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Airports: Security

Volume 493: debated on Wednesday 3 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what standard security checks are operated at British airports for (a) economy class passengers, (b) business class passengers, (c) first-class passengers, (d) very important persons, (e) Ministers, (f) the Prime Minister, (g) Ministers of foreign Governments, (h) foreign heads of Governments and (i) foreign heads of state. (276792)

The Department for Transport is responsible for drafting UK aviation security regulations which are served on regulated airports within the UK in the form of Directions. The Department operates a multi-layered approach to security that is proportionate to and commensurate with the threat we are seeking to mitigate. The primary objective is to protect the travelling public and, in respect of searching individuals, to ensure that prohibited articles are not transported on to aircraft. Airports and airlines are responsible for implementing the security regulations and the Department operates a compliance regime that inspects and where necessary enforces the standards required.

All passengers, including flight crew, staff, Ministers of the Government and Ministers of foreign Governments, regardless of class of travel, are subject to the following standard security procedures: identity check, access controls, security questions, 100 per cent. screening of hold and cabin baggage and 100 per cent. screening of the individual, where necessary enhanced via a hand search and additional technological enhancements.

In line with international protocols, and the UK's international commitments in this respect, a relatively small number of individuals in recognised positions are exempt from these screening procedures. This is in part a reflection of the degree to which security, in various forms, accompanies such posts or individuals.

You will appreciate that for obvious security reasons it is not possible for me to specifically detail the posts, incumbents and security measures that apply in these cases.

I can assure you that TRANSEC and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) hold a ‘Restricted’—‘Closed’ list of persons that are exempt, or may be deemed as an exempted person, for the purpose of aviation security screening and that this list is subject to periodical review.