Skip to main content

Passports (Airport Checking)

Volume 897: debated on Monday 4 August 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue instructions to the immigration authorities at London (Heathrow) Airport to rotate the staff checking passports so as to deal with the longest queues of any particular category of passengers as speedily as possible, in order to avoid delays presently caused by rigid retention of station by officials, regardless of numbers waiting in any particular category.

The Immigration Service at all ports of entry is instructed to deploy its staff according to the numbers of passengers expected through the spearate channels of the passport controls. This includes moving immigration officers from one channel to another. Because the numbers of passengers of various nationalities in different flights ore not always predictable none of the four channels in the terminals at Heathrow can be left entirely unmanned, even for brief periods, to reinforce other channels.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that the present arrangements for inspecting the passports of incoming passengers at London (Heathrow) and other British airports handling international traffic, ensure the most speedy and satisfactory entry into this country of all bona fide visitors and returning citizens; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. The arrangements are kept under review but experience suggests that the separation of passengers according to the passports they hold, which enables returning United Kingdom citizens to be cleared very quickly, is the best way of minimising the total clearance time for passengers arriving on international services at major airports. Studies at Heathrow in 1973 showed that time spent in the immigration control was not the major cause of delay to incoming passengers.