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Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 15 September 2016

9. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of existing legislation for the taxi and private hire vehicle industries. (906364)

15. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the provisions of the Deregulation Act 2015 relating to taxi licensing on the ability of licensing authorities to regulate taxi trade. (906371)

Local councils have the powers to provide effective licensing arrangements in their area, but legislation is in the House to strengthen the current framework. We will consult on new statutory guidance for local licensing authorities once the parliamentary process is complete.

I thank the Minister for his reply. Internet and smartphone use has revolutionised private hire vehicle services. Does he believe that current legislation, which is now several decades old, is adequately regulating this technology?

The legislation that governs this sector goes back many, many more decades, to the age of the horse and carriage. That is why the Government asked the Law Commission to take a comprehensive review of taxi and private hire regulation in England and Wales. Obviously, it is a devolved matter in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will be responding to the Law Commission’s report in due course.

Sheffield City Council believes that its tough policy on child sexual exploitation is basically useless because other taxi operators can license themselves outside Sheffield and then operate in Sheffield. Will the Minister meet me and other colleagues from Sheffield city region to discuss taxi licensing in relation to CSE?

I will be happy to meet the hon. Lady. I just point out that whatever licensing area a company is operating in, it has to ensure that a fit and proper person test is carried out, but I will be very happy to meet her.

May I also welcome the Secretary of State. He knows my city of Cambridge very well. We look forward to him coming to open the new railway station, which is long overdue. He also knows that Cambridge is full of people who think that prisoners should read books and that Britain should be in the European Union. I suggest that he brings a very hard hat with him when he comes.

We heard in an Adjournment debate raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) about the problems in the taxi trade and the procrastination and inaction over two years since the Law Commission report. Some months ago, the Minister told us that he was about to act, and yet in a written question to me a few days ago, he said that the Government have no plans to bring forward legislation in the current Session. How much longer will we have to wait?

That is a complex matter and we are working on it and through it, but we are already taking action on the key issue of child sexual exploitation in the taxi and private car sector by putting the guidance on to a statutory basis. We hope to be consulting on that as soon as the Policing and Crime Bill has reached Royal Assent.

What a striking contrast with the new Mayor of London, who has done more in a few weeks than his predecessor did in eight years, and more than that lot have done in six years. Does the Minister recognise the problem with cross-border licensing? As we have heard, there are councils in this country handing out licences like confetti. These vehicles are clogging up the streets of London and adding to congestion. How much longer will we have to wait until he takes the problem seriously?

The Government are clearly taking the issue seriously. I am aware of the actions taken by the new Mayor of London, but it is worth making sure that one gets those actions right; I understand that one of the operators has already won the right to a judicial review.

Order. We started late because of the preliminary announcements, so we can run on slightly, but we must have much shorter questions from now on. To be honest, questions today have been simply far too long.