DfT Taxi & PH trade “consultation” … then Local Authorities
James Padden, Head of Taxi and PSV Regulation Branch of the DfT, has written to “Taxi and private hire stakeholders” advising of changes to taxi and PH legislation which are being proposed in the Deregulation Bill.
(i) Allowing private hire operators to sub-contract bookings to operators licensed in a different district. This change will improve operators’ ability to meet passengers’ needs. And it will help to make the passenger’s experience so much more convenient.
(ii) Allowing anyone with an ordinary driver’s licence to drive a private hire vehicle when it is “off-duty”. The principal benefit of this measure is that a PHV could be used as a family car, freeing up many families from the need to run a second car and saving them money.
(iii) Making the standard duration for all taxi and PHV driver licences three years; and five years for all PHV operator licences. Shorter durations will only be granted on a case by case basis, where it is justifiable for a particular reason. This will reduce the financial and administrative burden of having to make more frequent licence renewals.
A possible fourth amendment
In the letter, the DfT is also asking the taxi and private hire trades outside London to provide them with “…examples of conditions attached to their licences which they consider to be overly restrictive or unreasonable.”
The purpose of the informal trade consultation is so that the Government can decide whether the case for Government involvement in the licence conditions set by local authorities.
Once the DfT have received information from the trade, it will give licensing authorities the opportunity to explain why they consider the conditions to be important and necessary.
The whole process will eventually lead the Government to consider the examples and weigh up the case for changing the law in such a way as to qualify local authorities’ powers to attach conditions to licences.
Why not wait for the Law Commission?
The Law Commission is due to publish its report and draft Bill at the end of April. The Government will then have a year in which to consider the report and prepare a response.
This timescale for considering the Law Commission’s report means that there will not be time to take forward a dedicated Taxi Bill before the next General Election.
That is why these changes are being introduced using the Deregulation Bill.