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Safeguards urged over air security

Safeguards urged over air security

More safeguards are needed before the Government should go ahead with a 'major overhaul' of Britain's airline security, Labour has claimed in the Commons.

» Aviation - UK | Thursday, April 26, 2012 • The Press Association

Shadow transport minister John Woodcock said he was not in principle opposed to plans in the Civil Aviation Bill to transfer security responsibility from the Department for Transport to the Civil Aviation Authority, and to arrange security on a risk-based platform.

But he urged ministers to accept Labour amendments which would require specific Parliamentary debate and approval as and when changes to aviation security policy were brought forward.

Launching the Bill in January, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said there would be "real benefits" to the Government's proposals, ensuring safety is maintained while improving the way UK airports operate.

But Mr Woodcock told MPs: "On an issue which is literally potentially a matter of life and death it would be deeply irresponsible to make such a major decision on the grounds of cost of regulatory burden alone.

"Ministers must make clear how such a move would enhance Britain's capacity to keep aviation secure," he said, concluding: "Major changes to aviation security policy cannot be taken lightly.

"Costs and the principle of lessening regulation are not by themselves sufficient justifications for a root and branch reform of aviation security.

"The public rightly expect their elected representatives to maintain their security and safety in the skies. Ministers are not proposing a mere technical change but a major overhaul. We would require ministers explain their proposals to both the Commons and the Lords and get approval for a change when they wish to make it."

The Barrow and Furness MP said he had concerns the changes could make it more difficult for the Government to impose additional emergency security rules - such as the ban on liquids following terror threats in the past.

He also said Labour also wanted further measures added to the Bill to ensure passengers wearing religious clothing, particularly head gear such as a Sikh turban, were treated with proper respect.

The Press Association

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