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Taxis: Licensing

Volume 464: debated on Monday 8 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 17 September 2007, Official Report, columns 2195-6W, on taxis: licensing, what assumptions were made about the (a) total number of currently unlicensed drivers, (b) number of vehicles, (c) number of operators and (d) average licence fees when making the estimate referred to; and how the estimate of total costs of £1 million was reached. (155916)

The estimate of £1 million was included in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the proposal to repeal the private hire vehicle (PHV) contract exemption; a copy of this is in the Library of the House. The RIA was based on the following assumptions: (a) 2000 drivers (b) 2000 vehicles and (c) 300 operators would have to be licensed as a direct result of the repeal of the contract exemption. Average fees for each of the licences were assumed to be £250, £200 and £400 respectively.

These estimates and assumptions were based on the fact that the terms of the contract exemption are narrow and apply in a relatively limited number of cases. They made no allowance for cases now coming to light where transport providers might have believed, or claimed, that they were covered by the exemption but were not in reality so covered. A number of these cases are, and will remain, outside the definition of a PHV in the legislation and therefore will still not need to be licensed. Others should have been licensed as PHVs in the past and repeal of itself will not therefore create a new requirement to meet licensing costs. The Department has sought the views of stakeholders on draft guidance for local licensing authorities on the impact of the repeal and we expect to publish the final version of this shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what checks her Department makes on non-British drivers who work with a valid licence as taxi drivers in the UK. (156558)

Local authorities in England and Wales (outside London) and Transport for London (in London) are responsible for licensing taxi drivers.

The relevant legislation states that taxi drivers outside London must have held a full GB or EU driver licence for 12 months. In addition, local licensing authorities must satisfy themselves that an applicant for a taxi driver licence is a “fit and proper” person to hold such a licence. The way in which they carry out this assessment is a matter for individual authorities.

However, the Department has produced Best Practice Guidance to assist local licensing authorities; the guidance includes advice about carrying out background checks on applicants from elsewhere in the EU and other overseas countries and relevant sources of information.