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Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions her Department has had with the Transport Occupational Command Unit regarding (a) the number of crimes committed by illegal minicab drivers and (b) proposed measures to reduce the number of illegal minicabs operating in London. (153876)

The Department has not had any discussions with the Transport Operational Command Unit on these matters. However, we keep in touch with TfL officials about a range of taxi-related issues. We are aware, through discussions with TfL, that the unit undertakes dedicated enforcement activities in respect of illegal minicab drivers in London using a variety of methods including multi-agency road checks and visits to operators. We are also aware of TfL’s initiative to enhance safety for passengers through its “Safer Travel at Night” campaign.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to reduce the number of illegal minicab drivers operating in (a) London and (b) England. (153873)

If individuals provide a minicab service without holding the requisite licences they are committing an offence. Responsibility for enforcing the law rests with Transport for London within London and the relevant local licensing authority elsewhere in England. The police also, of course, have a role to play in enforcing the law.

Last year we brought forward a change in the law which will establish a more comprehensive system for licensing minicabs (private hire vehicles—PHVs). Section 53 of the Road Safety Act 2006 repeals the exemption from PHV licensing outside London for vehicles which work on contracts lasting not less than seven days. When the repeal takes effect—in January 2008—it will be much harder for operators and drivers to evade licensing. A similar provision (section 54 of the Act) will bring operators and drivers dedicated to contract work in London within the PHV licensing regime—in March 2008.