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House of Commons Hansard
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Petitions
24 April 2018
Volume 639

Petitions

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Observations

Transport

Cross border contracting of taxis

The petition of residents of Charnwood Borough,

Declares that the taxi drivers in Charnwood Borough Council seek an end to the practice of cross border contracting; further that taxi drivers in the area believe that this practice has affected the industry in a negative manner; further that cross border contracting poses a risk to public safety, takes work away from local drivers, is a crime that is difficult to prosecute and is the reason for a decline in the standard of service that the public expects.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to review their policies relating to cross border contracting.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Nicky Morgan, Official Report, 29 January 2018; Vol. 635, c. 646.]

[P002102]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Ms Nusrat Ghani):

Legislation allows all taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) to undertake pre-booked journeys outside the area in which they are licensed, and PHV operators to sub-contract bookings to PHV operators based in other licensing areas. These measures have enabled the taxi and PHV trade to work more flexibly to meet the needs of passengers, increasing the availability of licensed operators, drivers and vehicles and mitigate the risk of passengers being turned away when a booking cannot be directly fulfilled.

Where local operators cannot meet demand, I believe that the sub-contracting of bookings, both within and across licensing borders, is preferable to the risk of the public resorting to the use of illegal, unlicensed, uninsured and unvetted drivers and vehicles.

Local licensing authorities in England and Wales have a duty to ensure that any person to whom they grant a taxi or PHV driver’s licence is a fit and proper person to hold such a licence. Although the term ‘fit and proper’ is not defined in legislation, all licensing authorities require an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (criminal record) check.

Licensing authorities remain responsible for ensuring that all drivers it licenses remain fit and proper throughout the period of the licence. Any complaints about a driver can be investigated by the authority that issued the licence, regardless of where the driver was working at the time. Licensing authorities are also able to work together to ensure that enforcement action is taken against all vehicles and drivers licensed regardless of which authority licensed them.

The Government attach the utmost priority to passenger safety in the licensed taxi and PHV trade. My Department will consult on statutory guidance enabled under the Policing and Crime Act 2017. This guidance will contain robust standards that I expect all licensing authorities to adopt; these will ensure all passengers, particularly children and vulnerable adults, are protected when using taxi and PHV services. Also, we will be consulting on revised best practice guidance which will include recommendations to licensing authorities to assist them in setting appropriate standards to enable the provision of services the public demand.

At a Westminster Hall Debate on the ‘Regulation of working conditions in the private hire industry’, the former Minister for Transport, the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr. John Hayes), announced his intention to set up a working group to consider how PHV and taxi licensing authorities use their powers, and produce focused recommendations for action. The Task and Finish Working Group is considering the regulation of the trade as one of its key areas for discussion. I look forward to receiving the group’s findings soon.

Speed Limit in Spatham Lane, Streat Lane and Underhill Lane

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares that the current national speed limit in use on Spatham Lane, Streat Lane and Underhill Lane in the County of East Sussex is unsuitable as it is a danger to other users of the lanes, notably equestrians; further that the petition follows an incident that took place on Spatham Lane during September 2017 whereby a car collided with resident of Ditchling Mrs Beverley Berrill, who was on horseback; further that the accident resulted in the temporary hospitalisation of Mrs Berrill and the termination of the horse; and further that the incident has resulted in distress for local equestrians who wish to exercise their use of the local lanes in safety.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to reclassify said roads as quiet lanes, or alternatively reduce the speed limit of the said lanes from its current national speed limit classification, to ensure greater safety for equestrians and other users of the lanes.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Maria Caulfield, Official Report, 21 March 2018; Vol. 635, c. 355.]

[P002123]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jesse Norman):

Local traffic authorities are responsible for setting speed limits on local roads. They have the flexibility to set local speed limits that are appropriate for the individual road, reflecting local needs and taking account of local considerations. The Department issued guidance to local highway authorities on setting local speed limits in 2013, which can be viewed online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/setting-local-speed-limits.

All road users are required to comply with road traffic law in the interests of their own safety and that of other road users. For those who do not adopt a responsible attitude, or if their use of the highway creates an unsafe environment or causes nuisance, there are laws in place that can make them liable for prosecution. The offences include: driving dangerously, driving without due care and attention, and driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. This is set out in Rule 144 of The Highway Code and the penalties for these offences are listed in Annex 5. The Highway Code is available online at: www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code-road-safety.

Enforcement of the law is a matter for the police who will decide, on the evidence of each individual case, whether an offence has been committed and the appropriate action to take.

The Department takes every opportunity to remind motorists of their responsibilities towards vulnerable road users, such as equestrians and their horses.

The Department, through the THINK! Road Safety Campaign, worked with the British Horse Society (BHS) to support its “Dead Slow” campaign to encourage car drivers to pass horses safely. The Department was able to reinforce the BHS campaign by developing a short film that is being promoted as a public information film on UK TV stations.

The Department also invested in promoting the film on YouTube and other social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Leaflets and posters to support the campaign further reminded motorists of the need to be patient when they encounter horses on the road, and supplemented the advice already given in the Highway Code.

In addition THINK! launched a campaign to warn drivers of the dangers of country roads. Details of the campaign can be found at: http://think.direct.gov.uk/country-roads.html.

The driving theory test contains questions about how drivers should interact with vulnerable road users, including horse riders; and the hazard perception test includes a number of clips where horse riders are the hazard, either directly or indirectly. These clips are refreshed and updated periodically.