Everybody knows that the European Parliament is at the cutting edge of global political thought.

So it is no surprise to discover that in 2005 (long before last month’s attempted airline bombing made them a world-wide must-have) the European Parliament bought six full body scanners to protect MEPs from being attacked in the Parliament buildings.

Given the legendary efficiency of the EU institutions, it is also no surprise to learn that these six machines – purchased for over 700,000 Euros – have never been used.  Apparently, in 2008 the Parliament rejected a bill to permit the use of such scanners across the EU on the grounds that the graphic images provided by such scanners constituted a “virtual strip search”.  It is thought that MEPs were not aware at the time that the Parliament had six scanners lying around in their unopened boxes.

After the MEPs had voted against the use of such scanners, European Parliament officials then “rushed” to dispose of the unwanted items.  Obviously, there are complex procedures to be followed in such cases, so that the invitation to bid for the six scanners will only be issued in the next few days.  The delay, of course, means that, given the current fashion for full body scanning, there should be no shortage of bidders.

But should the European Parliament still be going ahead with the sales, in the light of the latest security threats?  Of course it should – as its spokesperson perspicaciously points out, “The Parliament is not an airport”.

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