Chris Bryant MP, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister, responding to reports today that 11 airlines have told the Home Secretary that the UK Border Agency does not have the resources to check the passports of everyone coming into Britain, said:
“It is time that the Home Secretary came clean about the security at our borders. Her cuts to staff have seen passport queues lengthen, not only leading to delays for passengers but also leaving UK Border Force staff with a difficult decision of whether to relax security to alleviate congestion and risk allowing people to enter the UK without being properly checked.
"With a cut of over 5,000 staff promised by the next election, the Home Secretary is leaving our borders dangerously understaffed, just when the UK is expecting record numbers of arrivals for London 2012.
"We've already seen hundreds of arriving passengers waved into the UK at Birmingham airport and now 11 major airlines are saying what we've said all along: UK Border security is of the utmost importance and by undertaking these staffing cuts, this government is leaving the security of the UK exposed.
“The Home Secretary must now ensure adequate staffing levels are put in place during the Easter and Royal Jubilee bank holidays and in good time for the summer games to make sure Border staff don’t find themselves in the same situation as they did last summer when thousands flooded through the border, without being fully checked on the orders of the Home Secretary, under her own pilot scheme.
"Our national border security is paramount, as should be our ability to safely welcome thousands flocking to the UK for the Olympics, but the Tory-led Government is putting this at risk with under-resourced passport controls at our ports and airports.”