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Borders programme in disarray
By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:30AM GMT 18 Dec 2009
A flagship £1.2 billion programme to collect data from every passenger travelling in and out of Britain was in disarray last night after a Government climb-down.
The so-called e-Borders scheme was supposed to make it compulsory to collect information from everyone in advance of their travel so they could be checked against watchlists and enable the authorities to count everyone in and out of the country.
But passengers will not be forced to hand over the information amid concerns it could have breached EU rules over free movement.
Carriers will also not be ordered to refuse boarding of anyone who declines to pass on their details.
Instead, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will have to check anyone who has not provided the data once they arrive in the country. And officials will not be able to refuse entry to any EU citizen, or even their family members, regardless of nationality, solely on the grounds that they refused to provide the information.
Passengers must be told in advance that handing over the information is "is neither compulsory nor ... a condition of purchase and sale of the ticket", it states.