Taxi industry delight at government policy U-TURN on taxi licensing

Image credit: LEVC

Government have today announced a u-turn on policy by announcing their intentions to improve taxi and private hire legislation with standardised checks and a national database.

Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, has welcomed the Transport Secretary’s policy shift on taxi licensing, following his question in the House of Commons today.

In last week‘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.

He focused instead on “updating guidance“ but confirmed that despite previous commitments, the Government do not plan to bring new laws to Parliament.

However, this morning Mr Zeichner asked him: “There was widespread disappointment across the taxi and private hire sector last week, when the Secretary of State indicated to the Transport Select Committee that he would not be bringing forward legislation to tackle some of the safety issues around licensing. He will know that councils can bring forward high standards but they can’t enforce against drivers that are licensed elsewhere. Would he think again about that?“

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps responded by saying: “The Honourable Gentleman pressed me very hard about this matter at the select committee, and I have indeed been doing some work on it since.

“I can let him know today that we intend to go down the taxi and private hire vehicle standards approach, with standardised checks and a national database.

“I’ve spoken to Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, and he chaired the Task and Finish Group, and I invite the Honourable Gentleman along with others in the House to join us in that programme, and I thank him.“

Mr Zeichner comments: “I really welcome the commitments made today by the Government – we’ve long been promised safety reforms for taxi and private hire licences, to make sure that rogue drivers can’t shop around for them, and to widen enforcement powers so that councils can keep their areas safe.

“These were measures contained in my Taxi Safety Bill in the Private Members‘ Bills in the last Parliament – but it was unfortunately talked out by a Conservative backbencher. I hope that the Government can bring in this legislation again, as soon as possible, to keep passengers and drivers safe.“

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