Since Parliament has broken up for Summer Recess there have been rumours about the Law Commission’s review of taxi and private hire services. If you’ve drawing a blank on what this is about, you’re not alone. Having started in 2011, the review was concluded in 2014 at which point the commission presented its report and recommendations to government. However, it is yet to get a response. Now, we’re suddenly hearing the government may be about to respond to the commission’s recommendations. As a quick refresher – it recommended the introduction of a new single legal framework for the regulation of taxi and PHV services across England and Wales and national standards for taxis and PHVs. It also recommended that local licensing authorities could set additional standards for taxis only, and not for PHVs. The Law Commission said its proposals would make it easier for PHVs to cross border hire and would give licensing officers new enforcement powers to deal with vehicles and drivers licensed in different areas. Clearly, this would make the problems we face worse, not better. It would effectively legalise the ability for operators such as Uber to get cheap licences anywhere in the country and flood areas like London, exploit the market and undercut taxis and local PHV services.
Government is now facing pressure from MPs from all parties to publish the report and recommendations made by the working group on taxi and PHV licensing, which I took part in on behalf of the trade earlier this year. It must have realised it can’t put off responding to the Law Commission any longer. Representing our trade on the working group, I pushed hard for national minimum standards, a definition of cross border hiring, and crucially, a definition of plying for hire. When Parliament comes back from holiday in September, hopefully we will finally see the long-awaited action we need.