Passport queues set to get longer as more visitors are allowed to use them

The Chancellor said in his Budget today that he would open up e-passport gates at Heathrow and other airports to include people from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

Philip Hammond said today: "Today I can announce a package of measures to stimulate business investment and send a message loud and clear to the rest of the world: Britain is open for business."

The move is part of plans to show that Britain is open for business after we leave the EU.

But currently the e-passport gates at Britain's airports are only available to people in the European Economic Area.

Adding five more countries to that list means Brits are likely to have to queue for longer in future.

But the Budget's small prints said it would "significantly improve the flow of passengers" overall.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK – the industry association that represents UK carriers, said: "As passenger numbers continue to rise, UK Border Force must be adequately resourced and adopt new approaches in order to prevent a repeat of last summer, where lengthy border queues were experienced at a number of UK airports.

"This announcement is a welcome step in the right direction, enabling millions more travellers to be processed more quickly.

"It's important now to ensure Government rapidly implements the required technical changes so passengers can take advantage as quickly as possible."

The e-gates first were introduced in the UK in 2008, and now 250 are in place at 22 air and rail ports across the UK.

They require fewer staff to operate as the checks are done digitally using scanners.

Facial recognition technology is used to compare the passenger's face to the photo in their passport.

Ministers said they help speed up arrivals, and more are to be put in place in future.

He went on to reveal a new tax relief for non-residential buildings, an increase in how much people can invest in the country, and a £2billion fund for lending.

Start-up loan funding was also set to be extended, as well as the New Enterprise Allowance.

Highlights of today's Budget include:

  • The national living wage rising to £8.21 per hour, up 4.9 per cent on last year
  • A £500million pot for No Deal Brexit preparations
  • Fuel duty frozen for the ninth year in a row – in a victory for The Sun
  • Duty on beer, cider and spirits frozen while tobacco tax goes up again
  • An extra £2billion for mental health, with specialists installed in every school and hospital, and £650million for social care
  • The Ministry of Defence will get another £1billion to keep Britain's military in shape
  • New funding to repair crumbling roads across the country and end the country's pothole epidemic, adding up to £30billion over five years
  • £400million for schools – adding up to £10,000 per primary and £50,000 for every secondary
  • An increase of £160million for counter-terror policing
  • The end of PFI contracts in the wake of Carillion's collapse
  • £1.5billion more to help out the struggling High Street – including a cut to business rates
  • Interest-free loans to Brits who can't repay their debts to payday lenders

Budget 2018: Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his pre-Brexit spending plans

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