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Airports: Biometrics

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when the compulsory biometric fingerprint checks of passengers on domestic flights will be introduced at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, (c) Manchester and (d) other airports; and which terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick airports will be included; (222777)

(2) whether an impact assessment has been made of the likely effect on passenger flows through (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, (c) Manchester and (d) other UK airports of mandatory biometric fingerprinting, if introduced;

(3) what discussions she has had with the Information Commissioner about the introduction of biometric fingerprint checks at Heathrow and other UK airports.

Where there is a mixing of domestic and international passengers in a common departure lounge, the Government are considering requiring airport operators to verify the identity of travellers before boarding. This could be done through the use of biometrics such as fingerprints where it is considered a proportionate measure to manage border security. No final decisions have yet been taken on the proposal.

As part of their consideration, the Government will have due regard to the potential impact that this might have on passenger flows and are committed to working with airport operators to minimise any impacts where possible.

The Government have had several discussions with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on the issue of passenger verification at common departure lounges. The Government will continue to work closely with airport operators and the ICO on the measures required to maintain the security of the UK border and of air travel.