|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Campbell-Savours : It is unrelated to what happened yesterday. Have you had an application for a statement on the same subject as that of today's from a Treasury Minister? I have a letter from a Treasury Minister which says :
"We believe there is a case for bringing invalidity benefit into tax."
We understood that there was to be some announcement today about the taxation of invalidity benefits, but none has been made.
European Community documents.
Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the statutory instrument relating to the Official Secrets Act 1989, would it be in order not to bring it before the House until public guarantees are made that the staff of the National Audit Office will not be prohibited from doing their job on behalf of the Public Accounts Committee?
Order for Second Reading read.
Mr. Speaker : I remind the House that this business will be interrupted at 7 o'clock by opposed private business. Many right hon. and hon. Members wish to participate, so I hope that they will bear in mind the basic time limit when they make their speeches. 4.17 pm
One of the hallmarks of this Government has been their determination to stand firm against the terrorist. We have never shied away from taking the measures necessary to crush the threat of terrorism--be it on the international stage or at home. This Bill will be another valuable weapon in the battle. It will help to combat international terrorism in the sky and at sea.
The Lockerbie disaster was further evidence of the depths to which these cowardly people will sink. It was an appalling manifestation of the growing scourge of international terrorism against aviation and increased the terrible toll of sabotage attacks causing the total destruction of aircraft. In the four years before Lockerbie there were three bombing incidents on international flights. Since Lockerbie a UTA aircraft and an internal flight in Colombia have been destroyed by bombs.
Passenger ships have suffered, too. In both the Achille Lauro and the City of Poros incidents we saw terrorists murder passengers in cold blood.
Conventions to deal with attacks on civil aviation have been in place for many years. The International Civil Aviation Organisation has now established standards for aviation security. More recently, through the International Maritime Organisation, the Rome convention now deals with the prevention of terrorist attacks on ports and shipping.
It is the responsibility of individual states to put those international agreements into effect. The Aviation Security Act 1982 consolidated previous legislation that has provided the framework for aviation security in this country. The time has come to review and to enlarge its provisions, and to extend them to maritime operations. We have been determined to learn all that we can from the Lockerbie disaster. As my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate said recently, remarkable progress has been made by the international investigation team which is seeking to identify the perpetrators of this appalling terrorist outrage and to bring them to justice. The chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway and his predecessor have made impressive progress, with the help of outstanding forensic work and unprecedented international co-operation. The police have taken more than 14,000 statements and recorded about 16,000 items of property. More than 35,000 photographs have been taken. Vehicles used by the police in the investigation have travelled more than 1.5 million miles. The cost so far has exceeded £7 million.
The air accident investigation branch has reconstructed a large part of the aircraft and the baggage container in which the explosion took place. As a result of its outstanding work, it has pin-pointed the precise place where the bomb blew up.
Column 957The meticulous work of those investigations continues. In addition, my noble and learned Friend recently announced that he has concluded that a fatal accident inquiry should be held into the circumstances of the deaths in the Lockerbie disaster. There are obvious difficulties in holding such an inquiry while the criminal investigation is still being actively pursued, but he will now set in hand preliminary preparations. The scope of the inquiry would be a matter for the sheriff or sheriff principal who would have regard not only to the cause of death but to the reasonable precautions by which the disaster might have been avoided. He will have the power to mount a far-ranging inquiry.
In the year since Lockerbie much has been achieved. There has been a major review of aviation security by my Department, as well as a constructive inquiry by the Transport Select Committee. I am pleased to say that the Government have been able to respond positively to the overwhelming majority of the Committee's 28 main recommendations.
My predecessor took important initiatives in the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and had full discussions on aviation security with the United States Secretary of Transportation, Mr. Samuel Skinner, in Montreal in February 1989 and in London in April 1989. I shall be meeting Mr. Skinner in Washington tomorrow to continue those discussions.
The British Government have pursued aviation security matters vigorously with our partners in Europe and in the Group of Seven. More importantly, we have persuaded the International Civil Aviation Organisation to adopt Britain's eight-point action plan for international work on aviation security.
At home, action has been taken to reduce further the risk of terrorist attack.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow) : Before the Secretary of State leaves the international aspects of this matter, will he consider whether there is any merit in this country, along with other high-technology countries, providing sophisticated equipment to those countries whose airports do not have such equipment? If such nations had that equipment it might benefit the rest of the world.
Mr. Parkinson : The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting and constructive point. One of the difficulties of putting sophisticated equipment in developing countries is that sophisticated equipment often needs sophisticated operators. Interlining baggage that is fed into the system can cause major accidents, but that is an interesting point which is worth considering.
Mr. Anthony Steen (South Hams) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that, while the movement is to step up personal security and inspect hand baggage and so on when passengers travel on airlines, the luggage that goes into the hold is still not searched? Therefore, while the individual is being searched more and more, and checks are made on electric razors to ensure that they do not contain bombs so that the system grinds to a halt, none of the luggage which goes into holds at British airports is screened. That is a serious indictment.
Mr. Parkinson : My hon. Friend's assertion is incorrect. All hold baggage to be carried by American airlines to America from our airports is checked 100 per cent. A proportion of all hold baggage is checked. Aircraft are selected on a random basis and a proportion of the hold baggage on the aircraft is examined. Later, I shall talk about our proposals for extending the examination of hold baggage because I agree with my hon. Friend that our objective must be a 100 per cent. search of hold baggage. However, that is much more easily said than done.
I shall give a few examples of the action that has been taken at home since the Lockerbie disaster. Immediately after Lockerbie we tightened security for United States' airlines operating from this country ; in this we worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration. We brought in new security procedures dealing with electrical equipment carried by passengers.
More than 80,000 employees, as well as thousands of vehicles, have necessary access to the restricted areas of our four major airports. We have tightened up the whole pass system : there are tighter checks for the issue of passes, the control of vehicles, the searching of staff and vehicles, and the control of passes at the gate. By next April, there will be electronic checking of all passes at our airports.
The Department's aviation security inspectorate has been doubled. We have introduced new requirements for recruiting and training security staff ; there has been a substantial increase in the number of security staff. We have doubled the money for research and development into equipment and techniques.
These steps have already been taken. But we must go further. As I have mentioned, we are working towards the screening of all hold baggage on all international flights from our airports, the physical separation airside of inbound and outbound passengers and tighter security requirements for cargo, mail and courier consignments. Despite all that, we need to strengthen and augment the powers in the Aviation Security Act 1982. I am already able to issue directions to operators of airports and airlines. Directions under the 1982 Act have been in force for many years. Improvements in security last year were made using these powers. But further powers are needed, first, to give the aviation security inspectors more flexible and effective means to enforce directions so that deficiencies in security can be remedied on the spot, if necessary stopping operations until that has been done ; secondly, to enable directions to be made to businesses other than airports and airlines which have access to aircraft ; and, thirdly, to make it an offence for individuals to do certain things which are prejudicial to security. Passengers and staff must observe security requirements.
Because the proposed legislation builds on the 1982 Act, the aviation security provisions of this Bill are framed as amendments and additions to that Act. The 1982 Act and the measures to improve aviation security in part I need to be read together and to be taken as a whole.
Clause 1 deals with what are essentially terrorist acts at airports. It enables the Government to ratify the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Montreal protocol of 1988, which we signed in October that year. The protocol commits us to making it an offence under our law to carry out armed attacks at international airports and to cause damage or disruption at such airports. The protocol provides for severe penalties for these offences. In relevant cases offenders can also be extradited.
Column 959Part I widens the category of persons to whom I can give directions. In future, as well as giving directions to airport and aircraft operators, I will be able to give directions to other businesses which go on to airports. In practice, that means that catering suppliers, cleaning firms, aircraft maintenance and servicing firms and suppliers of aircraft stores will all be brought within the scope of the Act. It will be possible under clause 2 to direct all those undertakings to carry out searches of persons or property entering the land under their control ; and, under clause 3, to direct them to take other aviation security measures.
Clause 4 gives powers to the aviation security inspectors to issue enforcement notices when there is a failure to comply with a direction. The person served with an enforcement notice will be required to carry out remedial action. The notice could result in certain operations having to be stopped until that action has been taken.
There have been suggestions that these notices should be published. I believe that it would be a gift to the criminal to highlight weaknesses at a time when they have been spotted but before they can be remedied. I am much in sympathy with the need to report to Parliament and, subject to the overriding priority of security, I intend to call on the inspectorate for an annual report on directions and enforcement notices which I shall lay before the House. Security must be the top priority, but I believe equally that Parliament has the right to know how the laws that it has passed are being enforced.
Clause 5 creates new offences relating to security at aerodromes. It brings individuals within the scope of aviation security legislation so that certain acts prejudicial to aviation security become offences. It will, for instance, be an offence for a person to give false information in answer to questions relating to baggage, cargo or stores, because airports and airlines must be able to establish, among other things, whether a dupe may be unwittingly carrying a bomb planted by someone else. It will be an offence to give false information in relation to an application for or the holding of an identity document. It will an offence to be in a restricted zone or to go on board an aircraft without proper authority, or to refuse to leave a restricted zone or aircraft when requested to do so.
It was suggested in some parts of the press that this section was aimed at them ; that is not so. We are determined to ensure that those who work on our airports have properly authorised passes, properly obtained, and it would be quite impossible to enforce what I am sure the House will agree is a sensible law if it excluded the press. If a press man, like any other person, lied to obtain a pass so that he could get access to an airport, he must face the consequences of the law. It would be absurd for us to claim that this is a serious law while authorising the press to ignore it.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : I recognise some of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments and obviously any measure that will help in the fight against terrorism will be most welcome. Obviously the Opposition will not vote against this measure. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that in certain cases newspapers--I am not the first to defend their record--have done a public service when their reporters have gone to airports and discovered that security is lax? They are letting the public and the authorities know, and that is to be welcomed. If the Bill
Column 960undermines the role of the press in alerting the authorities to measures that need to be taken to strengthen security at airports, it is to be deplored.
Mr. Parkinson : I do not think that that is the case. It is important to remember that 50,000 people work at Heathrow every day. We are instituting a system that will mean that everyone who works there will have been investigated and will have been issued with a pass that has been properly obtained. We must be sure that only authorised people have access to airports. How are we to make a law that distinguishes between the villain who gives false information with ill intent to obtain a pass and the reporter who is just seeking to obtain a story? We cannot.
I accept what the hon. Gentleman said about reporters playing a valuable part, but it was they who made it clear that we must enforce tighter security at our airports. That is what we are doing. The Bill is in no way aimed against reporters and we are indebted to them for some of the revelations that they have made.
This part of the Bill, together with schedule 1, provides for revised information-gathering powers under section 11 of the Aviation Security Act 1982 and for daily penalties to be imposed for continued refusal or failure to comply with a direction after being convicted of the offence. The procedure to be followed for designating the restricted zone of an aerodrome is set out in the schedule. The Bill makes no provision to revive the aviation security fund, which was wound up in 1983 because it was bureaucratic, costly and unnecessary. Nor does it seek to create a new organisational structure. There is no doubt in my mind that responsibility for security cannot be offloaded by the Government on to some supposedly free-standing body.
Part II enables the Government to give effect to the International Maritime Organisation's convention on terrorism at sea and its linked protocol on fixed platforms. The Bill makes it an offence to hijack any ship or unlawfully to seize or exercise control of a fixed platform.
Part III, although the longest part of the Bill, simply extends to maritime activities powers comparable with those available under the Aviation Security Act 1982 or proposed for aviation security in part I.
Mr. Barry Field (Isle of Wight) : An undertaking was given to the shipping industry that the legislation would go no further than the International Maritime Organisation's convention. However, part III does go further.
Mr. Parkinson : I know that parts of the industry believe that the legislation is unnecessary. I have no doubt that many of our best companies are already complying voluntarily with the convention, but it is being observed in a patchy fashion and some companies do not observe it. The Bill gives the Government reserve powers to enforce what everyone recognises are necessary measures. It does not go any further than it needs to, but it is necessary for it to go as far as it does.
Column 961We are seeking those powers because there is no legal framework for ensuring that adequate security precautions are taken to counter terrorism on ships and in ports.
The terrorist threat to shipping is not as high profile as that to aviation, but it exists and the level of risk can escalate at any time. The Achille Lauro and the City of Poros incidents are only two of over 50 terrorist attacks on shipping in the 1980s alone. So we are discussing not a small but a very serious problem.
At present, as I said, the problems are being tackled by voluntary co- operation with the industry, and I hope that that will continue. But we also need a framework for setting out and enforcing standards for the protection of the travelling public, the crews of ships and others engaged in the maritime industries. The provisions of part III are intended to provide that framework. They will aim to achieve a level of security appropriate to the threat to shipping.
Mr. Wilson : Many people regard one of the great acts of treachery against this country by the Government to have been the virtual destruction of the British merchant navy, so we are cautious of anything that further discriminates against British-registered ships. In the light of that, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain why clause 19(2), which gives the Secretary of State the right to "give a direction in writing to the owner, charterer or manager of a ship",
is restricted to British-registered ships and, unlike clause 19(1), does not cover foreign-owned or foreign-flagged ships in British ports?
Mr. Parkinson : Because we want to make it clear that the Bill applies to British ships whether they are here or operating abroad ; it applies to them wherever they are. A wider duty is imposed on them as a result of the Bill. We do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of this Government's attitude to merchant shipping. Indeed, the Government who did the real damage to shipping were the Government who keeled over on every occasion to the trade unions and destroyed the economy. That did the damage to the British maritime fleet.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke) : Will my right hon. Friend comment on the fears that have been expressed--for example, by the Milford Haven port authority, which is responsible for Milford Haven and Pembroke dock, and by the Dyfed-Powys police, who have the special branch responsibility for Fishguard and Pembroke dock and therefore for two lots of Irish ferry traffic--that the costs of part III will be horrendous? Will my right hon. Friend discuss the matter with the Home Secretary to see whether some arrangement can be made between the two Departments to enable port and police authorities which will be concerned with the implementation of part III to receive additional resources and assistance?
Mr. Parkinson : As I have pointed out, these are reserve powers which the Government will invoke if voluntary co-operation does not develop. But I shall look into the matter because my hon. Friend makes an important point.
Part IV contains miscellaneous and general provisions. In particular, the Civil Aviation Authority will be enabled to inspect any document relating to suspected or declared dangerous goods. It will also be able to examine and send for analysis the contents of any package or baggage which it believes contains dangerous goods.
Column 962I have explained what has been and is being done. The House should not underestimate the scale of the task in hand. In the peak last year, Heathrow alone handled over 1,000 aircraft movements a day. More than 142,000 passengers a day pass through the airport's terminals. The airport typically handles over 160,000 items of baggage every day of the week. Manchester airport already handles more than 50,000 passengers on a peak day with perhaps 65,000 items of baggage, and the figures are growing every year. The port of Dover handles over 100,000 passengers and 10,000 vehicles a day. We are committed already to levels of security which are appropriate to the perceived threat. We must distinguish between a real threat and spurious warnings. The House may be interested to know that last year alone over 460 hoax warnings were made in relation to United Kingdom airports and airlines. It is a sad reflection on some sick minds that the number has increased substantially since Lockerbie.
We never can be complacent about security, but I am confident that the measures in the Bill will improve aviation and maritime security still further. With the backing of the industry and the police, the Bill will be an effective weapon in our armoury against the terrorist. I urge the House to give this vital measure a Second Reading.
Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East) : Forces in the House will be aware of an agreement that there would be no ministerial statement before this debate, in view of the limited time available for it. I regret, at the outset of my remarks, that I must record that the agreement has been broken. The result is that some hon. Members will not have an opportunity to take part in the debate. Occupants of the Front Benches were asked to co -operate, and perhaps I should make my point absolutely clear by stating that the Lord President, who was involved in the deal, apparently forgot about it. If that represents the performance of the present Lord President, particularly in view of what happened yesterday--remembering that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is the deputy Prime Minister--he must be Britain's answer to Dan Quayle.
Mr. Steen : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May we have some guidance from the Chair? I understand that this debate can continue after 10 o'clock, and hence the point that is being made by the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) is not correct.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean) : Perhaps I can assist the hon. Member for South Hams (Mr. Steen). If the debate does not finish by 7 o'clock, it will be interrupted by private business and will then resume after 10 o'clock or when private business has been concluded.
Mr. Prescott : I am sure that the normal channels were aware of that bit of basic information. It being the Second Reading of a Bill, it was agreed to abide by the normal practice and not have a ministerial statement. Normally, such statements are not made prior to a Second Reading debate which is likely to be interrupted at 7 o'clock for private business.
The House will welcome the Bill, which attempts to improve security for shipping and aviation and to make it
Column 963more difficult for cowardly acts of terrorism to occur or for bombs to be planted on aircraft and planes-- devices like those which have already killed hundreds of innocent passengers. For that reason, my hon. Friends and I welcome the legislation, particularly as it is based on international conventions for international transport. I have read the reports of previous debates on such conventions and legislation that have taken place since the early 1970s. At no stage, whether a Labour or Conservative Government have been in power, has the House divided on such measures. That is a precedent which my hon. Friends and I do not intend to break, so we shall support the Bill tonight.
But I have some serious criticisms to make about the measure, and I would not want to disappoint Conservative Members about our attitude towards safety. It is often agreed between both sides of the House that safety issues must be put at the top of the list. The question is how safety is achieved, and the way in which the policy is implemented is the point that I shall address in particular. The major flaw in the Government argument on this issue, and the way in which they approach it, lies in the fact that the conventions on the subject refer to the responsibility of "the competent authority". I accept the importance of having conventions, but they must be correctly implemented and the competent authority must be sure that the policy agreed in an international convention is carried out.
Unfortunately for us, the competent authority is defined as the Department of Transport. That Department has a lamentable history of failing to carry out its safety responsibilities in nearly all forms of transport in Britain. That is not only the view of workers and others involved in the industries concerned. It is the view of consumer bodies and groups representing travellers, and it applies to every mode of transport, be it the railways, shipping, aviation or the roads.
I call in aid more fundamental support for my contention that the Department has been totally inadequate in carrying out its responsibilities for safety. I cite the reports that have been commissioned by the Department following the terrible tragedies that have occurred in the last few years. Consider, for example, the awful shipping tragedy in the loss of the Herald of Free Enterprise. In that case, the Sheen report identified a conflict of interest in the Department, a laxity that failed to check a sloppy shipping management that undoubtedly ignored all the warnings and contributed to that terrible tragedy.
Both the Fennell and Hidden reports on the terrible tragedies at King's Cross and Clapham again exposed the Department's inept handling of safety matters. They said that the independent railway inspectorate, which is the kind of inspectorate that the Bill envisages, failed in its responsibilities, was not a satisfactory body, was under-resourced and failed to use its existing powers. How else could one explain the inspectorate's refusal to accept the reports from fire departments about the many thousands of fires that were occurring on the Underground? The reason is simply that the inspectorate was undermanned and decided that it did not want to
Column 964accept the reports. All that is documented in the reports and is an indictment of the Department's handling of safety in shipping and on the railways.
In terms of aviation, I am afraid that we have to rely on the reports of the Select Committee. Anybody who has read those reports will recognise that the Committee is to be congratulated on its depth of analysis and on its approach to safety. It can honestly claim to have looked ahead at the problem and to have made recommendations that were pertinent to the problem of aviation security. Unfortunately, those recommendations were ignored. I shall deal with that later. I am sure that many hon. Members join me in congratulating that Committee on its excellent work.
I am sure that when we consider aviation we shall all have strongly in mind the terrible tragedy at Lockerbie which occurred a little more than 12 months ago. I should like to be identified with the Secretary of State's remarks about the police authority investigation and the work of the forensic science departments. They showed tremendous ability and one cannot but be impressed by their detailed and painstaking work. I am sure that we are all sorry that that has not led to a conviction, but that is no fault of the police or the forensic science departments.
Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries) : I should like to be associated with the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and those of the hon. Gentleman. The people of Lockerbie are extremely proud of the local police force, its chief constable and the inspector in Lockerbie, both of whom were honoured in the new year. They have carried out a wonderful job and we all hope that it produces results in the not too distant future.
There is a great danger that by passing the legislation we will assume that we have vastly improved aviation safety. That depends heavily upon the abilities of the Department of Transport, which is the competent authority. If it does not carry out its work effectively and ensures that we do exactly what is agreed in the conventions, the legislation will be meaningless. At the heart of the argument is just how competent the Department of Transport is to implement any convention.
The charge that I wish to substantiate is that the Department of Transport is inadequate and does not have the resources, the commitment or the will to deal with the kind of problem that it faces. I admit that I am a long- time critic of the Department, and my criticism goes back to Labour Governments, as former Labour Secretaries of State will confirm. The evidence of the coastguard inquiries points to a completely incompetent Department that was constantly criticised. I could continue ad nauseam about the Department.
The Bill is complicated and deals with shipping, oil rigs and aviation. I should like to deal briefly with its maritime provisions. Everyone accepts that we have witnessed a massive decline in the Merchant Navy. Select Committees have made clear that the very defence of the country is now threatened because we do not have a Merchant Navy of an adequate size. That was not contested until we heard the Secretary of State making ideological remarks that are completely divorced from the facts. He is becoming famous for that.
Column 965The convention advocates the authorising of people to integrate, arrest and search. Those people are not members of the police, and that causes me some concern. I hope that in the winding-up speech we will be told who these people will be. They will clearly not be police, but they will have the powers that we normally associate with the police and that is alarming.
Secondly, in their maritime provisions the Government are going further than the convention. I have always advocated standards higher than those set out in the convention if necessary, and I am always prepared to consider such steps. The Department of Transport and the Secretary of State tell us that the stability standards for our ferries go farther than international standards. After the loss of the Herald of Free Enterprise, the Department is advocating voluntary standards that will not be imposed by law. The Minister of State probably knows that that is true. Why are the Government not prepared to be ahead of the convention and implement by legislation stability standards? The Government use the excuse that the standards cannot be agreed internationally and that they are not prepared to do that. However, in the case of powers for inspection on ships in our harbour areas they are prepared to go beyond international standards, although that applies only to British vessels. That is discriminatory and is causing some concern in the industry. I hope that in his winding-up speech the Minister will give us some information on that.
We are concerned about attack by terrorists, but many merchant seamen lose their lives because of inadequate safety standards on vessels. The Government do not appear to be greatly concerned about that. A constituent of my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) was in a vessel that was lost on 12 December. The vessel was hiring crews registered in the Bahamas and people who had never been to sea. The 16-year-old youth from Jarrow, who had no sea-going experience and was expected to do watch- keeping duties, was picked up at a job centre and offered a job at £70 per week. Those are the sort of safety problems faced by the maritime industry, and such matters are as important as the terrorist aspects of safety.
I shall now concentrate on aviation. In the 1970s the convention and legislation were largely concerned with the problem of hijacking. They sought to harmonise matters to make sure that hijacking was a serious offence and they established funding for security machinery. We see such machinery at airports and it is expensive and requires proper funding. We also introduced better police control. Those things helped to reduce the problems, and we entered the 1980s with threats not from hijacking but from explosives in the luggage, which is the real problem now.
The Aviation Security Act 1982 dismantled the fund set up to pay for the machinery that was brought in in 1978. It removed the police controls and advocated the bringing in of what we are now witnessing--the privatisation of security. Not long after that we had the terrible tragedy of Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December with the loss of 270 people. The Select Committee on Transport was
Column 966concerned before that tragedy and feared such an incident after we witnessed the loss of the Air India aircraft that was blown out of the sky in 1985. The Committee had the foresight to say that we should look at air security in Britain and asked whether we were doing enough to prevent explosives being placed in the luggage. The Committee produced its fourth report in 1985 and the conclusions were very alarming. The Select Committee took the view that not enough was being done about airport security. It said : "Airport security has made an art of passing the buck." Anyone reading that report in the light of recent events will know that that applies today.
The Select Committee then made the point that something should be done about luggage in the hold. It recommended a banding of luggage. The Government's response was, first, that that is expensive ; secondly, that there is not much space ; and, thirdly, that there are not many power points to allow that to be done. That was not an adequate response to the problem of explosives in luggage. The Select Committee recommended that the aviation fund should be re-established. It believed that not only were funds necessary to provide machinery, but that it was important for security that all the links of the chain should be equally strong. Therefore, small airports that could not afford the necessary machinery could finance such spending through cross-subsidisation, with the bulk of the money coming from the major airports. It is important that baggage should undergo the same security checks whether it comes in through Humberside airport, Heathrow or Gatwick. That was the object of the fund.
The Secretary of State was asked what would be done about countries that had neither the means nor the people to carry out such checks, and said that that was a useful point that we most bear in mind. But the same applies to Humberside and Leeds airports, or any small airport with connections with international flights. They do not have the money to fund such expenditure, so the aviation security fund is essential. However, the Government rejected that.
The Select Committee recommended an independent aviation security inspectorate. The Government, not wanting to appear to reject that, took the good old Civil Service approach and set up a working party. That sat for about three years, was lost in the Home Office and was revived in the face of the embarrassment of the Lockerbie disaster. Up to that time, no report had been published.
After the Lockerbie disaster, the previous Secretary of State assured us from the Dispatch Box that the greater majority of the Select Committee's recommendations had been implemented by the Government. That was wrong. What he really meant to say, as the Select Committee pointed out, was that the majority of
recommendations were accepted by the Government. That is quite different from implementing them. Anybody who doubts that need only look at the Select Committee's third report on airport security in which it considered how effective the Government had been. I was going around saying that the Government had not implemented eight of the 20-odd recommendations, and, not unusually, there was a dispute between me and the previous Secretary of State.
I rest my case on the Select Committee's conclusion. In its third report, published on 18 July 1989, it says :
"Accepting recommendations is one thing, implementing them another."