Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1280
WEDNESDAY 8 MAY 2002
1280. Have you had the support you need, and
are they sharing the information you need with you?
(Mr Hutcheson) I am quite content with that really.
I am the sort of person who would probably protest if it was not
there. As I say, in my experience it has all been forthcoming
as it was needed.
1281. Do government departments properly understand
the business world in which you are operating?
(Mr Hutcheson) I would say that over the last four
years certainly within TRANSEC there has been a learning curve,
and I think there is a fine balance to be struck between delivering
effective security which reassures the public and the staff and
actually inconveniencing people almost to the extent that you
start to do the terrorists' work for them. I think there is a
good understanding of the very complicated nature of the aviation
1282. What impact has devolution had, particularly
in Scotland, on your work?
(Mr Hutcheson) In relation to running the airports,
there has been close dialogue between the managing directors of
the three Scottish airports and the Scottish Parliament particularly
in relation to commerce and the development of Scotland. In relation
to security, because security is still very much run from central
government and not devolved government, I personally have not
been involved in that.
1283. Could you drop us a note, or your colleague
who deals with contingency planning, on where security fits into
contingency planning and perhaps how contingency planning operates?
The thought logically is that security should be central to that
(Mr Hutcheson) Contingency planning for security does
rest within the security function. I suspected the interest was
wider in terms of aircraft crashes and public disasters, and the
whole thing is covered by the Home Office manual dealing with
disasters. I will happily have a note prepared.
Chairman: Perhaps you would give us the title
of that document, so we can try and obtain it, and maybe give
us some kind of organisational chart of BAA as to where you fit
into the structure, how your department is organised, how the
BAA in the airports is organised, and then perhaps where you fit
into contingency planning. That would be really helpful.
1284. I was interested in your responses to
David's questions. Yesterday we heard evidence from the head of
ACPO's anti-terrorism unit and we talked a little about airport
security, and I understand that you are satisfied with the nature
of your response to the various incidents which have happened,
but you cannot be satisfied when we have had two breaches of security
at Heathrow, which we are going to talk about later. I am interested
in what you think the dangers of complacency are, how you guard
against complacency. It is not sufficient simply to respond to
what the latest incident is and know you can deal with that, it
is about now trying to anticipate where the threat may be and
it is going to come from somewhere unexpected.
(Mr Hutcheson) I fully agree with that statement.
The only thing I would say is that I am not prepared to talk in
public about the two incidents at Heathrow, although I am perfectly
willing to talk about them in private. They are both currently
1285. I appreciate that. I am simply saying
that they point up that everything is relative. What we discussed
yesterday with the police was if somebody can get into an airport
in order to carry out a felony, they could get into it for other
(Mr Hutcheson) All I would say is that what was reported
in the press is not exactly what may have happened, but I am not
prepared to say more than that.
Mr Howarth: Surely not!
Chairman: We will have a time out for ten minutes.
Excuse us, we have to do other things.
The Committee suspended from 4.57 pm to 5.06
pm for a division in the House
Chairman: We have some questions now on international
security measures and I think, Mr Jack, in your new role you will
be well-equipped to talk about this.
1286. Gentlemen, in your view how robust is
the international framework of aviation security?
(Mr Hutcheson) I think it is patchy. Annex 17 is the
document from ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation,
which lays down the standards and practices, and each state is
required to set out its own national aviation security programme
which takes account of those standards and recommendations. I
would say the majority of states follow it to almost a satisfactory
element. Some states do not have a national aviation security
programme but that does not necessarily mean to say that the security
measures delivered at the airport are inadequate. It may well
be that the airports, despite a lack of a national aviation security
programme, do provide it. America is in the throes of putting
its aviation security programme together because 11 September
showed that there clearly were deficiencies within their programme.
Iain probably has a better knowledge of this from his previous
life than I do, but BAA do operate airports in other parts of
the world and my experience is that it is patchy and it very much
depends on the government concerned.
1287. Could it be consolidated? You have ICAO,
IATA, ECAC, the 1978 Convention, is it all too amorphous?
(Mr Jack) Shall I explain how it works from top down?
(Mr Jack) On the Government side there is the international
body called the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO.
The industry have a global organisation called the International
Air Transport Association. There is a dialogue between those two
bodies. You then come down the European track into the government
body, the European Civil Aviation Conference, which I have mentioned
already, and the airline body which aligns to that is the Association
of European Airlines. Until last week I was the chairman of the
Association of European Airlines Security Sub-Committee. Then
you come down to the national level, and Ian has already mentioned
the National Aviation Security Committee, which is the Government
body, and there is the British Air Transport Association which
represents the airlines. So you have a global, regional, national
equation. From the regulation point of view, ICAO have Annex 17
to their policy document which deals with aviation security. I
mentioned Lockerbie, and there was agreement to introduce eight
measures, some of which were dependent on the development of technology
like 100 per cent hold baggage screening. After 11 September ICAO
met in November and agreed additional standards. I was present
at that meeting representing IATA. One of the measures which you
may find interesting is that of background checks. It was agreed
that a new standard should be introduced for background checking,
that someone holding an airside pass should include a criminal
record check. Up to this point past employment references were
all that were taken into account. There is a major issue here
because criminal records are held by government and can only be
accessed by an individual, and in the UK an individual pays £12,
goes to a police station and gets after six weeks a certificate
of previous criminal convictions. That is a very arduous, time-consuming
process. I know the Government is considering their position,
whether the basic check is sufficient or whether there should
be a standard check which is something only the Government can
conduct, and that is an issue that is being looked at at the moment.
To expect the industry to have criminal record checks carried
out by all job applicants, I believe is very onerous indeed. How
many pass holders are there at Heathrow, Ian?
(Mr Hutcheson) 100,000. There were.
1289. Have you fired a lot?
(Mr Hutcheson) We have suspended quite a few.
1290. The chorus is asking how many.
(Mr Hutcheson) About 22,000.
Mr Howarth: 22,000?
1291. What time period has it taken to trawl
through and suspend that many?
(Mr Hutcheson) Three days.
1292. When was the night of the long knives?
(Mr Hutcheson) Probably immediately after the second
incident at Heathrow.
1293. Obviously some of this is confidential
(Mr Hutcheson) The suspension of passes is not really
confidential because it is well known within the industry. We
had a concern that there were people rightly allocated passes
who were not using them. I took the decision that if you had not
used your pass for three months, you did not really need it, so
we suspended the pass of anyone who had not actually used their
pass, and then put in a fairly rigorous re-application process,
so that there is no guarantee that if you reapply you would get
your pass back.
1294. Do you take passes away from people you
feel would not meet the higher standards?
(Mr Hutcheson) We do, and on indiscretions, misuse
of passes, we take them away immediately. The good thing about
the pass system is that it is computerised and you can make an
instant decision and as soon as the suspension is they cannot
1295. You have partially answered this, but
what steps have you taken to strengthen the present international
(Mr Jack) I was describing the tiers. The strengthening
took place at this ICAO meeting in Montreal at which the UK was
represented by TRANSEC. At the European level I have talked already
about the EU transport ministers agreeing that the EU should debate
aviation security, and that is on its way, and I have told you
the debate is happening next week. The other government body in
Europe, the European Civil Aviation Conference, immediately after
11 September set up three working parties, one to look at on-board
security, in-flight security if you will; ground security and
the third working party was looking at auditing, performance monitoring
security. Those working parties are still in train. ECAC also
have reviewed their policy document which is called Document 30,
amongst a whole plethora of other ECAC documents. It deals with
security but the security elements there are recommended practice
only; there is no legal enforcement under any statute. The statute
which will have enforcement status will be the EU. The EU are
intending to embody Document 30 into law. That is going to be
the basis of the EU regulation. Of course, we have discussed how
the UK has reacted and introduced additional directions under
the various statutes which legislate aviation security in this
1296. The TRANSEC response to what happened
on 11 September states, "It must be borne in mind that the
UK baseline measures considerably exceed both international requirements
and what is in place in almost every other country in the world."
Do you agree with that?
(Mr Jack) Yes. I took time to think about my response
to your original question about the standard of security in other
states, and I do not think I can comment on that without breaching
diplomacy. I would just say that the UK standards are certainly
in compliance with that statement.
1297. How confident can we be that other countries'
security arrangements meet internationally-agreed standards?
(Mr Jack) That would be a matter for the UK Government
to take through the International Civil Aviation Organisation,
if they were dissatisfied. Part of the response by ICAO to 11
September is to set up an auditing body which would audit compliance
by individual member states. Can I just reassure you that UK-registered
airlines and certainly British Airways have measures for compliance
that are operating out of other states, so if the host state measures
are below our requirements we will raise the game and comply with
what the UK needs from that station of origin.
1298. What about transfers from overseas flights?
You have more or less dealt with that.
(Mr Hutcheson) Any flight arriving in the UK where
passengers transfer to another service must be subjected to UK
measures, no one can land and transfer until they have been screened
to UK standards. At Heathrow, for example, in every terminal there
is an arrivals screening you go through before you can transfer.
That means that whatever the security was at the originating airport,
it is added to by the UK security programme.
(Mr Jack) I mentioned that incident to illustrate
the lack of delivery by some overseas stations where an item was
picked up in this transfer process which Mr Hutcheson has referred
(Mr Hutcheson) Post-11 September ICAO have made ten
new recommendations, and I am happy to provide that in a note
with the other documents you want.
1299. Can I just deal with that quickly? Baggage?
(Mr Hutcheson) Hold baggage, yes. 2005 worldwide is
the deadline for hold baggage screening, which is the new recommended