4 Aviation security|
From DfT to CAA
65. The draft bill contains provisions to transfer
responsibility for regulating aviation security
from the DfT to the CAA.
The Secretary of State would retain responsibility for aviation
security policy but operational security functions would pass
to the CAA. The cost of security regulationsome £5
million a yearwould also be transferred, from the taxpayer,
via the CAA's charges, to the aviation industry and ultimately
to the air transport user. The Government's view is that the aviation
industry rather than the general taxpayer should meet these costs.
It also believes that there would be benefits from locating the
operational aspects of security within an operationally-focused
organisation; and synergies from having a single regulator for
both aviation security and safety.
The CAA endorsed the argument regarding the benefits of a single
66. At the time of the Queen's Speech, it was not
envisaged that the bill would include security measures. Indeed,
these did not form part of the DfT's consultation and industry
witnesses told us that they had not been consulted on this aspect
of the draft bill.
Although not opposed to the measures in principle, the aviation
industry has concerns. Dr Humphreys of BATA told us that there
was a lack of clarity and consultation on the proposed division
of responsibilities between the DfT and CAA. There was also concern
about the additional costs that the aviation industry would face.
67. While there may be synergies in combining safety
and security regulation functions in one regulator, it is unusual
to combine these functions with economic regulation, given the
potential for conflicts of interest. We pressed the Minister on
this point. Mrs Villiers responded that the CAA had successfully
combined safety and economic regulation in the past and that it
would be able to take a sensible and proportionate approach to
the additional role of security regulator. She did not foresee
any conflict of interest being created.
Division of policy-making and
68. The UK has a relatively good aviation security
record. Mr Moloney, representing the DfT Trade Union Side, warned
against changing a critical system, developed in the aftermath
of the Lockerbie bombing, which had proved its effectiveness.
He argued that the division between policy and operations was
not always clear cut and that division between two organisations
would be a recipe for confusion and delay, with the danger that
things would fall "between two stools". He cited the
example of the DfT's response, implemented within one day, to
the potential threat posed by liquids on board aircraft. He doubted
that such a response would be possible under the proposed arrangements.
He said that the Government's motive for the transfer was purely
financialto reduce costs to the taxpayer.
In his view, no efficiency case had been made and the "user
pays" principle was not appropriate to aviation security.
69. Representatives of airports
and airlines, while not opposing the proposals, also expressed
concerns about the lack of details on the division of security
functions. David Hart of BA said:
There is a lack of clarity for us, as an airline,
about exactly who will be doing what and how the policy decisions
will be filtered down and implemented.
The CAA was content with the proposals in the bill
and emphasised that it would clarify the precise security roles
and operational boundaries for itself and the DfT in the run up
to the transfer of functions.
Chief Executive Andrew Haines pointed out, however, that the Secretary
of State for Transport would retain emergency powers with respect
to security. These include the power to issue security directions
under the Aviation Security Act 1982.
70. Mrs Villiers said that a separation of policy-making
from operations was not unusual and cited the example of policing
where policy is set by the Home Secretary and operational decisions
are made by the police. She denied that ministerial accountability
for aviation security would be reduced if the draft bill were
to be enacted.
71. We are concerned that the decision to transfer
aviation security regulation functions from the DfT to CAA was
included in the draft bill at a late stage and not subject to
consultation. The Government needs to explain to the CAA, the
aviation industry and others the detailed division of security
responsibilities and how it would operate in the public interest
before the bill reaches committee stage.
72. Some 90 security posts, currently located within
the DfT, would be transferred to the CAA, increasing its establishment
by around 10%.
Mr Moloney said that many of the DfT staff currently filling these
posts were long-standing civil servants who might not wish to
join the CAA and might seek transfers to other parts of the civil
service. He warned
that there could be a serious loss of expertise. Indeed, the Impact
Assessment accompanying the draft bill states:
RISK: That the CAA lacks sufficient security
expertise, although the DfT and the CAA are working to mitigate
73. It is important that the CAA has sufficient
security expertise to undertake its new role. The DfT and CAA
should investigate employment arrangements, possibly including
secondments rather than transfers, to avoid losing experienced
staff and expertise in the transfer of posts from the DfT to the
A more flexible approach to aviation
AN OUTCOMES-FOCUSED RISK-BASED REGIME
74. The DfT currently operates a "direct and
inspect" aviation security regime: it is moving towards an
outcomes-focused risk-based (OFRB) regime whereby the Government
and regulator would set security objectives and the aviation industry
would have some flexibility over how those objectives were achieved.
This process is outwith the draft bill but, unlike the transfer
of security functions to the CAA, has been the subject of a separate
consultation exercise, conducted in 2011. The two measures are
separate but "complementary".
75. Representatives of airports
and airlines accepted
that the UK's security record was good but took the view that
the system could be improved.
They see the current "one-size fits all" regime as rigid
and costly, imposing excessive costs, particularly on smaller,
regional airports. An OFRB regime is seen as an opportunity to
change this and to bring costs down through flexibility, savings
Virgin Atlantic said
Staying still is not an option [...]. An outcomes-focused
risk-based security regime is the optimum, and that is what we
should be aiming for.
76. Witnesses supported the proposed changes to an
OFRB regime. OFRB is already in use for aviation safety and has
proven acceptable to industry and Government.
Witnesses were concerned however that the bill has progressed
more quickly than the change to an OFRB regime and that functions
and costs would be transferred without the potentially beneficial
improvements to the security regime which might offset regulatory
Dr Humphreys of BATA stated:
The current security regime imposes costs on
foreign and UK airlines of about £1 billion a year, and it
would take only a small percentage improvement in that to generate
significant amounts of money. On the other hand, we are apparently
to be charged an extra £5 million, which is never welcome.
Whilst there may be savings from an OFRB system,
Sian Foster of Virgin Atlantic told us that "We do not expect
any cost savings in the short to medium term".
The CAA acknowledged these concerns:
But the industry have said they support the principle
and what they now want to see is the detail. I think there is
an industry nervousness that they may get the transfer to the
CAA without the benefit of that regime. That is something we want
to work with industry and the Department for Transport to nail.
It is certainly outstanding work.
LIMITS ON FLEXIBILITY
77. As well as concerns about the speed of progress,
there are worries about the extent to which flexibility will be
possible or beneficial under any security regime, given the strong
compliance element that will inevitably remain.
Moreover, many aspects of aviation security policy are decided
at the European level.
Industry is looking for greater clarity and reassurance from Government:
[...] we have to move from the concept and ask
what a tangible regime would look like. As soon as you ask that
question, you get into issues such as whether you can apply this
new regime to all security regulation or only to the parts where
the UK regulates more stringently - which it does; the UK has
its own measures, so there is a debate. The bulk of security regulation
is made in Brussels at present and many of the UK's measures relate
to Brussels measures, so whichever way you look at it, the road
leads back to EU legislation.
78. The experience of Manchester Airport with body
scanners is an example of the potential for confusion and the
risks of innovating. Manchester Airport introduced body scanners
with the support of the UK Government.
However, the European Commission objected, both to the type of
scanner used on safety grounds, and to the UK's "no scan,
no fly" policy. Manchester Airport may be forced to remove
the scanners later this year, at considerable cost. Unless greater
certainty can be achieved, the direct and inspect regime may be
79. The introduction of a new outcomes based aviation
security regime does not require legislation and is therefore
not subject to a decision by Parliament, despite the significance
of the change. Nevertheless, it is closely linked to the security
proposals in the draft bill. The early introduction of the bill
should require the Government to accelerate the development of
the OFRB regime. If not, the aviation industry will incur additional
security costs but no savings. OFRB also depends on policy decisions
made at EU level, which will require the Government to take a
proactive approach to EU aviation security policy; if not, OFRB
may be of limited worth.
80. There is a danger that the aviation industry
will incur the additional costs of security regulation but not
the savings that may come from the proposed introduction of the
outcomes-focused risk-based (OFRB) security regime. It will require
a pro-active approach from Government towards EU aviation security
policy. The Department for Transport must do more to reassure
the aviation industry that the potential benefits from an OFRB
regime will be delivered, to offset the additional costs that
it is imposing. It should also publish an explanation of how the
proposed changes to security regulation will be more efficient
while maintaining high levels of aviation security. We further
recommend that the transfer of security staff and costs is timed
to occur with the introduction of the OFRB regime.
84 This includes rule-writing, inspection and enforcement
of international, European and domestic regulations. Back
Q 146 Back
Q 178 and Draft Civil Aviation Bill: An effective regulatory
framework for UK aviation: Policy Paper, Cm 8234-I, November
2011, pp 19-20 Back
Q 111 Back
Q 69 Back
Q 7 Back
Q 181 Back
Ev 32 Back
Qq 80 and 83 Back
Ev 32 Back
Q 84 Back
Q 43 [Mr Siddall] Back
Q 71 [Mr Hart] Back
Qq 112-113 Back
Draft Civil Aviation Bill: An effective regulatory framework
for UK aviation: Policy Paper, Cm 8234-I, November 2011 p
Q 180 Back
Ev 45 Back
Q 80 Back
Draft Civil Aviation Bill Vol 3: Impact Assessment, November 2011,
p 16 Back
Q 152 [Mrs Villiers] Back
Q 43 [Mr Siddall] Back
Q 71 [Mr Hart] Back
Q 47 [Ms Gilthorp] Back
Q 9 and Ev 15 Back
Q 65 [Ms Foster] Back
Q 111 [Dame Deidre Hutton] Back
Ev 60 Back
Q 65 Back
Q 68 Back
Q 115 [Mr Haines] Back
Q 122 Back
Qq 19 and 123 Back
Q 44 [Mr Siddall] Back
HC Deb, 21 November 2011, Col 15 WS, Airport Security Scanners,