by Ray Fleming

The media channels have been choked with American election news for the past week so the detail of some important developments in Britain have rather gone by default. One of these is the government's handling of the airport issue.

Lord Heseltine's report on accelerating Britain's economic recovery put in first place an early decision on where the necessary expansion of airport capacity should take place -- at Heathrow, on Boris Johnson's airport island in the Thames or by greater use of other existing airports. Having asked Heseltine for his advice seven months ago the prime minister showed how little he valued it by almost immediately announcing the role of a commission to look into the airports issue and report -- by 2015! That was bad enough but his choice of Sir Howard Davies to lead the commission was even worse. Sir Howard told the Observer on Sunday that he will devote “a day or day-and-a-half a week” to delivering an interim report by 2013 and a final report, as required, no sooner than 2015. Sir Howard is chairman of Phoenix Insurance and will not be paid for his airport work, nor will the other five commissioners, two of whom come with Olympics backgrounds. A well-paid professional team could produce a report and recommendation in two years. But Mr Cameron does not want this for political reasons.