Isles MP Alistair Carmichael is accusing the Home Office of planning to impose more stringent identification checks on passengers travelling on ferries to and from the mainland.
Home secretary Jacqui Smith published a new counter-terrorism strategy, known as CONTEST, in late March. Mr Carmichael is now highlighting the fact that the document states that a further announcement will be made this year on “new police powers to collect advanced passenger data on some domestic air and sea journeys”.
Mr Carmichael said: “It is wholly unacceptable that people living in the Northern Isles are to have their access to lifeline transport restricted for no good reason. It is already in my view excessive that we should have to produce photo ID on the ferries, and that the Home office now wants to prescribe what that photo ID should be takes it to a new level.
“This is something which requires the broadest opposition from local people and I shall be encouraging as many local people and organisations as possible to respond to the Home Office.”
Mr Carmichael has written to the home secretary, the transport minister and the Scottish secretary outlining his opposition to the plans and asking for an explanation as to how making island residents provide more detailed identification before they travel to the mainland or adjacent islands will make the UK safer from terrorism.
But a Home Office spokeswoman said there would not be any substantive change in identification checks as a result of the new strategy. She said: “We will not be requiring passport checks for ferry trips to Scottish Islands. e-Borders applies to international journeys only.
“While the Police and Justice Act 2006 gives the police the power, subject to commencement through secondary legislation, to require a carrier, on request, to capture passenger and crew identity.
“The government intends to use these powers on routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland only. This is to strengthen counter-terrorism checks on international travellers who attempt to evade checks by travelling through the Republic of Ireland into or out of the UK.”