HC Deb 14 October 1996 vol 282 cc691-2W
Mr. Dykes

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what statutory requirements exist for compulsory drug and alcohol screening for employees of transport companies; and what steps he is taking to encourage drug and alcohol screening amongst employees engaged in safety critical work. [39878]

Mr. Bowis

There is no statutory requirement for drug and alcohol screening of employees of transport companies. It is a criminal offence to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle or work on the railways in a safety-related capacity while under the influence of drink or drugs or above the permitted alcohol limit. It is also an offence to act as a member of the crew of an aircraft, an aircraft maintenance engineer or an air traffic controller while impaired through the influence of drink or drugs.

Railway operators may also be found guilty, where an employee has misused alcohol or drugs, if they fail to exercise "due diligence", which, in the Government's view, requires them to undertake some form of screening. A railway group standard sets out the rules and procedures for the screening of safety critical staff where there is suspicion that drug or alcohol may have been a factor in an accident, near miss, or in making an employee unfit for work.