Wes submitted his first ten minute rule bill on Tuesday the 22nd March. The Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle [PHV] Operators (Regulation) Bill seeks to put fair competition and passenger safety at the heart of the taxi and private hire vehicle industry in London and across the country.
Speaking in the chamber, Wes said “The advent of new technology in the industry is revolutionising the way people navigate our great capital city; indeed, it is revolutionising transport in cities across the United Kingdom and the world.
“However, as we have seen on the streets of London, it also brings significant challenges. The Bill seeks to address some of those challenges, which have been neglected for far too long.”
An LBC investigation by Theo Usherwood has exposed the ease with which individuals can access a private hire licence without adequate insurance and The Guardian was able to demonstrate how easy it was for an Uber driver to pick up a customer, having provided fake insurance paperwork via the company’s operating system.
Some PHV drivers are also illegally plying for hire and touting, increasing the risk of passengers getting into cars driven by unlicensed and unknown drivers, with considerable risk to their safety. There’s also evidence that LGBT individuals, those with disabilities and those with guide dogs have been refused PHV.
The Bill proposes action in three areas to combat this. The first, ensuring that in order to obtain a PHV licence all drivers should complete an enhanced DVLA assessment, undertake a plying for hire and touting assessment, and be properly trained under the Equality Act 2010.
The second action is around insurance. The current system requires “hire and reward” insurance for all drivers where the responsibility for insurance rests with individual drivers. There is a higher cost for this insurance, which means that many PHV drivers can be tempted to opt for cheaper insurance if it’s accepted by a licensed operator. To resolve this issue, a system of operators’ insurance, that places the responsibility on operators as a prerequisite for obtaining their licence, should replace it.
Finally, the Bill makes provision for the tax liabilities of taxi and private hire vehicle companies. Companies should not be making huge profits by not paying their fair share of tax.
This Bill would also introduce a requirement for the Chancellor, or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to make an annual statement to this House on the progress of the OECD’s base erosion and profit-shifting project and the action that Her Majesty’s Government are taking to ensure that there is proper scrutiny in this area. These changes collectively would go some way towards levelling the playing field.
Concluding his speech Wes said, “They [cab drivers] are also small businessmen and women providing a world-famous service and struggling to make their families a good living. We owe them a chance to compete fairly, and we owe it to our great capital city to ensure that the iconic black taxi industry and the great iconic black taxi itself are not consigned to London’s history books. For these reasons, and so many more, I commend this Bill to the House.”
The bill is to be read a Second time on Friday 22 April. Watch Wes’ full speech here.