Separate fast-track passport lanes for people from “old Commonwealth” countries, such as Australia and Canada, are to be introduced at Heathrow after the Olympics, the immigration minister has disclosed.
Damian Green has told MPs a short pilot scheme has been carried out using separate passport desks for those from five “low-risk countries” from outside Europe who do not need a visa to enter Britain.
Tourists and visitors from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the US and Japan are to be given the chance of avoiding the lengthy queues at Heathrow faced by passengers with passports from other non-European countries.
Green said there had been mixed results from the pilot scheme as in some cases it had taken up just as much time “because it involved moving people around the different queues”.
But the minister said the fast-track lanes would be introduced after the Olympics to give “a group of people a better experience at Heathrow”. He agreed it might lead to reciprocal arrangements for British visitors to the US and other countries involved.
The immigration minister said the government’s Olympics pledge to have every passport control desk staffed at peak times at every airport in south-east England will be put into effect from this Sunday.
Green acknowledged that the passport control queues facing passengers landing at Heathrow and other major airports had “not been perfect” in the last few months but insisted the situation was rapidly improving. He reported the maximum queue during the morning peak at Heathrow was only 28 minutes when he visited the airport’s Terminal 4 on Tuesday.
But the minister also had to confirm that Brian Moore, the interim head of the UK Border Force, which was set up in the wake of the Brodie Clark affair, had not applied to take on the role permanently. Moore gave up his job as Wiltshire chief constable following Clark’s resignation after a row over the relaxation of passport checks. Moore had been expected to apply for the job when his temporary appointment comes to an end in September. Interviews for his replacement are due to be held in August.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, who made a snap visit to Heathrow on Monday, said he had been appalled to discover queues of more than an hour, only half the desks staffed and people stuck in corridors waiting to get into the arrivals hall “at the busiest international airport in the world”.
The airport operator, BAA, said on Monday the queues at Heathrow over the last few days had been “unacceptably long”.
The immigration minister challenged Vaz’s claims, insisting that the desk during the Monday morning peak had been 80%-staffed and the maximum waiting time had been 54 minutes for non-EU passengers.
‘Breadth and scale’ of nationwide protests is ‘staggering’: NYU history professor
Protests continued to grow in size in cities and towns from coast-to-coast -- and around the world.
"As a historian of social movements in the U.S., I am hard pressed to think of any time in the past when we have had two straight weeks of large-scale protests in hundreds of places, from suburbs to big cities," NYU history Prof. Tom Sugrue posted on Twitter.
"The breadth and scale of #Floyd protests is staggering," he continued.
"We have had some huge one-day demonstrations, e.g. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963); antinuclear march in NYC (1982), and Women's March (2017). We have widespread, simultaneous protests, such as in the days following MLK, Jr.'s assassination (1968)," he explained. "But the two together--very unusual."
Incel blew his hand off — and may have been planning for suicide bomber attack on ‘hot’ cheerleaders: report
A young man in Virginia was photographed for his mugshot with extensive facial injuries.
"A 23-year-old Virginia man who appeared to be planning an incel bomb attack on "hot cheerleaders" accidentally blew off his hand with explosives, authorities say," BuzzFeed News reported Saturday. "Cole Carini was charged in federal court on Friday connection with the plot after he allegedly lied to FBI agents by saying his extensive injuries were the result of a lawnmower accident."
Big turnout for protest in Texas town known as a ‘haven’ for the Ku Klux Klan
Protesters gathered in Vidor, Texas on Saturday for a rally against racism and police violence.
The East Texas town has long had a reputation for racism.
Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it's mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present," Keith Oppenheim reported for CNN in 2006.