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Heathrow Airport: Security

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 24 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason it was decided to take fingerprint impressions from domestic transfer passengers at Heathrow airport; and what use was to be made of the information gathered. (199173)

[holding answer 21 April 2008]: In the building of Terminal 5 at Heathrow, the British Airports Authority (BAA) took the decision to introduce a Common Departure Lounge (CDL). BAA was required to ensure that any immigration risks arising from the mixing of domestic and international passengers were mitigated.

It is the intention that the admission of domestic passengers into the lounge will be controlled by means of biometric fingerprint enrolment together with a digital photograph, the details of which will then be validated at boarding. This system will ensure that only those individuals entitled to travel within the UK as a domestic passenger can do so. However, to ensure that the proposed system is fully validated by the Information Commissioner, it has been agreed that the system will operate using only digital photography until such validation is given.

BAA has undertaken that all data obtained will immediately be encrypted and destroyed within 24 hours in accordance with the Data Protection Act. They have confirmed that data stored do not include any personal details and are not cross referenced with any other database or organisation.