The past couple of years has seen several new rules and regulations introduced for the taxi and private hire (PH) trade. Following the introduction of statutory rules last year, the new Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill will be another big change for the industry.
What is the Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill?
The Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill is being introduced to improve the safety of passengers using taxi or PH services. The Parliamentary Explanatory Notes, outline two key changes that will affect licensing regimes:
1. Licensing authorities in England must input into a central database instances where the authority has suspended, revoked, refused to grant or refused to renew a taxi or PHV driver’s licence because of certain safeguarding or road safety concerns relating to that driver.
Other licensing authorities in England must then have regard to that information when considering whether to grant or renew a taxi or PHV driver’s licence.
2. Licensing authorities in England to report certain serious safeguarding or road safety concerns about a taxi or PHV driver working in its area to the licensing authority in England, Wales or Scotland that granted a licence to that driver.
Licensing authorities must then have regard to any such reports received and to consider whether the relevant taxi or PHV driver should remain licensed.
Isn’t there already a central licensing database?
A database for recording adverse licensing information does already exist. In 2018, the Local Government Association (LGA) established the National Register of Licence Revocations and Refusals (NR3). This voluntary register is used by about 90% of licensing authorities.
But the key point here is that it is a ‘voluntary’ register. Even though using the NR3 is recommended under the new statutory standards, it is not a mandatory requirement.
The new Bill hopes to make use of a database like this as a statutory requirement for licensing authorities. It is thought that the NR3 will be the database used to support the Bill, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Though it would make sense considering the NR3 is already used for the purposes described in the new Bill.
Making a central database a statutory requirement is important. As licensing authorities currently have no obligation to share information, drivers who have committed offences can try and get a licence in a different area. This loophole is leaving passengers at risk.
When is the Bill being introduced?
As with any piece of new legislation, it could take some time before it is finalised. This Bill began its journey through parliament on 16 June 2021. However, the lack of opposition to the Bill means it has advanced quite quickly in parliamentary timescales.
The Bill has already advanced through the House of Commons. It is now undergoing its second reading in the House of Lords. Following this, the Bill will go to committee stage, then a report will be produced, before a third reading happens in the Lords. As long as all goes well, the Bill will the advance through to the final stages before receiving Royal Assent and becoming law.
Article by: TaxiPlus