§ 1. Mr. McCrindle
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has any plans to meet representatives of travel agents in the near future.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade (Mr. Clinton Davis)
Before I answer the Question, perhaps I may apologise to the House on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade, who is at present on an official visit to India. I hope that nothing goes too sadly amiss today.
Ministers met members of the Association of British Travel Agents—ABTA—on 8th February and on 26th February, this time with the Guild of British Travel Agents among other representatives of the 2 travel trade. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary expects to have a further meeting shortly.
§ Mr. McCrindle
Will discussions be taking place between Ministers and representatives of the travel agents on the important matter of the possible registration and licensing of travel agents? Will the Minister take this opportunity to spell out the Government's policy on this matter with greater clarity than has hitherto been the case?
§ Mr. Davis
The hon. Gentleman is aware, of course, as he was present during the debate when I announced it, that we are setting up a working party to look into the question of the discounting of fares by bucket shops. The question of registration and licensing will almost certainly fall within its terms of reference.
§ Mr. James Lamond
Will my hon. Friend also discuss with ABTA the question of some of its members advertising holidays in the Turkish-occupied section of Cyprus in hotels that have been confiscated by the Turkish authorities from their owners and for which no compensation has been paid, all of this being done against the wishes of the hotel owners?
§ Mr. Parkinson
When the Minister sees representatives of the travel agents, will he ask them whether they think that 3 their customers prefer the higher fares that the CAA seems to think it is the duty of airlines to charge, or the lower fares which airlines such as Braniff have proposed? Will he tell some of his officials that, much as they may resent it, Sky-train flew and is a success, and that the public are becoming increasingly impatient with fares that are higher than they need to be?
§ Mr. Davis
That clearly does not arise out of the Question. The hon. Gentleman is being very simplistic—as are the Opposition on so many occasions. He knows very well that it was the United States Government that permitted Sky-train to operate for only 12 months, and he also knows very well, or should know, that there are additional questions of great importance affecting the viability of airlines which must be investigated.
§ Mr. Davis
The hon. Gentleman cannot get away with it by saying "Rubbish". If, as he so often propounds, there is need for quieter engined aircraft in order to protect people on the ground, he must realise that this involves very considerable investment, and this is a factor that needs to be taken into account.