Clause 11 Deregulation Bill 3rd Feb 2015

Here is the clause 11 Lords text:

Clause 11: Private hire vehicles: sub-contracting
Amendment 4
Moved by Baroness Thornton
4: Clause 11, page 8, line 22, at end insert—
“(e) the person who made the booking has consented to their booking being sub-contracted to a second operator.
(1A) A licensing authority may exercise all its powers over a vehicle licensed as a private hire vehicle or taxi if it is operating in their area, even if the licence was issued by another licensing authority.”
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, these two amendments are both modest and simple. They concern consumer rights and customer safety. The right is that of the person booking a cab to know who will be turning up, whether it is the person whom they expect or someone else, that it is done with their knowledge and permission, and that if there is subcontracting, there is an audit trail of it. I would be grateful if the Minister could explain how many subcontracts might take place in one order for a cab and how that might be recorded.
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The amendments seek to mitigate the risk of subcontracting by requiring the consent of the hirer before a booking can be passed on. They also propose allowing a licensing authority to exercise its powers over a licensed private hire vehicle or taxi operating in its area, even if the licence was issued by another licensing authority.
We would have preferred the Government not to have proceeded at all with these clauses. There is still time for them to withdraw them, do the sensible thing and wait until the Law Commission’s full report can be taken forward instead of the pick and mix approach, which we believe is not based on what is safe and what is best for customers. We believe that customer safety could be undermined as, currently, only the licensing officers from the licensing authority where a vehicle and driver are registered have the power to take enforcement action.
In Committee, the Minister suggested that these Benches were against reform. That is not so. We are very much in favour of accessibility. More taxis being available for everybody is a good thing, particularly for those who are disabled. It is about how that is done. We on these Benches are not alone in our worries. Indeed, the Secretary of State for Transport said on the radio over the weekend:
“One of the things the Government has done is ask the Law Commission to look at the whole issue of licensing taxis and it is something that they have reported to us on and the Government are due to respond shortly. It will probably need, will need, almost certainly need primary legislation”.
The Minister for Transport, Claire Perry MP, held a seminar on increasing safety for women on public transport on 20 January. She said:
“The Department for Transport makes personal safety considerations a part of”—
in this case—
“all future rail franchise awards”.
We agree with her and, indeed, the Secretary of State.
Can the Minister assure the House that the same test of personal safety has been applied to these deregulatory reforms for taxis? If she cannot, I hope that she will consider accepting the amendments or bringing forward some of her own that do so. If she again prays in aid, as she did in Committee, that this is a similar regime to that which operates in London, I will ask her to consider that there were more than 111 rapes and sexual assaults between October 2011 and April 2013 where the indicated offender was a taxi or private hire driver in London. The Brighton and Hove taxi companies wrote to us and were vociferous in their opposition to this proposal. They say:
“Please can we move away from the pious, myth-making NONSENSE that the London Taxi system is the best in the world”,
and point out that it is as much in need of the reforms proposed by the Law Commission—as the rest of the country. They also point out that there were three assaults in the same period in the whole of Sussex.
The Law Commission has recommended that licensing authorities have the power to enforce standards in respect of out-of-area vehicles, which would be crucial for safety. The public, particularly vulnerable passengers such as women or disabled people, may call specific
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operators because they feel that that operator is both reliable and safe to travel with. This reform means that the public will lose the right to choose which operator they travel with, if someone calls operator A—their preferred choice—and operator B turns up. Amendment 4 stipulates that an operator must have the consent of the person making the booking before their booking is subcontracted and that there will be cross-border reinforcement. Indeed, in a letter from the Minister in December 2014 to Bryan Roland of the National Private Hire Association, she suggested that the Government were already thinking about this matter. I do not know the outcome of that thinking, but I sincerely hope that we are pushing at an open door here.
Noble Lords may have received a brief, as I did, from the Licensed Private Hire Association, which states:
“The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, (The Safety Charity who campaigned for Licensing in London alongside the LPHCA) agreed that restrictions on the ability to subcontract were inappropriate”.
It goes on to state:
“This was agreed by Sir George Young, Minister Glenda Jackson and Dr Jenny Tonge from the main parties”.
Leaving aside the promotion of my honourable friend Glenda Jackson MP, I asked the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for its view on this matter. This is what it said to me today:
“As a trust we have no objection to the principle behind the aims of this clause”—
I agree with that—
“often a risk to the public’s personal safety is a lack of safe transport, and any measure introduced to alleviate that is welcome”.
That is absolutely right. It continues:
“However under current regulation a licensing authority does not have the enforcement powers of vehicles and drivers operating outside their licensed area. The Law Commission’s report, published after these clauses were added to the Deregulation Bill, proposed extending the enforcement powers of all licensing authorities to deal with vehicles and drivers licensed in different areas. The proposals made under Clause 12 have not been made in conjunction with the Law Commission’s recommendations and therefore do not make adequate provision to allow licensing authorities to ensure the safety and practice of their drivers. Until there is a proposal to extend these powers and to introduce and enforce a robust audit trail to ensure the ability to trace bookings and their journeys we will be unable to support the proposal”.
4.45 pm
Taxis and minicabs are a vital part of our public transport system, They are vital for the elderly, disabled and those unable to drive, and are relied on to get young people, students and women home late at night. Councils regulate taxis and minicabs to ensure that vehicles are safe and conduct yearly checks to make sure that drivers are fit and proper to carry passengers, but we know that this system is open to abuse. In Milton Keynes, a man previously convicted of sexual assault was granted a minicab licence after a local councillor affirmed that he was of good current character. An inquiry into the child sexual exploitation in Rotherham concluded that taxis and minicabs were a major feature of sexual exploitation cases there. Ten different women and girls in the town had allegations against one firm alone.
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It is blindingly obvious that there is a need for comprehensive reform of our licence, taxi and car system. This is why the Government asked the Law Commission to look at the whole area, which it has done. If the Government will not wait for the primary legislation that the Secretary of State says is needed in this area, can they at least make safeguarding women and vulnerable groups their priority in this matter, and accept the amendments or bring forward their own to achieve these objectives? I beg to move.
Lord Deben (Con): My Lords, it is in the knowledge of this House that I very often find myself on the same side as the noble Baroness, but on this occasion I suggest that she is wrong, because she is unbelievably out of date. A good deal in this Bill is out of date as far as what is happening to the private hire and taxi business. One would have thought, from these amendments, that modern technology had not ever entered into the world. If you travel by certain companies, which shall be nameless, you are safer than you have ever been before, because they know exactly who you are, exactly who the driver is and exactly what the route is, and they can check these things. That makes people much safer. They do that without any regulation at all, without any local authority and without any of the people who know best entering into the discussion.
It is called the market. It works extremely well and it is much safer. I just hope that my noble friend will not be moved from the current situation, except perhaps to remind those who wrote this part of the Bill that it is already out of date because the technology has moved on. That does not mean that I am not entirely supportive of it, because it is better than what went before. But these are old fashioned proposals that have been put down as amendments. They will not achieve what they suggest, and it would be good if we could be a bit more digitally savvy when we come to find a way through the clear issue that the noble Baroness has put forward, which is the real desire to protect passengers—women in particular, but not just women—from the dangers that arise. I just wish that we did not sound a bit as if we did not know what was happening in the world outside.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland (CB): My Lords, I do not think that the noble Lord lives in the same world that I do, where many people are not digitally savvy. In some rural places in the north, they travel in taxis which appear out of the blue and feel extremely unsafe. I say that before saying to the noble Baroness that I hope this is not a matter of political process. I hope it is something where we think about those things which matter to this Government, which are safety and choice. I know that choice means that you have a range of options—I think that the noble Lord was indicating that we are moving towards that—but should we not wait for the Law Commission’s report, so that issues such as changes in digital technology can be taken on board and that we might recognise that the situation is not the same right across the country?
In many of my roles, I travel all over the UK in taxis. When I choose to travel by a taxi, as a consumer I expect that what I telephone for will turn up. Having worked in the vulnerable adult and child protection
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area for many years, I know that alternatives might turn up in which I or the child whom I want to be transported might well not be safe. We want to be absolutely sure when we make such a choice—as simple consumers, we have a right—that what we have asked for turns up at the door or we know that it is an alternative so that we can make an alternative choice.
Equally high on the agenda is safety, particularly as we have had so many situations up and down the country—we await reviews and more inquiries about the protection of children and vulnerable adults. This is a measure where you could really make a difference and listen and look again at these issues, rather than looking at it simply as a deregulation issue.
The Minister said earlier that this legislation is about getting rid of unnecessary burdens. I absolutely agree, having worked in a number of fields where there are such unnecessary burdens, but I do not think that this proposal is either unnecessary or burdensome. It is quite straightforward that if people want to provide a service they should be licensed.
The noble Baroness mentioned the situation in Rotherham, the report on which highlighted significant concerns in relation to taxis. That is quite recent—so the world out there is not safe. We have also had reports that many disabled and elderly people find it very difficult to deal with digital technology. Where I come from, in a large rural area, the only way of travel for some disabled and elderly people to their hospital appointment or somewhere else is by taxi because the bus comes twice a week. It is not a luxury; it is an essential way of travelling. They want to know that the taxi that turns up at their door is a taxi in which they will feel safe. Even if the contractor is safe, we know the anxieties that elderly, disabled and sick people have in terms of looking after themselves. Therefore, they have to be absolutely safe.
I only hope that if we have another child abuse inquiry, or an inquiry where something has happened to a vulnerable adult—God forbid, but that is the world out there—the Government will not find themselves in difficulty because they failed to take note of these voices of caution. It is only caution, because there are ways of thinking through this matter so that we do not reduce the capacity for business but we ensure that people are safe.
Lord Skelmersdale (Con): My Lords, I regret that the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, has not split this amendment into two parts, which it is quite possible to do, because I am fairly certain that a person who has made a booking would not on average ask the taxi company where the taxi was coming from. It may be that they envisage—rather like, I suspect, my noble friend Lord Deben—that, when they book a taxi online, they will get a questionnaire, one of the questions in which will be whether they consent to the taxi coming from another local authority area. That is all very well, but I live in Taunton—not Yorkshire, like the noble Baroness over there.
Noble Lords: Breckland.
Lord Skelmersdale: Breckland, I apologise: the west, shall we say.
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On occasions, I use taxis. I ring up—sometimes from a train, sometimes from London—and the taxi company says, “Yes, you will have a taxi arriving at 5.03, or whatever the time is, to meet your train”. Even when I get into that taxi, I do not know whether it comes from, say, Exeter, or rather closer in Devon, which is another local authority area. Quite honestly, I do not care. However, I care about the second part of the noble Baroness’s amendment, which says:
“A licensing authority may exercise all its powers over a vehicle licensed”,
in another area. In other words, I want my taxi to be safe: I do not want the wheel to fall off, the bumper to fall off or whatever it happens to be. To that extent, I go along with proposed new subsection (1A) in Amendment 4, but I cannot go along with proposed new subsection (1)(e).
Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Deben, in his stirring defence of the market and its role as a solution to all of the problems that occur, makes a compelling point. However, he also went on to talk about the changes that have happened because of new technology, suggesting that we therefore were safe as a consequence. We are only safer if the company holding and using that information is reputable and operates in a reputable fashion. In fact, you are opening up an enormous area of vulnerability because if somebody, for example, uses a particular firm where all this is electronically recorded, the precise movements are therefore on the record. If that firm is not responsible or, for example, does not maintain proper security, the vulnerable person is made even more vulnerable by that information being available. The noble Lord is of course right, under circumstances in which the company is reputable. There are enormous additional safeguards, because the precise route, the nature of the driver and everything else is on record; perhaps as a consumer, the person concerned has those data. However, that presupposes in the first instance that the company is reputable and has gone through an appropriate process.
Lord Deben: I entirely agree with the noble Lord. The point I am trying to make is that the very issue he is raising is covered neither by the Bill itself, nor by the amendment. It just makes us sound as if we are out of touch with what is actually happening. We ought, perhaps, to think again—not now, but in the future—about how to bring this into line with modern technology.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Lord, in his intervention, has made precisely the point I wanted to go into—that is, because these issues are not adequately addressed, the Government therefore need to think again. There is an opportunity to think again, because the Law Commission is looking at precisely this issue at the moment, but the Government, for reasons best known to themselves, have brought forward these proposals in advance of that Law Commission consideration. Surely the sensible thing, therefore, is for the Government to withdraw all these clauses so that we can wait for the Law Commission to
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come forward with clauses that would no doubt meet both the free market and the technological expectations that the noble Lord, Lord Deben, has.
At the moment, we are faced with a position where the Government are actually weakening the safeguards and are not recognising the context in which private hire firms are now operating. That is neither sensible nor acceptable, particularly if, by waiting for the Law Commission, we could have a more comprehensive and suitable solution.
The whole point about the subcontracting issue is that individuals assume—maybe they are naive to do so—that they are dealing with the firm whose number they know and are related to. They do not realise that that business could be passed on to somebody else. That might meet the needs of somebody getting off a train at 5.03, but it does not necessarily meet the needs of everybody. You at least should have the right to know that that has happened or the process that has taken place. That is why these amendments are important. Actually, the best thing of all would be for the Minister, when she replies, to say that the Government understand these issues and that perhaps what they are trying to do is not quite workable, then withdraw the clauses in their entirety at Third Reading—I do not suppose she could do that today—so that we can wait for the Law Commission to look at all these issues in the round.
5 pm
Viscount Ridley (Con): My Lords, I have great sympathy with what the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, said about the need for people to feel safe in taxis, and with what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, just said. However, I do not believe that the clauses weaken these aspects of the Bill. Clause 10 does not water down enforcement, policing or the responsibilities of local authorities. Local authorities can and do check the suitability of drivers. There is nothing to stop them sharing information with police. They do so already and they still will be able to do so. There is no change in the frequency of disclosure checks, for example.
As I said in Committee, it is worth bearing in mind that Clause 11 allows huge benefits from subcontracting for provincial taxi operators that are not available at the moment to taxis—except those in London. It allows better response times, reductions in dead mileage, subcontracting to trusted subcontractors when there is a sudden problem—in the event of a breakdown, for example—and more efficient deployment of vehicles. I gave examples in Committee of operators who must currently travel 50 miles to pick up someone to go two miles and then come all the way back again, and of vehicles that return empty from airports and hospitals, or that have to leave passengers in the lurch when there is a breakdown or accident outside their area.
All the subcontracting made possible in this clause is already possible for London. Operators are allowed to subcontract there. I do not see why it is not possible to make a level playing field. No one, not even the Suzy Lamplugh Trust or the Local Government Association, has suggested that there are peculiar problems arising in London as a result of subcontracting. Sure, there are problems in London, as elsewhere, but operators
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are still required to keep records so that there is an audit trail. Quite simply, it is already an offence to subcontract to an unlicensed operator. It is clear that there is an issue to be dealt with, but it is not dealt with by interfering with Clauses 10 and 11.
Lord Sutherland of Houndwood (CB): My Lords, I understand the good sense of legislation taking account of the modern digital world in which we live. However, in the present context, relying on that for safety and security has two major problems. One has already been mentioned, that many older people—who are among the most vulnerable—are not particularly good at this. That is a generational thing that will change but it is the reality now. Secondly, we are talking, significantly, about areas of the countryside where—we are reminded once again today—there is not adequate digital provision. To assume that every house isolated in the countryside has a proper online service so that it can book taxis in this way rather than by the old, traditional method of telephone is simply a mistake—at the moment.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords—
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD):For a moment, I thought your Lordships would have a very enjoyable debate with no opportunity for me to speak. Let me start by responding to the issue of why we are moving clauses ahead of our response to the Law Commission and—undoubtedly, some time in the next Parliament—primary legislation dealing with the much broader issues of the changing world of private hire and taxis. That is a huge area and there is significant work yet to be done.
There are two reasons for going early with these clauses. The first is safety. I point out to the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that subcontracting within a licensing district is permitted for everybody and has been for years and we know of no issues arising from it. In London 10 years ago this place and the other place agreed to subcontracting across districts to help deal with the problem of unlicensed cab drivers behaving in a criminal way and putting the public at risk. The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, gave some numbers for sexual assaults in London but the category she described included unlicensed drivers as well as taxi drivers and licensed private hire drivers. Unlicensed drivers have been the real problem within London. Permitting subcontracting so that someone calling up a company can be assured that a car will come and get them instead of being told, “Sorry all our cars are taken”, makes them far less tempted to get into an unlicensed cab crawling along the street attempting to get their business. That was the driver behind subcontracting in London and those who talk to people with experience of this in London will recognise that it has indeed been helpful in increasing safety. However, one sexual assault is always too many: we have to be vigilant and there is a great deal more to do.
One of the reasons I support moving ahead with this is my own experience of being out in more provincial areas, calling every number I could find for local taxi firms and finding not a single car available. This happened to me when I was going to visit a friend in a
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nursing home in a country area. I was very glad that it was not dark, that I was not standing there with several small children and that it was not pouring with rain because I think that had an unlicensed cab come by and offered me a lift I might well have been desperate enough to take it. That is not a situation we want. This measure is largely designed to make sure that there is a car available when someone calls a reputable licensed operator.
The other thing I want to clarify—I think there is real confusion over it—is subcontracting from an operator in one district to one in another district. Each operator has to be licensed in their own district and each of them can give the job only to a driver and a vehicle that are both licensed in their same area. So if you call an operator in District A and they give the job directly to a driver, both the driver and the vehicle have to be licensed within that area as well as the operator. If Operator A were to subcontract to an operator in District B, as would be permitted under this change in legislation, then Operator B could give the job only to a driver who is also licensed in District B with a vehicle licensed in District B, so the chain of accountability remains. I want to make that clear because it seems there has been incredible confusion.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: Can I just ask the Minister an honest question of clarification? In this age of technology, why can the person who has called the taxi not be told—because that is all that is being asked—that there is a different company coming and make the choice at that point that that is what they want to happen?
Baroness Kramer: Let me move on to exactly that issue because it refers to the first part of Amendment 4. We looked at this very seriously because consent is attractive. First, we looked at the existing situation. As I said, subcontracting across districts in London has been going on for a decade. We have never heard—and we genuinely asked around as much as we could—of anyone complaining that a car came to get them which was not from the firm that they called. You call the Yellow cab company in your area, and a cab from Sun arrives to pick you up. We have never found any complaints that people were not asked for their consent before that happened. So the question arises: is there a problem? Again, within individual districts, subcontracting has been permitted for as long as anyone can remember. We have not had any complaints and cannot find anybody saying “I wasn’t asked before the subcontracting happened within this licensing district”.
Then we looked at the practical application. The big companies—my noble friend Lord Deben underscored this—could probably handle it quite easily. For people who go to a website or an app to book a cab, some additional lines somewhere in the terms and conditions would probably cover the consent issue—not that I have ever met anyone who has ever read the terms and conditions. The burden will fall on small companies which rely on the telephone. When we first started to look at this, I was quite hopeful that a casual question such as, “Do you mind if we need to bring in a cab from another area?”, would do, but in this day and age, to be legally secure, in effect the operator would
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have to read out something very like those six or seven lines you would find in the terms and conditions. I suggest that would drive everybody batty. Small companies do not have legal staff on hand and creating that and having to say that routinely every time would be an imposition, particularly when we can identify no problem.
We want to make sure that small companies have flexibility. This brings me to the second reason why we have adopted these clauses because it is particularly important. It is that these are changing times. Small players will be able to create collaborations with other companies in another district to be sure that they will have a larger pool of companies. Their reputation is on the line and the original operator is always on the line for the booking. Having that greater reach of cars gives them the ability to compete against the big boys who, I suspect, would like to see many of them out of business. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Ridley for enumerating the many other business benefits—not running empty cars et cetera. It is particularly important for small players to have that flexibility, and it is another rationale for bringing this forward ahead of the Law Commission.
I have covered some of the reasons why we are concerned about the consent language. It appears attractive on the surface, but when we looked at it, it was becoming an impossible burden, particularly on small players. The enforcement clause raised more questions. First, it is only with regard to a vehicle. We currently have that chain of accountability—operator, licensed vehicle licence, driver licence—within the same enforcement authority, which is important. This clause deals only with the vehicle licence. It also fails to recognise the reality on the ground—I am sorry; I have forgotten which noble Lord made this point. Local authorities can delegate enforcement powers on this issue to other local authorities. With increased subcontracting, which will primarily be across the borders of neighbouring districts, we would not be at all surprised if various local authorities decide to collaborate or to delegate enforcement powers. That has some economies for them and will streamline enforcement.
At the moment, cars constantly cross district lines. It is quite possible that the car you get into is taking you shopping in another licensing district or to see Aunt Sally in another licensing district, so local authorities are very used to having to deal with the fact that cars are coming from other licensing districts and to communicating with the licensing district for enforcement purposes. Therefore they have experience in this area and deal with it on a regular basis. I therefore suggest that we do not have a particular problem here, and that what has been presented is a rather clear and narrow power that, frankly, would not contribute very much to effective enforcement.
Baroness Thornton: The noble Baroness keeps saying that there is no problem here. Why then, for example, do the student unions all say that their agreements with local taxi companies will be undermined and that they have problems? Those campus universities have huge problems with taxi companies going from one district to another and with the accountability of
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those companies. The noble Baroness knows that, because she will have received the same information that I did from Warwick, Coventry and Huddersfield.
5.15 pm
Baroness Kramer: I point out to the noble Baroness that she is describing a situation that exists today. I cannot answer to the individual situations, but it may well be that with a subcontracting arrangement in place it would be possible to have more secure arrangements for these various universities, which presently go to operators that cannot do the subcontracting that I have just described. However, there are many misconceptions about the relatively small changes that we are making and the benefits that they offer.
Baroness Thornton: These student unions are concerned about the safety of their students—that is their issue. The noble Baroness is dismissing those concerns and the safety issues that noble Lords have been asking her about. She needs to address the issues around safety here.
Baroness Kramer: I absolutely accept that safety has to be the primary issue. I make the argument that you could see these measures as only enhancing safety by making licensed vehicles or drivers more available to a wider range of people, through subcontracting from one operator to another. This system was adopted in London because it added to the safety of the travelling public. We have not allowed the rest of the country to have that benefit, and it is time we did. Having read much of the material that has come to me, I agree that there are many misconceptions around the clauses we have brought forward. However, it is important for us to look at the reality and make sure that we make these relatively small changes. Eventually there will be a major piece of primary legislation, so it is important that we do not pursue the amendments that the noble Baroness has brought forward and that we understand the benefits that will come from the clauses that have been proposed to provide for subcontracting across districts in the private hire industry.
Lord Harris of Haringey: Before the noble Baroness sits down, can she just explain to the House clearly why the Government are pressing forward with these changes rather than waiting for the report from the Law Commission? If her argument is that that will be long delayed, can she tell us for how long it will be delayed?
Baroness Kramer: I thought that I had explained that, but I will repeat it very quickly. Obviously, we are working on our response to the Law Commission. I have listened to this House today, and this will be a complex piece of legislation in the very much changing world of private hire and taxis, so it seems wrong to deny the public the benefits of simple changes that could be passed now. As I say, they both enhance safety and give flexibility and opportunity, particularly to the small players, who must live day to day. I see no reason not to take advantage of that possibility.
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Lord Harris of Haringey: So the Government have the Law Commission’s report at this stage?
Baroness Kramer: I am sorry, but I feel as if I am constantly bobbing up and down. Yes—we are preparing our response to the Law Commission.
Baroness Thornton: I thank noble Lords for this debate and for all their contributions. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Deben, that technology has moved on—he is absolutely correct. However, the principle of safeguarding people is one that you would want to operate whatever the technology or lack of technology that is being used to order your taxi, whether you do that online or not. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, for her contributions.
I need to be quite clear with the Minister that I have not said that we are opposed to flexibility. The Minister keeps putting this sally up, that we are opposed to the availability of more taxis. That is not the case; I have now said it twice on the record. In these amendments, we seek to ensure that people have a choice. The Minister dismisses the idea of consent in a very cavalier fashion; she says, in effect, “Consent is attractive, but we have looked at it and it is too complicated, so we are not going to go down that road”. Well, frankly, I do not think that is good enough. It is very important that people give consent as to whose cab they get into and when.
The Minister is right that local taxi companies will combine and provide a better service, and we want them to do so, but we need to ensure that it is done with the safeguarding of the travelling public in mind. That is what these very small and very modest amendments seek to do. I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, that we are not seeking to oppose these clauses. In fact, we are silent about Clause 10. We are seeking to make modest amendments to Clause 11 that address the issues of customer choice and the travelling public’s safety.
The Minister said that there were a lot of misconceptions out there. Well, frankly, if people are worried and have misconceptions, it is the Government’s job to put those to rest, and the Government have failed to do that. They have failed to make the student unions believe that their students will be safe with this legislation and failed to convince the Suzy Lamplugh Trust that this deregulation will make women safer. At the moment, the only things before the House are my amendments, which seek to do those things. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
5.22 pm
Division on Amendment 4
Contents 191; Not-Contents 235.
Amendment 4 disagreed.
Division No. 2

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