Clause 78 - Aviation security directions etc

Part of Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 8th March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport 1:30 pm, 8th March 2012

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware, a significant majority of the UK’s major airports are participating in the pilot. We have been very impressed with its results so far. We are also ensuring that the European Commission is made aware of progress on the pilot, because we think there is potential for lessons to be learned in relation to the EU rules. I have written to Transport Ministers across Europe, explaining the work we are doing on this and the importance of the issue to minority ethnic communities in the UK.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether similar risk-based approaches are being developed elsewhere; one example is the field of civil nuclear security. He asked whether it was worth going ahead with an outcomes-focused, risk-based—or OFRB—approach in relation to UK rules before the EU rules start to adopt a similar approach.

I would argue that it is worth making progress even before any changes at EU level. Roughly a third of the rules that we apply in aviation security regulation are UK-based. There is real scope for OFRB to deliver change, even if the EU does not subsequently follow a similar approach. We hope that with engagement the EU will find that an outcomes-focused, risk-based approach could play a positive part in improving security outcomes across Europe.

The hon. Member for Bolton West asked about profiling. We do not use profiling as a means of selecting passengers for security searches. Ethnicity is expressly excluded by the rules as a criterion for selecting people for searches. We have been working with security agencies on what value behavioural analysis could provide in aviation security, but again that focuses not on ethnicity, but on issues such as paying cash for a ticket.

I hope the hon. Lady will be reassured that her fears are not justified by the present system. We have no plans to change that at the moment, and neither the move to the CAA in terms of enforcement of regulation responsibilities nor an OFRB approach to security need have any impact on that general approach.