PROPOSALS to ban passengers from drinking alcohol on all public transport has been defended by ministers.
The Government is considering the move as part of a crackdown on binge-drinking.
Opposition parties say it is "nanny state" politics. But the Government says it will take "proportionate" action to tackle anti-social behaviour.
The Prime Minister's advisers have come up with the idea to stop drunken yobs terrorising passengers on buses and trains. But it would also stop ordinary travellers enjoying a drink with their meals. A ban would be likely to apply to domestic flights as well.
The ban is thought to have the strong support of British Transport Police but faces opposition from some Government quarters.
Ministers today confirmed it was being looked at. But they insisted they had not yet made a decision on whether to implement the ban.
Defence Secretary John Reid said it was "a proposal for discussion".
He told the BBC: "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 through drink on buses and other places. That is the balance of rights and responsibilities."
But shadow culture secretary Theresa May said: "Alcohol-fuelled violence on trains and on other public transport is caused by people drinking too much in pubs and clubs.
"If Labour really wants to do something about alcohol-fuelled violence, the Government should drop their controversial plans to allow 24-hour drinking."
Train and bus companies have also questioned the idea. Virgin Trains said the problem was people who boarded trains already drunk.
Spokesman Jim Rowe said: "Our evidence is that it's rare that people become drunk on our trains by being able to buy alcohol on trains."
Bus operator Stagecoach voiced similar concerns. Spokesman Steve Stewart said: "People will be out in the town drinking before they get on public transport, so there are transport and non-transport issues."
Bob Crow, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, said the ban would do nothing to stop passengers getting drunk before they boarded trains.