A Private Members’ Bill that will focus on ‘overhauling’ licensing within the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) industry will face its second reading in September.
The MP presenting the new Bill, Darlington’s Peter Gibson, said the Bill was needed to keep up pace with ‘rapid innovation’ and to manage the ‘evolution’ in public transport.
Speaking exclusively to TaxiPoint, Peter Gibson MP said: “Earlier this year I was successfully drawn to introduce a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons. I have chosen to table the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill in the House of Commons.
“I was contacted by hundreds of third parties, all eager for me to work with them on their proposed Bill. However, it was clear to me that this Bill would have a considerable positive impact on the taxi and private hire vehicle industry and be beneficial to not only service users but also the wider industry. This Bill will ensure that the hard working and honest taxi and private hire vehicles drivers do not have their reputations tarnished by the small number that abuse their position of trust and do not respect their role as a professional driver.
“In July I met with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust who campaign to reduce the risk of violence and aggression throughout society, following the mysterious disappearance of Suzy in 1986 and I also met with the relatives of Sian O’Callaghan who was tragically murdered by a taxi driver on her way home from a nightclub in 2011. More recently we have witnessed the shocking story of Sarah Everard which has led to the new tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy, published on 21 July this year.
“The Taxi and Private Hire Vehicles Bill builds on the work already being done to address and prevent tragic instances such as these by ensuring that all those working in the taxi and private vehicle hire vehicle industry are suitable individuals and subsequently ensuring the safety of their passengers. The Bill will require, through clear and consistent legislation, which all licensing authorities must adhere to, the sharing of vital information on prospective taxi or private hire vehicle drivers and so assist licensing authorities in considering whether they are suitable for the role.
“This Bill has two parts. Firstly, the creation of a centralised database for use by all licensing authorities in England to enable them to obtain vital information when considering the suitability of licence applicants. Secondly, licensing authorities will also be required to report any serious safeguarding or road safety concerns, to the licensing authority which issued an individual of concern with a licence, requiring the licensing authorities to consider reviewing an individual’s licence.
“This legislation will mitigate the risk of unsuitable individuals working the current system to their advantage, with not all licensing authorities currently having access to the same data. Although most authorities do already adhere to good practices when considering whether to grant licences, they don’t currently all have access to data, or indeed share their data on refusals and revocations with other local authorities.
“I have met with many groups and businesses with an interest in this Bill and it has become apparent that there is still more work to do in this area. Although this Bill cannot fix everything it will go a long way in increasing the safety of passengers and instil greater confidence in the taxi and private vehicle hire sector.”
The ‘Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (safeguarding and road safety) Bill’ will be read for a second time on 10 September, where it is expected the taxi and PHV industry will learn more details about the proposals set out.