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Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. Why should not parachutists have any representation with the CAA? If they are hurtling towards the ground at 120 miles an hour, they would like to know that there is no one directly underneath them.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, if one wishes to throw the issue open so widely, it would cause concerns that we need not address in this Bill. It has never seemed appropriate in the past to consider parachutists. I do not know whether it has suddenly come as an insight to the noble Viscount, but it is not an issue to which we have addressed much attention in the past, nor do I intend to do so today.
I can tell the House that the CAA consulted on this issue during the summer. The main proposal in the consultation paper was that the CAA should, after consultation with the Secretary of State, have a power of direction to provide air traffic services in respect of United Kingdom airspace in the interests of ensuring efficient use of airspace, or to ensure that air traffic
In general, there has been a very positive response to the proposal. We must now seek to respond to the few criticisms made and make a final study of the fine print. I am happy to tell the House that we are strongly minded to pursue this proposal and to seek appropriate amendments to the Air Navigation Order 2000 very shortly.
Turning to deal with the question of student pilots, we have no reason to believe that the interests of owners and operators of aircraft in which student pilots fly--presumably under co-pilot direction--are excluded by Clause 70(1).
The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, suggested that the quotation to which he referred expressed the views of NATS. Let me make it clear that the quotation is not a sentiment I have heard expressed by anyone in NATS management. Of course NATS will ensure that fair and equitable access is given to all.
The operating licence which will be issued to NATS includes an explicit prohibition against discrimination in the supply of its services. Condition 2 requires the licensee not to give undue preference to, or discriminate against, any person or class of persons in supplying air traffic services. The licensee is permitted to take into account the need to maintain the most expeditious flow of air traffic as a whole--which mirrors the CAA's duty in Clause 70(1)(a)--but may only apply different or additional criteria with the approval of the CAA.
I was asked another question by the noble Viscount, who challenged me with a very specific example. I hope he will forgive me if I am forced to write to him yet again, I hope in more satisfactory terms than last time.
Amendment No. 80 seeks to remove Clause 75(7), which allows the CAA to specify, under Clause 73(1), for the purposes of charging, operators and owners of aircraft which do not or could not use the chargeable air traffic services concerned. This reflects the current provision in Section 73(3) of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, which is being repealed.
This provision seeks to cover the scenario where an aircraft fails to make contact with air traffic control but still enjoys the benefits of services provided in the interests of safety. An example of this is the maintenance of minimum separation distances from other aircraft. This provision also prevents less scrupulous operators from obtaining "free rides" which would result in very serious safety risks.
The fifth amendment in this group, Amendment No. 81, concerns the powers of the Secretary of State to make regulations regarding the detention and sale of aircraft. The amendment proposes that aircraft should only be allowed to be detained where the current operator of the aircraft was actually the defaulter in paying charges due under Section 73. That would be an unfortunate position to find ourselves in.
Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he please answer the question I raised in relation to flights outside controlled airspace? Will he confirm that neither the Civil Aviation Authority nor NATS has any plans to raise charges in respect of flights outside controlled airspace? If he cannot give me that assurance now, will he be good enough to write to me?
I listened carefully to the Minister's reply. I was particularly interested in his response to my Amendment No. 73. He referred to the liability under common law. I shall read his words with great care, as I shall his response to my other amendments, particularly Amendment No. 81.
I agree that we need the power to detain aircraft. When I occupied the position that the noble Lord presently occupies, I had a monthly note on my desk about whether we should detain aircraft from a certain country, which I shall not name. The Foreign Office took one view and the Department of Transport took another. My view prevailed. We never had to detain the aircraft because they arrived with a suitcase of dollar bills on the day before they were due to be detained. So the policy worked.
Turning to my noble friends' amendments, it is useful that in this House we have two great proponents of general aviation in the shape of my noble friends Lord Goschen and Lord Trefgarne. I was horrified to hear the alleged description of general aviation as "public enemy number one". As the grandson of the holder of pilot's licence No. 1 in this country, when I presume that all aviation was general aviation, I suppose I am therefore an hereditary public enemy. The Minister might well agree with that sentiment.
("(A1) The CAA must exercise its air navigation functions so as to maintain a high standard of safety in the provision of air traffic services; and that duty is to have priority over the application of subsections (1) and (2).").
Page 46, leave out lines 4 to 6.
Page 46, line 8, leave out from ("must") to ("as") in line 10 and insert ("apply them in the manner it thinks is reasonable having regard to them").
Page 46, line 10, at end insert--
("(2A) The CAA must exercise its air navigation functions so as to impose on providers of air traffic services the minimum restrictions which are consistent with the exercise of those functions.").
Page 55, line 23, at end insert--
("(1A) The CAA must exercise its 1973 Act functions so as to maintain a high standard of safety in the provision of air traffic services; and that duty is to have priority over the application of subsections (2) to (5).").
Page 55, leave out lines 40 to 42.
Page 55, line 43, leave out from beginning to ("interests") in line 1 on page 56 and insert ("The only interests to be considered under subsection (2)(a) are").
Page 56, line 8, leave out from beginning to ("as") in line 9 and insert ("apply them in the manner it thinks is reasonable having regard to them").
Page 56, line 9, at end insert--
("(5A) The CAA must exercise its 1973 Act functions so as to impose on suppliers of air traffic services the minimum restrictions which are consistent with the exercise of those functions.").
After Clause 94, insert the following new clause--
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