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Personal Oxygen (Public Transport)

Part of Petition — Mobile Telephone Mast (West Midlands) – in the House of Commons at 3:50 pm on 17th March 2010.

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Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport 3:50 pm, 17th March 2010

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the current regulation is due for review. I am sure that all interested parties will clearly express their views as to its shortcomings, and we as a Government will put our own experiences on the record as well.

This is a relatively new regulation-2006-and I would not want unnecessarily to lead the House to believe that great changes may happen because it is relatively new. Having said that, I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that this is an opportunity that should not be missed, and I am sure that he and the organisations to which we have referred will take every opportunity to press the case at European level at the right time. Equally, the Government will ensure that these issues are recognised.

The European law as it stands seeks to strike a balance between the needs of the particular group of consumers and the commercial requirements of the airline. We urge all airlines to be clear about charges and provisions, so that when people make their purchases and decisions they have an informed choice about the services and so on that they can rightly expect. Many of the UK-based airlines are leading the way and are showing other European-based carriers the way forward, as well as doing so on a wider international stage. The Malaysia Airlines example just reinforces the fact that further work is required at an international level so that we ensure that people have the freedom to travel as far and as widely as possible.

My hon. Friend raised issues relating to other forms of public transport. On the use of personal oxygen on trains, the decision as to whether cylinders can be carried is down to the individual train operating company, but all operators are likely to allow passengers carrying portable personal oxygen supplies to board. The conditions of carriage may vary between different companies and, therefore, we always recommend that passengers who may need to transport oxygen cylinders first contact the relevant operator to check what restrictions may apply. Contact details are available via the national rail website. I should say that some of the train operators make things clearer and set out in their conditions of service that they will allow this-Southeastern, which runs services in my patch, is very clear that this is permitted. Some passengers may require physical assistance in boarding and alighting, and that can be booked through the assisted passenger reservation service. That can be accessed through the same sources, for example, the national rail web portal, and 24 hours' notice should usually be allowed so that arrangements can be put in place.