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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 October 2005, 15:17 GMT
Public transport drink ban plan
Underground train
British Transport Police reportedly back the plan
A ban on passengers drinking alcohol on public transport is being considered by the government as part of a crackdown on binge drinking.

The move is designed to stop passengers being terrorised by drunken yobs on trains and buses, and would also stop travellers having a drink with meals.

Defence Secretary John Reid said "it is a proposal for discussion". The Home Office said no decision had been made.

Opposition parties have criticised the government for creating a nanny state.

The Conservatives said the proposed ban - which is unlikely to include flights - was Labour "going completely over the top".

And the Liberal Democrats described the plans as "contradictory and confused".

HAVE YOUR SAY
One of the main reasons for taking the train instead of a car will be removed
Russ Tarbox

The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times say the proposals were drawn up at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Tony Blair at Chequers last month and attended by officials including Home Office anti-social behaviour unit head Louise Casey.

Mr Reid said Ms Casey had made the proposal.

The papers also reported that the British Transport Police (BTP) are strongly behind the plan but that it faces opposition from some quarters of the government.

Rights and responsibilities

Mr Reid, a former health secretary who argued in Cabinet against extending the proposed ban on smoking in public places, said government policies were based on a "balance of rights and responsibilities".

The news of these proposals is very surprising and seems like another example of the Labour nanny state going completely over the top
Theresa May

"It is right that people should be able to have a civilised drink at whatever time they want, but it is right also that people should be responsible about not being abusive on buses and other places," he told the BBC.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the ban was a response to the advent of 24-hour licensing.

"One of the problems arising from the government's 24-hour drinking proposal is that they are going to control the extent to which...certain people can drink in certain areas.

"If they do that, what will instantly happen is that the person who is prevented from drinking in one pub will travel to another and therefore add a travelling problem to a drink problem."

Home affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats Mark Oaten said the government seemed "obsessed with banning things".

"This is rarely a clever solution to social problems and penalises responsible, law-abiding citizens.

"With each passing day, we are getting closer and closer to living in a nanny state," he said.

Shadow culture secretary Theresa May said violence on public transport was caused "by people drinking too much in pubs and clubs".

"The news of these proposals is very surprising and seems like another example of the Labour nanny state going completely over the top," she said.

Respect agenda

Although a Home Office spokesman earlier said he would not comment on leaked documents, he did say: "As part of the respect agenda we are considering a whole range of proposals."

Nothing has been ruled in or out at this stage
Home Office

"Nothing has been ruled in or out at this stage."

A paper outlining the government's proposals would be published in December, he added.

Virgin Trains said on-board sales were not a problem, but it was prepared to listen to government proposals.

Spokesman Jim Rowe said: "When there are cases of public drunkenness often it's because people have boarded the trains in that state."

The Association of Train Operating Companies said some companies already ban alcohol on their trains as part of their conditions of carriage.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Passengers' opinions of the proposal



SEE ALSO:
Call to 'hang fire' on drink laws
24 Oct 05 |  UK Politics
Clarke to 'eliminate disrespect'
27 Sep 05 |  UK Politics


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