Passport control officials have been criticised by Tory MPs for "waving through" a woman without asking her to remove her full-faced veil.

Philip Davies told the Commons he witnessed the scene at Heathrow Airport as a woman underwent checks to enter the UK after flying in from Saudi Arabia.

He insisted all women wearing a "full Islamic veil" should have to compulsorily remove it so they can be identified by immigration officials.

The MP for Shipley was backed by his Tory colleague Philip Hollobone (Kettering) as he suggested women wearing a burka or a veil should be treated in the same way as those who wear balaclavas.

Mr Davies claimed this "sensible" application of the rules might remove public support for Mr Hollobone's "draconian" Face Coverings (Prohibition) Bill.

Men are also increasingly dressing up as Islamic women in burkas to commit crimes, Mr Hollobone claimed.

Terror suspect Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed went missing last November after changing into a burka at a mosque, although Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said he could not recall any other incidents of that nature.

Speaking during a Commons debate, Mr Davies told Mr Hollobone: "I saw recently at Heathrow Airport a woman in full-faced veil come up to passport control and was waved through without having to remove her veil.

"Now, I thought that was against what the Government expected at immigration control.

"But would you agree with me that if we didn't have this kind of politically correct pussyfooting around over issues like that, and making sure that people in a veil were treated in exactly the same way as people in a balaclava, then perhaps the public support for your Bill today - which I accept is there even though I don't fully go along with it - perhaps that public support for something as draconian as your Bill wouldn't be there in the first place if those kind of rules were applied more sensibly?"

Mr Hollobone replied he would not call his Bill draconian, adding: "I share your outrage, as I'm sure will my constituents, that anyone should be waved through at passport control if their face is covered.

"And that outrage would apply to someone wearing a full-faced balaclava as it would to a woman - well, we suppose it's a woman - wearing a burka or full-faced veil.

"And of course there are an increasing number, small but an increasing number, of incidences where criminal acts are taking place with men dressed as Islamic women in full burkas and there's a very real concern here that, if you like, criminals are using this get-out of full Islamic dress to commit criminal acts, which of course brings Islam into disrepute."

Mr Davies later added to Mr Vaz: "I and (Mr Hollobone) clearly believe that at passport control everybody who comes into this country wearing a full Islamic veil should be compulsorily required to remove that veil to identify themselves. That's the point we're making. Do you agree with that or not...?"

But Labour's Mr Vaz was critical of Mr Davies for his stance, telling him: "I think we need to leave it to the immigration officer. You are many things but you are not a trained immigration officer, unfortunately.

"But maybe we should consider that as part of the training of MPs in the future."