North East Herts MP Oliver Heald has asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the House of Commons what the implications are for Stansted Expansion in the light of the current credit crisis. Oliver Heald’s Question to Rt Hon Alistair Darling MP and the Chancellor’s reply follow:-
Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con):What are the implications for major infrastructure projects such as the expansion of Stansted airport, where a Spanish company which is already heavily borrowed is the lead on that project? What implications will the crisis have for such a project? Are other projects that the Government consider to be in the national interest-I do not happen to think that that is one of them-threatened by the crisis?
Mr. Darling:I wondered whether the hon. Gentleman was changing his line on Stansted. No doubt he is anxious to make that point for his constituents, if not others. It is for BAA, which owns Stansted, to decide whether the investment that it thinks is necessary can come forward. I very much hope that it can. Yes, we have an immediate problem in relation to credit and what is happening in the markets, but we should ask ourselves all the time what we will need 10, 20 or 30 years ahead. When it comes to aviation, as I have said many times, ever since I published the aviation White Paper in 2003, the problem that we have in this country is that on successive occasions when we should have been looking to the long term, short-term decisions were taken that prejudiced the development of transport infrastructure, in particular. That is why it is important that people ask themselves what Stansted will need in 10 or 20 years. I think BAA will take the long-term view, which is extremely important.