HC Deb 04 July 2001 vol 371 cc159-60W
Diana Organ

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions for what reasons airlines and air carriers He exempted from the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1996; and what plans he has to bring them within the terms of the Act. [1806]

Ms Keeble

As travel by air is a predominantly international mode of transport, it was considered more appropriate to develop standards at international level for access to air travel for disabled people.

My Department was closely involved, both through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), in drawing up the relevant advice for the aviation industry. We have more recently been working with the UK industry—airlines, airports and travel agents—and with our disability advisers, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, to draw up a voluntary code of practice for the industry on meeting the needs of disabled passengers. The draft Code on which we have been consulting over the last few months draws on the work of ICAO and ECAC. We hope to publish the final version later this year.

In responding to the Disability Rights Task Force report we also announced our intention to take a reserve regulation making power, when a suitable legislative opportunity arises, which could be used to give the Code statutory force if voluntary compliance proves ineffective. In addition, European airline and airport associations have recently agreed to commend a series of voluntary commitments on passenger rights to their respective members. Both the airline commitments and the airport commitments contain undertakings about the treatment of passengers with reduced mobility. We expect all major UK airlines and airports to adopt the relevant commitments, which will take effect from February 2002. Our Code of Practice will complement those commitments.