A FORMER MP who consistently campaigned for tougher regulation of laser pens is welcoming Government moves to clamp down on the potentially lethal problem.

Greg Mulholland, who represented Leeds North West, spoke out about the danger during a debate in the House of Commons last year, telling MPs flights at Leeds Bradford Airport had been targeted 81 times in 2014.

This week the Government announced measures to tackle the sale of unsafe laser pointers, including strengthening safeguards to stop high-powered lasers entering the country.

In 2016, the Civil Aviation Authority received reports of 1,258 laser incidents. Records from the British Transport Police show that between April 2011 and November 2017, a total of 578 laser incidents were recorded.

Margot James, Consumer Minister, said: "The government has listened to concerns from pilots, health professionals and safety experts, which is why we are going further than ever before to crack down on the sale of unsafe devices.

"Public safety is of the utmost importance and we are working to increase the public’s knowledge of the potential dangers associated with these devices and strengthening the penalties for when they are misused."

Tougher new penalties were also outlined in the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill, which was introduced into House of Lords just before Christmas and was due to have its second reading in the Lords this week.

The new laws will mean jail sentences of up to five years for anyone targetting planes and other vehicles with lasers

The bill will also make it easier to prosecute offenders by removing the need to prove an intention to endanger a vehicle.

Mr Mulholland said: "I am very pleased that the Government are now taking action both to better control the supply of dangerous laser pens and also to make it easier for the police to arrest and prosecute people for endangering aircraft. This has been a serious problem, including for planes using Leeds Bradford International Airport and is something I raised on numerous occasions and called for action on. I am pleased that the new Laser Misuse Bill is passing through Parliament and that when it becomes law, these measures will tackle this menace, which endangers lives. Using laser pens and pointers to dazzle aircraft pilots must become a thing of the past and anyone caught doing this must be dealt with appropriately."