The Minister was on the operating table at the time, and for some reason seemed unwilling to make the commitment to do her duties in the House. The Under-Secretary of State for Transport responded to the question in writing, stating that the DFT was aiming for a transfer of function to the CAA in spring 2014.
I feel a little indelicate about doing so, but it is important to point out that the Department has got itself a bit of a reputation for tardiness under the stewardship of the Minister and her colleagues. We have these brand spanking new departmental business plans, but the deadlines that they loving set out regularly sail past without the Department’s raising so much as an eyebrow.
The Secretary of State has just finished setting out the Government’s rail strategy, which was originally timetabled for November last year, and there is still no sign of a policy on airport capacity. The fact that Ministers regularly fail to meet deadlines set only a few months in advance means that we must surely treat the spring 2014 deadline with some scepticism.
Will the Minister give us a whizz-bang, copper-bottomed guarantee in this debate that that deadline will be met, or will she at least set out her continued commitment to the time scale given by the Under-Secretary of State for Transport for the transfer of aviation security regulation functions? In addition, will she set out how many staff are or will be working on the arrangements for the transfer of functions, and the expected costs of making that transfer? Those costs have not been fully set out in any statement that has been made so far.
Clause 78 represents the largest shake-up of aviation security regulation in well over a decade, and it is right that we continue to press for details before we are able to give it our support.