Coffee House

Sir Howard Davies makes himself at home in the long grass

2 November 2012

9:00 AM

2 November 2012

9:00 AM

The chair of the government’s airports commission was refreshingly honest about the purpose of his review when he appeared on the Today programme this morning. Sir Howard Davies said:

‘I have reflected quite hard on the criticisms about long grass that the Mayor of London and Michael Heseltine say, that this is booted into the long grass. So how can you make best use of your time in the long grass? What I think we can do is do a lot of the preparatory work. I think we can do that so that when a new government comes into office in 2015 when they make a decision it will have a flying start. I aim to to be a really expert piece of work looking at how you think about airport capacity which I hope internationally will be leading edge.’

Sir Howard will set out the membership of the commission and its terms of reference today as he makes himself comfortable in the long grass. But stalking through the undergrowth towards him is the Mayor of London, who took the opportunity of his own slot on the same programme to savage the review and the government as brutally as he possibly could.


In the same way as someone starts a sentence with ‘no offence, but’ before saying something rather offensive and personal, the Mayor said he had ‘great respect for Howard’ and that he looks ‘forward to co-operating fully with his inquiry and to giving him all the benefit of the investigations that we’ve done into this matter’. Then he pounced. The review would be ‘toxic and disastrous’ for the 2015 election, he said, as it would leave the question about airport capacity hanging over the electorate. He also suspected that the government would yield to pressure from business and ‘come up with what they think is the best short-term solution, which is to go for the third runway at Heathrow’.

Just in case anyone was in any doubt what the Mayor’s position is on Heathrow, he attacked that beast, too:

‘We’ve been round this quite a lot and I think it’s politically toxic, for the reasons I’ve just explained. It will go down incredibly badly in London, it will lead to a severe erosion of the quality of life for the people in London.’

He was a little more careful with his words than he has been in the past – there was no ‘fudgerama’ this time around – but Boris still bit a good chunk out of the government. First he said ‘what they should do, what Howard, with great respect, should do, is accelerate his timetable’, which made it clear that though he had spent much of the interview passing Sir Howard Davies from one claw to another, he had his eye on a bigger prey in the distance. Then he added:

‘There is absolutely no need for us to delay to 2015. Can I tell you, in the next nine years, how many runways they’re going to build in China? They’re going to build 52. How many in the UK? None at all. It is a policy of utter inertia.’

Boris now has back up on his hunting mission: Lord Heseltine. One of the peer’s key criticisms in his growth review earlier this week included the government’s reluctance to press ahead with aviation expansion in the South East of England. The long grass doesn’t look like a very comfortable place to lurk at the moment.

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Show comments
  • jack loach

    Swiss Bank..—Pictet & Cie- – – ( Cover up crimes.)

    Points of Interest
    . ( Case – Peter Humphries & Jack Loach ).

    Pictet & Cie . (
    Pictet Asset Management ).Feb. Updates.

    The bank and its officials
    deliberately withheld crucial documents requested under a High Court
    order .The bank and its officials deliberately withheld evidence from
    the Police , and one of its account managers Susan
    Broadhead gave
    a false witness statement to the police .

    Another one of its managers
    Nicholas Campiche
    ( Now Head of Pictet – Alternative Investments.) concocted a letter
    pretending to be a client and closed his account . The senior partner
    ( Ivan Pictet.)
    sought to have numerous documents destroyed , along with those copies
    in their London office of P.A.M. . Initially stating they were
    forgeries then their lawyers Peters
    & Peters – – Monty Raphael
    – – and barrister Charles
    Flint . Q.C.
    later had to admit in Court that the documents were genuine .

    It is a criminal offence for a bank to knowingly act for an
    undischarged criminal bankrupt in so far as it seeks to assist that
    criminal bankrupt in the fraudulent movement of monies .( Money
    laundering .)

    It is a criminal offence for a bank to lie to the police and the

    trustee in bankruptcy in so far as
    any knowledge of , or dealings with the

    bankrupt was refuted .

    A bank can be guilty of contempt of court if it fails to comply
    fully with

    the Courts order for discovery .

    The banks contempt is further compounded if it fails to address its

    after it is specifically drawn to
    its solicitors attention . ( Monty Raphael.)

    It is a criminal offence under the financial services act to seek to

    evidence that might be relevant to
    an investigation .

    It is a criminal offence not to relinquish control of funds to the

    immediately the fact of the
    bankruptcy is drawn to the banks attention .

    It is a criminal offence to lie or otherwise obfuscate the lawful and

    Enquiries of the F.S.A.

    The Financial
    Services Authority. ( F.S.A.) Howard Davies / John Tiner/ Hector

    The F.S.A. investigated our
    complaints for eighteen months , then when pressed by our M.P. They
    closed the file and told him it was not within their remit .

    They had evidence to prove that crimes had been committed by one

    of the firms under their supervision
    . This same firm had already had

    a previous breach .

    They state actual findings , – lack of supervision , lack of due

    diligence and money laundering .

    The case was sent to Enforcement numerous times but no action

    was ever implemented . Even after
    they concluded that Pictet had a “rogue

    element” in their London office .

    The F.S.A. were also guilty of perverting the course of justice for

    they knew full well that Pictet were
    lying and were guilty of numerous offences.

    In 2006 John Tiner.
    Chief Executive . F.S.A..
    suggested it should have been within their remit , when pressed by
    our M.P. Then the Treasury in Jan 2008 confirmed it was within the
    F.S.A. remit. Yet this firm still operates .

    Peters & Peters. ( Monty Raphael.).

    Mr. Raphael and the Peters & Peters partners were fully aware of
    their clients Pictet’s criminal actions in relation to the Court
    Order and the police investigation . Mr Raphael was sent copies on
    several occasions of a list of numerous documents that he/Pictet &
    Cie had not handed over to the police/courts . This list sent to them
    even by our M.P.Mr Sheerman .

    Some of these were Pictet documents
    that Peters & Peters were aware of in the Civil action brought by
    Mr Loach . Yet they then omitted to give them to the police who were
    investigating this matter at exactly the same time .

    . Raphael later admitted in a letter to Mr .Barry Sheerman .M.P. that
    he had only handed over part of the file to the police , when the
    Court .—Special Procedure Order clearly stated it required all
    files , documents , accounts , ledgers and other records .

  • Daniel Maris

    We do need to challenge as well whether we need a hub airport or “Hub Plus”. We are not in a natural position for Europe’s hub. Moreover, I have this suspicion that hub airports are just magnets for mass immigration. Most of the jobs associated with them in catering, cleaning and retail involve low pay and anti-social hours. Not surprisingly this means we need to attract poor immigrants who are prepared to do the jobs. At the same time hub airports are attractive for the super-rich elite who then come and squat in our property in London driving up house prices for everyone, as others are driven further down the ladder.

    Big airports are, I think, of dubious economic value for the citizens of this country (as opposed to potential immigrants and super-rich visitors from Russia and China).

  • Daniel Maris

    The Tories seem determined to lose the next election. I would estimate the refusal to rule out a third runway proposal for Heathrow will cost them 5-10 seats in Greater London and environs. Boris, as on many issues, has it right.

  • Policyholder

    Heathrow is the result of a planning decision taken in the 40’s by a load of jobsworths, who never realised that air traffic would grow exponentially, otherwise they would not have built terminals in the centre with access from a single tunnel.

    They did not expect working class people to be able to afford to fly to Florida, Australia etc etc. Nor did they expect working class Labour supporters to own cars – hence the number of council estates with narrow roads, and no parking facilities.

    They were probably the same people who advocated building motorways that had bridges over only two/three lanes. and were incapable of being expanded to four/five lanes to meet traffic expansion
    Nevertheless, we reward them with secure employment and inflation proofed pensions.

    We must be mad!

    • L’Arse

      Don’t worry, Policyholder.
      Those responsible for the dirty deeds in the 1940s should all be dead soon.

  • L’Arse

    Well done for deciphering what Boris was saying this morning as Evan Davis’ constant interruptions meant that I couldn’t hear a word. Just because the journalist shares more of less the same surname as Sir Howard shouldn’t have meant that he was not neutral in the argument. I joke, obviously…

  • Policyholder

    Howard Davies is also the recently appointed Chairman of Phoenix Group plc. I fear for that company, as his other interests are obviously a distraction.

  • dalai guevara

    Let’s keep a tally on what has been commissioned so far:

    1- Foster’s estuary proposal
    2- Gensler’s floating bubble nonsense
    3- Make’s expansion of Stansted
    4- Weston Williamson’s expansion of Luton

    Perhaps other proposals I cannot think of right now. A few questions arise:

    a- is this a competition?
    b- has it been advertised EU-wide for submission as required by law?
    c- why are we spending money on 4+ designs at the same time, when a desk top analysis would suffice at this moment in time?

    • Charles

      Because 1 – 4 have been prepared privately by owners of the airports making the case for why their business should be allowed to grow

      Luton is owned by the local council, but presumably the management think it is a good investment.

    • Daniel Maris

      Why is Gatwick rarely mentioned? It’s got loads of green fields nearby to expand into and it’s got a great connection to central London.

  • Jenny Barnes

    Economist article
    proposes launching aircraft using induction electric sleds from runways that could be 1/3 shorter… So the new Heathrow runway could be used to launch aircraft giving quieter take offs, while one of the other 2 could be for landings, and the second main runway could operate in mixed mode.

    • HooksLaw

      And you are volunteering to be shot off on your holidays from a an electro induction sled ??

      • Jenny Barnes

        It’s remarkably similar to the idea of being 5 miles up in the air in an aluminium tube on 50% pressure air, held up by burning tonnes of kerosene. I’m sure it’ll seem routine, soon.

  • Acacia Avenue

    I am with Boris. The noise and filth from the Heathrow traffic impacts on my life and I live 5 miles East of it. Quieter planes? Yeh, right, try sleeping on Sunday, early morning, when they are routed over you. Heathrow is in the wrong place.

    Why has Cameron got so little vision? Has he got any vision? We need big ideas, we need investment and we need them now. A new, clean start airport instead of the higglegy-piggledy Heathrow mess – bring it on!

  • Acacia Avenue

    Boris. The noise and filth from the Heathrow traffic impacts on my life and I live 5 miles East of it. Quieter planes? Yeh, right, try sleeping on Sunday, early morning, when they are routed over you. Heathrow is in the wrong place.
    I am with
    Why has Cameron got so little vision? Has he got any vision? We need big ideas, we need investment and we need them now. A new, clean start airport instead of the higglegy-piggledy Heathrow mess – bring it on!

  • James Randall

    Another review process to produce another Aviation Policy which no doubt will be thrown away post election like the one from 2003 was as soon as the coalition came into power.

  • HooksLaw

    IF your photograph is genuine it makes a good argument for Boris Island. I notice the house is for sale – good luck with that one.

    • telemachus

      Perhaps they should sell Boris
      Remember that when theyb cannot sell this house that 4,000 homes will be demolished, including the entire village of Sipson. That’s on top of the increased noise and air pollution for hundreds of thousands of west London residents.

      John Stewart is from the Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise Reports that:-
      “In terms of capacity, it’s true that Heathrow is almost 99 percent full. But it has enough terminal capacity for an extra 20 million passengers.
      “And 25 percent of flights are short haul or to nearby European countries. With those spaces freed up, there could be extra flights to places like China and India.

      The government’s accounting methods also shrug away the effect of increased greenhouse gas emissions. The flight increase projected for a third runway would put an extra 9.8 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year. That’s more than the entire output of some countries.

      Boris favours building a new airport with three, four or five runways on the other side of London

      Neither a third runway nor a ‘Boris Island’ should go ahead. The danger is that both sides are asking the wrong question. They all assume we need more capacity, instead of asking how much we need and how much we can allow in terms of climate change and residents’ quality of life.
      Some 45 percent of flights in Europe are 500km or less. That’s about the distance from London to the Scottish border. These are precisely the kind of journeys that could be switched to rail.

      Further the number of passengers flying in and out of Britain has actually declined in the past four years of economic crisis. And it is utterly irrational for Heathrow to compete with Gatwick and Stansted, or to pit planes in competition with trains.
      The calls for a third runway are part of this senseless race between competing airport bosses trying to claw their way to the network’s centre. It will leave Europe with more runways and more short haul flights than it needs
      All bonkers

      • James Randall

        Many of the current flights to India or China (or many other parts of the world) from Heathrow are only viable for airlines by virtue of connecting passengers. If you take out the ‘short haul’ flights from Heathrow many of those connecting passengers will not arrive into the airport to connect onto flights to India, China, etc. As a result the very action that you propose to increase the number of long haul flights to new destinations could have the opposite effect as the connecting passenger traffic will not exist.

        • telemachus

          So you agree we do not need environmental polluting new runways at all

          • James Randall

            Where did I say that?

            • telemachus

              My recipe with the reductions you predict equal too much runway space now

              • James Randall

                The only reason I suggested there might be reductions is because of your suggestion that we remove most short haul services from airports. You seem to forget that the side effect might be a significant reduction in services to BRIC nations, reducing the ability of UK business to grow.

      • HooksLaw

        ha – leaving aside the rubbish about carbon … Where does the rail capacity come from and have you seen all the hoo haa over High Speed Rail from the usual suspects on here?