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Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords]

Volume 746: debated on Tuesday 5 March 2024

Second Reading

[Relevant documents: Seventh Report of the Transport Committee of Session 2022-23, Self-driving vehicles, HC 519, and the Government response, Session 2023-24, HC 264.]

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

As hon. Members know, most journeys take place on our roads. About 86% are made by cars, taxis and vans, but in the over 100 years since the invention of the car, despite our vehicles becoming better, safer and now cleaner, one aspect of driving has remained constant: the driver has always controlled the vehicle. In future, things may be different. For all or part of a driver’s journey, self-driving vehicles will free them from that responsibility, improving the lives of the millions of people who are unable to drive; boosting connectivity for rural communities across the country; transforming freight, be it long haul or last mile; and above all, making our roads safer.

As the Secretary of State knows, insurance premiums have been going through the roof recently—the costs are astronomical. What impact does he expect automated vehicles to have on insurance premiums?

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to make a little progress, I will speak about how one centrepiece of the Bill and of our approach is the safety not just of the automated vehicle and its occupants but of other road users, particularly vulnerable road users. I will come on to that point; if the hon. Gentleman does not feel that I have covered it, he should feel free to intervene again.

We are on the cusp of a transport revolution, and Britain is very much at the wheel of that decision. British companies are developing the self-driving technology; British lawyers are developing the robust new legal frameworks that are being used; and British parliamentarians in this House and the other place can now agree regulation widely seen as among the most comprehensive in the world. The goal is clear: we want to make this country the natural home for the self-driving vehicle industry, and this Bill is the next stop on that journey.

It will not surprise my right hon. Friend that I am speaking up for Milton Keynes on this subject. This is a huge global opportunity for Britain, worth £350 billion, and Milton Keynes is often the testbed of this technology. It is a beautiful, vibrant city that is going places—except perhaps in the eyes of the producers of last night’s “EastEnders”—so does he agree that when we get this technology, we will be able to roll it out because we have tested it in places such as Milton Keynes?

I thank my hon. Friend for speaking powerfully for his constituency. He is right: those developing this technology will want to roll it out carefully and thoughtfully, and they will want to do that in specific places in the United Kingdom. He has just made a powerful bid for Milton Keynes to be at the centre of that.

Gearing Britain up for a self-driving future has been the work of years. In 2015, our world-leading code of practice enabled self-driving vehicle trials in the UK. We passed the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, which codified insurance in this area for the first time and recognised the importance of that, as the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards) said earlier. In that same year, we kicked off a Law Commissions review on a legal and safety framework for self-driving vehicles—

Let me just set out what that review did, then I will take an intervention from the hon. Gentleman, who is an esteemed member of the Select Committee. It convened legal minds from across the country, launched three rounds of public consultation, sifted through hundreds of written responses and produced more than 70 recommendations, which now underpin this legislation.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way. These are really important points, as is the clarification sought by the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr on insurance liability. Can I ask the Secretary of State about the arrangements for the compensation of victims of any collisions that are caused by uninsured automated vehicles? He mentioned the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, but that legislation does not mention this point. This Bill represents an opportunity to address that. Will the Secretary of State set out how we are going to do that, or are we missing an opportunity?

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise that point. We have arrangements in place for vehicles with human drivers who are uninsured, and we are working with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau on the arrangements that will be in place. I would envisage analogous arrangements for self-driving vehicles that are uninsured, to make sure that if they are involved in accidents, any victims of those accidents are able to receive reimbursement in the same way as happens now for the victim of an uninsured driver. We already have arrangements, and I would envisage analogous arrangements. We are already having those conversations, but if the hon. Gentleman has more to say on that, either today or in Committee, I will be delighted to hear from him—

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that clarification, but this is a whole new world where we will be relying on AI, software and so on. How would an insurer prove that a vehicle was being driven autonomously rather than by a driver? Under the provisions of the Bill, would the insurer have access to the data so that they could analyse it and see whether an individual was in charge of a vehicle or whether it was being driven autonomously?

I will come on to that in my speech, but I will answer the hon. Gentleman’s specific questions. From the point of view of any person needing to make a claim, the insurer will be liable whether the vehicle is in self-driving mode or the user is in charge. What happens subsequently, regarding whether the manufacturer, the software provider or whoever has to pony up the money, is a matter for the insurer to argue about with them. That will not impact the victim, who will be paid by the insurer.

On the hon. Gentleman’s important point about data, we discussed this last week when I met a roundtable of those involved in the industry, including road safety campaigners and those in the insurance industry. The Bill will ensure that the data can be shared, and the insurance industry is keen for that to happen so that it can properly price the risk. I will say more about this when I talk about the safety framework, but there is a real opportunity here because most road traffic collisions are caused at least in part by human error. The track record of self-driving vehicles shows that this is an opportunity to improve road safety, which is important not just for those who use vehicles but for other road users. There is a balance to strike here. We need to capture that benefit but also ensure that we do not leave anyone exposed without protection, as the hon. Gentleman rightly set out.

On the point the Secretary of State has just been discussing, presumably the details of all journeys undertaken by automated vehicles will be recorded. Where will that data be stored, and who will have access to it? Could someone access that information for non-driving reasons—for example, someone involved in divorce proceedings or an employer in an employment tribunal?

My right hon. Friend should note that data for these purposes will be protected in the usual way. Data has to be used for the purposes for which it was gathered. There are legal processes for who has access to it, as well as those we will set out specifically for driving purposes. The other things he mentioned will be governed by the usual laws that govern the use of data. I do not want to dwell on those specifics, but they are already covered by existing data protection legislation for the devices that people have in vehicles to monitor their progress or for mobile phones.

I would like to start with safety. Anyone stepping into a self-driving vehicle will reasonably ask: “Can this car consistently drive safety? Will the law protect me if there is an accident? Is the manufacturer regulated and can they be held to account?” Under this legislation, the answer to each of those questions will be yes. The Bill has been built on a bedrock of safety, protecting not just the driver inside the car but road users outside the vehicle.

As I mentioned in answer to the hon. Member for Easington (Grahame Morris), I chaired a roundtable with road safety groups last week and explained how we are holding self-driving vehicles to a higher safety standard than the average human driver, guided by principles we will soon consult on; how these vehicles must meet rigorous technical requirements before rolling off production lines and being authorised for our roads; and how we will tackle misleading marketing, with new offences for companies that seek to blur the line between true self-driving and driver assistance.

That gets to the nub of the point. Because these vehicles are going to be automated, they will be governed by an algorithm written by a human being somewhere remote from where an accident might occur. How do we determine whether the primary purpose of that algorithm is to protect the person in the car or someone outside the car, such as a pedestrian or a child crossing the road? How does the algorithm make a choice in those circumstances?

We will consult on the statement of safety principles, which will set out the governing principles of the legislation. On the specifics, this will be about making sure that the manufacturers—those who create the software and those who put the cars together—have rigorous processes for testing and decision-making. Those systems will have to be authorised to be used in our cars, and it will be important to look at their data and their track records. As I say, in real-world situations where these vehicles are being used—for example, in California—the evidence suggests that they have a very good safety record that is much better than that of human drivers. There is a big opportunity here to have a safer road environment, not just for the users of the vehicles but for other road users.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has had the opportunity to ride in a self-driving vehicle, but the data they collect of their surroundings is interesting. My personal observation is that the space they give when passing a cyclist, for example, is a lot more generous than that I have seen many human drivers give. Of course, those parameters are going to be set and regulated, and people will have to be assured that the vehicles are safe before they are on the road. Ultimately, the manufacturer will be legally responsible if they turn out not to be.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for giving way a second time. I agree entirely that, overall, roads will be safer with automated vehicles, but there will still be accidents. My question was specifically about where there is an accident and there is a choice to be made about protecting the person inside the car and injuring someone outside the car. How do we determine what takes priority in those circumstances?

We will consult on the safety principles, but with some of this stuff we have to look at the way the vehicles make decisions. We cannot possibly legislate for every single set of circumstances. In the same way, when there is a collision involving a vehicle with a human driver, the driver will make the best decision they can in the specific circumstances. Sometimes those situations lead to legal conflict and then people have to make a judgment. We cannot legislate for every single one of those circumstances in advance. What we can do is make sure there are robust systems that make good decisions based on the best data, and then look at the track record. We will also set up a regulatory system whereby any accident involving an automated vehicle will be properly investigated.

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. It is essential with this legislation that we earn the public’s trust and win their confidence. That is one of the reasons why we have been so clear, and why we accepted the amendments in the other place, about putting safety at the forefront of the Bill. If people are not persuaded of that, this technology will not make much progress.

I will take an intervention from my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller) and then make some progress before continuing to take interventions.

The Secretary of State is taking a safety-first approach to this legislation, and that seems to be the will of the House. I have used a driverless vehicle operated by Waymo, a driverless Uber-style service in the United States. He will know that those vehicles have more cameras—more eyes—looking in more directions more of the time than it would be possible to achieve even with 100 drivers sitting in a single vehicle. My concern is whether, in his effort to put safety first, he is compromising the potential for economic growth. In America, most of the force for change with automated vehicles is being driven by the leading global technology companies. What discussions has he had with those companies in preparation for the Bill? How comfortable are they with the Government’s approach?

I have discussed the legislation with a number of those companies—both UK companies and those in the US—and I am pleased to assure my hon. Friend and the House that they too recognise that safety is incredibly important. They all understand that they have to be able to operate within a legal framework set by legislators who are ultimately accountable to the public, and that they have to take the public with them. As ever with these things, whatever the track record of existing vehicles and drivers, because this is new technology, people will be sceptical about it, and anything that goes wrong will have a brighter light shone on it. The industry is very aware of that and, I think, very happy to work with us on those issues.

I will be honest, Mr Deputy Speaker: I am not very technically minded. I like the idea of a manual car with five or six gears and reverse. In the rural community that I live in, I am very happy with that. I have a bit of hesitation about automated vehicles. Thinking about young drivers—this is really important, because the Secretary of State mentioned blurred lines—we have to make sure that everyone who learns to drive has full capacity to drive any vehicle, and does not think they can get into an automated vehicle and just sit there and do nothing. It is really important that everyone is subject to the same rules. Can he confirm for anyone who thinks that in future they will be able just to sit in the back of the car that that is not the case, and that they will have to learn to drive in the way that we all have over the years?

I will come to that in a second—it will become clear in the next section of my speech—but I can tell the hon. Gentleman that the Bill is about giving people choices. If people want, as many will, to carry on driving their existing vehicles in the traditional way, that is absolutely fine and no one is going to try to stop them. To be very clear, the hon. Gentleman can carry on driving for as long as he wants to and is safe to, and no one is going to try to stop him. Certainly, I am not going to try—I wouldn’t dare.

On the legal concerns—this will address the point about the driving test, too—the Bill redefines our legal relationship with road transport. As soon as someone turns on a self-driving feature, legal responsibility for how the car drives will transfer to an authorised self-driving entity, or ASDE—not a very catchy acronym, admittedly, but that is what they are called. That could be a manufacturer or a software developer but, crucially, it will not be the human driver, who will assume a new status. As a user in charge, they will still need to ensure that the car is roadworthy, and they will need to reassume control if necessary. That answers the hon. Gentleman’s question: someone will still need to be in possession of a full driving licence and able to reassume control of the vehicle if required, but they will be protected by law from any offences while the car is driving itself.

Some journeys, either in private cars or on self-driving transport, will be fully automated, and a human will never need to take control; they will be, in essence, a passenger. My hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller) mentioned the example of Waymo cars in the US. Those are operated as taxis, with no driver present, and the human is never expected to take control; it is classed as a “no user in charge” journey. In those circumstances, someone would not need a driving licence, because they would never be expected to drive the car, in the same way we are not expected to drive a taxi or private hire vehicle. Those legal concepts will have a seismic impact.

This is the future, and it is both quite exciting and quite scary. We have to get our heads around it and make sure that we get this right. On what the Secretary of State has just been describing, is it basically the difference between someone taking a taxi and driving their own car? If there is an accident in a taxi, the taxi company is responsible, not the passenger.

If someone is using a vehicle for a “no user in charge” journey for which they are, in effect, the passenger and there is an accident, it will be totally the responsibility, in all circumstances, of the person operating the vehicle. Where someone who is driving the car for part of the time switches on the self-driving features and something happens while those features are activated, that will be not their responsibility but that of the manufacturer or the software developer. If someone is in control of the vehicle and the self-driving features are not activated, they retain responsibility.

One of the things that we will have to do is educate people about the difference, and we are being clear to manufacturers that there is a big difference between a self-driving feature and driver assistance. Under driver assistance, the driver is still fully legally responsible for the vehicle, but with some technological help; when the self-driving features are activated, they no longer have legal responsibility.

Is there not potential for a legal conflict between a driver who says, “I was in self-driving mode,” and a company that says, “No, it was switched off”? Does the Secretary of State see that it might be very difficult to establish what happened in such circumstances?

Potentially, but that is exactly why the earlier question about data is very important. These vehicles generate a huge amount of data and one part of the authorisation process will be making sure that that data is properly managed and there is proper access to it by the investigators of any potential accident and the insurance industry to establish exactly what has happened in such circumstances.

I want to build on the question from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) about the situation where a driver is in control of the car at some point and at other points the car is autonomous. That will presumably result in drivers becoming less experienced, as they will not accumulate as much knowledge and experience of driving. When the automated features switch off and the driver needs to take control, those will be potentially immediate and challenging circumstances. Is my right hon. Friend assured that the driving test and refresher courses will give drivers sufficient capacity to take over in those circumstances?

My hon. Friend raises a good point. I am very comfortable with the driving test; it continues to be updated to make sure drivers are familiar with features such as satnavs, and the new technology will be added. The wider question about how often drivers drive and how experienced they are of course arises now. Someone can take a driving test and not drive very much but occasionally hire a vehicle, and we hold them to the same standard as those who drive day in and day out; they are still responsible. There might in these circumstances be a question about whether it would be sensible for people to take refresher courses and do further training, and we will want to monitor that and determine whether we should legislate for it or issue guidance. It is an interesting point for us to keep an eye on.

As well as the legal issues, making driving more convenient in this way also makes it potentially much more accessible, by for example giving those who cannot drive at the moment, such as the 340,000 people registered blind or partially sighted, new options to travel independently, opening doors to economic and social opportunities that have thus far remained closed. Interestingly, in the United States, where this technology has been rolled out earliest, it is those groups who have been most vocal in arguing for the technology, because it changes their lives for the better and opens up their opportunities.

The third area is learning and enforcement. This technology will get stronger, smarter and safer over time. The safety data will be collected by the vehicle, monitored by its operator and scrutinised by a Government regulator, which means we can take enforcement action when things go wrong or through sanctions and suspensions if a company withholds data. The Bill also includes measures to investigate incidents independently and ensure that lessons are learned. I have spoken about the context behind the Bill and addressed some of the key components and will turn now to some of the benefits self-driving vehicles will bring.

This is an exciting Bill about an exciting future. I have listened carefully to what my right hon. Friend has said about who will ultimately be responsible if there is an accident. My understanding is it will always be the manufacturer and will never be the person who owns the car. In my constituency, as in many others, large numbers of people like modifying their cars and I am sure when autonomous vehicles are introduced people will want to modify those as well. They might change them in ways that ultimately slightly limit or diminish some of the safety features put in when the car was built, so who will be ultimately responsible in such circumstances? People may make modifications without knowing the implications, potentially, for diminishing the safety of the car. Will the manufacturer still be responsible when the car is modified, or will it be the owner?

My hon. Friend raises a very important point that we must make sure is covered. Clearly, if people make modifications that alter the functioning of the self-driving features of the vehicle, we would either have to say that that was not acceptable or they would have to accept that the vehicle was no longer self-driving. There would need to be rules. The vehicle will go through an authorisation process to go on the road, and there will be things that people will be allowed to change and things that they will not. I suspect that manufacturers will be very clear that they will no longer be responsible for a self-driving vehicle if someone has modified it. As long as that is clear, that is fine, but people will have to accept that, as cars become more technological with more technology built into them, the days of being able to tinker around with them under the bonnet and alter things will be long past if we want that technological stuff to kick in.

My question was not just about modification that may change the safety of the car but about any modification. If someone who owns an iPhone changes the screen, it is no longer under manufacturer warranty even though that does not affect how it works. If someone has modified their car and it does not affect a safety feature but there is then an accident, will the manufacturer be able to say that the car has been modified and that, even though the safety features are unchanged, it is therefore no longer its responsibility? Will the liability pass to the owner if the manufacturer decides it has nothing to do with it?

These cars will have to be authorised by the regulator to go on the road, but my hon. Friend makes the good point that, as part of that process, what the user of the vehicle can and cannot do needs to be clear. I suspect there will be very limited things that they could do without affecting the operation of the vehicle, but it is good to put on the record that in the information provided by both the manufacturer and the regulator we must be clear about what the user of the vehicle can and cannot do to ensure it can be driven safely.

Despite Britain having some of the safest roads in the world, the levels of serious injury and road deaths remain too high. That could soon change. If we can eliminate driver error, which is involved in 88% of road collisions, we could get to the point where self- driving vehicles are a game changer for road safety: they do not drink and drive, they do not get stressed or distracted, they do not speed, get tired, bend the rules of the road or push their luck.

Self-driving vehicles will save lives and we cannot ignore the economic impact either. According to industry estimates, 40% of new cars will by 2035 have some self-driving capability. This is a growing global market, Britain’s share of which could be worth £42 billion and generate 38,000 skilled jobs in areas ranging from cyber-security to AI, and thanks to Government support, our self-driving vehicle industry is not only thriving but recognised the world over.

I thank the Secretary of State for his reassurances about safety. I do not think it is all one-sided, because another aspect of safety is cyber-safety, which we do not need to worry about with a traditional car. Automated vehicles are extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks from hackers and potentially from terrorists, especially as the software and technology age. What are the Government going to do? Are they going to commit to establishing the necessary regulations to ensure cyber-security for automated vehicles is robust and that protections continue over the lifetime of the vehicle?

The simple answer is, yes, we are going to do that. The hon. Gentleman is right to raise cyber-security as an issue, and it is of course an issue today, because many cars today have electronic features from keyless entry to navigation systems. Existing cars are vulnerable to being hacked. Cyber-security is important and we and the industry are working with the National Cyber Security Centre. I agree that cyber-security will be very important, but it already is important.

I agree with what the Secretary of State said about tinkering and that nullifying any insurance, but we have also just experienced the Horizon scandal, where the manufacturers themselves had access to the technology. What security do drivers have from the designers of the software governing these cars covering their own backs?

One of the things we will have in place is a duty of candour. We will also set up a regulatory process with investigations of every self-driving vehicle involved in an incident. Importantly, manufacturers will be legally obliged to have that duty of candour to disclose the information, so that these issues can be got to the bottom of. The hon. Member raises a specific case that I will not comment on, and there will no doubt be learnings from that case, but the regulatory approach we are setting up will deal with the issue he just raised.

Let me make a bit of progress; I want to try to get to a conclusion, because others wish to speak, but I will try to get back to my right hon. Friend in a sec.

In 2019, Google’s Waymo made the UK its first European engineering hub for self-driving technologies. Bosch and ZF, among others, are investing in the UK, drawn by our highly skilled workforce. CAM Testbed UK, a unique cluster of five facilities between London and the west midlands, has received £200 million of Government and industry funding, and we have put £66 million into scaling up self-driving mobility ideas, from buses in Scotland to HGVs in Sunderland, with a further £150 million announced as part of our advanced manufacturing plan. We do not want to lose momentum, and we want to make sure that we push the industry to realise the full benefits of this technology. I hope that the Bill brings certainty to investors, clarity to manufacturers, confidence to the public and demonstrates Britain’s strongest commitment yet to a self-driving future. Before I conclude, I will take an intervention from my right hon. Friend.

The Secretary of State has been generous in giving way. Just to clarify the point, there could be circumstances where a vehicle is in fully auto mode, but the owner bears some responsibility. For example, if an automated vehicle is on full auto and is involved in an accident, but it is then discovered that all the tyres are without tread, surely in those circumstances the owner would bear some blame.

I set out at the beginning that in circumstances where a user is in charge—where they are not purely a passenger with a company providing a taxi or private hire service—and the vehicle is in self-driving mode, the manufacturer or software provider is responsible for the conduct of the vehicle, but the user in charge is responsible for such things as the physical condition of the vehicle and the tyres, and they retain that responsibility. The balance of which of those things caused the accident will be determined in exactly the same way as currently.

In conclusion, as I think the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse) set out, self-driving vehicles will provoke excitement from some and nerves from others, but for most of us, it is a combination of the two. Clearly it is an opportunity, but there are some risks. I know that first-hand, not only having visited California-based Waymo and ridden in one of its self-driving vehicles, but having done a journey from my departmental office to this House in a self-driving vehicle designed by the British company Wayve. It was interesting, as it went expertly through busy streets and responded quickly to things. It was a rainy day and a lot of people were darting in and out of the traffic—probably not sensibly—but the car responded safely. I realised the enormous potential of this technology, not just as a growing economic sector, but for a future where transport is safer, more convenient and more accessible. This Bill is a crucial step towards that future, and I take great pleasure in commending it to the House.

Let me start by confirming Labour’s support for the legislation and the principle behind it. Automated vehicle technology, once the preserve of science fiction, is advancing at pace. Fully autonomous vehicles are already being tested on our roads by world-leading UK companies. The progress they have made is truly something to behold. Continuing that progress and getting this technology and the safety standards around it right are so important. It has huge implications for road safety, vehicle accessibility and our economy, so Labour agrees that it is vital we have a proper regulatory framework in place to ensure these technologies are introduced in a safe and accessible way that contributes positively to our economy.

On that basis, we welcome the Bill and its efforts to set safety principles for these vehicles and clear rules around marketing to stop consumers being misled about the autonomous capability of the vehicles being sold to them. However, there is still room to go further and to ensure that these vehicles’ introduction is a public good and not in any way a destructive force. A few months ago, I also visited Wayve in King’s Cross, a UK company doing pioneering work to develop autonomous technology for vehicles, which it is already testing on our roads. It is an experience, sitting in a vehicle with no driver, no controls and no clue which direction it will go in next, and I admit that I wondered, as I was being whisked about central London in all sorts of directions without any input or control from me, if that was not how the Secretary of State felt sitting around the Cabinet table most weeks.

Turning to the safety benefits of autonomous vehicles, it has been estimated that road collisions cost our economy as much as £43.2 billion in 2022 and that 85% of road crashes involve an element of human error. Automated vehicles can play a huge role in reducing human error, avoiding tragic accidents and helping to reduce the burden on the state in the process. The need to do more to tackle these deaths and injuries on our roads cannot be overstated. The last Labour Government cut road fatalities by almost 50% while in office, but there has been only an 8% reduction since 2010.

The Bill comes to us in a vastly improved state from the other place, thanks to pressure from my Labour colleagues there. As a result of their efforts, the Bill explicitly targets a safety standard for autonomous vehicles equivalent to or higher than a careful and competent human driver, as it rightly should. The statement of safety principles that the Secretary of State must make following the passage of the Bill will now also be subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny. That is important progress, and we are grateful for the Government accepting those important amendments.

We are addressing important safety and regulation issues, but does my hon. Friend share my concerns about potential job losses? Almost a million people are employed in the logistics sector, including drivers, delivery drivers and so on. I know the Bill is not concerned with alternative employment, but I see the effects of deindustrialisation in my area. Does she share my concerns about the potential job losses if this legislation is not done in a sensible way?

It is typical of my hon. Friend to raise such an important and pertinent point. I will come to it shortly in my speech.

It is a shame that much of the important work still to do on this safety regime will be set out further down the line, rather than being debated today in the Chamber. We will look closely at the detail when it comes to see how the standard is defined in practice, and I welcome any insight from the Government today to reassure colleagues on that. For instance, what level of fault will be allowed for an autonomous vehicle compared with a standard practical driving test, if any at all?

This technology does not just offer potential road safety benefits. It is estimated that disabled people in the UK take around 38% fewer trips than non-disabled people. Automated vehicles could help address that gap by unlocking a world of opportunity for those who cannot or struggle to drive and for those held back from that opportunity by the inaccessibility of too much of our public transport network. Securing those benefits will mean ensuring that access to these vehicles is not limited just to the extremely wealthy, and that the interests of disabled people, who are currently five times more likely to be injured by a vehicle than non-disabled pedestrians, are at the heart of the development of these technologies from the very start. I would welcome the Secretary of State setting out how he will ensure that disabled people and disability-led groups will be properly consulted as these vehicles are introduced to our roads.

I suppose, if I am being honest, that I am a bit of a sceptic in this matter. I am not a petrolhead, by the way, but many of my constituents love their cars, love their vehicles, and love the opportunity to work under the bonnet. I am always conscious that we may see a move towards automated vehicles all across the country, irrespective of what people think. Is it the shadow Minister’s intention to ensure that people will always have choice? If she does, that is the right way.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention and remain impressed that he has something to say on this issue, as on so many others. It will of course remain the case that should people wish to drive their cars, they will be free and able to do so. I think it will be a long time—indeed, the industry has predicted it will be several decades—before the number of automated vehicles outstrips the number of vehicles with drivers on our roads.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Grahame Morris) mentioned, there is one major area that the Bill does not address, and which we have not considered in any meaningful capacity, which is the potential impact on jobs from automated vehicles. As a South Yorkshire MP, I am all too familiar with the economic impacts of deindustrialisation. Far too many towns and cities across the north have already suffered enough from lost livelihoods, with the social fabric of their communities ripped apart as a new economic model left them behind. We simply cannot afford to make those same mistakes again.

That is why Labour has been clear that artificial intelligence and automation must be harnessed as a public good—one that delivers social benefits, grows the economy and supports jobs rather than destroying them. That is why, during its passage through the other place, my Labour colleagues attempted to amend the Bill to establish an advisory council that would ensure the Government consult on the introduction of these vehicles with not only industry representatives and road safety experts, but trade unions. The Government opposed that amendment. From the way this Government have politicised the ongoing industrial dispute on our railways and Ministers’ failure to even sit down with union representatives, we have already seen just how important it is to have proper engagement with workforce representatives, as well as just how far this Government will go to avoid doing it.

I would welcome an explanation from the Secretary of State as to why he is so opposed to the idea of speaking to experts and trade union representatives about the introduction of such sensitive and consequential technology. Will he also say what steps he will take to ensure this technology creates jobs, rather than destroying them, especially in the areas of the country where low-paid work dominates? It is in exactly those areas, which still feel the ravages of deindustrialisation, that jobs in driving, warehousing and logistics dominate—all jobs that face the highest risks from automation. Unless the Government are prepared to play an active role in how we transition our economy, it is exactly those areas, like my constituency in South Yorkshire, that will be hit all over again.

I have talked a lot about what the Bill is, Mr Deputy Speaker, but allow me a minute to talk about what it is not. As the Secretary of State well knows, his Government have promised us all sorts of transport legislation over the years that they have failed to make parliamentary time for. This Bill is not his long-promised rail reform. It is not legislation to properly regulate e-scooters, e-bikes or drones, to set minimum standards for taxis, to extend franchising for buses, or to strengthen the powers of the Civil Aviation Authority—legislation that has been promised time and again by this Government, without any intention of actually delivering it.

I will close by pointing out the irony that the one major piece of transport legislation in this parliamentary Session is a Bill on driverless cars brought forward by a driverless Government who are running out of road.

It is a great pleasure to be able to contribute to this debate. I should flag that the Transport Committee conducted an extensive inquiry on self-driving vehicles and published our report on the subject last year. Our principal recommendation was to bring forward legislation to give the industry and investors the certainty to continue their work. We are very pleased indeed that the Government have taken on board our central recommendation and brought forward this Bill. We commend the Law Commission for the background work it did to provide the legal underpinning.

Hopefully there will be sufficient time for the Bill to reach the statute book before we get to the general election. Had it not been brought forward, there was a real danger of a missed opportunity. The UK has been a leading player in the development of this global technology, but there is no certainty that that would continue. One message we heard loud and clear from the sector was that it needs the regulatory framework and that certainty to allow further investment to take place, so we are, as I say, very pleased that that is happening. To give some idea of the scale, figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimate that by 2040, the annual economic impact to the country will be £66 billion. My fellow Select Committee member, the hon. Member for Easington (Grahame Morris), raised legitimate concerns about the risk to jobs from this new technology, but there is an upside: 12,000 new direct jobs in automotive manufacturing, and more than 300,000 additional jobs in the wider economy, again using SMMT figures. There are economic opportunities —job opportunities—provided by this new technology.

It is always difficult to adjust to change in the economy. I often use the analogy that a few decades ago, lots of people were employed in manufacturing typewriters; now there is hardly anyone in that industry, but other job opportunities arose. That will also be the case in this sector. He is not in his place now, but I echo the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes North (Ben Everitt) that the city of Milton Keynes has been at the forefront of the research and development and the testing of this technology in the UK, and long may that continue.

As other speakers have said, the advantages are not just economic; this technology also widens the accessibility of transport for many people who are, for various reasons, inhibited at the moment. That wider social value may be more difficult to quantify in monetary terms, but will be increasingly valuable. More generally, this technology will widen the transport choices available. Self-driving vehicles will replace some journeys made purely by car, but will also be part of an integral transport system where a self-driving vehicle may pick up people from a railway station, bus station or airport to complete their journeys. There are many, many upsides to this legislation.

I want to highlight a few other concerns we had during our inquiry, some of which the Government have already addressed. The first is on safety. We very much welcome the amendments put forward by the Government in the other place to introduce a more certain and wider definition of safety; we set out concerns in our report that the broad definition of a self-driving vehicle as being as safe as a

“competent and careful human driver”

was just a bit too vague and weak. The amendments that have been brought forward in the Lords to ensure proper consultation not just with the industry, but more widely with road safety stakeholders, are very welcome, while the change in the parliamentary procedure from a negative to an affirmative resolution will give it greater clarity. We very much welcome that.

I will raise two particular safety issues. One, which I mentioned in my intervention on the Secretary of State, is the need to ensure that drivers have the relevant level of skill and experience to intervene when the technology requires them to do so. As I said, those instances will obviously be immediate and often in challenging conditions, and will require skills over and above the general driving competencies and knowledge as to what a driver ought to do in those circumstances. I do not think it is necessarily something to include in the Bill, but, as the Government look at the consultation on safety, I strongly urge them to look at what changes to the driving test may be appropriate, and even at wider encouragement for everyone to have refresher courses. I think most drivers—me included—would be terrified at the prospect of resitting our driving test, as we have probably built up many bad habits over the years. There is, perhaps, a wider point about ensuring that drivers remain competent, but this new technology does introduce specific new circumstances that need to considered.

The second safety-related issue is about ensuring that MOT tests are up to date so that they properly capture all safety-critical technology. In the future, cameras, sensors, software and other technology will be as safety-critical as tyres, brakes and other mechanical parts that are currently assessed. Again, I urge the Government to look ahead and perhaps redefine what is encapsulated by the MOT.

Related to that is a concern raised with me by smaller garages about ensuring that they still have a fair chance of carrying out MOTs. As the technology becomes ever more sophisticated, there is a risk that the original equipment manufacturers will have a monopoly on maintaining software and related equipment and that only their garages will be able to carry out such work. There a wider point—this is not just about self-driving vehicles—about ensuring that the full spectrum of operators in the car repair and maintenance sector has fair access to doing that work.

I will also raise two points related to insurance. My friend and colleague from the Select Committee, the hon. Member for Easington—he is no longer in his place—mentioned data sharing. I welcome the fact that data sharing is referenced in the Bill and that its scope will be set out in secondary legislation. It is important for the insurance industry to be able to capture the full picture of driver behaviour and the behaviour of vehicles in this new world. That will not be limited to collisions, where the insurers will need to know what happened; there will be other injuries for which data must be available—say, a self-driving vehicle may brake suddenly, which results in a whiplash injury or related concerns. As a probing suggestion, is there a case for putting in the Bill a requirement for consultation with the insurance industry on the concept of data sharing, similar to the one that Government have set out for the setting of safety parameters? I will leave that with my hon. Friends on the Front Bench to consider.

The second insurance concern was raised by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau about where we have what might be called a “black swan” event, with a significant co-ordinated cyber-attack that instructs many vehicles simultaneously to behave in a way that could cause mass public injury. The instruction might be to drive at high speed and turn sharp right into a crowded pedestrian area. The concern is that, as things stand, the absence of a mutualisation of risk could lead to such a level of claims that it would bankrupt the car insurance sector.

In property, there is an equivalent backstop to cover the event of such terrorist activity. Some thought needs to be given to that. Again, it probably goes wider than purely self-driving vehicles, because, as the Secretary of State mentioned, the technology is often already embedded in cars and could be hacked by a malevolent actor. The insurance industry is concerned about that, and I urge the Government to consider that perhaps not necessarily in the Bill but as part of wider reform.

Notwithstanding those concerns and questions, this is a welcome Bill with huge upsides economically and socially. As the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse) put it succinctly, it is an exciting new world, but for many people it is a scary new world, and we have a duty to bring the public with us.

There are many areas where transport is already automated and people accept it and are quite relaxed about it. They will get on a get on a docklands light railway train, which is automated, and aircraft flights are now 95% automated. In Milton Keynes, we have delivery robots going along the pavement and no one bats an eyelid about them. But as we see with smart motorways, if the public are not convinced about the safety of new technology, they will not accept it.

We all have a duty to make sure that the regulations ensure the safety of the drivers and the passengers as well as the wider roads-using and pavement-using public. The upsides are enormous, but we must bring people with us. I commend the Government for bringing forward the Bill, which is incredibly important, and I look forward to seeing it on the statute book.

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), the Chair of the Transport Committee, on which I serve alongside him. He made many good points and I agree with much of what he said. We still have good questions about the Bill on technical details and insurance among other things, which we will undoubtedly cover in great detail in Committee. His final point about bringing the public with us is key. During the Select Committee’s inquiry, which was referenced by the Chair, I brought that up several times with the witnesses. As the Chair said, we accept things like the DLR, but that is fixed transport; this is very different. Obviously, as we have seen with smart motorways, the public may not buy it unless we and the industry are robust in what we are selling them.

Before I start, I must be honest about my own thoughts and preconceptions about autonomous or automated vehicles, as we are calling them in the Bill. The kid and science fiction fan inside me looks forward to the transport of tomorrow, with futuristic cars like those in films such as “I, Robot”, “Minority Report” and “Blade Runner”—although it must to be said that with their current policies the Government are doing their level best to deliver the bleak and dystopian future from “Blade Runner”. “Back to the Future” told us that that we would have flying cars by 2015, but perhaps “The Jetsons” was more accurate with its version of 2062.

Growing up, my favourite had to be “Knight Rider”, where David Hasselhoff played—[Interruption.] Yes, I am showing my age. Well, “The Jetsons” is from 1962, so hopefully that was on repeat when I was watching it. In “Knight Rider”, Michael Knight very much played second fiddle to KITT the car.

In truth, I am not the best passenger in a car. I prefer being in control, no matter how suboptimal that might be for my passengers. I also like driving. As a family, we have been driving electric for three years to reduce our carbon footprint. I also use public transport and active travel a lot more than I used to, but I enjoy driving and would not want my car to drive itself, although I do enjoy the driver aids seen in most modern cars. I hope we never quite get to the point where automation becomes compulsory, but I suspect that will be a debate for MPs a couple of generations and more from now.

This issue and the Bill sound exciting, but the truth is that the Bill is technical and dry—it is less Michael Knight, more Michael Howard. Its Committee may not be a barn burner, but none the less it will be important. That is because the Bill is absolutely necessary—indeed, we could say it is long overdue—and will put in place much-needed regulation to focus and develop this technology and ultimately enable its full commercialisation and public roll-out.

As you might hear me saying from time to time, Mr Deputy Speaker, Scotland has been taking the lead on autonomous vehicles for some time now. The Forth bridge has been home to one of the main pilots of autonomous vehicles for passenger services, with the CAVForth project operating since last summer. Buses built just up the road by Alexander Dennis in Camelon are taking thousands of passengers a week over the bridge and into Edinburgh. It is a groundbreaking and world-leading trial, which could help revolutionise public transport in the long term. I cannot resist saying that it would not have been possible had the Scottish Government listened to the naysayers just over a decade ago and dropped construction of the Queensferry crossing. We now have the Forth bridge operational for public transport, with private vehicles transferred to the new crossing. Those trials can happen in the best possible environment, with the result that thousands of passengers are crossing the Forth every week on an autonomous bus.

Like Labour’s shadow Minister, I welcome the Bill, although with some reservations. Ultimately, it represents a chance to be ahead of the curve and get the appropriate legislative framework in place before problems arise. It allows that framework to change things when the future does not deliver what it is supposed to. Motoring is a highly regulated area of life, and rightly so, given that we are dealing with machines capable of wiping out multiple lives with barely a scratch on them.

It was mentioned earlier in the debate, although perhaps from a different viewpoint, that we have seen in the US that problems arise when there is a lack of regulation and proper legislative oversight of the industry. Since there is virtually no national oversight, those issues and the regulatory frameworks have been dealt with at state level. We saw the dangers of such lax regulation with the suspension and collapse of Cruise in four different states. Just weeks after getting approval for full operation of its autonomous taxi service in San Francisco, a slew of incidents and accidents led it to withdraw all its vehicles from service.

The day after the Transport Committee was treated to a trip around London in autonomous vehicles, with drivers in the driver’s seat ready to take over, a friend of mine posted clips of his journey in a Cruise taxi in San Francisco. I am not sure I would have been as willing at that point to do the same without a driver ready to take over, because later investigations showed that the cars had difficulty identifying children as pedestrians and risked hitting them. In a statement to The Intercept website, it said:

“its vehicles sometimes temporarily lost track of children on the side of the road.”

That is exactly the type of thing we need to stop here before it happens. We support the approach of legislating before those vehicles are on the road. We do not want to follow the United States into a wild west of autonomy, where it takes multiple incidents or corporate whistleblowers to ensure intervention from the state. That intervention must be built into the entire regulatory process from beginning to end.

I also want corporate responsibility to be built into the regulatory framework. As we have seen with the law on corporate manslaughter, although the legislation may talk a good game, the reality is that prosecutions are few and far between, and those who should be held accountable for actions carried out under their watch are instead allowed to walk away. I do not want that to happen to the operators of autonomous vehicles that are proven to be at fault, particularly in incidents where people are harmed or even killed. I would welcome some reassurance from the Minister that where negligence or fault is established, those ultimately responsible are held to account through the criminal law.

Like Labour’s shadow Minister, we welcome the changes made in the Lords to guarantee that autonomous vehicles achieve equivalent or higher safety standards than human drivers. That only seems right, and it would be a retrograde step if this much-vaunted technology delivered worse results and worse safety than we have now. I ought to be clear that, despite my personal misgivings, I have every confidence that, in the end, automated vehicles will prove to be safer.

This area crosses legal jurisdictions. As the Minister mentioned, much of the Bill results from joint working between the Law Commissions of England and Wales and of Scotland, which may at times have been a tricky needle to thread. Throughout, the Scottish Government have been keen to work alongside the UK Government to ensure that the Bill is fit for purpose not just for today’s environment, but to anticipate future developments.

I am happy that, for the most part—highly unusually, it has to be said—there has been constructive working and pragmatic engagement. I say “for the most part” because, unfortunately, the Scottish Government’s representations on clause 50 have so far been ignored. Clause 50 is hugely problematic because it gives the UK Government the power to amend Acts of the Scottish Parliament in areas that are fully devolved, with no recourse to this place or to Holyrood. As it stands, there will be nothing to stop the Secretary of State laying a statutory instrument containing regulations that are counter to Acts passed at Holyrood, where the UK Government regulations would override the Scottish Parliament’s Act.

That is simple disrespect for devolution and for the devolved institutions, and it has happened despite the Scottish Government engaging with the UK Government to find a way forward on clause 50 that respects Scotland’s Parliament as well as this place. There is no objection to having in place a provision to allow existing legislation to be updated to account for autonomous vehicles and the implications on traffic laws and the highway code, but it is simply not on for the Secretary of State to grab that power from the existing devolved powers that rest with Holyrood, rather than accept that Scotland has a different legal framework and work within that reality.

Like so many folk across Scotland, I am sick and tired of the arrogance of this Government when it comes to devolution. There is still time for the Secretary of State and his officials to sit down with their counterparts in Edinburgh and iron out a solution, particularly given the good working relationship on much of the Bill. I urge him to make that happen, and not have the UK turn this Bill into another constitutional punchbag.

We would also like a clear strategy from the Government on the societal and economic consequences of a move towards automation in the transport sector. As the Chair of Select Committee, the hon. Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), said, these new technologies will create new and novel jobs, but there are 2.7 million jobs in the logistics sector in the UK, and not one of those positions will be unaffected; they will be either lost or changed as a result of this new technology. There are around 400,000 taxi and private hire drivers in the UK. If we end up with autonomous taxis, how many of those drivers will remain in jobs 50 years from now? What will their jobs be in 50 years’ time?

The UK has an unfortunate track record of managing technological change and its impact on the employment market. As the Labour shadow Minister said, deindustrialisation destroyed countless communities across these isles, particularly in Scotland and in swathes of the north of England, in part because there was no plan and no thought put into how to deal with and support that transition. The Tories caused untold long-term damage by essentially abandoning sectors such as manufacturing altogether, in favour of putting all the UK’s eggs in the services basket. We are seeing the same thing happen now with the move to green technology, although thankfully in Scotland we have a Government committed to a fair transition.

Automation is a much bigger issue than the matters we are talking about today. In many ways, it is time to have a public conversation about what this means for society as a whole. Change always comes with positives and trade-offs. An assumption that the public will simply consent and welcome automation without that conversation is potentially gravely misplaced. The Government must acknowledge those issues and be prepared to support sectors and communities if the changes that the Bill envisages come to pass.

It has taken longer than anticipated by many for automated vehicles to get to this point, but we cannot assume that the advances in technology will continue at the current pace. The pace may increase quickly, and the implications will be with us before we know it. Those implications of automation for our society more generally are serious and deep rooted, and they need a serious response.

We broadly welcome the Bill, but it is incumbent upon the Secretary of State and his Government to fix clause 50 and engage in real dialogue with the Scottish Government in order to help both parties. It is incumbent upon Ministers to explain their approach to the wider societal and economic implications of these measures. I look forward to positive responses on those issues as the Bill moves through its stages.

It is a pleasure to speak in this debate. One of the first things I did when I arrived in this place was to sit on the Bill Committee on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018. Here we are, all these years on, and the technology is making significant improvements. I would like to outline what I see as the important benefits of this legislation, and some of the safety and security issues. I will make the case for why these technologies should be developed further. But an advisory council is paramount, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) mentioned, because a wide range of voices must be heard before this legislation is implemented.

The automotive sector is the jewel in the UK’s manufacturing crown. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimates that its total turnover in the UK economy is £78 billion, with £16 billion of added value. The industry’s transition and development are all about the automated connected electric and shared vehicles—the ACES vehicles—which are the future. As has been said, what they bring is very exciting, but there are also concerns. They are a rapidly developing technology. We must ensure that the UK automotive industry has a prime role in its development. According to the SMMT, it is estimated that autonomous vehicles could create a market worth £42 billion by 2035 and potentially provide 38,000 new jobs.

Importantly, autonomous vehicles make roads safer—I believe that and I think most in the industry would say it; and we heard it, too, from the Secretary of State in his opening remarks—not just for occupants but for pedestrians and cyclists, provided the right sort of technologies are deployed. I have personally seen that they remove the opportunity for human error, which causes 88% of road traffic accidents. Indeed, research from the SMMT states that if automated vehicles were deployed in substantial numbers, some 4,000 lives could be saved and 60,000 serious accidents prevented between now and 2040. I will come to the benefits of that not just in terms of lives, but what that means for the economy.

Autonomous vehicles can improve connectivity in areas where our public transport is failing passengers. With the depopulation of rural areas, we can see how challenging that issue can be, including for older people and disabled people more generally. Other countries, including states in the EU, and most states in the United States, are all moving forward with their own autonomous vehicle frameworks, so the United Kingdom cannot afford to fall behind in an industry that could be worth £750 billion globally by 2035. That is why the legislation is so important. The UK automotive industry needs to be at the forefront of this rapidly developing technology and we need the legislation to provide the framework to support it.

Like the Secretary of State and the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley, I have experienced driverless vehicles. I was fortunate enough to try it in the Jaguar I-Pace and the technology is incredibly impressive. Although we had a driver at the wheel for safety and security, just seeing the screens and all the information feeds determining the passage, speed and direction of the vehicle was extraordinary. This work is not just being done in silicon valley, but around the world by great organisations. I am particularly proud to have as a neighbour WMG, University of Warwick—the Warwick Manufacturing Group—developing these technologies, but we also have companies such as Oxa at the forefront of developing this work.

I said I wanted to talk about safety. As I articulated with the numbers I mentioned earlier, we will see a significant reduction in the number of accidents, and in the number of those killed and seriously injured. In 2018-19 I tried to introduce legislation called Rowan’s law. If you will forgive me, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will remind the House that seven-year-old Rowan Fitzgerald was killed on a bus in Coventry because the driver fell asleep at the wheel. He had been driving more than 70 hours a week for three weeks. Rowan and another passenger were killed in the incident. It is my belief that, with certain assistive technologies we are discussing, that would not have happened.

While the technology is being developed and rolled out, we must ensure that public safety is at the forefront of the Bill. The insurance giant Axa, based on 2022 data, calculated that accidents in the UK cost the UK economy £42 billion in lost productivity and wider loss. There was also a cost to the NHS of £2.4 billion. That is why I commend the work by my Labour colleagues in the other place in pushing the Government to concede on two key safety points. I welcome the Government’s concession to put the highest standard of safety on the face of the Bill.

To introduce automated vehicles successfully and safely in the UK, we need to bring all the public with us on the journey. Whether as drivers or as those sharing the roads with AVs, the public need accurate knowledge of any new transport technology so that they know how to engage with it safely. It cannot be acceptable for manufacturers to mislead or over-promise. Equally, manufacturers will benefit from being held to a fair standard. We therefore need strong, fair and enforceable standards. Improving and strengthening safety communication and messages on AVs should be the top priority before we fully deploy AVs on the roads. Communication and messages about AV safety must be written and delivered in a clear and accessible manner. Technical knowledge must be translated into language that everyone in society can understand. False and misleading AV advertising should be regulated to avoid miscommunication. For example, driver-assistance systems should not claim to be self-driving systems. We need an objective national safety threshold definition for the safe deployment of AVs. There is evidently still work to be done on the implementation of the legislation to ensure that safety remains at the forefront of the Bill.

The implementation of the Bill should be supported by an advisory council, which would advise on its implementation and on the roll-out of self-driving vehicles. It would include trade union representation, emergency vehicles, disabled groups, manufacturers, highway authorities and other road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. It is a shame that the amendment that would establish such a group was voted down. I am pleased that we passed amendment 5, which would ensure representatives of road user groups are consulted when preparing the statement of safety principles. I would like that expanded to include the membership of the advisory group, and to put that on the face of the Bill.

On security, I have concerns, particularly on insurance, that have been aired across the House. Having listened to manufacturers in recent weeks about security challenges and the amount of vehicle theft across the country, I am satisfied they are doing their utmost to provide vehicle security. There are, however, many out there who are seeking to steal vehicles for export. The simple truth is that whatever technologies manufacturers come up with, they be overridden, especially by organised crime. That must be a real fear for the future. My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) mentioned the unfolding Horizon scandal, the role of the tech company and the cover-up it was alleged to have been involved in. What does that mean for the development of vehicle technology? More generally, we have seen the challenges that authorities face when trying to impose regulation on tech companies. Just this morning we read about Apple facing a fine from the EU of, I think, €1.6 billion. A central concern must be the extent of the control given to big tech, and the transparency that policymakers such as Governments, as well as other authorities, will be able to demand of it.

When the hon. Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart) mentioned MOTs, I was thinking precisely the same as him. At present many elements are not covered by MOTs, and I wonder how it can be ensured that a vehicle is valid, legitimate and roadworthy when so much of the brain power of that vehicle is driven by new technologies. All MOT centres will have to be geared to keep up with technological development to ensure that these vehicles are roadworthy and have fully up-to-date software.

As I said earlier, these developments will have a huge impact on the economy and jobs. Other Members have asked what they will mean for operators in the logistics sector and, for instance, taxi drivers. I urge the Government to adopt our proposal for the establishment of an advisory council to hear from trade union representatives and take on board their thoughts, and, indeed, I suggest that a requirement for trade union representation should be included in the Bill. Other Members have also mentioned the concerns raised by industry, such as who will be responsible for software updates. How will a victim of a crash involving an automated vehicle be able to prove whether the vehicle was driving autonomously? Perhaps the Minister could clarify those points, and confirm that insurers will have appropriate access to data to deal with claims of this kind.

Without doubt, the future lies in automated, connected, electric and shared vehicles, and it is important that the UK has the necessary legislative framework not only for manufacturers but for the development of these technologies. The automotive industry contributes an estimated £3 billion to UK research and development and is one of our greatest strengths, so we must ensure that we have the legislation to provide for that. In the short term, the benefits of the Bill will be largely in assistive technology—data and mapping technologies, for instance—to make vehicles much safer for their occupants and for others. I welcome those safety benefits and the potential opportunities for the UK automotive industry, but, as I have said, there are real concerns about future security.

The Liberal Democrats welcome the Bill because it takes the first step towards the creation of a framework within which automated vehicles can operate safely. The future of sustainable travel lies in such vehicles, and the UK now has a good opportunity to join the growing number of countries that are embracing this new technology. The tech sector in the UK is particularly strong, and the Bill should give confidence to investors if we are to develop a self-driving vehicle industry and take full advantage of its potential. A large part of that potential relates to road safety: there are still too many road accident victims, and I believe that automated vehicles can contribute significantly to reducing that number if we get this right. The Bill also has the potential to help us reach net zero. We may need to question, and reduce, individual car ownership in future if we want to hit our net zero targets, and automated vehicles may help us to do that.

However, the potential of this industry will only be realised if there is a high level of public confidence in the protections that the Bill gives to public safety—particularly the safety of other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, who are more at risk than motorists. There is clearly scope for improving the safety of our roads, given that nearly 90% of traffic accidents are caused by human error. Many of the accidents that involve more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, result from driver impairment or from drivers’ disobeying traffic laws.

Evidence emerging from trials of AVs in San Francisco relating to overall safety improvements is encouraging, but a report of just one thing going wrong will set back efforts to secure public confidence in the safety of these vehicles. It will be important to set out very clearly the scope of any trials in the UK. We may receive reassurances from the industry that the technology is being improved continuously, but we must set out our expectations of what the trials can and cannot achieve. No technology will ever be 100% safe. If there is an interaction between technology and the human being sitting in the car, there is the potential to override the system. The nature of that interaction is almost a philosophical question, which has not been entirely resolved today, but the Minister has been generous in allowing us to raise our concerns.

During the San Francisco trials, issues arose relating to AVs’ hindering emergency vehicles and stopping in cycle lanes, and those need to be addressed. Of course some issues are to be expected in trials, but a repetition of those incidents will damage public trust. People must be confident they will not be repeated on UK streets, and that will require a robust legal and safety framework which will also cover our trials.

The Liberal Democrats welcome the Government’s concession in changing the standard of safety for AV drivers so that they will have to meet or exceed the level of safety of careful and competent human drivers. The implications of that for driving tests have already been mentioned, and it is important for that discussion to continue. The Bill gives us a chance to improve the safety of our road networks for the long term, and we should see this as an opportunity to improve accessibility and safety for the public rather than just maintaining current standards.

Automated vehicles also require adequate infrastructure to support them. The poor state of UK roads has led to the highest number of pothole-related call-outs for the RAC in the last five years. Assurances must be given that improvements in road surfaces will be made before the roll-out of AVs. Will minimum standards for road quality be set for their use, and will local authorities be given the additional resources they will require in order to meet them?

Older and more vulnerable people are more reliant on taxis and private hire cars, a great benefit of which is a driver who can help them with access. The benefits of increased affordability that AVs may bring must not come at the cost of reduced access for disabled and vulnerable users, who will also require assurances about access on automated public transport if it is to be completely unstaffed. We have not talked enough about the human input into this brave new world of automated vehicles and about whether, for instance, someone will be available to assist a disabled person using such a vehicle.

Another area of concern, which has also been mentioned today, is the attention given to data protection in the Bill. It is of course essential that AVs can take in data for machine learning algorithms, which enable them to improve the way in which they navigate. However, a large number of parties will inevitably have access to the data. It will include personal information, including people’s faces. The overlap between commercial and personal data creates issues with access and storage. When data is shared between parties, including private companies, can we be sure that people’s personal data is not being monetised for commercial gain? The Government have not yet given adequate assurances that personal information will be protected.

What about insurance? Insurers have said that the data from AVs must be readily available to establish liability, but drivers must feel confident about how their data is managed. How the data is stored must be open and transparent, and it must be held independently. Establishing a clear path of accountability is essential for public confidence. Cyclists and pedestrians who do not hold personal insurance should receive fair and swift compensation when they are victims of an accident. Further assurance is needed that insurance companies will receive adequate guidance for such claims.

The Liberal Democrats welcome the Bill, but I urge Ministers to carefully review how it will impact on access for disabled and vulnerable transport users. I also encourage the Government to look further at data protection regulation. We must see this Bill as the beginning of a framework, not the end.

The hon. Member is giving a list of things that are absent from the Bill. In my constituency we have autonomous delivery robots, which are currently on pilot; they are not regulated at all in the UK. Is this not another area that the Bill should regulate, in addition to the issues she has raised?

We always try to solve other problems with Bills in front of us, so we have to be a bit careful not to hang something on this Bill that actually goes into other areas, but new technologies create new challenges for all of us. For example, there are safety issues with such deliveries, but that probably requires a separate Bill. However, it is important that the Government make sure that we have adequate regulation of new technologies.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, there are many exciting opportunities for technological change, and we must embrace them. If we do not, other countries will go ahead, and then we will have them anyway. We must take the public with us, understand the risks and make sure that the huge potential of AVs is seen for what it is, but we must avoid unintended consequences that will lead to the public not coming with us, so let us get this right. It is a great opportunity, and let us make sure that we minimise the risks.

I did not intend to give a speech in this debate—I just wanted to intervene— but as there were so few of us contributing, I thought I would make a short contribution at the end. I am grateful to you for allowing me to do so, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I accept that the time has come for this technology. As somebody who worked in the transport industry for many years prior to becoming a Member of Parliament, I accept that we cannot stand in the way of this technology and that, overall, our road network will be safer with the advance of autonomous vehicles. None the less, there will be occasions when accidents occur, and we have to accept that we will be legislating for how vehicles respond in those circumstances. At the moment, if an accident happens, it happens in real time and people behind the wheels of the vehicles make real-time decisions to try to minimise the impact. However, automated vehicles will have to be programmed in advance to respond in a particular way in certain circumstances—we cannot get away from that. The fact is that the people designing the algorithms will be doing so remotely and well in advance of any accident happening.

Who is the primary person to consider when an accident takes place? Is it the person or persons in the vehicle, or is it the pedestrian? Is it a child, if someone is identified as being a child? Is it people standing at a bus stop on the side of the road? I will come to that soon when I share the concerns of one of my constituents who came to see me not about autonomous vehicles, but about an accident at a bus stop. These things have to be considered and accounted for when drawing up the algorithms that control automated cars—we cannot get away from that. Who will the algorithm protect in such circumstances? That is one of the challenges that came up when autonomous vehicles were being tested in Greenwich. When someone moved a chair and put it in front of the vehicle, the vehicle did not identify it. If it had been a child, the vehicle would have run them over.

We have to accept that we are going into no man’s land by advancing with this technology. We will need to scrutinise its use, which is why it is right that we are looking to set up a panel that will have oversight of this area and advise the Secretary of State. I accept what the Secretary of State has said: if somebody tinkers with the software, clearly they put themselves outside of their insurance policy and will be liable for any accident that occurs as a consequence. However, both I and my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) have mentioned the Horizon scandal. At the heart of that scandal was Fujitsu, which tried to hide the glitches in its software. We cannot run away from the fact that there is a distinct possibility that something like that could happen when we have automated vehicles that are controlled by software. We must have the ability to scrutinise that and to ensure that people can have confidence in what companies say about the software they develop for automated vehicles.

We are told that we will have these vehicles for 20 to 30 years in co-existence with driven vehicles. What is going to happen when accidents occur? I am sure we will be told, as we were told in 2018 with the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, that insurance companies will pay up, that these matters will be sorted out later and that they have anticipated every circumstance. We hear that time and again with legislation, but its practical application is where we really find out what is going on. When a driven vehicle has a collision with an autonomous vehicle, will the assumption be that the autonomous vehicle is always right, that the driven vehicle must be wrong and that the accident must be due to human error? I am sure I will be told that we have allowed for that in the legislation, but I am also sure that once it is applied on the roads, this will become a big area of contention.

I am listening very carefully to the hon. Gentleman, and I am thinking about the aviation industry. Aeroplanes are very complicated technologies, yet aviation is one of the safest forms of travel, because each accident is investigated carefully to avoid a similar catastrophe. Does he think that similar structures for investigating accidents should be put in place as a safety mechanism?

Scrutiny of accidents is going to be important, because we will learn a lot. We can improve safety with this technology—there is no question about that. The question is about the moral argument when accidents do happen and how we choose how vehicles should behave in those circumstances.

A constituent has come to me about a tragic case of a child being killed at a bus stop. A lorry lost control and swerved into the bus stop, and the child could not escape the vehicle and was crushed. It is an absolutely tragic story. My constituent came to see me about designing bus stops to make them safer for people standing at the roadside. Having lost her child in such tragic circumstances, I commend her for her consideration in wanting to improve the situation for others. As it is rolled out, this technology could prevent vehicles from colliding with roadside structures such as bus stops, so I accept that it can improve safety. This is an example of where we might be able to meet my constituent’s desire to improve safety in such circumstances.

This technology will need a great deal of scrutiny. We will learn a lot from the application of this legislation as more and more automated vehicles enter our road network, and an advisory council to consider all aspects of the technology is absolutely necessary.

Clause 2 says that the Secretary of State must consult, but the list is very limited and puts businesses, including those that design the vehicles and draw up the algorithms, in prime position above road user representatives and other concerned individuals. The list needs to be much wider, and there needs to be a statutory body to provide oversight. We are on a steep learning curve and we will learn as we go. I accept that we cannot stand in the way of progress, but we must accept that there are serious safety questions that require answers. An advisory council of the kind that has been recommended is absolutely necessary.

I thank all Members who have taken part in this debate.

Self-driving vehicles offer an enormous opportunity to this country, with the potential to create a market worth £42 billion by 2035, to create 38,000 new jobs and to improve road safety and connectivity in the long term for all road users. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh) said, Labour welcomes and supports the broad principles of the Bill. I pay tribute to the detailed work carried out over four years by the Law Commission to give us confidence about the framework before us.

The UK was leading the charge on self-driving technology in 2018, but since then, China, the US, France and Germany have overtaken us. The Opposition want to encourage innovation in this sector to bring economic and job opportunities to the UK, and to return the UK to its leading role in the development of this technology. Labour’s industrial strategy will do that, as part of our approach to improving the UK’s prospects.

Automated vehicles could remove transport-related obstacles for those living in remote rural communities, those living with a disability and older people by reaching those who are denied access to public transport.

Crucially, automated vehicles have the potential to improve road safety for all. Eighty-eight per cent of road collisions are a result of human error. Research by Axa suggests that 3,900 deaths and 60,000 serious road traffic collisions could be prevented between last year, when it carried out the research, and 2040 through the deployment of automated vehicles. It forecast an 85% reduction in road incidents through the introduction of AV technology, which would in turn benefit the NHS to the tune of £2.3 billion a year in reduced medical and ambulance costs. However, this all requires a proper transition and roll-out from the Government.

I mentioned the importance of safety improvements, and I am pleased that the Government have accepted the need for higher standards in the Bill. My Labour colleagues Lord Tunnicliffe and Lord Liddle deserve particular credit for their work in this crucial area. The Government amendment that referred to “careful and competent” drivers sends a very clear indication to industry, and it rightly puts the highest standard of safety in the Bill. I am also glad that the Government agree that secondary legislation should be considered under the affirmative procedure. The regulations that follow from the Bill should be subject to proper scrutiny over the years as the technology is developed.

A number of concerns that were raised in the Lords remain to be addressed in Committee. The impact on the transport workforce will be crucial in any transition to automation, which is why trade unions have a key part to play. Working with industry and the unions is a key part of a successful industrial strategy, and the unions have much to offer in advising on how to find alternative employment for their members and in ensuring that the economic benefits of new technologies are available to workers, as well as to investors and consumers.

As the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley, said, we have already seen what happens when this Government do not engage with union representatives. We must learn the lessons from deindustrialisation to avoid repeating its mistakes, which have contributed to growing inequality across our country.

We also want to see people with disabilities, pedestrians, cyclists, businesses, emergency services and highway authorities included in the development of this technology. My hon. Friends the Members for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) and for Eltham (Clive Efford) both highlighted the importance of setting up an advisory committee, and I hope they will join me in Committee to revisit this important aspect that should be added to what has already been amended in the Lords.

This brings me to accessibility. This Bill’s framework provides a unique opportunity to support people with disabilities from the outset by, for example, including consultation with disabled road users on the statement of safety principles. In 2019, the Government published their “Future of mobility: urban strategy” which highlighted that one of the potential benefits of supporting self-driving vehicles is making travel more accessible to disabled and older people. The Government know that the Bill should specifically include people with disabilities and older people. It was therefore disappointing that they did not accept Labour’s amendments in the Lords.

I said earlier that the introduction of automated vehicles brings an opportunity to improve safety for all road users, not least pedestrians and cyclists. The Transport Committee’s September 2023 report on self-driving vehicles argues that the introduction of self-driving vehicles

“should not impose new responsibilities on other road users and pedestrians”.

Will the Minister confirm whether he accepts that principle?

Speaking of areas of uncertainty in the Bill, there are other examples of a lack of clarity, which is something that the insurance industry will require. I know that much of this will be addressed in secondary legislation. Access to data is essential to ensuring that the insurance model does not break down on issues such as responsibility for software updates, on liability during transition from automated to “user in charge” and on the Motor Insurers Bureau dealing with cases of uninsured vehicles. Additionally, clarity is required for those injured by an automated vehicle, as they currently have to prove that automated features were engaged in order to claim compensation. My hon. Friend the Member for Eltham made a reasonable point about who will be responsible in the event of an incident and how this can be covered in legislation.

The Transport Committee highlighted the insurance industry’s concerns in its recent report on self-driving vehicles. Uncertainty, and the possibility of endless legal disputes if access to data is not available, risks increasing insurance costs for consumers and deterring growth in the market for automated vehicles, so I look forward to delving further into these questions with the Minister in Committee.

The Bill rightly addresses concerns about false marketing of automated vehicles that have not been authorised. The Government must work with industry to ensure there is a clear communication strategy during the transition to automated vehicles. We have seen what happens when communication is negative, through the approach in the media to the transition to electric vehicles. Whether deliberate or otherwise, the messaging from some, not just in the media, but in government, including the Prime Minister, has delayed the time at which many people will benefit from cheaper private cars, at a cost of £13 billion to drivers. I hope that Ministers will not repeat the same damaging approach in their messaging on the switch to automated vehicles.

Labour welcomes this Bill as it moves through the House. The benefits of automated vehicles are there for all to see, for our economy, through the creation of new jobs and, crucially, through improved road safety and connectivity. There is a good degree of consensus on the implementation of the legislation. If Labour is given the opportunity to serve after the election, with us in the driving seat, we will power ahead and ensure that Britain really can lead on this exciting new technology.

I thank everyone who has contributed to this incredibly enjoyable debate. It is always enjoyable when there is a remarkable degree of consensus across the House. I note that Labour, the Scottish National party and the Liberal Democrats all support this legislation. There was a large degree of consensus on the various issues, with almost everyone who spoke agreeing that this legislation could and should lead to safer roads. We all want to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths on the road.

Various Members from different parts of the country talked about the autonomous vehicle work going on in their constituencies: the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands) talked about CAVForth in Scotland; the Chair of the Transport Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), talked about the work in Milton Keynes; and the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) talked about the benefits in Warwick. Various Members also mentioned Wayve in north London, and I know that companies in my constituency are working on this. Getting this industry right really is an example of levelling up. There was also a large degree of consensus that we need to make sure that this technology works for the benefit of vulnerable users. One of the major reasons for it is that it offers huge opportunities for people who are blind, frail and so on and cannot drive.

Lots of useful questions and points were raised. I spent a huge amount of time nodding in violent agreement with what Members from the various Opposition parties were saying, such was the consensus. Many of the points have been covered in the Bill, which I will go through in detail. Various Members mentioned the need for proper accident investigation. We completely agree on that, because it is vital that whenever a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident, we need to know why the accident happened and whether, for example, it was a result of the software or the algorithm going wrong. We need to learn from any accidents. This is an evolution; we are not going to get the perfect result and this is going to evolve over the coming years and decades. The importance of accident investigation is why we provide in the Bill for an incident investigation function similar to those in other sectors, such as aviation, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse). The Secretary of State will have the power to appoint independent accident investigators, who will find out the root cause and make sure that we all learn the lessons.

I just want to understand this better, because I might have missed something. Is that technology, in essence, like a black box that would be fitted within a vehicle, which those investigators could then access?

Absolutely, the accident investigators will have the power to get access to the software and technology so that we understand what went wrong. That is a crucial part of this; we need to understand technically what the cause of any accident is. That is very different from a police investigation into an accident, where they are trying to attribute blame to X, Y or Z but do not need to understand the root cause.

Let me turn to some of the most detailed comments. The shadow Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), said that the Opposition support this legislation. She talked about the importance of jobs and getting that aspect right. Most speakers talked about the benefits for jobs, with the self-driving sector creating as many as 38,000 new jobs by 2035. A range of new jobs will arise out of this, not just in the companies making self-driving technology, but with conductors on automated services, for example. She worried about the job losses that were coming, as did various other Opposition Members, but they are getting ahead of themselves; those sort of impacts will be a very long way down the line and this is an evolution in the coming years and decades. It is definitely worth thinking about the issue. The SNP spokesman, the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, asked what will happen to jobs in 50 years’ time, but it is not the purpose of this Bill to deal with the situation in 50 years’ time.

Accessibility is clearly a major issue and we completely agree on it. The Government want to ensure that all parts of society, including people with disabilities, can reap the benefits of self-driving technology. That is why we have anchored our approach in the recommendations put forward by the Law Commissions in their inquiry. Their central conclusion was that our focus should be on gathering evidence and gaining experience, and making sure that this works for disabled people and vulnerable users. The Bill requires that the authority granting a passenger permit must consider how the service will lead to improvement in understanding accessibility. Service providers will then be required to publish regular reports on how they are meeting the needs of disabled and vulnerable users. We are also following the Law Commissions’ recommendation in establishing an accessibility advisory panel to inform the development of national accessibility standards. The Department for Transport already has a statutory disabled users advisory panel.

My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South, the Chair of the Select Committee, raised a large number of points. He made comments about “careful and competent driver” being too weak as a definition. It is an ambition rather than a detail, and that takes us to the whole point about the statement of safety principles. The ambition of making sure that a driver is safe, careful and competent is in the Bill, but the detail of exactly what that means will come through in the statement of safety principles, on which we will consult widely.

The Secretary of State and I had a meeting with a wide range of user groups last week—road user groups, road safety groups and people from the Royal National Institute of Blind People were at the roundtable. We committed to working with them as we go forward on putting together that statement of safety principles. We have also committed in the Bill to consulting a range of different groups, including road user groups, and that could include trade unions. We would very much like to hear from them if they have contributions to make on the different aspects of safety that we will be sorting out. As this is an evolving technology, a lot of what is in the Bill is high level and quite a lot of statutory instruments will fall from it; it is necessary to be flexible. Consulting on developing those SIs will take until 2026, so there is a long time to get a lot of the details right.

My hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South also said that he wanted to make sure that drivers have the right level of skills and do not forget how to drive. People being deskilled is a long way off, but he asks the right question and the Government will keep under review whether we need to do anything on that. He also made the point about making sure that MOT tests are kept up to date. We have consulted on the future of those tests, and we will be monitoring that and making sure that they are kept up to date. Most Members, including my hon. Friend, raised the valid point about data and the insurance industry. Thatcham Research, which does the driving safety work for the insurance industry, was at the roundtable that we had last week, and we committed to working with them in the future. They need to know exactly what data they can get access to at the time of an accident. The powers for that are in the Bill. It will be critical to understand whether the vehicle was in self-driving mode at the time—the “no user in charge” mode—or whether a human was driving, as well as the cause of the accident. That point has been well made, but those issues are already addressed in the Bill.

Various hon. Members, including my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South, talked about the need to take the public with us; I agree. It is good to debate the subject here and good that there is a political consensus. We will be doing lots of consultation on the subject going forward and will invite everyone’s input. The Government recently launched PAVE, Partners for Automated Vehicle Education. I launched the initiative at the RAC Club a couple of weeks ago and it is supported by the Government. It aims to educate the public about self-driving cars and promote debate about that transport revolution.

The spokesperson for the SNP, the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, made many very good points. I am not usually in such agreement with the SNP on Government policy. We absolutely need to take the public with us. He asked whether it would be compulsory to have an autonomous vehicle, as he wants to carry on driving. I can confirm to the House that the Government have no plans to ban driving—not now, not ever. He will be entitled to carry on driving if he wishes. Self-driving cars are entirely voluntary.

The hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members raised points about international incidents, including problems with state-level rules in the US and problems that Cruise had in San Francisco. I agree that we need to learn lessons from all the international incidents and that we need strong, clear rules. The whole point of the legislation is to clearly define the legal and regulatory structure, so that we avoid the bad stuff and so that we can learn, improve the system and bring in changes as we need them.

As I alluded to, the Scottish Government have been more than willing to work with the UK Government on the Bill. In fact, they are in complete agreement on many aspects of the Bill, but does the Minister accept that clause 50 is an overstep by the Government yet again? They are overruling legislation defined in the Scottish Parliament, given that Scotland has a separate legal framework.

I reassure the hon. Member that we have been in contact with Scottish Government officials about the Bill over many months, including on this issue, and there has been an exchange of letters. The power in clause 50 is limited to making regulations changing or clarifying whether, how or in what circumstances a relevant enactment applies to the user in charge of a vehicle, a concept that the UK Government consider to be reserved. The power can amend devolved enactments only to this limited extent. It cannot be used to amend enactments more broadly or for any other purpose. I am happy to meet the hon. Member if he wants to discuss that further.

On international rules, many hon. Members mentioned the Horizon scandal and whether big tech companies can be trusted. They mentioned the fine Apple has just received from the EU. Those are valid concerns. It is imperative that we go on the journey of developing the technology together, so that there is trust between the Government, the regulators, the public and the companies themselves. That is why we have introduced a duty of candour, legally requiring senior management of the companies to be up front with the Government about any technical problems or changes that could impact safety. We take this so seriously that it is subject to criminal sanctions, including prison sentences of up to 14 years if senior management are completely deceptive about what is happening. The work has to be carried out on the basis of openness. This is not a new idea—we have the same legislation in other industries, such as the pharmaceutical industry, where we need a similar duty of candour about the safety of drugs. We take the issue very seriously.

The Opposition spokespeople and the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington talked about the need for an advisory council. We have committed to consulting on the statement of safety principles, and most of the issues we have discussed are included in that statement. The legislation also includes a duty of monitoring. The Secretary of State will have a legal duty to monitor the development of self-driving autonomous vehicles, including safety issues, and to write a report that every year.

Most of the other issues have been covered already. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!] Hon. Members are very keen to conclude the debate. The hon. Member for Leeds North West (Alex Sobel), who is no longer in his place, said that the legislation should cover delivery robots. I agree with the hon. Member for Bath that this legislation does not provide the time or the place for that. There are many different issues concerning delivery robots that do not fit within the scope of this Bill.

Finally, the hon. Member for Eltham, who was not originally going to speak but decided to give a speech, said we should ensure that all road users benefit from the legislation. There is no algorithm that decides to run over cyclists or children. The whole point of these vehicles is to make roads safer. That will come out through the consultation on the statement of safety principles, but we are already committed to fairness between all road users being at the centre of those principles. Safety has to be for all road users, not just the people within the vehicle.

The debate has been positive and constructive, with a lot of well made points. I look forward to going through the Bill in Committee where we can discuss issues in more detail. With that, I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords]: Programme

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 83A(7)),

That the following provisions shall apply to the Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords]:


(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

Proceedings in Public Bill Committee

(2) Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Thursday 18 April 2024.

(3) The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.

Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading

(4) Proceedings on Consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.

(5) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.

(6) Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading.

Other proceedings

(7) Any other proceedings on the Bill may be programmed.—(Anthony Browne.)

Question agreed to.

Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords]: Money

King’s recommendation signified.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords], it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of the Act by the Secretary of State.—(Anthony Browne.)

Question agreed to.

Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords]: Ways and Means

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 52(1)(a)),

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords], it is expedient to authorise:

(1) the charging of fees under the Act; and

(2) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund.—(Anthony Browne.)

Question agreed to.

Business of the House (Today)


That at this day’s sitting, the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on

(1) the Motion in the name of Secretary Kemi Badenoch relating to the Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill: Instruction not later than 45 minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order, and

(2) the Motion in the name of Secretary James Cleverly relating to British Citizenship (Northern Ireland) Bill: Instruction not later than 45 minutes after the commencement of proceedings on that Motion;

such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; proceedings on those Motions may continue, though opposed, after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to those motions or to the motion in the name of Nigel Huddleston relating to High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill: Money.—(Penny Mordaunt.)