Hammond defends Heathrow 3rd runway decision

17.6.2010   (EPolitix)

The transport secretary has said the scrapping of a proposed third runway at
Heathrow does not mean that the government is “anti-aviation”.

At the first transport questions of the new Parliament, Philip Hammond said he
wants to make Heathrow “better not bigger”.

David Hanson (Lab, Delyn) warned that the CBI and TUC both think the expansion
of the airport would benefit the capital and the scrapping of the third runway
could result in jobs going “from London to Munich, Frankfurt and Paris”.

Hammond said he has established a working group on aviation in South East England
to work with “representatives of business, the airlines and people who work at
the airport” on how to make best use of the existing runway capacity.

Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab, Poplar and Limehouse) said while there is “spare capacity
in Paris, Schiphol and Frankfurt, and Dubai has built six runways, we run the
risk of being disadvantaged not only by the rest of Europe, but by being bypassed
by planes flying straight to the Americas from Asia through Dubai”.

Turning to rail transport, shadow transport secretary Sadiq Khan said the previous
government had pledged 1,300 new train carriages by 2014 and asked how many more
would be provided by the new administration.

Hammond said no further contracts will be signed “during this financial year
owing to the disastrous public finances”.

A “further announcement” will be made when the spending review is completed,
he added.

There was some confusion later in the session when transport minister Theresa
Villiers began to answer a question on the East London line extension with a line
about the importance of Heathrow.

The speaker intervened and pointed out her mistake.

Junior minister Mike Penning was also taken to task by the speaker when he attempted
to link two questions together.

“The normal courtesy is that the government notify me of this in advance,” Bercow

“I shall let the minister off on this occasion, but I do not want to see a repeat

Penning apologised if he had been “impertinent”.

There were also questions on the Dartford Crossing, the BA strikes, bus fares,
high-speed rail, Manchester Metrolink, speed cameras and the Tyne and Wear metro.