I beg to move,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for court orders to prohibit disruptive passengers from flying, and for connected purposes.
This is my second attempt to bring in this Bill. The last time was just a week or so before lockdown and understandably the aviation industry and everyone else had their attention elsewhere, so I hope that due regard can be given to this Bill by the Government this time. I am grateful that we have a Minister at the Dispatch Box to hear this.
Violent incidents on aeroplanes are rare but the problem is increasing. The confined nature of an aeroplane makes an out-of-control individual on a plane far more concerning than on any other mode of transport. People cannot get away from them easily. It can be terrifying for nervous fliers and deeply concerning for everyone on a plane when just one person is acting in a violent manner. When it is a group of people, the situation is much worse. Cabin crew should not have to deal with such incidents and they should be protected by this place when carrying out their duties.
We currently ban people from driving if a criminal offence is committed in a car. We ban people from football matches if they take part in hooliganism. We even ban people from being directors of companies, but we happily allow people who assault airline staff to get back on a plane without any power from the courts to stop this. This Bill could be used by the courts in a similar way to drink-driving legislation by banning a disruptive person after conviction for a set period of time or, as in football banning orders, on an application by a police officer.
Airlines can ban people from using their own company again but they cannot share information about that person with other airlines, so letting the courts stop the worst offenders will not only help to protect cabin crew and passengers but act as a deterrent to anyone tempted to be violent on a plane. Right now, a person can be violent on a plane, be banned by that airline and then straight away get on another airline’s plane and be violent again. That cannot be right.
Some say that the solution is to ban alcohol. I do not agree, because 99.9% of people who enjoy a glass of wine or a beer at an airport or on a plane do so without causing any problems. It is part of their holiday. It is the 0.1% of people we should target, not the 99.9%. Alcohol can be a factor, but not always, so banning it is not the answer.
People should know that, if they get on a plane and become violent, in addition to any other punishment they receive they will not fly again for a good period of time. That is what happens in some countries, and it should apply here. The aviation industry is sick and tired of these incidents. Not only do these incidents endanger their staff, but it costs an enormous amount of money and causes considerable inconvenience to divert a plane. Not surprisingly, the industry wants the opportunity to take every step it can to stop these incidents.
This Bill would provide a simple and easy way to deter those minded to cause problems on a plane while also preventing repeat incidents. I therefore commend this Bill to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Gareth Johnson accordingly presented the Bill.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on