead to greater consistency in monitoring and a more robust evidence base to support a dialogue between local authorities and airports. However, residents who live near airports need clarity about who will be responsible for negotiating with local authorities and the formula under which different operators may have different levels of responsibility.

In my initial amendment in March, we argued that, in addition to a passive reporting role, the CAA’s role should include those of adviser and referee—although not necessarily of policeman and woman, as referred to by the Minister—and that the airport operators’ responsibilities to communities should be clearly referred to as part of the licence conditions under which they operate. That would help to provide greater clarity about, and consistency in, the principles of noise mitigation schemes, which may vary, as needs vary, across the country. Clear minimum standards should be set, however, and local authorities be given the tools and support needed to negotiate effectively for the needs of their local communities.

A process should also be in place to help if there is disagreement between airports and communities. I understand that the Minister might disagree with our

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proposal, but currently there appears to be no clear route for compensating for and minimising noise pollution, other than under section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, which gives the Transport Secretary powers to regulate noise. That has tended to focus on night flights and to be implemented on a voluntary basis, but it does not give adequate protection to local residents and is not future proof. In the future, the situation might be different, so we need a process and some form of regulation to guarantee the rights of local communities.

Dr Huppert: Those who served in Committee will know that I am passionate about environmental concerns and their effect on the aviation industry.

We should remember that air travel is a wonderful thing: air freight is great, it benefits business and tourism, and allows families to keep in touch. There are wonderful aspects to air travel, but it also has damaging consequences, such as noise, as we have just heard. It affects those who live nearby. Roughly one quarter of those in Europe affected by heavy aircraft noise live under the Heathrow flight path into London. It also has huge effects on the environment. Carbon dioxide and a range of other contaminants are released as a result of aviation. This is a huge, international problem that does not only affect, and cannot only be controlled in, the UK. As the former chief scientific adviser to the previous Government, Professor Sir David King, said, climate change is the greatest threat facing mankind. Aviation is a large and growing component of that, and one that is particularly poorly dealt with around the world.

We need a balance between aviation and reducing the harm it does. The CAA is already doing some work and is better now than it was a couple of years ago at taking account of environmental issues. I very much welcome that. However, I would not like to see what we heard earlier about trying to provide as much as is demanded. I am pleased that new clause 1, tabled by the hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer), was not selected. It would lead to unlimited growth and expansion, which would be extremely worrying for us all. I hope to hear from the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman that Labour dissociates itself from such a policy, but if not, we must assume that it supports it. I look forward to hearing the answer.

The policy in new clause 1 would, however, be consistent for a party that pushed for the third runway at Heathrow and the second runway at Stansted, despite the fact that the latter is operating at about only 50% of its capacity—what it really wants is a better railway line. That policy would lead to mass expansion and mass destruction around the world. And it is simply not needed. The Committee on Climate Change has come up with a climate budget for how much we can afford to increase capacity by. It estimates that it can cope with a 60% increase in passenger numbers by 2050. Conveniently enough, as I referred to earlier, the Aviation Environment Federation did some work for WWF UK showing that existing capacity will give us 52% increases by 2050—almost the same the figure, but then we do not know exactly how big the planes will be. A number of airports are already able to use bigger planes—Stansted is already set up to use A380 aeroplanes, which are code F, I think—so there is simply no need for the vast expansion

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that was pushed for by the Labour Government. Indeed, a number of Labour MPs still seem to be pushing for it. It would be great to have some clarity on exactly what the Opposition’s position is, as their Front Benchers seem to differ from their Back Benchers.

I was quite taken by the comments we have heard about noise pollution generally. I was interested in the numbers, because I am concerned about how such a scheme could work. I have to say that I am not persuaded that I understand how it could operate, although I would be happy to hear what is said later and see whether I can be persuaded. For example, HACAN Clear Skies—from the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise—estimates that about 1 million people are currently affected by noise under the Heathrow flight path, which would clearly impose too big a load when it comes to serious compensation. I would be happy if there were some way of developing further some semblance of that concept, but I am not persuaded. If the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra) puts new clause 6 to a vote, I am afraid I will not support her, although I recognise where the idea comes from and I find it an interesting one.

5.45 pm

Seema Malhotra: In response to the hon. Gentleman’s point about how we might determine such a scheme, there are existing processes in place, which operators such as BAA use to measure where the noise is greatest, so that they can then respond with a proportionate scheme. I see no reason why that principle could not be applied to something more comprehensive in future.

Dr Huppert: I hear with interest what the hon. Lady says, although if that is already happening, I am not quite sure what her new clause would achieve. Perhaps a worked example to give some sense of the numbers and costs involved would make the case more persuasive for me. Perhaps there will be time later—at a future date, as the Bill progresses—to understand exactly what is proposed. I would personally be interested to understand that, but at the moment I do not feel I have enough of a handle on it to support the hon. Lady’s proposal.

Graham Stringer: I do not suppose that the hon. Gentleman and I are likely to agree on this, but I would like to understand his position a little more thoroughly. Is it his contention that constraining capacity in the south-east will reduce the number of flights, or will it in fact increase the number of flights—as is my contention—as people fly to other European hubs?

Dr Huppert: The hon. Gentleman is quite right that we will agree on very little in this area, other than on the fact that we will disagree quite strongly. At the moment, we have a number of people travelling to the south-east, by road and all sorts of other means, in order to fly out. We can use some of the capacity in other areas, in the north. My contention is that by not expanding capacity in the way the previous Government wanted to, we will see less environmental degradation and we will better be able to stay within our carbon budget, which we can afford for the good of the rest of the world as well as ourselves. However, I do not think the hon. Gentleman and I are going to agree on this one, however many times we discuss it.

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Turning to the amendments that deal with environmental issues, let me be clear what I would like to see. I would like to see lower emissions at every airport in the country. Some of that can be done technologically. Planes are coming out that are more and more efficient, which I very much welcome. I have mentioned some of the excellent work being done by Rolls-Royce, and some research has been done in my constituency specifically to enable that, which I very much welcome. I would also like to see more public understanding of the effects of climate change, and of what aviation does and how it compares with other things. I would also like to see some certainty that airports will be able to reclaim when they implement environmental measures—a point that was made very clear to me by AirportWatch, along with others concerned about a lack of certainty.

We had a number of discussions in the Public Bill Committee about the exact nuances of the amendments and their technical aspects. It is important to get things right for the longer term, rather than jumping to agree to half-baked or 99%-baked amendments. Although I recognise the spirit in which the shadow Minister will, I presume, be pressing some of his amendments, I do not think we are quite there yet. I hope that he will accept that concern, and I am sure he will take a different line when we come round to it.

Amendment 3 is definitely much improved. I am much more persuaded by it, but there is still the problem that it would apply only to the regulated airports. I am sure that the shadow Minister would accept that that is a concern, and if we could do something that affected all airports, that would go further—I will return to that point later. The same thing applies to amendment 7. I find it an interesting amendment, and I would be supportive of it, were it not for the fact that clause 84 already requires the same information to be published—I am sure that the Minister will correct me if I am wrong about that. That information should be published, as clause 84 says, so we do not need to move it to clause 83 merely to solve a problem. In Committee, I praised the Minister’s environmental credentials. She turned her party towards the Liberal Democrat position of supporting high-speed rail and opposing a third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Stansted. She did a good job, and I again pay tribute to her. She made strong arguments that were more persuasive for Conservatives than those that we made.

It is not clear that the Opposition have made that leap, and I seek clarity as to why many Labour Back Benchers argued against the position adopted by shadow Ministers and why they are still hung up on providing more capacity and more runways across the south-east. When I raised that with the Minister she agreed to look further at what environmental benefits could be achieved. I am grateful to her for doing so, and for the time that she has spent with me discussing the matter. She understands quite well what I am trying to achieve.

My ideal is something that has not yet been included in the Bill, because there are some problems with the wording of my proposal, which was recommended by the Aviation Environment Federation. In paragraph 31 of its submission to the Bill Committee, it said that what it would most like to see was an

“amendment to section 4 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 to clarify that CAA has a duty to the general public, rather than only to the

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aviation industry or its consumers, and that environmental impacts are as important a determinant of aviation policy as consumer demand”.

That is something that I would love to see. I understand that there are some technical problems with the precise wording of the proposal, which is why I have not been able to table a detailed amendment that I could persuade the Government to accept. I should like to get these things right for the longer term, rather than put on a small show now. However, I hope that such a proposal would be considered, and I look forward to hearing from the Minister as to whether there is any prospect of her doing so.

A key issue made clear to me by AirportWatch and others was the need for certainty for airports. We all agree that we do not want any predatory airlines—I will not suggest any that might fall into that category—to exploit a lack of clarity to avoid paying what we all believe they should pay towards environmental improvements at airports. I believe that the Minister has received legal advice that the Bill provides such certainty, but I hope that she accepts the concern expressed by AirportWatch, the AEF, others and me that there is a lack of clarity. If there is a risk that the Bill is not absolutely water-tight legally, I hope that the Government will table an amendment in the other place to ensure that we do not encounter that problem, as we all agree that we do not want to have that concern. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts.

How do we achieve the overall environmental progress that we would like? I believe that the Government will shortly publish a draft aviation policy framework. We expected them to publish it in March, but it has taken time to get it right. We welcome the fact that such work has been undertaken, and I hope that the framework looks at the possibility of environmental regulation across all airports. That would be the best solution, rather than fitting the measure into one particular route, and applying it only to regulated airports. I hope that the Minister will be able to confirm that the aviation policy framework, which we all anticipate with great excitement, will deal with those environmental concerns.

There is a prospect of the Bill doing some very good things by improving the information flow and making the CAA more aware, and by making sure that we deal with risks to airports. I hope that the aviation policy framework will offer a visionary solution that ensures that we have a sustainable aviation future.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), who will not be surprised to learn that he features quite strongly in the opening passage of my speech. I perceive that he has an eye problem, and I am sorry if that is the case. I hope that he is not in too much discomfort: we would not wish to see anyone in pain.

This is probably the key debate of the afternoon, because the subject of whether an environmental duty should be included in the Bill invited the most disagreements in Committee. The amendments take account of our discussions in Committee. I am grateful to the hon. Members for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) and for Cambridge for their advice on drafting amendments, and to the Minister for the guidance that the Government have given to the Opposition about how to address those issues.

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In Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) said of the hon. Member for Cambridge:

“He seems to be arguing for an environmental duty, but he does not like the amendment.”

No change there, then. The hon. Gentleman does not like these proposals either. My hon. Friend went on:

“He has not tabled any amendments of his own”—

the hon. Gentleman was having difficulty writing one in Committee, and he is still having difficulty six weeks later—

“but he is looking for the Minister to come up with an alternative. Is that correct?”

The hon. Member for Cambridge replied:

“That is an extremely good summary of my position. I would like to see an environmental duty and I hope we will be able to work across all parties to find one that delivers the aims that we share. I have faith in the Minister’s ability to find that.”––[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 28 February 2012; c. 119]

Sadly, no such measure has arrived today, so he is going to have to wait.

The hon. Member for Cambridge criticised our proposal in Committee, just as he has done today. At that time, he said:

“First, it does not mention what the shadow Minister himself mentioned at the beginning of his speech—the Committee on Climate Change. It is a great shame that the amendment does not talk about working with it; it advises the Government on setting and meeting carbon budgets and has already done a huge amount of work.”––[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 28 February 2012; c. 117.]

The hon. Gentleman went on, rightly, to congratulate the Committee on Climate Change. I am sure that most Members would do the same. I would have hoped that our new amendment 3 would adequately address the points that the hon. Gentleman was raising.

A key recommendation of the Committee on Climate Change’s report on international aviation and shipping, which was published this month, states:

“Our report concludes that international aviation and shipping emissions need to be formally included in carbon budgets. Emissions from these sectors were initially left out of carbon budgets…when the Climate Change Act became law. However, they have been informally included in the 2050 target…Under the Act, a decision on the inclusion…is required by the end of 2012. Formal inclusion of these emissions will ensure a more transparent, comprehensive and flexible accounting framework under the Climate Change Act and provide more certainty for the future.”

I would have hoped that amendment 3, which now makes reference to the Committee on Climate Change and to greenhouse gas emissions, would cover the points that the hon. Gentleman was unhappy with in Committee. Amendments 4 and 5 cover issues similar to those that were so ably raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Feltham and Heston (Seema Malhotra).

Dr Huppert: I thank the hon. Gentleman for praising my consistency. I have made the same arguments throughout our proceedings. As I think I said earlier, the amendment that he has tabled today is a significant improvement on the one that he tabled in Committee. I think that we agree on the reasons for that. Does he accept, however, that it would still affect only the economically regulated

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airports, and not all of the rest of them? Does he accept that that is a genuine concern for those of us who wish to see the environmental regulation of all airports?

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is almost breathtaking that, when we are proposing an environmental duty that would cover the busiest airport in the UK, the hon. Gentleman should say, “No, let’s not do that. Let’s wait till we get Southend right.” That just does not make sense. We are arguing for the introduction of an environmental duty now. He is arguing that, although he wants one, this one just does not fit the bill. I was not praising him for his consistency, by the way, and just because he is consistently wrong does not mean that I agree with him.

Mrs Villiers: I do not think that the hon. Gentleman is in a position to lecture my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) on consistency. In theory, Labour opposes a third runway, yet every time one of its Back Benchers mentions the subject, they tend to be very supportive of the idea.

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Minister knows full well that the shadow Secretary of State made our position on the third runway quite clear when she invited Members to attend cross-party talks on the subject. To date, as far as I am aware, my hon. Friend has not even had an answer from the Secretary of State. Our position is clear.

Dr Huppert rose

Jim Fitzpatrick: I want to make some progress, given that other colleagues want to speak in the debate.

In Committee, the Minister said of environmental requirements:

“Such requirements should come with the sanction of Parliament and Ministers, rather than being delegated to the CAA in its capacity as economic regulator.”––[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 28 February 2012; c. 137.]

It is our view, however, that the CAA should have an environmental duty, given the new powers and duties that it is taking on. Why is no such duty being proposed? We would have put an environmental duty in the Bill. The initial drafting included an environmental duty, although I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Cambridge would have supported that one.

6 pm

In March 2009, the Secretary of State for Transport—then Geoff Hoon—brought together the Pilling and Cave recommendations in a parliamentary statement. He said:

“I want economic regulation to be targeted, flexible and efficient. I am therefore proposing the introduction of a licence-based scheme of regulation similar to that which exists in other regulated sectors.”—[Official Report, 9 March 2009; Vol. 489, c. 5WS.]

In the other regulated sectors, the statutory duties for the Office of Rail Regulation, for example, include

“to have regard to the effect on the environment of activities connected to the provision of railway services”.

For Ofgem, they include

“to have regard to the effect on the environment of activities connected to the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity”—

and it is the same for Ofgas and Ofwat. These regulators have environmental duties.

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Mrs Villiers: It is important for the hon. Gentleman to appreciate that the difference with those bodies is that a universal jurisdiction applies across an entire sector or industry, whereas we are dealing with a situation in which economic regulation applies only to a few airports. That is why this is not the appropriate or right way to deliver environmental regulation.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I hear what the Minister says. In our Committee discussions, those we are having today and in discussions outside, transport consistently appears as a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Aviation continues to grow. In a recent speech, I believe to The Times transport conference, the Minister quoted the statistics showing that transport will, year on year out to 2030 and beyond, make a bigger contribution to those emissions, simply because the sector is growing. It cannot be right not to address the question of having an environmental duty at a time when we are we are introducing the new powers and duties and the new regulatory authority through the Bill. Surely now is the appropriate time for it.

Julie Hilling: Does my hon. Friend agree that although the majority of the Bill deals with economic regulation of some airports, it also includes other measures, such as those on security, that affect all airports? It is thus a little disingenuous to say that the Bill cannot include environmental duties on those grounds.

Jim Fitzpatrick: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention, and I entirely agree that seeking to place an environmental duty in the Bill is in no way inappropriate. We think it is entirely in keeping with the new powers to confer on the CAA a duty to take cognisance of the environmental impact of aviation.

Concerns were raised in Committee about the inclusion of the regulatory asset base, and the Gatwick Express was mentioned, along with other aspects. The Opposition believed that stronger powers were needed—and that they were needed on the face of the Bill.

We ask the question once again: why is there no environmental duty for the CAA as a regulator? The Government say that they want to be “the greenest Government ever”—fine words. The Minister proudly says that she will “yield to no one” on environmental protection. I congratulate her on that, as these are more fine words. The Lib Dems say that we were not tough or focused enough and that our words were not appropriate—more fine words, if they mean anything. The time to take action, however, is now, because we have the opportunity to do so now.

With new clause 6 and amendment 7, we think that seeking to inform passengers about the environmental impact is wholly appropriate. The Minister agreed with the principle when she said that she shared with Opposition members of the Committee

“the goal of harnessing consumer power in our efforts to reduce the environmental impacts of aviation.”—[Official Report, Civil Aviation Public Bill Committee, 13 March 2012; c. 314.]

We all know that the tools exist commercially. Travel companies produce information on the environmental impact of different modes of transport, and this is advocated by the Department for Environment, Food and

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Rural Affairs and by the Department of Energy and Climate Change—so why not by the Department for Transport?

We heard powerful evidence in Committee to suggest that passenger choice is based not on green issues—if that were the case, it would be welcome—but on the location of the airport, whether it serves their destination and on the convenience of getting there, as well, of course, as the cost. It is not based on the environment, but the environment does matter, and it will matter increasingly in the years ahead. Now is the time, and here is the opportunity, to encourage that type of decision making on the environment by including information about environmental impacts on ticketing and the CAA could do that. We will therefore seek to test support for new clause 6.

Yesterday my hon. Friend the Member for Garston and Halewood (Maria Eagle), the shadow Secretary of State, said:

“The Government has refused to recommit to the targets on reducing emissions from aviation set by the previous Labour government and has yet to respond positively to the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation that this should be extended to include the UK’s share of international emissions, which is explicitly covered by the amendment.”

I look forward to the Minister’s comments on that. I cannot repeat what my hon. Friend said about the Liberal Democrats, unless the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) wants me to. [Hon. Members: “Go on.”] Well, she was not very kind to the Liberal Democrats. She said that they were “meekly” following the Government in rejecting our amendments. Clearly she anticipated their exact response, which is entirely inconsistent with their pre-election stance on dealing with the environmental impact of aviation.

We think that the Government should be bolder, cleaner and greener, and should accept the principle of environmental duty. If we do not receive the reassurance that we seek from the Minister—and I do not expect that we shall—we will seek to divide the House on amendment 3 and new clause 6.

Let me end by quoting recommendation 38 of the Transport Committee’s report. I see that the highly regarded independent Chair of the Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs Ellman)—for whom the whole House has regard—is present. Her Committee said:

“Without giving the CAA a supplementary duty on the environment in relation to its economic regulation role, there is some risk that airports may be reluctant to invest in improving environmental performance. Whilst, as the Minister says, there may be ‘absolutely no doubt’ about measures taken to comply with statutory environmental obligations, there remains a doubt about whether the costs of discretionary measures, such as improved public transport access, can be recovered by airports in charges to airlines.”

That is one recommendation that we solidly support, which is why we wish to press the new clause and amendment to a vote at the appropriate time.

John McDonnell: I support all the new clauses and amendments, and I am sure that when the Minister has explained what her amendment is, I will support it as well.

I thought that Members throughout the House had learned as a result of the debate on the third runway and overall aviation strategy that—as the Select Committee

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has said—it was necessary for proper account to be taken of the environmental impact of the development of aviation, and of airports in particular. As my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) pointed out, this evening we have been presented with an opportunity to ensure that that happens.

Let me explain why this is important to my community. Tonight I am to attend the annual general meeting of the Harmondsworth and Sipson residents association, which will also be attended by representatives of each of the Heathrow villages, including Longford, Harlington and, I hope, Cranford Cross. The issues that will concern them are the issues in the amendments. They will be concerned about the noise from the airport itself and about the environmental impact of air pollution, but also about the future of their villages. In other words, they will be concerned about the overall impact of the airport on their local communities.

New clause 6—to which my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Limehouse has spoken so eloquently, both today and in Committee—highlights the fact that the measures taken so far to address the problem of noise pollution from the airport have simply not worked. There has been some improvement, but nothing like the improvement that we want as a local community, and certainly nothing that is acceptable. There is a voluntary agreement at Heathrow purely and simply to provide insulation for a limited number of properties—private houses, and some public buildings—but although that is welcome, it is a voluntary agreement and has had no impact in bearing down on the noise from the airport. I believe that posing the threat of a compensation scheme will focus the minds of the airport authorities and the aviation industry, and will constitute a promise to local residents of at least some compensation.

The hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) asked how such a scheme could be devised. We arrived at the idea of the insulation scheme and devised it during our debates, and although there was no actual consensus, at least we secured agreement in some form. I am sure that we can use that as a model for our scheme, which is being consulted on at present. It is not beyond the wit of man or woman to devise an appropriate scheme and build upon it for the future.

A group of my constituents live in the most air-polluted area of the whole country, along with the City of London. That is reflected in the incidence of respiratory conditions and cancer in the area. We have been designated an air quality management zone, but that has had no effect whatever on the level of air pollution in the area, because of the increase in aviation. Therefore, I support the amendments that place a responsibility on the CAA and the Secretary of State to look at environmental impacts, including air pollution and emissions. They contribute to climate change as well.

The Bill provides us with an opportunity to make this a cross-party priority. That will send the aviation industry the message that we must address these issues. Air quality management zones and all the other policies of the past 20 years have had very little impact.

I welcome the amendments that would place a duty on the Secretary of State and the CAA to take into account the overall impact of aviation activities on local communities. That is important for my community. BAA and the aviation industry have taken no account

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of the impact of their activities on the village of Sipson. They have blighted the Heathrow villages for almost 20 years as a result of threats of expansion. They have brought in a bond scheme whereby they have bought up the village of Sipson, even though the Government have now said there will be no third runway, for which I thank them. The Labour Opposition have said exactly the same; we are opposed to a third runway now. There is cross-House consensus on this, therefore. I am not completely sure that that is written in blood, but it will be if there is any going back on the commitment.

However, BAA is still not giving up those properties. In fact, this month it has bought more, and it has housed people in them on a temporary basis—for 12 months or two years. That has destabilised Sipson.

6.15 pm

Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne) (Con): I am sure the hon. Gentleman appreciates that aviation is vital not only to this country, but to the community he represents, and certainly to the community I represent. I therefore want to understand the drift of his comments. Is he saying that BAA should cease to operate and that Heathrow should shut down? What exactly is he proposing?

John McDonnell: I wish I hadn’t bothered now! We must not go back to that level of debate. The hon. Gentleman is one of the most intelligent new Members of the House, and I have even started to read his books. We must not get dragged down into such trite debates. We will meet separately and work together to develop a strategy to enhance the economic benefits of Heathrow for both our communities, as I did with his predecessor. The debate is not about whether to close Heathrow; it is about how to strike the right balance between enhancing the employment benefits and protecting the environment, and that is all that these amendments do. They simply say to the Secretary of State and the CAA, “You need to take into account the environmental implications and the effects on local communities.”

What has happened in Sipson has not been taken into account. BAA is still buying properties and letting them out on a short-term basis. The community is therefore continuously blighted. There is no compensation for the local businesses—the butcher, the hairdresser, the local post office and pub. Their loyal clientele is now gone, and some of those businesses are closing down while the others can no longer earn a living.

We have met BAA and I have met Colin Marshall. I pushed the boat out and took him for a coffee in central Hayes. I sought to see whether at least some support could be devised for those local businesses to tide them over while they build up the loyal base again as best they can. The answer was no. Only two weeks ago, the board rejected that request. What is happening now? It is offering a small element to try to tart up the front of the shops—that is all.

That is the sort of blight that has occurred as a result of the activities of BAA—well not BAA, but Ferrovial, the Spanish company founded by a fascist under Franco that has now exploited my community to maximise its profits and ship them abroad to prop up the construction corporation, which is now having financial trouble. So I welcome the opportunity that these amendments would provide to place that duty on the CAA and the Secretary

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of State to ensure that the impact on local communities is taken into account. If these duties were in place now, BAA would have to introduce a compensation scheme for those local businesses in Sipson; it would have to stop blighting the overall area; it would have to introduce a scheme to compensate my constituents for the noise pollution they are experiencing; and it would have to drive down its operations that are producing such air pollution in my area.

I finish by saying that some of my local schools around Heathrow have a box into which children put their pumps when they go into class in the morning. They do so because they suffer from such a range of respiratory conditions, particularly asthma. In Hillingdon, we now specifically train our teachers on how to deal with asthma attacks in class; this is as a result of the air pollution, particularly that from the airport itself. The amendments are some of the most significant in terms of attempting to affect the environmental impact of aviation in this country that we have seen for many a year, and they should be treated seriously. New clause 6 should be treated seriously, because the noise affects not only people’s enjoyment, but their health, as has been shown in recent research. I am pleased that new clause 6 is being put to the test in the House tonight. Even if the Government cannot accept the other amendments, I would welcome it if they would think again, as we go into this consultation on aviation overall, to see how we can build in better environmental protections for the local communities against the expansion and operations of aviation overall.

Julie Hilling: I will not speak for long, but I wish to express the enormous disappointment, among not only the green groups, but the many people who live near airports and are affected by them, at the fact that the Government did not put an environmental duty in the Bill. I accept that the amendments that we are proposing do not go as far as we would have wanted this Bill to go. However, the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) demonstrated exactly why we need at least to include these amendments in the Bill and to continue to work for the future to ensure that those measures operate across all airports.

There is great concern worldwide about air travel’s effect on the environment and the damage it can do to the ozone layer, but many more people are concerned about what happens day to day. They are concerned about the effect of airports on their daily lives. Noise is the most obvious issue we talk about when we debate airports and although it is, of course, a very serious issue, it affects a smaller group of people than other environmental concerns.

Similarly the actual flight makes up only a small part of the carbon footprint of any journey by air. We also need to consider: the environmental costs of getting people to the airport by road and rail; the cost of road congestion, which is a huge issue in my community in Greater Manchester; and the cost to the environment of the car parking spaces that seem to spread across the fields, particularly around Heathrow and Gatwick, where we seem to grow cars instead of crops.

Of course the industry faces competing priorities. Its main priority has to be getting passengers to their destination in the most profitable way possible. Profits—or

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at least costs—are even more important for regional airports, many of which are struggling to survive at the moment. For airports it is about having as many flights as possible. Airports such as Heathrow are having to work out how to squeeze them into the restricted air and ground space. It is about getting passengers to the airport in the easiest way possible because the operators need to ensure that passengers choose to travel with them in the future. To believe that operators will consider environmental issues out of the goodness of their hearts seems somewhat naive.

Manchester, my local airport, does what it can to be a good neighbour. It has invested greatly in rail links and other mitigating measures and it is now investing in Metrolink to bring more people to the airport. I do not believe, however, that a vague requirement, rather than an absolute duty, is enough.

As was discussed in Committee, I do not believe that passengers make a choice because of the green credentials of their airport. I am sure that other passengers, like me, work out where they want to go, what price it will be and how easy it will be to get to the airport. Deciding whether to fly or catch a train might be my one environmental consideration, but I do not make any further considerations in choosing where to go. Furthermore, as has been said, other regulators, such as the Office of Rail Regulation, have a duty as regards environmental concerns. It seems a bit perverse when we are considering new duties for the CAA not to say that it should have an environmental duty.

We must say to the aviation industry that the environment is a big issue, both in terms of its carbon footprint and for those who live near airports, who are extremely disappointed that the Government have not used the Bill as an opportunity to consider the problems and do something about them. Yes, the amendments are not all that we would want, but they are a start. I urge hon. Members on both sides of the House to support them, particularly those people who have argued long and hard about their environmental concerns.

Pat Glass: At the beginning of the debate, I said that I felt that the Bill was essentially a good one with a number of omissions, and perhaps the most glaring omission of all is the statutory environmental duty. That statutory duty was part of the Bill when it was drafted by the previous Government, and it is not clear to me why the “greenest Government ever” would remove it.

In Committee, the Minister told us that the Bill is about economic regulation and that there is therefore no room for a statutory environmental duty. However, the Bill is about much more than simply the economic regulation of the CAA. If it was just about economic regulation, it would not include safety or security or an extension of the air travel organisers’ licence. It is not a clean and simple Bill about economic regulation; it is a long overdue consolidation and updating of regulations covering a wide range of issues in which those sections dealing with a statutory duty on environmental issues should have been included but have been deliberately expunged.

I could perhaps understand the Government’s reluctance to include the environmental duty if the CAA was the only economic regulator to have such a statutory duty placed on it. We have heard the Minister say in response to that point that the Bill only covers certain airports,

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but as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) has said, in some areas, such as security, it covers all airports.

Mrs Villiers: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Pat Glass: May I finish this point? I will then be happy to give way.

Even if the Bill covered only certain airports, would it not be a good start to begin with the biggest airports in the country? The Minister has also said—I am sure she will say it again when she intervenes—that other economic regulators, such as Ofgem and Ofwat, have universal jurisdiction, but that is not true. Ofgem does not have universal jurisdiction. Huge areas of this country, particularly rural areas, are off gas and are therefore not covered by Ofgem. I know that because I and other Members of the House have consistently campaigned to extend Ofgem’s jurisdiction to make it universal. I am sorry, but the Minister’s argument is just not correct.

Mrs Villiers: Both the hon. Lady and the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) made points about parts of the Bill covering all airports, and that is undoubtedly true, but the amendments relate to economic regulation. So the amendments seek to use economic regulation as a means of achieving environmental objectives. That is one of my fundamental objections. If we are going regulate for environmental purposes, we need to do it across the board in a proportionate, targeted and efficient way, not via economic regulation.

Pat Glass: And I would agree if we had before us some regulation that would cover all airports, but we do not. So I am sorry: we have to start somewhere.

Moving on to the impact of the statutory duty, I cannot believe that anyone would argue that it is not needed. I appreciate that aviation emissions currently make up 6% of UK emissions, but we all know that that is expected to rise to as much as 25%, even if the Government stick to the current targets and even if those targets are met. But as we heard today, environmental issues around airports and air travel go much further than concerns about emissions. They include air quality around airports and in the wider environment, they include noise pollution at and around airports and they include surface transport links and access. As we heard today from my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer), a recognised expert in this area, most pollution around airports does not actually come from planes; it comes from vehicles going to, from and around airports. Those living around and close to airports are naturally concerned about air quality and noise pollution, and they will be very unhappy to see the Government remove the statutory duty from the Bill.

Finally, I want to move on to the issue of emissions, which are of concern to us all. We all need to know that the CAA will pay proper regard to playing its part in meeting the 2015 targets, in a world in which emissions from aviation are going to increase, and in which the emissions challenge will simply get harder and harder. I do not understand, in this situation of increasing challenge, why the Government are choosing to remove the statutory duty.