Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has called on the Government to act “swiftly and decisively in order to protect vulnerable people “after his Private Member’s Bill [the Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill] was again delayed by a lone Conservative back-bencher in Parliament today. It was last discussed on the 2nd February, when notorious Conservative backbencher Christopher Chope “talked it out“, a Parliamentary convention that means the Bill cannot progress if someone is still speaking in its debate when the parliamentary session ends. Mr Chope objected again today, so delaying any progress on the Bill and denying greater safety to passengers across England.
Following the publication of the report “Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Steps towards a safer and more robust system“, by a specially-convened working group in September, commissioned by the Department for Transport, the Cambridge MP called on the Government to act. The report recommended adopting Mr Zeichner’s Private Member’s Bill’s aims in full. Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, the group chair, underlines this in his introduction, stating that “undue delay would risk public safety“.
Mr Zeichner comments “The Government still have not responded to the report. There have been hints in the media that following our pressure, they might be planning legislation for next year, but they need to get moving on this now. My Bill is delayed yet again by a Conservative back-bencher. The onus is now on the Government, and if they do not act swiftly, I echo the report’s view that they are risking public safety.“
The report calls for a national database of license refusals, revocations and suspensions as proposed in Mr Zeichner’s Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill which was talked out in February of this year. Mr Zeichner’s Bill also called for greater licensing enforcement powers and information sharing between local authorities, which the report also recommends.
Beyond these recommendations, the report calls for national minimum standards for licensing across the country which can be built on locally, and CCTV in every taxi and private hire vehicle.