30 december 2020: Lord Faulkner of Worcester:

My contribution to the debate with regards to safety on public transport.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab)

My Lords, I shall speak about the wearing of face coverings on public transport. What do the Government intend to do about the attacks on public-spirited individuals who attempt to encourage non-wearers of masks to comply with the law? What advice can they offer to members of the public who believe that the law should be obeyed but are deterred by the threat of physical violence on confronting the lawbreakers?

Yesterday the Evening Standard reported the case of a train passenger who was attacked with a knuckleduster and put in hospital after he asked two men to wear face masks. He was kicked as he got off the train at Barnes station and then beaten up on the platform. He suffered a punctured lung and multiple broken ribs. In an earlier incident in October, an NHS worker confronted a group of two men and a woman on a District line train and asked them why they were not wearing masks. He too was attacked, punched several times on the side of the head and then thrown off the train on to the platform at High Street Kensington. I suspect that a number of your Lordships may have remonstrated with non-wearers of masks on trains, tubes or buses and been rewarded with mouthfuls of vile abuse for doing so; I recall my noble friend Lady Thornton recounting such an incident in your Lordships’ House, and I certainly have.

If we ask public transport workers to support us, they tell us they have no powers to enforce mask wearing. That even goes for Transport for London bus drivers, who will not refuse boarding to non-mask- wearing passengers. My appeal to the Minister is to take whatever powers are needed to get the law enforced, issue new instructions to public transport operators and help all of us who support the policy to stay safe —both from the threat of the virus and from the threat of the thugs.

A link to the complete debate here