Picture 9 The shadow transport secretary, Theresa Villiers, used her two questions of the Transport ministers yesterday to challenge the Government over what it is doing about screening passengers at airports. Here's her exchange with the junior minister:

Theresa Villiers: I fully appreciate that the extreme
sensitivity of this issue puts real constraints on the detail that the
Minister can share with the House, but can he help me with the
following question? The Israelis have used behavioural analysis for
some years to spot suspicious behaviour within a perimeter that
stretches out as widely as airport car parks. Does he see any scope for
using such techniques in the UK to address risks that arise before the
security check stage to guard against attacks of the sort that we saw
in Glasgow in 2007, which are targeted on people queuing?

Paul Clark: The hon. Lady
is right that it is not possible to go into operational details. As
regards the techniques that are available to us, we continue to receive
information and consider opportunities through the intelligence
agencies as to what is possible. Behavioural analysis techniques are
being trialled at Heathrow with the BAA and UK Border Agency staff
based there. I saw that for myself earlier this week when I visited
Heathrow and discussed it with the operatives. We keep all these
opportunities under review.

Theresa Villiers: There is
clearly scope for a consensus to emerge on an intelligence-led approach
to security, which is welcome. However, the Minister will recall the
Prime Minister’s 2007 promise to deliver a data system to identify and
stop terror suspects before they board a plane to come to the UK. Why
have the “authority to carry” provisions that are necessary to deliver
that not been put in place, given that countries such as Australia have
had those systems for some years? Will the Minister admit that the
e-Borders programme is expensive, late, and leaves us behind other
countries that have better systems that are already in operation?

Paul Clark: The hon. Lady will be well aware of
the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary earlier
this month, and of the Prime Minister’s statement to this House on 20
January, clearly taking forward the options and rolling out further the
e-Borders programme, as well as the watch list and no-fly list, which
we are working on. We are in discussion with other countries, and
working together where there is a security threat, before these people
board flights to the UK or elsewhere.

Jonathan Isaby

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