New laws to improve safety for passengers of taxis and private hire vehicles will be presented to Parliament next week by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner. He has been working with campaign groups, trade unions and the Government on a Private Member's Bill for the last six months which is published today (25th January) ahead of its Second Reading in the House of Commons next Friday 2nd February.
The Bill, entitled the "Licensing of Taxis and PHVs (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill," will require licensing authorities to record license refusals, revocations and suspensions on a national database. Licensing authorities will have to check this register, and have due regard to any previous decisions recorded, before awarding licenses to drivers in their authority. This would stop those who are "gaming the system:" if refused in one authority, they can currently just go to another Council and get a license there. Notorious examples include drivers losing their license in Southend, then reappearing on the same streets having been licensed elsewhere, sparking a national outcry.
The bill also allows local authority enforcement teams to report instances of wrongdoing by taxi and PHV drivers from other areas, which cause them concern, to the authority in which the offender is licensed. The original licensing authority must then have regard to this report, and respond. This will end the situation where local enforcement officers are powerless to deal with drivers licensed elsewhere in the country.
Mr Zeichner says: "This Bill will give councils powers they have been requesting to improve licensing and enforcement, and will increase passenger safety. The taxi and private hire sector is a proud trade, and this will not only work to maintain high standards, but will also increase public trust."