Aviation Security

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd March 2017.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport 12:00 am, 22nd March 2017

The safety and security of the travelling public will always be our paramount concern, and this Government will not hesitate in putting in place any measures that we believe are necessary, effective and proportionate. That is why we took the decision yesterday to step up some of our aviation security measures in response to potential threats, as set out in a written statement yesterday afternoon.

The new measures will be applied to all inbound direct flights to the United Kingdom from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. We have explained the decision at all levels with our partners in the region. We have also spoken to European partners with significant interests in aviation, such as Germany and France, and partners elsewhere whose travellers and carriers may be affected. The House will be aware that the United States Government made a similar announcement shortly before ours regarding flights to the United States, and we have been in close contact with them to fully understand their position. While the UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures in the world, we can never be complacent. That is why we continue to work in conjunction with our international partners and the wider aviation industry to keep security under constant review and to ensure that new measures are introduced in a way that keeps the level of disruption that they may cause to passengers to a minimum.

Passengers boarding flights to the UK from the countries I have listed will not be allowed to take any phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal-sized mobile phone. We have specified the maximum dimensions to assist both airlines and passengers: a length of 16 cm, a width of 9.3 cm, and a depth of 1.5 cm. Passengers are advised to take some simple steps at check-in to prepare by placing personal electronic devices into their hold luggage before going through central security. Normal cabin baggage restrictions will continue to apply. Passengers should check online with their airline or airport for further information. My Department is working round the clock with the industry to ensure that passengers get the information they need when and where they need it. While we will do everything we can to minimise the disruption to people’s journeys and we understand the frustration that may be caused, our top priority will always be to ensure that public safety is maintained.

These new measures are concerned with flights into the United Kingdom. The UK is not advising against flying to and from the affected countries, and those with imminent travel plans should contact their airline for further information—the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also publishes travel advice on its website. UK airports have been informed, and my officials have asked them to consider standing up their own contingency arrangements, should they be needed.

The whole House will recognise that we face a constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly to ensure the protection of the public against those who would do us harm. The changes we are making to our security measures are an important part of that process, and I assure the House that we will continue to work closely with airlines, airports and the wider travel industry over the coming weeks to ensure that passengers know what is expected of them. I ask for passengers’ patience as the new measures bed in.

I will continue to keep the House updated on developments.