The reforms are included in the Government’s Deregulation Bill which will be voted on by MPs on 23 June.
The Government’s proposed reforms to the taxi and minicab trade will enable people without a minicab license drive one when it is “off duty”, end annual checks on drivers’ licences, and allow minicab operators to subcontract bookings to firms in other areas.
There has been widespread criticism of the Government’s last minute decision to insert these reforms into the Deregulation Bill at a late stage in the Parliamentary process. Campaigners, industry bodies and unions are also warning that these changes will have severe safety implications, as local councils don’t have the powers to enforce the changes safely.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns for better personal safety, has raised concerns that enabling anyone to drive a licensed minicab will provide “greater opportunity for those intent on preying on women”.
The Local Government Association has said that “it is imperative that the Government withdraws these plans” to ensure passenger safety.
Labour will be voting against the Government’s changes to taxi and private hire law in the Deregulation Bill on 23 June.
Andrew Gwynne, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, has said:
“At present minicabs in my constituency are driven by people who have undergone criminal, medical and background checks with our councils in Tameside and Stockport. But the Government is threatening to remove these safeguards and let anyone drive an off duty minicab.
“I know many people in Denton and Reddish, particularly women and those with impaired mobility, rely on taxis and minicabs to get home safely. I’m worried that Minister’s plans will increase the number of rogue drivers on our roads.
“I’m calling on the Government to abandon these proposals and put passenger safety first.”
Richard Burden MP, Labour’s Shadow Roads Minister, said:
“The Government’s changes to taxi and minicab law are poorly drafted, badly consulted on and could result in real risks to public safety. The reforms mean that people getting minicabs won’t know if the person driving it is licensed to do so, can’t be sure whether it has come from the company they booked with, and won’t know if vehicle and driver have been safety checked.
“The taxi and private hire trade, safety charities, unions and councils are telling the Government these changes will put passengers at risk but out of touch Ministers are refusing to listen. Labour will vote against the Government’s rushed and risky proposals and stand up for the travelling public.”