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

First, on aviation security, let me make it clear that we respond to the evolving threat we face from terrorists. There are some things that we make public, and there are others that we do not. I will not give the hon. Gentleman full details of the background to the decision, which we took in response to an evolving threat—he would not expect me to do that. Suffice it to say to the House that we have taken these steps for good reason.

On the difference between the approaches of the United Kingdom and the United States; the approach of the United States is a matter for them. As would be expected, we have considered all the evolving information before us to reach a decision about what we believe is in the interest of the United Kingdom and the protection of our citizens.

The hon. Gentleman asked why the measure does not affect US operators, and the answer is that they do not currently fly to the affected destinations; other airlines do. We have applied our change to the requirements to all airlines, both UK and non-UK, that fly the affected routes. On the question of timing, we keep the matter under constant review and have done so for some time. We have taken this decision because we believe it is the right one to take against the background of the evolving threat.

The hon. Gentleman asked about people travelling with hand baggage only. That is very much a matter for the airlines to resolve. We have been in detailed discussions with them in recent days, and they are now preparing to implement this new change. It will be for individual airlines to establish exactly how to handle passengers who are booked on hand-baggage-only tickets. I will write today to the Association of British Insurers to ask it to be mindful of this issue. The hon. Gentleman made an important point about the risk of theft, and we will ask the insurance industry to be careful to be mindful of and realistic about this. We have taken this decision in a way that we believe is necessary to protect the safety of UK passengers, but the hon. Gentleman will forgive me and understand if I say that the background to every decision of this kind that we take is inevitably based on matters that we cannot automatically put into the public arena.