Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Lord Soley calls for increased airport capacity

Labour peers have called on the government to address the issue of airport capacity in the south east of England for "the sake of the British economy".

Members of the House of Lords were responding to an oral question from Conservative peer Lord Spicer on 8 January 2013.

Lord Spicer wanted to know the average capacity of London's commercial airports over the last six months.

Responding on behalf of the government, Transport Spokesman Earl Attlee told peers London's five biggest commercial airports were running at 86% runway capacity between May and October 2012.

Labour's Lord Soley, who has campaigned for the expansion of Heathrow, said that "just about everyone" in business believes delaying expansion is bad for the UK economy.

He told peers: "It is the delay that is causing the problem. If they picked up the last [Labour] government's policy we would not be in this situation now."

And he pleaded with the government to "move on this for the sake of the British economy, investment and jobs".

Labour's Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe added that the government should focus on filling the spare 14% capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and London City airports.

But Liberal Democrat peer Lord Bradshaw urged the government to only create extra capacity when a "real need is demonstrated".

Before oral questions, peers paid tribute to Lord Strathclyde who has resigned as Leader of the House of Lords after 25 years on the Conservative front bench.

Labour leader in the Lords, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, said Lord Strathclyde had always been a "highly capable political operator".

The deputy Lords leader and leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, Lord McNally, said Lord Strathclyde stepped down with the thanks, respect and affection of the whole House.

His successor as Lords Leader, Lord Hill of Oareford, said Lord Strathclyde steered the House with great skill through some "testing times" in coalition government.

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