Clause 78 - Aviation security directions etc

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 8th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Labour, Blackley and Broughton 9:45 am, 8th March 2012

I am grateful for that intervention. Whatever the Opposition’s criticisms of the Government and the Bill might be, this is not one of them. It is recognised that the Government have been very supportive on the issue, but there is still a worry that the European regulations will stop the use of the scanners. However, the Minister’s statement is welcome.

Part of the overall costs of the transfer of security includes an estimate of £1.5 million for a new IT system. I would buy a second glass of dandelion and burdock for somebody if that estimate is right. Under the previous Government and this one, no estimate for computer IT systems has ever been accurate. The estimates are often two, three or four times out—even 1,000% out—so the overall costs will be higher on the basis that IT systems never come in on cost. The people who sell IT systems are clearly much smarter than the civil servants and Ministers who buy them, so they always go over cost and end up in the bottom line of the computer company.

I will finish on a point to which will shall return later in the Bill’s passage, probably on Report: security for passengers travelling on package tours. When there is all-party support for a Bill—there was no Division on the Bill’s Second Reading—we should be more wary than ever. We should learn the lessons of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and the child protection agency, both of which went through without any opposition, but both of which were disastrous in their own way. The more I get into the skeleton of this Bill, the more confused I find the detail of where the interests of the passenger and the airlines lie, and the more confused it is on whether there will be extra costs to the industry, and whether it represents an increase or decrease in regulation. It is also confused on whether it will make our aviation industry—one of our best and most competitive industries, although it is already under attack from the constraints on the runway system in the south-east and air passenger duty—less competitive and, therefore, less able to create jobs and support the British economy.