Labour MPs to rebel over air traffic sell-off
Sunday 07 November 1999
Twenty backbenchers had a private meeting with pilots and air traffic controllers before signing up to Keep Our Skies Safe, a pressure group to lobby the Government to stop the sale.
Some Labour MPs are making it clear that they would be prepared to vote against the Government if a Bill including the sell-off of the National Air Traffic Control System (Nats) is introduced in Parliament.
Despite public concern, deputy prime minister John Prescott is understood to be determined to press ahead with the sell-off of 51 per cent of the air traffic control system - which would net the Treasury pounds 1bn.
He is thought to have been "squared" by Chancellor Gordon Brown with a promise that the money would be used to fund key transport improvements Mr Prescott wants. "The thinking is that he cannot lose the Bill, because it is the only way he can fund his programme," a Westminster insider said.
In a reflection of growing disquiet over the issue, the Commons Transport Select Committee has already said it will order a safety inquiry if the part-privatisation plan goes ahead.
A recent poll conducted by the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists found that eight out of 10 people believed that safety should be the prime concern in any changes to the ownership of Nats.
The new Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Smith could again find his words at the 1994 Labour Party conference coming back to haunt him. Then, in Opposition, he told Labour Party members: "Our skies are not for sale."
There are further concerns about a new computer centre, currently being set up, which will not be fully operational until 2002. Some opponents of the proposed sell-off believe it should at least be postponed until after the new system is up and running.
Whitehall aides last night declined to confirm whether or not the measure will be contained in the Queen's Speech later this month.
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...