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 Richard Burden Richard Burden Shadow Minister (Transport) 12:00 am, 22nd March 2017

Safety must, of course, be the top priority, but there really are still too many loose ends. Do the Government have evidence that the security risk to flights from the countries listed by the Secretary of State is greater than the risk from flights from other countries? If not, why are flights from these countries alone being targeted for action? Why have the UK and the USA apparently reached different conclusions—I assume, from the same intelligence—about the countries from which in-cabin electronics present the greatest risk, or are the differences between the two lists about something other than intelligence?

If the presence of electronics on aircraft flying from the countries listed is the security threat Ministers believe it to be, why are there no restrictions on electronics in the hold baggage from those countries? What thought has been given to people carrying electronics on board who change planes in countries not affected by the measures? What liaison has there been with the countries listed, with countries not listed and with airlines, all of whose confidence and co-operation will be crucial to the effectiveness or otherwise of the measures? What action is the Secretary of State taking to ensure that passengers get the clearest information possible about what they are and are not allowed to take on board to ensure that delays to journeys are minimised?

As I said at the outset, safety has to be our top priority, but there really are too many loose ends. If there really are clear security grounds for the restrictions, the Secretary of State has to be clearer about what those grounds are, otherwise the UK and US Governments will remain open to the suspicion that they are unreasonably singling out particular countries in the middle east and north Africa, rather than properly thinking through which precautions can actually keep flights safe from terrorism, wherever the aircraft fly from.