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Automated Vehicles Bill [ Lords ] (Second sitting)

Debated on Tuesday 19 March 2024

The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Chairs: † Sir George Howarth, Martin Vickers

† Aiken, Nickie (Cities of London and Westminster) (Con)

† Browne, Anthony (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport)

† Carter, Andy (Warrington South) (Con)

† Esterson, Bill (Sefton Central) (Lab)

† Fuller, Richard (North East Bedfordshire) (Con)

† Harrison, Trudy (Copeland) (Con)

† Lightwood, Simon (Wakefield) (Lab/Co-op)

† Millar, Robin (Aberconwy) (Con)

† Mohindra, Mr Gagan (South West Hertfordshire) (Con)

† Morris, Grahame (Easington) (Lab)

† Newlands, Gavin (Paisley and Renfrewshire North) (SNP)

† Saxby, Selaine (North Devon) (Con)

† Vara, Shailesh (North West Cambridgeshire) (Con)

Wakeford, Christian (Bury South) (Lab)

† Warman, Matt (Boston and Skegness) (Con)

† Western, Andrew (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab)

Whitley, Mick (Birkenhead) (Lab)

Simon Armitage, Kevin Candy, Leoni Kurt, Committee Clerks

† attended the Committee

Public Bill Committee

Tuesday 19 March 2024

(Afternoon)

[Sir George Howarth in the Chair]

Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords]

Clause 50

Power to change or clarify existing traffic legislation

Amendment moved (this day): 9, in clause 50, page 33, line 18, after “that—” insert—

“(za) is not an Act of the Scottish Parliament;

(zb) is not an instrument made under an Act of the Scottish Parliament;

(zc) is not an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru;

(zd) is not an instrument made under an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru;”.—(Gavin Newlands.)

This amendment would mean that the Secretary of State could not amend legislation of the devolved administrations for the purposes of changing or clarifying traffic legislation in respect of automated vehicles.

Before I call Gavin Newlands, who was in the middle of moving amendment 9 when the Committee adjourned this morning, I remind the Committee that with this we are discussing the following:

Amendment 7, in clause 50, page 33, line 22, at end insert—

“(4) The Secretary of State must obtain and lay before Parliament the written consent of the Scottish Government to make regulations under this section which amend—

(a) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

(b) any instrument made under an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

(5) The Secretary of State must obtain and lay before Parliament the written consent of the Welsh Government to make regulations under this section which amend—

(a) an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru,

(b) any instrument made under an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru.”

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to obtain the consent of devolved governments before exercising the Clause 50 power in relation to devolved legislation.

Amendment 8, in clause 50, page 33, line 22, at end insert—

“(4) The Scottish Government may, by regulations, make provision for the purpose of changing or clarifying whether, how or in what circumstances an Act of the Scottish Parliament or any instrument made under an Act of the Scottish Parliament applies to the user-in-charge of a vehicle.

(5) The Welsh Government may, by regulations, make provision for the purpose of changing or clarifying whether, how or in what circumstances an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru or any instrument made under an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru applies to the user-in-charge of a vehicle.”

This amendment would extend the Clause 50 power to ministers of the devolved administrations.

Clause stand part.

Thank you, Sir George. You say “in the middle”—I had barely started my remarks. [Laughter.] Thankfully, despite the rude interruption of Question Time and lunch, I have been able to add to them, including some quotes from the Cabinet Secretary for Transport. I thank my Transport Committee colleague, the hon. Member for Easington, for his help with that.

I was talking about working across borders, which undoubtedly makes good sense on issues like this, but as it stands clause 50 is not working across borders. It will mean government by diktat and by statutory instrument, rather than the democratic procedures that have been in place for nearly a quarter of a century.

I mentioned earlier that the UK Government have moved the goalposts on this issue. The policy scoping notes clearly state:

“Any future proposals to amend existing primary legislation will be subject to consultation with representative organisations before being laid before both Houses of Parliament (and/or the Senedd Cymru and Scottish Parliament, insofar as the regulations amend any act of the Senedd Cymru or the Scottish Parliament respectively).”

But the UK Government’s delegated powers memorandum states:

“The affirmative procedure will ensure that Parliament (as well as the Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cymru, where Scottish or Welsh legislation is amended) can closely scrutinise any regulations changing or clarifying how existing primary legislation applies to the user-in-charge.”

Obviously, there is no provision for scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament in the final Bill, but, as I said, the prior commitment means that it is not the SNP or rogue Scottish Government officials pushing the envelope and insisting on consultation and consent; rather, it is the UK Government reneging on their commitment to do so.

The Cabinet Secretary for Transport made it clear at the Scottish Parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee just this morning, as I have alluded to a number of times, that there are

“things that relate to offences under devolved legislation and offences that would be part of devolved areas, these are the areas that the provision would allow the UK Government to legislate on or make provision for in the future… we think it’s a genuine issue of concern.”

I would welcome the Minister addressing those concerns and committing to meeting the Cabinet Secretary for Transport at Holyrood to ensure that the broad co-operation on the rest of the Bill is continued in the wording of clause 50. When he responds, perhaps he could list the Acts that relate to transport in Scotland that might be impacted.

Amendment 9 would ensure that the term “relevant enactment” cannot apply to

“an instrument made under an Act of the Scottish Parliament”,

“an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru”

or

“an instrument made under an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru”.

In doing so, it removes the Secretary of State’s power to unilaterally amend Scottish primary legislation in respect of automated vehicles. Amendment 7 would require the Secretary of State to obtain the consent of devolved Governments before exercising the clause 50 power in relation to devolved legislation. Amendment 8 would extend the clause 50 power to Ministers of the devolved Administrations.

I will not bore the Committee by reading them out, but our amendments seek to remove this Henry VIII power entirely as it relates to Scottish or Welsh legislation, to add a requirement to seek a legislative consent motion from Holyrood or the Senedd, or to extend the same powers to the appropriate Scottish and Welsh Ministers. If this Government truly were looking to work in co-operation, they surely should not have a problem agreeing to look at this issue, but thus far they have shown no real inclination or desire to compromise on this fundamental point. I urge the Minister to accept the amendments in my name—or one of them, at least —and respect devolution and the elected Governments of Scotland and Wales and our judgment in making laws that best suit our countries.

It is a real delight to see you in the Chair this afternoon, Sir George. I rise briefly to support what the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North said about the important role of the devolved Administrations. He referenced the role of the Scottish Law Commission—and indeed the Law Commissions from all the nations of the United Kingdom —and its important work in producing this framework for the introduction of automated vehicles. He is quite right that the principle of consent on devolved competencies applies in this legislation, and I am very pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Easington read out the relevant reference in the explanatory notes. The Government would not normally legislate on matters of devolved competence without that consent, and for that reason I think that the three amendments tabled by hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North deserve support. We will vote with him if he chooses to go for a Division.

Before I come to the amendments, I want to set out some of the background of clause 50 and why we think it is significant. This is all about the user in charge, which is a new legal concept that did not exist when existing traffic laws were drafted. Those laws come in a wide variety of formats and language, from traffic regulation orders to motorway regulations. The power in clause 50 can be used to clarify what is and is not the responsibility of the user in charge in particular enactments—what the user in charge, when a vehicle is in self-driving mode, is responsible for. That is vital to support clear public understanding of the division of responsibility and to make adjustments based on experiences from real-world deployments.

Clause 50 will also allow us to respond to technological changes; as self-driving technology improves, it may become appropriate to shift greater responsibility away from the user in charge. For example, in future, vehicles may be better placed to assess their own roadworthiness than the human in the driving seat. Crucially, the clause does not provide carte blanche for the Government to alter traffic legislation generally. It can only affect the scope of the responsibility of the user in charge, and it is limited to them.

That brings me to the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North. I want to say at the outset that I completely respect devolution and the role of the devolved Administrations, and there is nothing in this legislation that is meant to change that balance at all. As he knows, there have been quite a lot of talks at the official level. I have had an exchange of letters with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and, to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question, I am very happy to meet and discuss a way forward—hopefully there will be one.

The Government consider the user-in-charge immunity to be a reserved matter. That is because the Bill gets it authority from the Road Traffic Act 1988, and that is expressly reserved under the Scotland Act 1998. Clause 50 will predominantly affect the application of reserved traffic offences. There is a limited range of devolved legislation in this area, and the immunity will have only minor incidental impact on that legislation—it is very incidental.

More generally, public understanding and confidence will be key to realising the benefits of self-driving vehicles. It is vital that we have clarity and consistency across Great Britain about how these vehicles can be used and what individual responsibilities there are. I am interested to know the position of the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and the Scottish Government on that. We think that the first recommendation of the Scottish Law Commission, and of the Law Commission for England and Wales, was that as the public would not be able to understand different and partial immunities based on distinctions between devolved and reserved laws in different parts of the country, there should be the same rules for user-in-charge immunity when crossing the border from Scotland to England, so that drivers do not unintentionally break a law as they do so.

The Minister is making a point that is central to the Government’s argument, but we have devolution. We already have different rules in Scotland, such as on blood alcohol levels in drink-driving. The clause could perhaps lead to different tiers of parking fines or bus lane infringements between automated and regular cars, because the Scottish Government saw fit to have a different level of fine for a regularly driven car, as opposed to a user in charge. That is a fairly minor example, but there are a number where there could be differences across the UK without co-operation. It already happens.

Absolutely, and that is why there is some devolved legislation in this area, but we think it is important that, when someone is using a self-driving car in user-in-charge mode, they do not unintentionally break the law by crossing from one side of the border to the other because there are different applications of the law just within the user-in-charge mode.

To go back to my example of the different drink-driving rules, there could be somebody in a pub just south of the border whose route home takes him across the border into Scotland. He could be within the law with 70 mg of blood in his alcohol—no, the other way around; that is another board game entirely! He could be within the law with 70 mg of alcohol in his blood south of the border but, by driving over the border, he would be driving illegally in Scotland. That inconsistency already exists, so I do not understand why the Minister wants to fix the problem in this legislation and on this specific issue. Devolution is there for a reason.

As I said, this was discussed at considerable length by the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission of England and Wales. They thought that understanding of user-in-charge mode and immunity would be very difficult to get across to the public if the rules varied as they drove around Great Britain. The Government agree that it is good to have consistency on these rules. The interaction on devolved matters is incidental and very limited. It is only about immunity for the user-in-charge mode; it does not apply to anything else, such as the volume of alcohol in someone’s blood as they drive across the border. We think it would create confusion and that would be detrimental to all.

Ultimately, we absolutely respect devolution. We do not support the amendments, because we think they would cause confusion and detriment, but I am very happy to meet both the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North—I said that on Second Reading; unfortunately, we did not manage to arrange a meeting before Committee stage—and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport so that we can work out a way forward.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir George. I wonder if the Minister can clarify something, because it is not just on the Opposition side of the Committee that there are concerns about the use of delegated powers by the Secretary of State. Indeed, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee produced a report that identified clause 50 as an example of a Henry VIII power, so is it unreasonable to seek an assurance from the Minister? I served on the High Speed Rail (Crewe - Manchester) Bill Committee with Mr Vickers, who chaired this morning’s sitting, and we regularly sought assurances or undertakings. There is a difference. A statutory undertaking would probably be in the Bill about a particular action, but the Minister gave an assurance to my colleague the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North earlier that there would be the necessary consultations with the devolved Administrations. In what circumstances would these powers be used in the event that there was no agreement about a particular measure in relation to the user in charge?

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, the reason for these powers is that there are thousands of different traffic offences, and they are all designed for cars with a human driver who is responsible. In moving to user-in-charge mode, we are making sure that the user in charge has immunity of some form, because it is the software that is in control of the car, not them. If we did not do it this way, we would have to change thousands of pieces of legislation. That simply would not be possible, and it would not be possible to go ahead with user-in-charge-mode immunity.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way again; it is important to clarify this. That seems absolutely reasonable, but why can he and his Department not have these discussions with their counterparts in the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive in advance? Why does the measure have to be imposed as a Henry VIII power and then subsequently consulted on? That is not consultation, is it? I do not know what to call it. It is an—

As I said at the beginning, we think the question of the user-in-charge immunity—and this is all it is about—is a reserved matter under the Scotland Act 1998. That is our position and our legal advice— I have been through this with lawyers a few times. We respect devolution and do not want to create any changes to the balance there. The hon. Member for Easington asked why we had not talked to the Scottish Government, but we have. Officials have had lots of talks, I have had exchanges of letters, and I have already given a commitment that I am very happy to meet the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to go through this in more detail.

Essentially, the Minister is asking the Scottish Government and the Welsh Senedd to trust the Government. Over the last few years, the trust between this Government and the Scottish Parliament has been eroded, with multiple challenges by the UK Government to devolved legislation. I have all the respect in the world for the Minister, but is it not unfortunate that, given we are talking about respect for devolution, we could not get a meeting on the clause 50 issue before we got to Committee stage? It was supposed to be set for Thursday, but here we are on Tuesday afternoon disposing of the clause anyway. It is unfortunate that we could not get that meeting, which does not bode well for respect for devolution.

It is definitely an undertaking. I will not bore the Committee with my diary details, but take it as read that we will get that in.

I am absolutely not asking the Committee to just trust me and the Government, or whoever is in my or the Secretary of State’s position in the future, but it is clear from the clause that the power is reserved purely to the user-in-charge immunity, which is part of this Bill and, as a result, we think is a reserved matter.

As I said—I am just repeating myself—I am very happy to meet the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to look for a way forward, but we do not support the amendments as they stand.

I am grateful for the Minister’s response. I am not overly surprised by much he has said. I look forward to that meeting. I am grateful for Labour’s support on this issue. I will not press amendments 7 and 8 to a vote, but I will seek one on amendment 9.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Clause 50 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 51 to 54 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 3 agreed to.

Clauses 55 to 59 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 60

The role of inspector

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 15, in clause 61, page 44, line 2, leave out from the third “of” to the end of line 4 and insert “—

(a) identifying, improving understanding of, and reducing the risks of harm arising from the use of authorised automated vehicles on roads in Great Britain; and

(b) assessing the accessibility of automated vehicles authorised under section 3.”

This amendment would extend the purpose of automated vehicle inspectors to include assessment of automated vehicle accessibility.

Clauses 61 and 72 stand part.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir George. Amendment 15, which I tabled with my hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central, seeks to make a specific obligation on inspectors to ensure that they assess the accessibility of automated vehicles when investigating incidents. Part 3, chapter 2 sets out the role of inspectors to identify, improve the understanding of and reduce the risks of harm arising from the use of authorised automated vehicles. Currently, clause 62 states that the incident can be

“not of a kind specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State”,

suggesting that inspectors have discretion to investigate a wide range of incidents. The amendment would ensure consistency of inspectors in assessing the accessibility of a vehicle.

Gaining information on the accessibility of AVs is intrinsic to improving the understanding of and reducing the risks of harm involving AVs for disabled users and other disabled road users. We believe AVs present a fantastic opportunity for disabled people, so we must ensure that it is fully realised and grasped. Disabled people currently take 38% fewer journeys than non-disabled people.

I will mention the role of the investigators before commenting on the amendment. Clause 60 introduces the concept of investigation of incidents by statutory inspectors, which will allow for the creation of independent capability to investigate incidents involving authorised automated vehicles. The clause requires the Secretary of State to appoint at least one person to be an inspector of automated vehicle incidents. Clause 61 then states that the role of those inspectors is

“identifying, improving understanding of, and reducing the risks of harm arising from the use of”

self-driving vehicles in Great Britain.

Like the existing UK transport investigation branches for air and maritime, the inspectors will conduct safety investigations into incidents involving at least one authorised self-driving vehicle. It will not be their role to apportion blame or liability; instead, they will draw on all the available evidence to publish reports and recommendations that ultimately improve the safety of self-driving vehicles, in line with recommendation 32 of the Law Commission’s report. I stress that their role is analogous to those in other sectors such as air and maritime.

That brings me to amendment 15. I should say at the outset that we are very committed to ensuring maximum accessibility for different user groups—that is part of the reason for introducing this legislation to start with. Many of the points that need to be made are in clause 82, to which the Opposition have tabled an amendment. I will address those questions in more detail when we come on to that clause.

I recognise the importance of accessibility, but I do not believe that the amendment is necessary, or that this is the right place to ensure greater accessibility. While inspectors will identify the causes of incidents, which could include issues around the accessibility of the vehicle, it is not their purpose to replace vehicle safety inspections or to ensure that vehicle safety is in line with accessibility requirements. Safety investigation is a long-standing practice, both in the UK and internationally, and under no circumstances would we wish to break precedent by adding to an inspector’s role in such a way.

I seek clarification on a couple of issues in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield. I am not sure whether the Minister gave us this assurance in his remarks, so can he confirm whether the inspectorate will in due course become part of the road safety investigation branch that the Government committed to setting up in June 2022, when the Law Commission first looked into this, to prevent future incidents and make our roads safer?

Clearly, this is an evolving technology; this morning, the hon. Member for Copeland mentioned advanced driver assistance systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane-changing features and parking assist, which assist the driver but do not enable the vehicle to drive itself. Those features are in effect earlier versions of this evolving technology, which we believe will lead to autonomous self-driving vehicles. While those ADAS features are not automated, it is essential, in any investigation following an accident, that potential pitfalls—I can think of a number, particularly in parking—are identified at an early stage, in case it is a software or system failure that could be corrected. Can the Minister tell the Committee whether the inspectorate will look at accidents involving advanced driver assistance systems, as well as self-driving vehicles, at this stage?

I certainly support my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield in ensuring that automated vehicles continue to be accessible to people with disabilities as they are designed and as the technology develops. I would be a bit disappointed if the Minister ruled out the role of inspectors in the process of assessing the suitability of automated vehicles, because that would be a missed opportunity. I urge him to consider the needs of disabled people at every stage, not just in the Bill, but more generally.

We have here a real opportunity. I have seen for myself, as has the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, the possibilities of improved access for people in wheelchairs or with various degrees of disability. Does the Minister agree that we must ensure that the inspectorate role includes an accessibility assessment to reduce the risk of potential harm from automated vehicles to people with disabilities, such as ensuring that the seatbelts are suitable for people in wheelchairs?

Before I bring in the mover of the amendment, does the Minister wish to respond?

I will respond very quickly to a number of points. The difference between a self-driving car or automated vehicle and a vehicle that is not is specified right at the beginning of clause 1. This legislation is all about self-driving cars: it is not about all the other variants on driverless systems. As I stated, the independent inspection regime that we are setting up—we call it a capability—is just for where one self-driving, automated vehicle is involved, not for other forms. This is not the right place to legislate for a road safety inspection branch, whatever the arguments for and against that are. We say in the legislation that we call it a capability because the organisational structure is not set out in the legislation and needs to be decided in the future.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way and for his dexterity in doing so. In terms of how the legislation will work, with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and other pan-UK inspection regimes, any offences are reported to the relevant police force. If inspectors found any evidence of issues that needed reporting, would it be reported to the Procurator Fiscal if it was in Scotland? How will that operate on the ground in terms of enforcement?

As I said at the beginning, the role of the inspectors is not to assign liability, blame or whatever else; it is to find out what actually happened in detail to ensure that it does not happen again. On the hon. Gentleman’s specific question, I do not think that that has been decided, but I will write to him.

It is important that disability is considered at every possible opportunity. This technology has the capacity to increase the number of journeys for disabled individuals, but getting it wrong could force that to go in the opposite direction. However, I will not press my amendment to a vote.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 60 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 61 to 66 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 4 agreed to.

Clauses 67 to 81 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 5 agreed to.

Clause 82

Power to grant permits

I beg to move amendment 10, in clause 82, page 58, line 11, at end insert—

“(5A) A permit may only be granted if the service meets all relevant standards issued by the appropriate national authority relating to the provision of information to users in an accessible format through regulations.”

This amendment would require automated vehicles to meet relevant accessibility standards before being granted a permit to provide automated passenger services.

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause stand part.

Clauses 83 and 84 stand part.

Schedule 6.

The amendment would require automated vehicles to meet certain standards of accessibility, specifically in respect of the provision of information to users in vehicles, before being granted a permit to provide automated passenger services. The amendment sets out that this will take place by way of regulations to require a threshold of standards for the purposes of accessibility.

How the technology covered by the Bill will develop and be used over time is a great unknown, and it is vital that accessibility exists for disabled people so that they can benefit from it too. Disabled people are mentioned only in clause 87, which lacks detail. We need clear and consistent accessibility standards for the technology so that, for instance, those with sight loss can still utilise it.

As I mentioned, we currently have a substantial gap in our transport network, with 38% fewer trips taken by disabled people compared with those without disabilities. We are clear that disability and advocacy groups must be consulted from the very beginning, and that makes an advisory council even more vital. Guide Dogs is clear that AVs can unlock independence for those with sight loss, but vehicles must be safe when it comes to interacting with pedestrians and passengers.

I want to reinforce those points to the Minister. He is a reasonable person and I am sure he gets this, given that we have raised the issues of access and the rights of people with disabilities on several occasions now.

I remind the Minister—I am sure he remembers—that the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association ran a successful campaign to contact many MPs about the value of talking buses. I did an exercise in which I wore a blindfold. It is incredible—I thought I knew the route, but I struggled without that aid. There are other examples. We should not overlook the need to ensure that people with sight loss are catered for in the provisions on this new and exciting technology.

Before I address the amendment, I will set out a bit of background. The existing law on taxi, private hire and public service vehicle licensing is predicated on having a professional driver in the vehicle, which makes the application of the current licensing laws to automated passenger services complex and uncertain. Recognising this uncertainty, the Law Commissions recommended the creation of an alternative, bespoke permitting system for passenger services.

Holders of valid automated passenger service permits will, then, not be subject to existing taxi, private hire and public service vehicle law when operating within the terms of their permit. Permits will be issued by the appropriate national authorities: the Secretary of State in England and relevant Ministers in devolved Administrations. The Bill therefore provides broad flexibility over the terms of passenger permits to ensure that we can respond appropriately.

That brings me to the hon. Member for Wakefield’s amendment. The permit system already allows us to mandate that such information be provided to users in accessible formats. That power is already there and we have already committed—I know the hon. Gentleman will come to this in a moment—to having an advisory council of accessibility and disabled groups for public service vehicles and taxis. Crucially, as permit conditions can be specific to the service in question, the existing system operates in a way that is more flexible than the approach proposed in the amendment. For example, the provision for bus-like services could be very different from that for taxi-like services. We want to retain that flexibility.

The amendment is not necessary because the power is already there. We already have a consultation on an advisory board for disabled and accessibility groups. Part of the reason for the legislation is that it improves accessibility for a whole range of different user groups, and we are committed to doing that.

It is disappointing that the Government are once again not grasping this. There are real opportunities here for disabled people, but also real risks that the technology could pose for disabled people in their interactions with the environment. To be clear, the amendment does not advocate that AVs become public service vehicles. Our aim is that they vehicles should be accessible to use if they have that use case. Nevertheless, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 82 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 83 and 84 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 6 agreed to.

Clause 85

Consent requirement for services resembling taxis or private hire vehicles

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to consider the following:

Clauses 86 and 87 stand part.

New clause 2—Accessibility information for passengers in automated vehicles

“After section 181D of the Equality Act 2010, insert—

‘Chapter 2B

AUTOMATED VEHICLES PROVIDING AUTOMATED PASSENGER SERVICES

181E Information for passengers in automated passenger services

(1) The Secretary of State may, for the purpose of facilitating travel by disabled persons, make regulations requiring providers or operators of automated passenger services to make available information about a service to persons travelling on the service.

(2) The regulations may make provision about—

(a) the descriptions of information that are to be made available;

(b) how information is to be made available.

(3) The regulations may, in particular, require a provider or operator of an automated passenger service to make available information of a prescribed description about—

(a) the name or other designation of the service;

(b) the direction of travel;

(c) stopping places;

(d) diversions;

(e) connecting local services.

(4) The regulations may, in particular—

(a) specify when information of a prescribed description is to be made available;

(b) specify how information of a prescribed description is to be made available, including requiring information to be both announced and displayed;

(c) specify standards for the provision of information, including standards based on an announcement being audible or a display being visible to a person of a prescribed description in a prescribed location;

(d) specify forms of communication that are not to be regarded as satisfying a requirement to make information available.

(5) Regulations under this section may make different provision—

(a) as respects different descriptions of vehicle;

(b) as respects the same description of vehicle in different circumstances.

(6) Before making regulations under this section, the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) the Welsh Ministers;

(b) the Scottish Ministers.’”

This new clause mirrors existing provisions in the Equality Act 2010 relating to the provision of information in accessible formats to bus passengers, and applies them to automated passenger services.

New clause 2, tabled in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Sefton Central, sets out that the accessible format of AVs being used as public transport will be set out in regulations. That would bring AVs in line with section 17 of the Bus Services Act 2017. It is similar to amendment 10 but has a wider scope. The requirement to consult with Welsh and Scottish Ministers would increase the transparency of the regulations to allow for proper scrutiny.

As I mentioned in the previous debate, we do not know what this technology is going to be used for or exactly how it is going to develop. We need to ensure that it will be accessible to disabled people no matter what the use case. Again, as I mentioned when speaking to amendment 10, disabled people are mentioned only in clause 87. That makes the Bill nowhere near clear or detailed enough.

For people with sight loss who use passenger services, both identifying and reaching a vehicle at the start of a journey and leaving it and making their way to a destination at the end of a journey can be difficult, even with a human driver to assist. It is important to reiterate that, as with amendment 10, there needs to be a clear and consistent standard for AVs when they are used as public transport, to make their location clear to passengers with sight loss when they make a pick-up—for example, with an audible signal. They should also be equipped to provide clear directions to get a passenger from a vehicle to their destination. During the journey there may be instances when a passenger needs to give further input to the automated driving system or remote operator. For instance, if a vehicle is delayed or diverted, a passenger may be asked whether they wish to continue their journey or stop at an alternative destination. The information must be presented in an accessible format that does not require the visual cues of a map or sight of the situation outside a vehicle to respond to.

As I mentioned when speaking to amendment 10, the UK currently has a 38% accessibility transport gap, which means that disabled people as defined under the Equality Act 2010 take 38% fewer trips than those without disabilities. That is linked to the point about disability groups being embedded in the process and consulted from the start, not only in respect of the statement of safety principles but throughout the Bill’s implementation and the establishment of an advisory council.

I rise to speak to clause 85 and new clause 2. My understanding of the explanatory notes in respect of clause 85 is that automated passenger services that resemble a taxi would have to obtain a relevant local taxi licence. I hope that that is correct.

I agree with that; I do not have a problem with it. However, one of the issues raised this morning, which the Minister indicated was outside the scope of the Bill but in hand, related to licensing schemes for non-road vehicles such as delivery robots. I believe they operate in the Minister’s local area, and they certainly operate in Milton Keynes. They are very popular, but we are talking about people with disabilities. As the robots are more widely deployed, there is a risk of them causing obstruction or injury if the Government do not address the issue. I know that is outside the scope of the Bill, but I want to flag it, because it is one of the issues that disability groups including the Royal National Institute of Blind People have raised with us.

There are several different scenarios in relation to new clause 2 in which autonomous vehicles can be used—from operating similarly to a taxi, which is what clause 85 is about, to operating a shared service such as a bus. In both cases, information concerning delays or diversions, when the passengers may wish to continue journeys or stop at alternative destinations, must be presented in an accessible format. On that, I support my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield, who made precisely the same points.

Normally there are a number of assessments with the explanatory notes. Has there been a disability impact assessment of the Bill’s implications? Have I missed that? Is this another occasion on which the Minister might indulge the Committee with an undertaking or an assurance that the issues relating to providing information to passengers, particularly those with disabilities and sight impairment, have not been forgotten by Government? Does he agree that people with disabilities should not be disadvantaged or excluded from this exciting new technology?

I reiterate what I said earlier: accessibility is incredibly important. That is the whole point of this legislation and why it contains clause 87. We already have the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, which we consult on these matters. We have agreed to set up an accessibility panel of groups for automated passenger services. We have already met some disability groups—Guide Dogs UK was consulted by the Law Commission during the development of the legislation—so groups representing disabled people have been and will continue to be heavily involved.

Our concern is to ensure that we do not create a system that is too rigid, with inappropriate requirements that do not actually work in the best interests of people with accessibility needs. As the hon. Member for Wakefield said, we do not know quite how the commercial offerings will evolve, which is why we need to ensure that we are flexible. That is why the Law Commission stated explicitly that our focus at this stage should be on gathering evidence and facilitating learning.

Clause 87 requires that the accessibility needs of older and disabled passengers must be considered before a permit is issued by the permitting authorities. It also requires that specific consideration be given to whether the service is likely to improve the understanding of how to meet the needs of older and disabled users. Permit holders are then required to publish reports on the steps taken to provide accessible services. All this information will feed back into permit conditions, allowing us to set the right accessibility requirements in the right context for the benefit of learning from real-world use cases.

I do not know the answer to this, so it is not some attempt at a “gotcha” question. In addition to any regular service running in the UK that the regulations would seek to cover, there is the CAVForth bus over the Forth road bridge between Fife and Edinburgh. Does the Minister know whether the service and the information available on board would meet the criteria under subsections (3) and (4) of the new clause? I do not expect the Minister to know the full answer at this time, but I would be interested to know what level of information we are currently giving on that pilot service. If he does not have the answer, will he write to us?

I understand that there is actually a bus captain on CAVForth—a person who can deal directly with passengers and help them. That is part of the point I was making about being flexible, as we do not know how self-driving buses or taxis will operate. Self-driving taxis would not have a human being in them, so their disability requirements would clearly be different from those for taxis with people in them. We are on a learning curve about the best way to make all automated services accessible for people, which is why we have focused on gathering evidence and requiring accessibility to be included in permitting systems, but are not trying to set in stone, in primary legislation, exactly what those accessibility requirements should be. I do not know the specific requirements of CAVForth off the top of my head, but I can write to the hon. Gentleman on that point.

New clause 2 is unnecessary: pretty much all the provisions are in there and it is too rigid. We need to have a more flexible approach to ensure that the provision is optimal for disabled passengers and right for their needs in the different use cases.

It is a great shame that the Government have, on three occasions now, failed to grasp the opportunities presented by our amendments to fully realise the potential of AV vehicles and to mitigate the risks presented to disabled people. At the appropriate time, we will wish to push new clause 2 to a vote.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 85 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 86 to 92 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 93

Provision of information about traffic regulation measures

I beg to move amendment 2, in clause 93, page 67, line 17, at end insert

“for an area in England”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 3.

One of the Bill’s provisions is about the digitisation of traffic regulation orders. I will not speak to that power, other than to say that the Bill gives the power to the Secretary of State to do that in England. Consultation with Ministers in the Welsh Government has confirmed that they would like similar powers. These minor amendments grant Welsh Ministers those powers. The amendments are entirely uncontroversial.

Amendment 2 agreed to.

Amendments made: 3, in clause 93, page 67, line 17, at end insert—

“(1A) The Welsh Ministers may by regulations make provision requiring a traffic regulation authority to provide prescribed information about a relevant traffic regulation measure for an area in Wales.”.

This amendment extends the power in clause 93 to the Welsh Ministers in relation to traffic regulation measures in Wales.

Amendment 4, in clause 93, page 67, line 20, leave out

“for an area in England”.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 3.

Amendment 5, in clause 93, page 67, line 34, leave out “Secretary of State” and insert “person making them”.—(Anthony Browne.)

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 3.

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

My understanding is that the clause empowers the Secretary of State to require traffic regulation authorities to digitise traffic regulation orders and notices. The Minister explained this morning why that was so important, and it is set out in the supporting documentation. It is obviously vital for automated vehicles to be able to follow traffic rules, but this measure will have much wider benefits—for sat navs, for example, and for the ability of highway authorities to manage the signage and markings essential for communicating the regulations, such as temporary lane closures, road markings and changes to existing regulations.

Could the Minister explain one aspect? We discussed it just after lunch. The provision will not extend to Scotland and Wales, so how will it work when automated vehicles drive across the border? Can he guarantee that drivers will be informed, by some method, of the most up-to-date traffic regulations, so that they do not inadvertently break the law?

The legislation gives power to the Secretary of State to require the digitisation; the exact method of digitisation will be through a digital platform that the Department for Transport is currently building. I think we would all agree with the hon. Member that it should be as widely available as possible, to bring maximum benefits to all types of road users, not just self-driving cars. I believe the Government have spoken about that before. The amendments we just agreed extend the powers to Wales. I can write to the hon. Member about the situation in Scotland.

You have pre-empted my effort to get to my feet, Sir George. Essentially, the power is devolved to local authorities in Scotland. I have no doubt that, unlike with clause 50, there will be co-operation across and between the Governments on this issue. Hopefully, driving across the border will be seamless when it comes to data—in fact, information will probably be better when the border is crossed. Perhaps the issue is not covered because a devolved function is involved, although that does not usually stop the Government from trying. I am sure it will all work out in the end.

I have nothing to add. I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 93, as amended, accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 94 to 99 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 100

Short title

Amendment made: 6, in clause 100, page 71, line 20, leave out subsection (2).—(Anthony Browne.)

This amendment removes the privilege amendment made in the Lords.

Clause 100, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 1

Advisory Council

“(1) Within six months of the passing of this Act the Secretary of State must establish a council to advise on the implementation of this Act and on the introduction of automated vehicles.

(2) The Advisory Council must consist of members appearing to the Secretary of State to represent—

(a) the interests of road users, including drivers, pedestrians and cyclists;

(b) the cause of road safety;

(c) the study of road safety;

(d) the cause of accessibility, and the impact of the introduction of automated vehicles on disabled people;

(e) trade unions, including Scottish and Welsh trade union representatives;

(f) the interests of relevant employees including delivery providers, those involved or likely to be involved in the manufacture of automated vehicles, emergency service workers, and public transport workers;

(g) businesses involved, or likely to be involved in, the manufacture, operation and insurance of automated vehicles;

(h) the emergency services, including Scottish and Welsh emergency services;

(i) highway authorities, including Scottish and Welsh highway authorities; and

(j) any other issues, causes or organisations as the Secretary of State sees fit.

(3) The Advisory Council must include nominated representatives of the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

(4) The Secretary of State must designate a relevant officer of the Department to send reports to the Advisory Council on the introduction of automated vehicles and any issues of public policy that arise.

(5) The Advisory Council must report regularly to—

(a) Parliament,

(b) the Scottish Parliament,

(c) Senedd Cymru

on the advice it has provided to the Secretary of State, and on any other related matters relevant to the roll out of automated vehicles and associated public policy.”—(Gavin Newlands.)

This new clause would require the Government to establish an advisory council, made up of specified representatives, on the implementation of this Act and on the introduction of automated vehicles.

Brought up, and read the First time.

With this it will be convenient to consider new clause 3—Establishment of an Advisory Council

“(1) The Secretary of State must, within six months of the passing of this Act, establish a council to advise on the implementation of this Act, with a focus on learning lessons from any accidents involving automated vehicles.

(2) The Advisory Council must include representatives from—

(a) consumer groups;

(b) organisations representing drivers;

(c) road safety experts;

(d) relevant businesses such as automobile manufacturers, vehicle insurance providers and providers of delivery and public transport services;

(e) trade unions;

(f) the police and other emergency services;

(g) highway authorities;

(h) groups representing people with disabilities; and

(i) groups representing other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

(3) The Secretary of State must designate a relevant officer of the Department to send reports to the Advisory Council on the roll out of self driving vehicles and any issues of public policy that arise.

(4) The Advisory Council must report regularly to Parliament on the advice it has provided, and any related matters relevant to the roll out of self driving vehicles and associated public policy.”

Thank goodness I am prepared, because never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would get on to new clauses today. I rise to speak to new clause 1. I should say that it is my daughter’s birthday today. She said, “Daddy, all I want for my birthday is for you to get the Government to accept your new clause in Committee.” How could they refuse? This is the Minister’s last chance to do that for me. To be honest, she is 14 and has not called me daddy for about a decade; she will kill me for saying that just now. But this is the last chance. I never understand it when Ministers agree wholeheartedly with an amendment then refuse to accept it. I mean no offence to the current Minister—I have sat on God knows how many Bill Committees over the years, and I do not understand why that happens in every Bill Committee I have ever sat on.

I return to new clause 1 before you call me to order, Sir George. I pay tribute to Lord Liddle for moving a version of the new clause in the House of Lords on Report. I equally support new clause 3, which is obviously very similar and which the Labour Front Bencher will speak to in a moment. The only real difference between the two new clauses is that there is no real reference to the devolved institutions in the Labour version, but there is in ours. However, I will certainly support new clause 3 if it goes to a vote.

Our new clause seeks to maintain a broad principle, enshrining an advisory council in statute while expanding the range of organisations to be included in the council to the devolved Administrations and ensuring that Scottish and Welsh trade unions and emergency services are part of it as well.

As has been mentioned a number of times, and as I said on Second Reading, the changes that could be unleashed by the large-scale deployment of automated vehicles are immense. Entire industries and sectors stand to be completely transformed, perhaps not in the short term but certainly in the medium and long term. Logistics and haulage, personal transport, public transport, personal delivery services—the list is almost endless. Automated vehicles may well be a massively positive force for good in society, improving safety and quality of life for us all.

However, there will be a potentially difficult transition period for many in our society, and we need to take a much more proactive approach to that. Those employed in those industries are undoubtedly best placed to analyse and comment on how new technologies will impact on their jobs and their sector. They need to be involved in the process from the start, because they are involved in the sectors now. Too often in the past, innovation and scientific progress have been shorthand for workers being dumped on the scrapheap by the million, with no collective working to shape the future of their industries. That cannot be allowed to happen with automated vehicles and the changes that they will bring to our society.

If we are serious about ensuring that the benefits of automation are spread across society, that means giving workers’ representatives a real voice in the future of the technology and how best and most appropriately to deploy it over the coming years. It also means ensuring that every stakeholder is round the table, not at the whim of whichever Minister occupies the hot seat. A right should be outlined in legislation, and new clause 3 and my new clause 1 would do that.

We do not want a situation where developing technology and its regulation are subject to capture by the industry’s vested interests alone. These technologies, if fully rolled out, could completely transform the society we live in today into something virtually unrecognisable, at least in the longer term. We need voices from across the spectrum challenging the Government and policy makers —and also the industry, on the real-world implications of its innovations, not just the wonder of the technology itself.

My new clause would ensure that those voices have a legal right to be heard directly by the Minister, putting across their side of things. In particular, it would ensure that the devolved Administrations and their relevant agencies have that voice too—a voice that unfortunately seems to have been ignored by the UK Government in clause 50.

I agree with the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North—or maybe it was his daughter who I was agreeing with; I was not entirely clear. I wish her a happy 14th birthday.

New clause 3, which I am speaking to, calls for the establishment of an advisory council. A Division on a very similar amendment in the Lords was narrowly lost. I accept the point made by the hon. Member about the benefits of the additional reference to the devolved Administrations in his new clause.

New clause 3 is largely about why this legislation matters so much and why it is so important that through it we are as successful as possible in predicting the impact of the new technology’s evolution. In doing that, it is essential that the benefits are enjoyed by all in society, not just by a few; the hon. Member made that point in passing. When I say all, I mean workers, those with disabilities and older people. We must minimise the risk of liability in the event of incidents that necessitate insurance claims, and we must ensure that safety is delivered as widely as possible. That is why an advisory council would be such a valuable addition to the legislation.

We saw for generations what happened with deindustrialisation in this country. That came at different times across the country, but very many people were affected and continue to be affected—their areas, their communities and their life chances were badly impacted. Prizes to be won through this legislation include avoiding the damage done by deindustrialisation while ensuring that all groups impacted by this exciting new technology benefit from it and that we gain the maximum and widest-possible economic benefits from it. Having an advisory council that has the breadth of experience to give the Government support on all those areas is highly desirable.

In the Lords, the Government said that such a council was not necessary. The Minister has reiterated today that consultation will be important to him, and I do not doubt that, but there are advantages to formalising the set-up of an advisory council so that particular interests do not come to the fore. We want innovation and enterprise; we want to attract the investment that ensures, as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimates, the creation of 342,000 jobs—I think I quoted a slightly lower figure earlier—12,250 of which will be in automotive manufacturing. We need to ensure that those jobs are delivered, that we have an upskilled workforce and that new jobs are created, not lost, through this change in industry, to replace the jobs that will go.

We need to ensure that disability groups are embedded from the start. This is an issue across the wider Transport brief. We said on Second Reading that it was regrettable that we had not seen a transport Bill to address some of these wider points. With this new clause, we have an opportunity to address some of the challenges in what is an exciting and potentially significant development over the coming years.

The stakeholders all make the point that wider statutory engagement is desirable. The TUC states that job transition is its primary concern, and that embedding the principle of creating good new jobs is really important at this stage, before we know exactly how the technology will develop. Having that principle in the Bill is very important.

Much of the detail will come out in secondary legislation, so ensuring that the trade unions have a seat at the table and a voice from the start is really important. The point about disability and accessibility is made by Guide Dogs. The point about transport more widely is made by Transport for All.

I hope that the Minister will give this point the attention it deserves in his response. He and his colleagues have noted how the technology is developing and will continue to change. I put it to him that there is no reason to limit the consultation with the trade unions or the other groups that are set out in our new clause 3, and indeed in SNP new clause 1. The Minister says he is keen to engage with the trade unions and is looking forward to an early meeting. A very good way of showing his intent would be to agree to new clause 3 this afternoon.

Nine sub-groups are listed in subsection (2) of new clause 3—consumer groups; organisations representing drivers; road safety experts; relevant businesses; vehicle insurance providers and providers of delivery and public transport services; trade unions; the police and other emergency services; highway authorities; groups representing people with disabilities; and groups representing other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Which of those nine sub-groups would the Minister want to leave out of consultation? If he agrees that all of them should be included, why not put it in the Bill? Why not set up an advisory council as part of primary legislation?

I am really glad that the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North was joking about his daughter’s birthday, because I would hate to be a source of big disappointment on her birthday. I know how important 14th birthdays are. He made an interesting point. How come, in all the Bill Committees that he has been to, people agree about what they want but disagree on the actual amendments? We want as much accessibility as possible for self-driving cars as well—we share that ambition—and we want as much safety as well, but we have our own ways that we have worked out are the best ways to get that. That is what we stick to. We make amendments when we think there is something that is genuinely better.

As a newish Member to this House, I make another observation. I have only been here while my party has been in government. It has struck me how many Opposition amendments basically tell the Government what to do. I understand that that comes from a frustration that they are not in government. That can change at elections—hopefully it will not, but that does happen. If you want to tell the Government what to do, you need to win an election.

I am trying to be helpful and would just remind the Minister that this is not a unique problem. In 2012, the then Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, paused the Government’s Health and Social Care Bill and rejected all the Labour and Opposition amendments in the Public Bill Committee, on which I served, and then brought back 1,000 amendments to his own Bill, many of which were Opposition amendments recycled. I am not suggesting that we should pause this Bill, but there is always the opportunity on Report to incorporate some of the suggestions that have been made.

There is always an opportunity. Andrew Lansley is a good friend of mine, and my predecessor as MP for South Cambridgeshire.

I agree with the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North in the ambition as regards consultation. It is unbelievably important that we consult with all affected stakeholders. We talked earlier about the importance of bringing the public with us. Naturally, there are concerns and scepticism about this, and lots of people are wondering how this new, unknown and evolving technology will affect them, their safety and so on. It is therefore important that we consult as much as possible. That is why we have been consulting endlessly. The Law Commission, in three years’ work, consulted an incredibly wide group of people, including many of those from unions and disabled groups that have already been mentioned. I and the Secretary of State have also had quite a few roundtables and engagement with a wide group of people, including some disability groups and road user groups already.

I was just counting the number of different routes we have for engagement. I have a list and I am afraid I will go through it. First, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, which is the Government entity that is driving this agenda and the Bill, has an expert advisory panel with a wide range of experts that have been feeding into it. In the legislation, we have committed on the statement of safety principles to consult road users, road safety groups and industry. We have also agreed to have an advisory panel on accessibility as we develop the standards on accessibility for passenger services and taxi services.

We already have a statutory consultation body, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, which will be involved with consultation on the matter, with a particular view to accessibility and disabled groups. In the legislation, we have the general monitoring duty, so once a year the Secretary of State will now have a legal requirement to publish a report on how the statement of safety principles has been rolled out, its impact and how it is all going. Also, just to make sure we are learning lessons, we are setting up the incident investigation capacity to learn the lessons from every incident.

I have counted at least six different ways in which we are engaging and learning lessons from this as we go forward. That is on top of all the informal consultation, and a lot of the statutory instruments that come out of this will involve consultations over the next two years. There will be many different public consultations and opportunities to put into this. Indeed, my fear is that there will be death by consultation, in that people will get fed up with the number of consultations that are part of this.

I completely understand the desire of the Opposition parties to set up, on top of that, another statutory advisory council, but given all the consultation that we have done, are doing and will do as we go through this, we do not think it adds much to the sum of knowledge that we have on the subject. Coming back to the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, it is important that we share the ambition of engagement, but we think we have a lot already and the amendments do not add anything.

Given that it is half-past 3 on the first day of the Committee, to take up some more time I will press new clause 1 to a vote. In all seriousness, we should press new clause 1 to a vote. Whether colleagues want to press new clause 3 is entirely up to them, but the issue will certainly come through on Report.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

New Clause 2

Accessibility information for passengers in automated vehicles

“After section 181D of the Equality Act 2010, insert—

“Chapter 2B

AUTOMATED VEHICLES PROVIDING AUTOMATED PASSENGER SERVICES

181E Information for passengers in automated passenger services

(1) The Secretary of State may, for the purpose of facilitating travel by disabled persons, make regulations requiring providers or operators of automated passenger services to make available information about a service to persons travelling on the service.

(2) The regulations may make provision about—

(a) the descriptions of information that are to be made available;

(b) how information is to be made available.

(3) The regulations may, in particular, require a provider or operator of an automated passenger service to make available information of a prescribed description about—

(a) the name or other designation of the service;

(b) the direction of travel;

(c) stopping places;

(d) diversions;

(e) connecting local services.

(4) The regulations may, in particular—

(a) specify when information of a prescribed description is to be made available;

(b) specify how information of a prescribed description is to be made available, including requiring information to be both announced and displayed;

(c) specify standards for the provision of information, including standards based on an announcement being audible or a display being visible to a person of a prescribed description in a prescribed location;

(d) specify forms of communication that are not to be regarded as satisfying a requirement to make information available.

(5) Regulations under this section may make different provision—

(a) as respects different descriptions of vehicle;

(b) as respects the same description of vehicle in different circumstances.

(6) Before making regulations under this section, the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) the Welsh Ministers;

(b) the Scottish Ministers.””—(Simon Lightwood.)

This new clause mirrors existing provisions in the Equality Act 2010 relating to the provision of information in accessible formats to bus passengers, and applies them to automated passenger services.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

New Clause 3

Establishment of an Advisory Council

“(1) The Secretary of State must, within six months of the passing of this Act, establish a council to advise on the implementation of this Act, with a focus on learning lessons from any accidents involving automated vehicles.

(2) The Advisory Council must include representatives from—

(a) consumer groups;

(b) organisations representing drivers;

(c) road safety experts;

(d) relevant businesses such as automobile manufacturers, vehicle insurance providers and providers of delivery and public transport services;

(e) trade unions;

(f) the police and other emergency services;

(g) highway authorities;

(h) groups representing people with disabilities; and

(i) groups representing other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

(3) The Secretary of State must designate a relevant officer of the Department to send reports to the Advisory Council on the roll out of self driving vehicles and any issues of public policy that arise.

(4) The Advisory Council must report regularly to Parliament on the advice it has provided, and any related matters relevant to the roll out of self driving vehicles and associated public policy.”—(Bill Esterson.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

New Clause 5

Liability of insurers

“Section 2 of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 (liability of insurers etc where accident caused by automated vehicle) is amended as follows—

(a) in subsection (1)(a), omit “when driving itself”;

(b) in subsection (2)(a), omit “when driving itself”.—(Bill Esterson.)

This new clause would remove the need for people to have to prove that an automated vehicle was “driving itself” if they make a legal claim for compensation under section 2 of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

In the previous debate, the Minister was saying that the Opposition should just accept that they are not here to make legislation.

I paraphrase—that was a potential interpretation of it. I would love him to clarify that this is not what he said.

To clarify, in case there was any misunderstanding of what I was saying, it is clearly the role of the Opposition to try to influence and make legislation, just as it is the Government’s. My observation was merely that a lot of Opposition amendments, and this stretches across all different debates, are basically instructions to Government of what they think Government should do, as opposed to legislation for people to control behaviours outside of Government. That is born out of frustration by the fact that they are not in government, and it is completely understandable, but there is another solution to that.

Funny he should mention that! Call the date and we will be ready, if he can persuade the Prime Minister—2 May is still available. I was quite grateful for the answer because it showed a desire to have an early general election.

Anyway, I will turn to new clause 5. In the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, there was a commitment on liability to the protection of victims and their ability to make a claim, if they are the victim of an incident with a self-driving vehicle. New clause 5 addresses the problem in the Act that, before they know whether they can prove liability, the question arises of whether they will have to prove it. If there is an incident in which somebody is hurt or killed, the question arises of whether it will automatically be accepted that an automated vehicle is designated as having been in self-driving mode. That is a potential problem if insurers insist that such proof be presented.

That point was made in 2017 by the then Transport Minister, the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Sir John Hayes), on Second Reading of the 2018 Act. He referred to the potential for claims, where there is a lack of clarity on whether a vehicle was in self-driving mode, to be

“time-consuming and expensive, undermining the quick and easy access to compensation that is a cornerstone of our insurance system. Not tackling this problem risks jeopardising consumer protection and undermining the automotive industry’s competitiveness.”—[Official Report, 23 October 2017; Vol. 630, c. 73.]

I think the right hon. Gentleman made a very good point, and we share his concern that I have just reiterated, which has yet to be addressed. I would be very grateful if the Minister could respond on how potential victims will be able to make claims in a timely fashion, and overcome the risk that they will have to prove that the vehicle was in self-driving mode.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has raised a number of circumstances where that problem could arise, and I am sure that it has raised them with the Minister as well. I would be grateful if he could address the issue of a pedestrian, who would normally be insured, being unaware of their legal situation, perhaps because they are too young or too badly injured. In section 2 of the 2018 Act, people injured by an AV when it is driving are allowed to make a claim against the driver’s insurance, but to benefit from that provision, injured people will need to know and prove that an automated feature was engaged when the incident occurred. That is the nub of the problem that the APIL has identified: it could be very difficult or downright impossible for someone to do that. That could lead to additional investigations, requiring complex legal claims and delaying the paying out of compensation, which undermines the whole point of section 2 of the 2018 Act.

Lord Liddle pointed out in the Lords that the Department does not appear to have made its mind up about how long it takes a driver to take back control in a UIC vehicle. There is also the whole issue around transition, which my hon. Friend the Member for Easington touched on in relation to one of the earlier amendments. I would be grateful if the Minister would address that issue and set out exactly how he sees the Government ensuring that there is certainty for potential victims, given the uncertainty that his predecessor, the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings, identified seven years ago and that the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has drawn to our attention.

I thank the shadow Minister for his comments, because it is obviously important to make sure that there is clear liability in this area, and it is set out in the Bill.

I will just come back to the point about the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, which has been mentioned and which is the source of some of the questioning. There is a distinction between causation and fault, and in the UK people tend to claim insurance on the basis of fault, like somebody has done something wrong, and not on the basis of causation, or what actually happened.

The reason for the 2018 Act is that it was thought, quite rightly, that if somebody is in an accident with an automated vehicle, it is very difficult for them to prove whether the software and all the stuff that goes on was at fault, or that something was going wrong. Therefore, the 2018 Act created a strict liability when a vehicle is in self-driving mode. When a vehicle is not in self-driving mode and there is a human driving it, there is exactly the same liability as we have at the moment. There is no intention in any of the legislation to change that. Regarding the point that the shadow Minister makes, which was a valid one, we clearly do not want individual victims to have to try to work out whether a vehicle was in self-driving mode or not. They will claim in the normal way against the insurer of the vehicle.

If the vehicle was in self-driving mode and that was at fault, the insurer of the vehicle can claim the insurance from the authorised self-driving entity. That will be a settlement between the insurance companies; it will not affect the victim’s ability to claim. The system is designed in such a way as to make sure that the victim gets any payment due to them as quickly as possible.

That is also why we have the sharing of information, which we discussed earlier, because it is really important for the various insurance companies to know whether, at the time of the accident, the vehicle was in self-driving mode or not, in order to ascertain whether the liability should be with the ASDE or with the driver. If they do not know what mode the vehicle was in, they cannot do that.

If this new clause were added to the Bill, we would have the unusual situation whereby a car with a self-driving function that might never be used is subject to strict liability insurance claims and a car that does not have a self-driving function is subject to the normal liabilities that we have at the moment. We would have the bizarre situation that a pedestrian could be better off if they were in an accident with a car with a self-driving function that is never used than if they were in an accident with a conventionally driven car. It would be very difficult to explain that sort of discrepancy and give any rational justification for it. Again, this is one of those things where we agree with the ambition, but we think that it is already covered.

Two questions follow from what the Minister says. First, how does somebody prove that a vehicle was in self-driving mode where it has the option to switch between self-driving and user in charge? Secondly, what is its definition during transition? I accept that those are difficult questions, but I would be grateful for the Minister’s answers. There is a related point about data access. What are his proposals to ensure that data is available from the operator and from the vehicle, notwithstanding the fact that they are not collecting personal information and that this process is purely about data that is relevant to an incident?

The point I was trying to make is that the victim—the pedestrian, or whoever it is—does not have to prove whether the vehicle was in self-driving mode or not. It will be for the insurer of the car and the insurer of the ASDE to work that out. If the car was in self-driving mode, then the ASDE would be liable, and it would claim against its insurance. If the car was not in self-driving mode, it would be the normal driver’s insurance, because there is still the legal requirement for the car to be insured like it is at the moment. The victim would not need to show what mode it was in.

On the hon. Member’s point about data, the Bill provides for the Secretary of State to set out regulations for data-sharing requirements, as we discussed earlier. That is for accident investigation, improvement of performance and so on, but also for insurance claims. It gives the Secretary of State the powers to specify which data should be shared with whom and under what circumstances, so long as it does not breach the data protection confidentiality of individuals. It is all covered in the Bill.

I am grateful to the Minister for confirming that the vehicle does not have to be in self-driving mode, and that a potential victim does not have to prove whether it was. I am concerned about why we have people related to the insurance industry advising that this is yet to be cleared up. A similar point came up in the House of Lords. This remains a bit of a concern.

This is a complex and technical issue. As part of my extended engagement, I mentioned earlier that I have a roundtable coming up with the insurance industry about AVs and electric vehicles. I will happily write to the shadow Minister afterwards to clarify these points in black and white, and whether there are any issues resulting from that.

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot intervene on an intervention. Bill Esterson is speaking.

I was wondering about scenarios that the Minister could seek some clarification on in his roundtable meeting next week. It is my understanding that if an uninsured driver driving a conventional vehicle was in a collision with another conventional vehicle, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau would be tasked by the Government to make the payout in respect of the uninsured driver. What would happen if an uninsured driver—I am directing this question to my hon. Friend, of course—was in a collision with an automated vehicle? Is that something the Minister might be able to answer?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that because the Motor Insurers’ Bureau raised exactly that concern with me. I would love the Minister to answer it.

I am very happy to answer. This issue has indeed been raised with me and the Department, and I can confirm that the Department is in negotiations with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau about exactly this point. We have a difference of opinion with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau because it thinks this requires an amendment, and that is why it has been lobbying about this legislation. We think there are ways that we can cover this point without primary legislation, so it does not actually need an amendment. It is one of those examples, as raised by the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, where we agree on the outcome—we agree that we need to close this loophole—but we think we can do it in a different way, without primary legislation.

I am grateful for those answers. I suggest that this might be something we can debate a little further on Report. The Minister will perhaps be in a slightly different position then, with some of the information he has had from the industry, as will I. That might be a good place to take this next. As he rightly says, we are setting the framework with this legislation. There are elements of it that are very difficult to pin down now, and we have to do the best we can. Report stage is a further opportunity.

With those thoughts, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the clause.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

On a point of order, Sir George. I thank everyone involved in the preparations for the Committee—the Clerks; the officials, who have been working incredibly hard; and you, Sir George—and I thank all the members of the Committee for spending their time here going through the Bill. It is delightful to have something on which there is consensus across the House on the broad direction of travel, if not on every single item.

Further to that point of order, Sir George. I thank you and Mr Vickers for chairing our sessions. I think this Committee is possibly unique in the history of Parliament in that the Chairs, between them, have possibly spoken for longer than Members in moving through the agenda—in a thoroughly appropriate way, I hasten to add. It is a pleasure to have my predecessor in the Chair for a Committee such as this; I took about half of my constituency from you in 2010, Sir George.

I add my thanks to the Clerks, the officials and the Law Commission for their work and for getting us to this stage. We have set the framework for an important future piece of legislation. Birthday wishes to the 14-year-old daughter of the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, too. I thank all Members for their contributions today and on Second Reading, and I look forward to Report.

Further to that point of order, Sir George. On behalf of my daughter and me, I thank all members of the Committee and the Minister. I look forward to engaging with him further on clause 50 as we move through this process—that is my hope, anyway. I thank all hon. Members; Mr Vickers and you, Sir George, for your chairship; the Clerks for their assistance in drafting amendments; Hansard, and the Doorkeepers. I also thank the hon. Member for Easington for allowing me to move a section of my speech on clause 50 beyond the 11.25 am barrier this morning. With that consensus and positivity, which is unusual in these quarters of the House, I will conclude.

I conclude by thanking the Clerks, Hansard and everybody concerned. I thank members of the Committee, who, in my brief time in the Chair, have been good-humoured and orderly.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose.

Written evidence reported to the House

AVB01 Cycling UK

AVB02 Shoosmiths LLP

AVB03 Self-Driving Vehicles APPG

AVB04 techUK

AVB05 Starship Technologies

AVB06 Waymo

AVB07 Oxa