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Grahame Morris MP Slams Government Reforms to Taxi Regulation

01/05/2014

On Grahame Morris MP for Easington held a Westminster Hall Debate on Proposed Government reforms to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) regulation.

29/04/2014

In May 2012 the Law Commission launched a consultation on taxi deregulation, with a final report and draft Bill originally scheduled for publication in April 2014. The industry, unions and local authorities have been engaging with this process.

The work of the Law Commission was dramatically undermined in January 2014 when the Government announced a 10 day consultation on three measures relating to taxi and PHV regulation.

In March 2014, without any meaningful engagement with stakeholders, these measures were introduced as last minute amendments at the Committee Stage of the Deregulation Bill, Report Stage is expected in the next few weeks.

The proposed changes include:

1. Allowing people who do not hold a PHV license to drive a PHV when it is not being used as a PHV – This reform has the potential to increase the number of unlicensed drivers pretending to be legitimate, as enforcement against the illegal use of licensed vehicles will be almost impossible. This will expose the public to a greater risk of sexual attack and other crimes from rogue drivers.

2. Setting standard duration of three years for taxi and PHV driver’s license and standard duration of five years for a PHV operator license. – Although PHV drivers and operators are required to report criminal convictions and changes to medical status within their licence periods, these are often ignored. Regular licence renewal helps licensing authorities to recognise these changes. These reforms will mean more unsuitable and potentially dangerous persons would remain licensed for longer.

3. Allowing a PHV operator to subcontract a PHV booking to another operator who is licensed in a different licensing district. The public will lose their right to choose which operator they travel with. Customers will no longer be able to choose the provider they feel is safest and most reliable, and different providers may vary in disability access and fares. In addition, local licensing enforcement would become impossible with local authorities unable to control cross border bookings or effectively enforce compliance.

Mr. Morris said:

“The consideration of the consequences of these new clauses has been totally insufficient. The Government’s ideologically blinkered drive to get rid of regulation protecting public safety has prioritised rushed  changes over the long running reform process led by the Law Commission.

Stakeholders, such as Unite the Union and the GMB who represent thousands of taxis drivers up and down the country, have been ignored and as a consequence the enforcement of Private Hire Vehicle regulation will be undermined and passenger safety put at risk.

The key test that any reform to Private Hire Vehicle regulation ought to pass is –“Will the reforms improve passenger safety?” and the answer to whether these proposed changes pass that test is a resounding “NO”.

William Brown MP

William Brown

Office of Grahame Morris MP

House of Commons

London SW1A 0AA

website: www.grahamemorrismp.co.uk

twitter: @grahamemorris

See Also…

Westminster Hall – Taxi regulation reforms. Democracy Live 

Addison Lee rejects MP’s claims of Tory donation ‘influence’. BBC Politics

Deregulation Bill clears first Commons hurdle. Democracy Live

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