25 May 2010

New Government - the Queen´s speech and the Government programme

On Tuesday 25th May Her Majesty the Queen opened the new parliament giving her customary speech highlighting the new government´s programme.

With regard to transport the legislative programme is summed up in the following short paragraph.

My Government will support investment in new high-speed broadband internet connections, enable the construction of a high-speed railway network and reform the economic regulation of airports to benefit passengers.

This is not very much for such important development projects. However, at least there is already one Bill being prepared for the regulation of airports as published on the government´s own website, which is as follows..
Airport Economic Regulation Bill. 

“My Government will…reform the economic regulation of airports to benefit passengers.”

The purpose of the Bill is to:

  • Having ruled out new runways in the South East, we will engage with all stakeholders in the sector to develop a new vision for a competitive aviation industry, supporting UK economic growth and designed within the constraint of the existing runway infrastructure. This Bill will reform the framework for the economic regulation of airports to benefit passengers and drive investment in airport facilities.

The main benefits of the Bill would be:

  • To sharpen incentives on airports to deliver better outcomes for passengers.
  • To drive investment in improved airport facilities for passengers.
  • To allow the removal of unnecessary regulation in order to help competition to thrive and deliver benefits for passengers.
  • To reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and political involvement in the regulatory process. 

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • Replace the existing system for setting price caps at airports which are subject to economic regulation with a more flexible framework focused on the outcomes that matter to passengers.
  • Ministers are considering the detailed content of these reforms and will say more in due course.

Related documents:    None

Existing legislation in this area is:

  • This Bill would replace the existing system for setting price caps at airports which is set out in Part IV of the Airports Act 1986.


Airport economic regulation is a reserved matter as regards the power to legislate. However, the existing legislation in Northern Ireland is separate from that in Great Britain, and we are in discussions with Northern Ireland as to whether to adopt these reforms there.

Quite honestly, this means very little -  twiddling the pieces - getting the airport owners to bring in improvements  - but no new runways in the South East - and no expenditure. Not much can be done that way. Well we will have to wait and see.

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