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Hijacking And Airport Security

Volume 374: debated on Wednesday 6 October 1976

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2.32 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps have been taken in conjunction with other civilised nations to prevent the hijacking of aircraft and to ensure adequate security at all airports against the criminals who plan such acts of piracy.

My Lords, we are in close and continuous contact with British airlines and with other Governments to achieve effective security measures at all airports, which we regard as the most effective defence against the terrorist. Her Majesty's Government are firm supporters of the international conventions on aviation security and will continue to play a leading role in ICAO, ECAC, or any other international forum.

My Lords, while thanking my honourable and noble friend, may I ask him whether it is not time that there was some set-up to supervise what is happening at the various airports, with responsible people to see whether adequate protection is given there and to advise on methods which might be adopted? In view of the fact that terrorism has now become something used for terror itself, and that the 88 people who were captured in hijacking and airfield attacks have all been released, which does not include all those who were captured and are still under arrest in Israel, can something be done in order to air blockade those nations which are assisting the terrorists and the hijackers?

As to the suggestion which my noble and honourable friend has made, I assure him that the necessary international framework to counter aviation terrorism already exists in The Hague Anti Hijacking Convention and the Montreal Convention. However, I will draw attention in the appropriate quarters to his suggestion, and indeed to the latter part of his question.

My Lords, may I draw the noble Lord's attention to the fact that the loudspeaker seems to have stopped working and that Back Benchers probably did not hear that last answer?

My Lords, there are some fortunate noble and learned Lords in this Assembly who do not need the aid of the loudspeaker.

My Lords, will the Government consider approaching IATA to propose that those countries which have national airlines and are members of IATA, and which harbour terrorists and hijackers, should be banned from visiting other airports?

Yes, my Lords. I think that that suggestion also relates to the question of extradition. I am glad to assure the House once more that the Community Ministers of the Interior have been working on this question and I hope that progress is such that fairly soon we may be able to report to both Houses on those points.