§ Mr. Knapman
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Civil Aviation Authority has responded to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission's report on the authority's provision of navigation and air traffic control to civil aircraft published in July; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The Civil Aviation Authority publishes its initial response today. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.
The Commission was particularly asked to comment on whether and to what extent the authority had implemented the recommendations of their 1983 report; the appropriateness of the authority's investment management arrangements; the adequacy of the authority's mechanisms for improving the efficiency of services. The services provided to military aircraft and the authority's regulatory activities were excluded from the inquiry.
The Commission found that significant progress had been made in reforming working practices, improving corporate planning, setting clear corporate and individual objectives, introducing performance-related pay, managing the investment programme, and making the organisation more accountable to users. The Commission praised the CAA's safety record against the background of a marked growth in air traffic, and its contribution, through Eurocontrol, towards the harmonisation of air traffic services in Europe. The Commission concluded that the CAA was not pursuing a course of conduct against the public interest. There remained scope for improvement in some areas, in particular manpower planning had not yet attained a standard satisfactory to the Commission or thed CAA's management.
The authority in its response says that it has accepted all but one of the MMC's 40 recommendations, and that work endorse already begun on implementing many of them.
I endorse the Commission's recognition of the very great progress made by the CAA under its present Chairman; of the CAA's safety record; and of its valuable work in Europe. The Authority's response clearly demonstrates their determination to achieve further improvements in their management practices, and I am pleased to see that many of the Commission's recommendations are already being implemented.
The MMC recommended that I should review in 1996 whether the CAA and national air traffic services (NATS) should be separated. I agree that there should be no change at present, but that it will be appropriate to reconsider the issue later in the current investment cycle.292W
I am asking the chairman of the authority to keep me informed of his progress in implementing the MMC's detailed recommendations.