Transport Secretary admits no plans for taxi licensing laws after today’s quizzing from Cambridge MP.
In this morning’s Transport Select Committee session, in which new Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps MP, went up against the cross-party scrutiny body for the first time, he admitted that he has no plans for new laws to reform the taxi trade.
According to sources, he focused instead on “updating guidance“, but confirmed that despite previous commitments, the Government do not plan to bring new laws to Parliament. Mr Zeichner said: “Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq who chaired the Government’s task and finish group came to this committee and told us that the public is at risk, and there is no time to waste in updating legislation. I had a Private Member’s Bill in this area which was ready to go, in the last Parliament. The previous taxi minister assured me that we would see updated laws in the Queen’s Speech.“ The Transport Secretary is said to have admitted this is no longer the case, responding to the Cambridge MP saying: “I want to do lots of things that don’t require legislation – with statutory guidance.“
Shapps also confirmed that the Queen’s Speech did not contain provisions for introducing Bills related to taxi licensing. Daniel Zeichner MP said: “This is really disappointing to hear, and shows that while this Government sometimes talks the talk, it never walks the walk – they shy away from meaningful actions to improve people’s lives.
“Taxi licensing laws are not fit for purpose and need updating to close the loopholes that currently can be exploited and have led to some passengers being unsafe. I think it’s neglectful that the Government are now refusing to act on the recommendations from the Task and Finish Group Report on reforming legislation – especially when they previously said they’d act.“
Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North and APPG Chair on Taxis, said: “The statement by Grant Shapps that the Government will not be bringing forward urgently-needed legislation on taxi and private hire licensing is extremely disappointing, given the cross-party support across the House. The statutory guidance he plans to issue will not substitute for updating out-of-date legislation which puts passengers in danger. “Less than a fortnight ago, a minister in his own department admitted in the House of Commons that existing legislation needs reform and hinted strongly that it could be included in the Queen’s Speech. The Government has promised more than 20 times this year to bring in such legislation “when time allows”. Such a U-turn will damage the taxi and private hire trades and the public’s confidence in this Government to keep them safe.”
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