Following the publication of the new report, “Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing Steps towards a safer and more robust system“, by the Working Group commissioned by the Department for Transport, Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner, succeeded in being awarded a debate in Parliament on the report this afternoon.
Mr Zeichner comments: “This powerful report calls for legislation to update regulation and licensing of taxi and private hire vehicles, and it calls for it quickly. Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, the group chair, underlines this in his introduction, stating that “undue delay would risk public safety“. This again proves the need for more robust standards in licensing, as my Private Member’s Bill would have provided – but it was talked out by a Conservative MP.“
“This report calls for all the measures that my Bill contained, plus more – I hope that this is the catalyst for action that is so badly needed. I’m glad we got a chance to debate these matters this afternoon in Parliament, and am hopeful that the Minister’s words regarding action “coming shortly“ turn out to be more than just platitudes. We need legislative action – not further consultation or guidance.“
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.
The Minister mentioned that “announcements will be forthcoming very soon. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the timing, but very shortly“ and expressed “regret“ that Mr Zeichner’s Bill now looks very unlikely to succeed.
Mr Zeichner’s told Parliament: “We have had too much delay and prevarication. This is a hugely important industry, especially in areas where there is not 24 hour public transport. It’s a fantastic industry with a proud history, and a very important future. The problem is, there are a few people, sometimes, who are abusing the licensing system which leads to the awful incidents we’ve seen in some parts of the country. We owe it to the industry, and to passengers, to make sure that this is solved. We need to move swiftly, with this report, to act and make decisions.“