A member of the European parliament has accused airports in the UK of deliberately delaying the lifting of a ban on liquids because they are not prepared to pay for new scanners. Brian Simpson, chairman of the transport committee, claims that British airports have put pressure on the European Commission to keep restrictions in place until 2013.

The machines which are capable of detecting dangerous liquids cost up to £50,000 each and the Airport Operators Association is not convinced that they work. Mr Simpson said he did not believe that the problem was that the machines do not do an effective job, but rather the airports simply do not want to pay for them.

A ban on liquids, which includes pastes, gels, creams and syrups, was introduced by airports across Europe after a plot to blow up planes with explosives concealed in bottles was foiled by UK police at Heathrow in 2006. The ban means that passengers are not permitted to take more than 100ml of liquid onto a plane in their hand luggage.

The result has meant that many frustrated passengers have been forced to surrender expensive liquids such as perfume and alcohol. The EU has been trying to get a partial lifting of the ban for transit passengers, but many member states say they are not prepared to relax the rules because they do not trust new technology will do a good enough job.

The commission has now abandoned the partial relaxation in favour of a full lifting of the ban by 2013.