Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing Bill: 11th July 2017

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
This is a fascinating topic. Are we seeing an example of what happens when EU regulation is really rather good, and we accept that and transpose it into our law? Does my right hon. Friend not agree that there are many who supported our leaving the EU on the basis of some, I think, fanciful notion—I am sorry, Mr Hoyle, but I think this is an important point—that we would be stripping away all this sort of regulation and entirely doing our own thing? This proposal, however, seems to be rather a good idea.

Mr Hayes
In the darkest recesses of the darkest places there is occasionally a glimmer of light, and so it is with the European Union. One would not want to claim that every single aspect of every single thing that has been done over all the years of its existence has been malevolent. There is the odd measure which may be said to have shed just a glimmer of light, and in that sense, my right hon. Friend may be right.

Let me move on. During an evidence session earlier this year, Richard Moriarty of the Civil Aviation Authority told the Committee considering the Vehicle, Technology and Aviation Bill that he hoped the Government

“will follow the practice that they have followed today: consult with us, consult the industry, do the impact assessment, and so on.” ––[Official Report, Vehicle Technology and Aviation Public Bill Committee, 14 March 2017; c. 65, Q150.]​

For the reasons that I have given, the current process is one from which I will not deviate. We will ensure that any changes that are made after the passing of the Bill, or as a consequence of it, will be subject to that rigorous and transparent process; but I want to go even further in satisfying the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East, because even that is not enough for me.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the Air Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee, or ATIPAC, as it is commonly known. Earlier, I described darkness and glimmers of light in respect of the European Union. So it is with Labour Governments. It is a great mistake in politics to demonise one’s political opponents, because Governments of all colours do some things well and some things less well. All Governments introduce legislation that they subsequently regret, and omit to introduce legislation that they should. In grown-up politics and proper political debate—and this is a mature Parliament that is capable of such debate—we should freely acknowledge that.

In 2000, a Labour Government set up ATIPAC. Its purpose was to provide advice for the Civil Aviation Authority, the Air Travel Trust and the Secretary of State for Transport on policies that should be pursued to protect customers. It consists of representatives of industry, consumers, the CAA and Trading Standards, which means that it is well placed to provide an informed and independent review of policies. That committee already submits a substantial report to the Secretary of State each year. I have a copy of such a report, for the consideration and, I hope, education and enjoyment of any Member who may wish to cast an eye over it. The report includes drawing the Secretary of State’s attention to any concerns on which ATIPAC’s view is that further action is necessary to maintain strong consumer protection. This includes advice on changes in the market and, where appropriate, their potential impact on consumers and the financial protection arrangements.

I am sure—absolutely confident—that the committee is already minded to keep a close eye on the impact of the directive on UK consumers. However, in light of this amendment, the brief debate we have enjoyed and the responsible stance taken by those on the Opposition Benches—