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Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for giving way. I said earlier that one of the partners that had been considered was Lockheed Martin, which is more responsible than anyone for delay at Swanwick. Can my noble friend explain how, if Lockheed Martin is successful in this matter, the situation will be improved?
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: My Lords, I do not want to enter into assertions about responsibility in this case. It is accepted by the management of NATS itself that it does not have the expertise to run these kinds of projects as they should be run and that it is years and years behind in investment. We believe that, if we look to a decade of further investment, that is best achieved with the kind of expertise to be found in the right strategic partners in the private sector. For those reasons, I ask noble Lords to support us in advancing the PPP. I invite noble Lords opposite not to press these amendments.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply, although I do not believe that he takes account of what the amendment seeks to achieve. The amendment does not prevent the rest of the legislation passing into law but merely asks the
I am grateful to those who have spoken to and supported the amendment. In particular, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shore. Whatever happens as a result of this matter, the separation of the regulator (the CAA) from the operator (NATS) is a good thing, and all sides of the House are agreed on that.
The noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, asked me at the beginning what we on this side of the House would do. He then went on to say that we had absolutely no chance of winning the next election. Therefore, I am not quite sure why he was so concerned about what we might or might not do. We do not yet know what the outcome will be. We do not know what shape NATS will be in after the Bill is enacted. I can assure noble Lords that our proposals for National Air Traffic Services will be clearly set out in our election manifesto. Those proposals will take into account all the debates which have taken place both in this House and elsewhere on the issue. The noble Baroness, Lady Thomas, assumes that we will go forward with privatisation of NATS. I cannot say that we will; I cannot say that we will not. But I cannot say that the matter is yet decided. The point is that our decision will clearly be set out in our manifesto.
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe: My Lords, some of us were listening very carefully to the noble Lord. He will seek, I suspect, to divide the House. We need and require clearer guidance from the noble Lord. It is right and proper that the noble Lord should come out in the open and state where he stands.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, as I said at the beginning of my remarks, we do not know. It depends entirely on what happens to the passage of the Bill. NATS will either go ahead with the PPP or not before the next election. We cannot possibly say at this stage what state NATS will be in at the time of the next election. That is not really the point at issue. The point at issue is that the Government should delay this PPP so that their views and proposals can be put in their manifesto before the next election. The proposals before us today were certainly not in the manifesto for the last election.
As I said in my opening remarks, no one would have believed that the Labour Party would go forward with a privatisation of this kind. I do not intend to go over all the issues of the PPP. Those were more than amply covered in the debate on the previous amendment. It would be a good idea for the Government to delay this matter until after the next election. Therefore, I seek to test the opinion of the House.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
("( ) No approval of a transfer scheme shall be made under subsection (2) before the first Session of the next Parliament after that in which this Act is passed.").
Page 29, line 41, at end insert--
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