HL Deb 11 April 1989 vol 506 cc125-6

Baroness Stedman asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they are responsible for setting up the National Aviation Security Committee, and, if so, whether they will list the organisations from which the membership is drawn.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Lord Brabazon of Tara)

My Lords, the National Aviation Security Committee is a consultative and advisory committee established by the Department of Transport. In addition to government departments, the police and the Civil Aviation Authority, the membership consists of representatives of the British civil aviation industry and its users. Currently, the industry and user representatives are drawn from BAA, the Aerodrome Owners Association, the Joint Airports Committee of Local Authorities, British Airways, Monarch Airlines, British Midland Airways, Dan Air, the Transport and General Workers Union, the British Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Users Committee.

Baroness Stedman

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I regret that my noble friend Lady Burton is not present to hear such a satisfactory reply to her pleas on behalf of the consumer representatives on the committee. I am sure that she will be delighted to read the Minister's reply in Hansard.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, will my noble friend the Minister tell us what is the function of the National Aviation Security Committee? It seems a pretty extensive one and the representatives surely cannot get down to much detail, given the number of people who appear to be on the committee.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, as I said in my original reply, the function is a consultative and advisory one. This is a very useful body in that respect and it is perhaps notable that the United States Department of Transportation is now setting up a similar committee in the United States.

Lord Underhill

My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, has said, the information given by the Minister is extremely interesting and valuable. He referred to the fact that the body is an advisory and consultative body. Is there any proposal to make its decisions mandatory, or should a separate organisation be established which will have mandatory security control over both airports and airlines?

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, there is no proposal to make NASC's recommendations or advice mandatory. That is for the Department of Transport, which is responsible for aviation security. Obviously, it is useful for us to be able to discuss that matter with the representatives whom I mentioned in my original Answer in order to seek their views and to receive suggestions from them, but it must remain a ministerial responsibility to make the decisions.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, is the Minister aware that some of us believe that security in our airports is bad and that we now realise why? It is because there are so many members on the committee which is supposed to look after that matter.

Lord Brabazon of Tara

My Lords, I regret the noble Lord's question. Security in our airports is not bad at all. It is as good as, or better than, security almost anywhere else in the world. Admittedly, there are always ways of tightening it up and no doubt there always will be, but we do our best.

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