PETER GRANT MP TO RESERVE JUDGEMENT OF “RESCUE FLIGHTS” UNTIL RESULTS ARE DELIVERED
Glenrothes and Central Fife MP Peter Grant has given a cautious welcome to UK Government plans for "rescue flights" to bring back people who have been stranded abroad due to the covid-19 outbreak.
But Mr Grant said he would be reserving judgement until the new scheme delivered positive results.
Under a new agreement with some airlines the UK Government will charter flights from what it describes as ‘priority countries’ where commercial flights are no longer available. The Government claims the agreement will also see airlines recognising their responsibilities for passengers who had already booked their flights home only to find them cancelled.
However, Mr Grant says that there is a lack of clarity of what countries the UK Government are classifying as ‘priority’ and says that everyone deserves more information.
Mr Grant said: “I think every MP across Scotland and the rest of the UK will have had at least one constituent contact them in a desperate attempt to either get home themselves, or to get their family members back safely. This situation that we find ourselves in right now is unsettling at the best of times, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be for people currently stuck in a foreign country. Equally concerning are the reports we're seeing of UK citizens being left feeling abandoned by their own Government because Embassies and Consular Offices have been left hopelessly understaffed.
“Obviously this new scheme is an improvement, but we should remember that the UK Government have been saying for weeks that they were doing everything possible and they achieved nothing for thousands of people who are still stranded. Making the announcement is one thing; the job is only done when everybody is brought safely home."
Mr Grant is encouraging anyone who has had their flights home cancelled or disrupted to give details to a new inquiry by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee at Westminster.
He said: "The Select Committee is an important part of the process of holding the UK Government to account. I've no doubt the UK Government and the airlines will produce lots of numbers and statistics for the Committee, but the Committee wants to hear from real people about their experiences. For example, some people have claimed their airlines cancelled their flights then offered them tickets on an almost identical flight at vastly inflated prices. People have also reported that the helplines they were told to phone by the UK Government didn't work. It's important that as many people as possible take this chance to tell MPs exactly what happened to them. They can do this using an online survey form on the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee web site. Within the next couple of days, I hope to have a link to this from my own web site to make it even easier for constituents to take part".