Clause 1 - Power to regulate pedicabs

Pedicabs (London) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 26 March 2024.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 2:51, 26 March 2024

I beg to move amendment 9, page 1, line 8, at end insert—

“(2A) When making or exercising its functions under pedicab regulations, Transport for London must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 7(1).”

This amendment requires Transport for London to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State in relation to the making of pedicab regulations and exercising TfL’s functions under those regulations.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Ways and Means, Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 1, page 1, line 9, after “must” insert

“carry out a public consultation including details of the proposed licensing framework and”.

This amendment would require Transport for London to carry out a public consultation before making pedicab regulations and would require that consultation to include details of the proposed licensing framework.

Amendment 2, page 1, line 10, leave out “whoever” and insert

“the London Pedicab Operators Association, Cycling UK and whoever else”.

This amendment would ensure that the London Pedicab Operators Association and Cycling UK would be consulted by Transport for London before TfL makes pedicab regulations.

Amendment 21, page 1, line 10, leave out “whoever” and insert

“local authorities, elected representatives, and whoever else”.

This amendment would require Transport for London to consult with local authorities and elected representatives as well as anyone else it considers appropriate before making pedicab regulations.

Amendment 4, page 1, line 10, at end insert—

“(4) Transport for London shall not make provision for regulating pedicabs in public places in Greater London until the Secretary of State has issued guidance under the provisions of section 7.”

This amendment would ensure that no regulation could be introduced by Transport for London until the Secretary of State for Transport had issued guidance to Transport for London about the exercise of their functions under pedicab regulations.

Clause stand part.

Amendment 8, in clause 2, page 2, line 4, at end insert

“or at a level that enables investment in pedicab infrastructure in Greater London”.

This amendment would allow pedicab licence fees to be set at a level that enables investment in pedicab infrastructure in Greater London.

Amendment 6, page 2, line 29, at end insert —

“(d) designate sites to be used as pedicab ranks.”

This amendment would allow Transport for London to use pedicab regulations to designate sites as pedicab ranks.

Amendment 12, page 2, line 29, at end insert—

“(d) make provision for the designation by traffic authorities of places where pedicabs may stand for hire.”

This amendment allows for the regulations to make provision for the designation by traffic authorities of pedicab stands.

Clause 2 stand part.

Amendment 17, in clause 3, page 3, line 11, at end insert—

“(2A) The regulations may only create offences relating to the use of a pedicab for any of the following purposes—

(a) carrying passengers for hire or reward;

(b) travelling to carry a passenger or passengers for hire or reward;

(c) returning from carrying a passenger or passengers for hire or reward; or

(d) plying for hire.”

This amendment ensures that offences created by pedicab regulations only apply when the pedicab is being used to carry passengers, when travelling to or from carrying passengers, or when plying for hire.

Amendment 14, page 3, line 20, at end insert

“, provided that equivalent conduct committed by the driver or rider of a motor vehicle is subject to a civil penalty.”

This amendment provides that civil penalties relating to pedicab drivers may only be used if equivalent conduct committed by a driver or rider of a motor vehicle would be subject to a civil penalty.

Amendment 15, page 3, line 22, leave out from “immobilisation” to end of line 24 and insert

“and seizure by a constable in uniform or by a civil enforcement officer of any pedicab that—

(a) is being used in a manner that is causing alarm or distress to members of the public, or

(b) is being driven in a manner that—

(i) contravenes section 35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861,

(ii) contravenes sections 29 to 32 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, or

(iii) in the case of a mechanically propelled pedicab, would amount to a contravention of sections 29 to 32 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 if committed on a pedal cycle without mechanical propulsion, if the driver has been given warning on a prior occasion by a constable in uniform or a civil enforcement officer that the driver is using or driving the pedicab in a manner described in this paragraph or paragraph (a).”

This amendment ensures that the powers to immobilise and seize pedicabs are assigned to police constables in uniform or to traffic officers duly authorised by local authorities, and that they are proportionate to the powers to immobilise and seize motor vehicles in section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002.

Clause 3 stand part.

Clause 4 stand part.

Amendment 18, in clause 5, page 4, line 17, leave out from “means” to the end of line 21 and insert

“a pedicab, as defined in section 1(2), which conforms to the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983;”.

This amendment defines “power-assisted pedicab” as a pedicab which conforms to the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983.

Clause 5 stand part.

Clause 6 stand part.

Amendment 3, in clause 7, page 4, line 32, leave out “may” and insert “must”.

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to issue guidance to Transport for London about the exercise of their functions under pedicab regulations.

Amendment 19, page 4, line 32, leave out “may” and insert

“must, within six months of the passage of this Act,”.

This amendment requires the Secretary of State to issue guidance to Transport for London about the exercise of their functions under pedicab regulations within six months of the passage of this Act.

Amendment 10, page 4, line 32, leave out “the exercise of” and insert

“making pedicab regulations and exercising”.

This amendment clarifies that the Secretary of State’s guidance to TfL encompasses the making of pedicab regulations, as well as the exercise of its functions under those regulations.

Amendment 11, page 4, line 37, at end insert—

“(3A) In preparing guidance to be issued under this section, the Secretary of State must have regard to the following objectives—

(a) the benefits to the environment, economic vitality and the health and quality of life that properly regulated pedicab services can provide;

(b) the safety of pedicab drivers and passengers;

(c) the need to minimise danger, disruption and disturbance to the public;

(d) the reasonableness of pedicab fares for the passengers, riders and operators of pedicabs;

(e) the designation of places where pedicabs may stand for hire;

(f) the need for licensing and other charges or requirements imposed on pedicab riders and operators, and the penalties for contraventions of offences created by pedicab regulations, to be reasonable and proportionate to the risks that pedicabs pose to their riders, passengers and the wider public.”

This amendment defines the objectives that the Secretary of State must have regard to when drawing up guidance on pedicab regulations, including to take into account the benefits that properly regulated pedicabs can provide.

Amendment 5, page 5, line 6, leave out “whoever” and insert

“the London Pedicab Operators Association, Cycling UK and whoever else”.

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult the London Pedicab Operators Association and Cycling UK as well as anyone the Secretary of State considers appropriate before issuing guidance.

Amendment 7, page 5, line 6, leave out “whoever” and insert

“with local authorities, elected representatives, and whoever else”.

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to consult with local authorities and elected representatives as well as anyone the Secretary of State considers appropriate before issuing guidance.

Clause 7 stand part.

Amendment 16, in clause 8, page 5, line 8, at end insert—

“‘civil enforcement officer’ has the meaning given by section 76 of the Traffic Management Act 2004;”.

This amendment is linked to Amendment 15.

Amendment 13, page 5, line 17, at end insert—

“‘traffic authority’ has the same meaning as in section 121A(1A) and (2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.”

This amendment is linked to Amendment 12.

Clause 8 stand part.

Clause 9 stand part.

Clause 10 stand part.

Government amendment 20.

Clause 11 stand part.

New clause 1—Protection of children and vulnerable adults—

“(1) The Policing and Crime Act 2017 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 177, in subsection (6), at end insert—

(g) the Pedicabs (London) Act 2024”

This new clause includes this Bill in the definition of “taxi and private hire vehicle legislation” for the purposes of section 177 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017. This permits the Secretary of State to issue guidance to public authorities exercising licensing functions so as to protect children and vulnerable adults.

New clause 2—Licensing functions under pedicab regulations: protection of children and vulnerable adults—

“(1) The Secretary of State must issue guidance to Transport for London under the provisions of section 177 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 as to how its licensing functions under pedicab regulations may be exercised so as to protect children, and vulnerable individuals who are 18 or over, from harm.

(2) The guidance must include a requirement for enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks to be a condition of licensing.

(3) The Secretary of State must arrange for any guidance issued under this section, and any revision of it, to be published.”

This new clause is linked to NC1. It would require the Secretary of State to issue guidance to TfL as to how its licensing functions under pedicab regulations may be exercised so as to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm, including compulsory DBS checks.

New clause 3—Conditions of licensing: Disclosure and Barring Service check—

“(1) Any provision related to conditions of licences under section (1)(a) may include a requirement for pedicab drivers or operators to have enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

(2) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision that is consequential on this section.

(3) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument and may not be made until they are approved by both Houses of Parliament.

(4) Regulations under this section may amend, repeal or revoke provision made by or under any legislation passed before this Act.”

This new clause enables TfL to include DBS checks as a condition of licensing for pedicab drivers or operators in any licensing provision made by Transport for London. It also permits the Secretary of State to make regulations to make any consequential provision.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

I begin by putting on record my appreciation for the positive way in which the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Guy Opperman, has engaged with our deliberations on this Bill.

As discussed on Second Reading, the differences of opinion on the Bill centre around whether its consequence, deliberate or otherwise, will be to legislate pedicabs out of existence. Pedicabs are to London what gondolas are to Venice. They are an essential part of the colour and vibrancy of our capital city. The Evening Standard recently warned of the damage being done to London’s nightlife and the night-time economy, and pedicabs are an essential part of that economy. I am sure we would not want to do anything to further undermine the viability of that night-time economy.

Is this Bill the equivalent of a morphine syringe driver to kill off pedicabs, or is it a necessary protector of responsible pedicab operators? Both I and, I think, the Minister want it to be the latter, and so does Cycling UK, which has a membership of some 70,000 cyclists—it is quite a large organisation—as well as the London Pedicab Operators Association.

I expressed my concern about over-regulation on Second Reading, as did my right hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh, who asked the Minister for an assurance that

“when this regulation comes into force, it will be light touch and not onerous, so that we do not kill this young and perfectly acceptable industry?”

And the Minister replied:

“The answer is yes and yes.”—[Official Report, 28 February 2024;
Vol. 746, c. 375.]

That clear and unambiguous response is extremely welcome.

It is important that we are able to deliver on that commitment. The question often arises of whether we can trust Transport for London. Those of us who live in London during the week, and others who are resident in London throughout the year, are quite concerned about Transport for London’s failure to listen on issues such as the ultra low emission zone extension and the proliferation of 20 mph zones.

Transport for London produced an outline of how it will use the process of regulation, which it will be given under this Bill, in January 2022, and it was updated in February 2024. The Minister made arrangements for the new draft to be circulated to all interested Members. Unfortunately, and I know it was not his fault, the draft was circulated not with his letter but late on Thursday, about half an hour after the House had risen and the deadline for tabling amendments had passed. My amendments therefore take no account of that document. Had I seen it before the deadline, I might well have tabled additional amendments.

Photo of Nickie Aiken Nickie Aiken Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster

I accept my hon. Friend’s point that there was an issue with the TfL regulations not being provided until Thursday. He may recall that he was involved in meetings with me and TfL on my private Member’s Bill back in 2021-22, when my office emailed him the same draft regulations on 20 January 2022. He has had a couple of years to read those regulations, which I do not believe have been changed.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

I hear what my hon. Friend says, but the draft regulations have been changed to take into account the discussions on the Bill in the other place. As she confirms, a document existed in 2022 yet, when I tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister asking for the draft regulations to be made available, I was told that they were not available. It is important that draft regulations are shared with all legislators and are not the subject of private meetings.

I am sure my hon. Friend Nickie Aiken is as eager as anybody to ensure that Transport for London’s intentions are explored so that we can be sure that it genuinely wants to retain the benefits of having a lively and vibrant pedicab industry in London. I will address the content we have now seen in the potential licensing framework for pedicabs in London, because I do not think it will excite much support from people who are keen to defend the interests of genuine pedicab operators.

There is an issue with the ability of pedicabs to lawfully ply for hire in London. When people think of pedicabs, they think of going up to the driver of a stationary pedicab on the side of a London street and asking for a ride. I am not aware of any statement from the Government suggesting that they believe that pedicabs should not be lawfully available to ply for hire yet, when one looks at the draft regulations, one can see that Transport for London is raising the question of whether or not pedicabs should continue to be able to lawfully ply for hire.

I come to another area of concern. Currently, there is no regulation of fares for private hire vehicles, and for good reason. As the document sets out, we do not have to regulate the fares of private hire vehicles because they are subject to a lot of competition. Yet the draft regulations suggest that TfL would wish to regulate the fares of pedicabs, even when they are being used, in essence, for private hire.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (AI and Intellectual Property) 3:00, 26 March 2024

Does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that in a previous debate on the Bill a great deal of concern was raised by a number of hon. Members from across the House about the conduct of some pedicab drivers and the level of fees sometimes levied on passengers, some of whom were tourists who were unaware of the nature of the business they were getting into? I believe Nickie Aiken raised that issue in the previous debate.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

I accept that, but those concerns relate to the use of pedicabs when they are plying for hire, and people then getting into them and being—to put it colloquially—“ripped off.” There should be regulation of fares in those circumstances, but where the pedicab is a private hire vehicle—where an agreement has been made prior to its hire—the terms and conditions will be a contractual arrangement between the hirer and the pedicab operator. That is exactly equivalent to what happens in the private vehicle hire sector at the moment, where there is no regulation of the fare. I do not understand why TfL is seeking powers to regulate the pedicab fare even when that is a private hire arrangement, rather than the subject of a hire arrangement made on the street.

Page 5 of the potential licensing framework for pedicabs in London states, “TfL would seek to introduce controls on fares for pedicabs, including fares for pre-booked journeys.” That is completely inconsistent with the point TfL makes in the previous paragraph, which says, “TfL does not regulate fares for private hire vehicles. As private hire vehicles are pre-booked, passengers are in a position to make a consumer choice before hiring the vehicle. Private hire vehicle fares are thus set by the operators in a competitive market, which allows price to be one of the factors passengers take into account when choosing which operator to book with.” So why is TfL seeking to introduce controls on fares for pre-booked journeys?

The next issue of concern, which has not been resolved, is whether pedicabs should be able to charge per passenger. Currently, taxis cannot charge per passenger; they charge per journey. One can understand why, because the taxi is licensed for a certain number of seats—for example, five—and the number of passengers does not make much difference to the speed of the vehicle. The situation for pedicabs is significantly different, because taking four passengers in a pedicab requires a lot more cycling effort from one person than one passenger does. So surely it is reasonable that pedicabs should be able to charge per passenger, rather than just per journey irrespective of how many passengers are there.

Alarmingly, the potential licensing framework makes reference to the possibility that TfL might require pedicab operators to accept any fare that was offered. So if a group of people got together and said, “You’ve got four seats in your pedicab, we wish to take all four of them and we require you to take us to Leicester Square”, the pedicab driver would be required to accept those four people, who might be heavy. That would be the case despite his wish to have only one or two people in his pedicab because he was not sufficiently fit to transport all four people in his pedicab. Those are further concerns I have about what is contained in these draft regulations.

The cycling fraternity are very worried about pedicabs being legislated out of existence, which is why they have argued that the pedicab regime should be national, rather than limited to London, and that it should not be an extension of the rules relating to taxis and private hire vehicles. I tabled a question to the Minister following his helpful intervention on Second Reading, when he talked about the issue of licensing authorities across the rest of the country and referred to paragraph 8.3 of his Department’s publication “Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing best practice guidance for licensing authorities in England”, which was updated on 17 November. In that update, the Department advised that licensing authorities “should make appropriate adjustments” to take into account the demand for pedicab services in their area.

During the earlier debates, we had heard that some such areas include Oxford, Salisbury, Bristol and Cambridge. So I tabled a written question to the Secretary of State asking

“what information his Department holds on (a) the number of pedicabs outside Greater London that are licensed as (i) taxis and (ii) private hire vehicles and (b) the number and proportion of those pedicabs that are in (A) Oxford, (B) Salisbury, (C) Bristol and (D) Cambridge;
and if he will make an assessment of the potential impact on the number of licensed pedicabs of paragraph 8.3 of his Department’s guidance entitled Taxi and private hire vehicle licensing best practice guidance for licensing authorities in England”.

The answer I received from the Minister on 25 March rather ducked the question:

“Outside London pedicabs can be licensed as taxis. Pedicabs cannot be licensed as a private hire vehicle as legislation defines a private hire vehicle as a motor vehicle. The Department for Transport issues guidance on licensing taxis and private hire vehicles to authorities who should consider the recommendations made and their obligation under the Regulators’ Code to carry out their activities in a way that supports those they regulate to comply and grow. The Best Practice Guidance…sets out that where there is local interest….licensing authorities should make appropriate adjustments…Subject to the legal requirements, it is for licensing authorities to consider”.

What the Minister did not say was what impact, if any, the change in the best practice guidance that he issued has had on pedicab operators or on people being able to start pedicab operations outside London. The answer, as far as one can gather, is that outside London there are no licensed pedicab operations, because, despite the Government’s apparent best intentions, those who wish to operate pedicabs outside London using the taxi and private hire vehicle regulations are unable to get their operations off the ground. That is largely because of the regulatory burdens and the costs associated with insurance, apart from anything else.

There are those who believe, as I do, that pedicabs are a highly environmentally advantageous means of transport: the pedicab driver is taking good exercise in cycling his pedicab and it is not causing any emissions. In addition, pedicabs enable people to get from one part of London to another and to have an enjoyable experience. In the same way that not many people in Venice use gondolas as a means of getting from A to B quickly, pedicabs are not used as an alternative to the bus or the underground. They are there for a bit of fun and recreation. Why would this Conservative Government want to legislate them out of existence? I do not think they want to do that, which is why I have proposed a series of amendments designed to tighten up the pedicab regime.

My first amendment

“requires Transport for London to have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State in relation to the making of pedicab regulations and exercising TfL’s functions under those regulations.”

My point is that the making of the regulations is what is important rather than the exercising of the functions under them, so the amendment requires Transport for London to have regard to that. That links to the requirement in amendment 19 to ensure that the Government produce the guidance within six months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent. Without that provision we could have a situation where the Government are required by law to produce regulations, but there is no time limit on that.

As an example of how time lapses, I remember that just over five years ago, on a Friday in this Chamber, my right hon. Friend Sir Greg Knight brought forward a Bill to control bad behaviour by rogue parking operators, who can cause abuse at the behest of transport organisations, access driver and vehicle details, and impose severe penalties, including enormous fines, on alleged miscreants who have parked on private property. The Government assured us that a code of practice would be drawn up, and I put forward an amendment specifying the period within which that should be done. I was assured by the then Minister—none other than the person who is now our Prime Minister—that my amendment was unnecessary, but five years later that code of practice has still not been produced, to the frustration of motorists up and down the country. That is why we need to include an amendment that specifies the timescale within which the Government must produce their guidance.

Amendment 19 suggests a timescale of six months. Transport for London could introduce its regulations thereafter, having taken into account the Government guidance. Clause 7 is purely permissive: it permits, not requires, the Government to issue guidance to Transport for London. It is essential that the Government issue guidance that ensures Transport for London realises it will not be allowed to prevent pedicabs plying for hire in London; it will not be able to require pedicab operators to put a maximum of four heavy people in their cab and not get any extra fee for transporting them; and it will not be able to require other potentially damaging provisions in the draft regulations.

My next amendments relate to consultation. Amendment 1

“would require Transport for London to carry out a public consultation… to include details of the proposed licensing framework.”

It is clear from the document that has been produced that Transport for London is intent on doing that, so I will not press that amendment. However, we need to be more specific about the people with whom the consultation should be carried out, so amendment 2 says that the consultation must include

“the London Pedicab Operators Association, Cycling UK and whoever else”.

Currently, the Bill says:

“Before making pedicab regulations, Transport for London must consult whoever it considers appropriate.”

Why is that so vague? It needs to be much more specific. I am pleased that Sarah Olney has tabled an amendment that deals with the same concerns. She seeks to spell it out in a slightly different way, but her amendment 21 reflects our joint concern.

Amendment 4 provides that

“Transport for London shall not make provision for regulating pedicabs in public places in Greater London until the Secretary of State has issued guidance under the provisions of section 7.”

As I have said, if we have a requirement for the Secretary of State to issue that guidance within six months, that point is covered off as well.

The London Pedicab Operators Association and Cycling UK have raised the issue of where pedicabs will be able to stand. We already have taxi ranks. If we are to have a properly functioning pedicab regime in central London, there needs to be some provision for the designation of places where pedicabs may stand for hire. Amendment 12 requires that the regulations

“make provision for the designation by traffic authorities” of pedicab stands. When one walks around London these days, one often finds the pavements littered with bikes, many of which have fallen over and some of which are still on their stands. They obstruct the pavements and there does not seem to be any effective regulation of them. It would be ironic if Transport for London were to single out pedicab operators as not being able to have anywhere to put their pedicab and rest while plying for hire, while the users of what I still call Boris bikes seem to be able to dump their bikes wherever it suits them in London, causing obstruction to the highway and pavement.

Amendment 17 would ensure that the offences created by the pedicab regulations apply only when the pedicab is being used to carry passengers, when travelling to or from carrying passengers, or when plying for hire. Many pedicabs are used for the transport of goods around London, which is obviously an environmentally friendly means of doing so. Concern has been expressed that if the regulations are designed only to protect passengers and their safety and security, there could be a situation that we do not want to see where the pedicab driver who is just carrying goods finds himself subject to the same potential offences as those carrying passengers.

Photo of Nickie Aiken Nickie Aiken Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 3:15, 26 March 2024

It is important to note that Pedal Me, an organisation that carries out freight deliveries via pedicabs, has always been supportive of the Bill, because it firmly believes that there should be regulations and that the whole industry should be properly regulated. It already ensures that its drivers are properly checked and safe, and that its vehicles undergo regular, proper security and safety checks. It is an important point to make that parts of the industry—particularly those that carry freight—are supportive of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making that point, which is similar to one made by the London Pedicab Operators Association, which has been campaigning for 20-plus years to have proper regulation of pedicabs so that its business can be carried out in a lawful and responsible way and not be plagued by rogue operators. It is good to hear that the organisation to which she referred is of a like mind. Indeed, I think nobody across the House is against the idea of having some regulation of pedicabs. The difference is in whether we want to introduce safeguards that will prevent those regulations from being so stringent that they regulate pedicabs out of existence.

When my hon. Friend and I had the discussion to which she referred earlier, she was unfortunately unable to commit—in what was her Bill at that stage—to including provisions that would have set that out in clear language. I suspect that was because, as we know, one of the organisations that would like to legislate pedicabs out of existence is the London Taxi Drivers Association. That is perfectly understandable—it is much easier for its drivers if they have fewer competitors on the streets—but we owe it to the people who have transformed transport for people in the centre of London, particularly in the late evenings and past midnight, and have introduced this alternative: namely, the provision of pedicabs.

Amendment 15 would ensure

“that the powers to immobilise and seize pedicabs are assigned to police constables in uniform or to traffic officers duly authorised by local authorities, and that they are proportionate to the powers to immobilise and seize motor vehicles in section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002.”

I hope that that is a no-brainer and that, in responding, the Minister will be able to assure us that exactly that will happen in practice. At the moment, it is not clear in the regulations that Transport for London has that in mind. It seems to be keen on the fixed penalty notice regime, with all the potential injustice that flows from that.

Amendment 18 is on how we define a pedicab. The amendment would ensure that power-assisted pedicabs—pedicabs not just driven by human effort but assisted with a battery—are defined as a pedicab that conforms to the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations 1983, thereby securing some consistency across the regime. As you will know, Sir Roger, a power-assisted pedal cycle under those regulations is not allowed to go more than 15.5 mph, although apparently quite a lot of them do. I have seen cyclists going a lot faster than 15.5 mph, but Transport for London has it in mind in the draft regulations to require pedicab operators to install equipment—in effect a speed limiter—that would prevent the pedicabs from going faster than 15.5 mph. That must reinforce the case for saying that electrically assisted pedicabs should be regarded as electrically assisted cycles rather than as other sorts of powered vehicles. There is a clear distinction in law between vehicles subject to the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles Regulations and those that are not, which could be regarded as ordinary motor vehicles.

Whether we define a pedicab as a cycle or as a motor vehicle will have significant implications in third-party liability insurance. One of the biggest constraints on pedicab operators is the cost of insurance. The regulations will rightly require insurance, but it is important that they should be drafted in such a way as to make it easier for the costs of that insurance to be less penal than they might otherwise be if pedicabs were defined as equivalent to an ordinary vehicle.

I have referred to amendment 19, and amendment 3 offers a less preferable alternative.

Amendment 10 would clarify that which is not clear in clause 7: that the Secretary of State’s guidance to Transport for London should encompass the making of the regulations as well as the exercise of the functions under those regulations. You will appreciate the difference between those two propositions, Sir Roger. I look forward to hearing whether the Minister can provide us with some reassurance in relation to that guidance.

Amendment 11 goes back to the objectives of this Bill. Chris Smallwood, the spokesman for and on behalf of the London Pedicab Operators Association, has written to me to express his support for my amendments, and he has suggested a number himself. He has said that he has had introductory meetings with officials from TfL. He names them, but I will not repeat their names in the House. He says:

“A concern was that when questioned about the objectives that TfL’s regulations are seeking to achieve, they”— those officials—

“talked only about the safety of pedicab drivers and other road users, which of course is a very important objective, and is reflected in our proposed amendment on the objectives for the Regulations. However, they seemed reluctant to acknowledge that a well-regulated pedicab sector could provide health, environmental and other benefits, and that securing those benefits should also be an objective.”

He went on to say:

“It’s not essential that this should be written into the Bill itself, if the Government states that these objectives be written into their guidance to TfL.”

I hope that, in his response, the Minister will be able to assure us that those objectives will be written into the guidance to Transport for London, because it appears from what is being said by TfL officials, representatives from Cycling UK and the London Pedicab Operators Association that that is not common ground at the moment, which it should be. I hope that my amendment 11, which sets out the issues to which the Secretary of State must have regard when preparing the guidance, is both helpful and constructive.

Amendment 5 repeats the point made earlier about the need to consult with the London Pedicab Operators Association, Cycling UK and whoever else is thought appropriate. Amendment 16, which is linked with amendment 15, would define a “civil enforcement officer” as having the same meaning as is given in section 76 of the Traffic Management Act 2004. Amendment 13 would insert a provision that a “traffic authority” has the same meaning as in section 121A(1A) and (2) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Let me turn now to the new clauses and amendments put forward by other Members—I look forward to hearing their contributions. I fear, however, that the collective consequence of those amendments and new clauses would be to make it even easier for pedicabs to be legislated out of existence, rather than facilitating a positive regime, which is what I want, where pedicabs are welcomed, encouraged and enabled to contribute to the life of London. At the same time, the Conservatives would be seen to be supporting the hard-working small businesses that are involved in this perfectly legitimate activity.

I say good luck to all those who wish to promote the cause of pedicabs not just in London, but across the country. Hopefully, in due course, the Government will ensure that pedicabs become a much more widespread means of transport in places where they are not currently used, despite the efforts of a few entrepreneurs, I hope the Government will introduce appropriate regulations so that it will be not just London but the United Kingdom that is prided across the world as having this very important form of transport.

Mr Evans, may I say what a pleasure it is to be speaking with you in the Chair? However, having said that, I am very grateful to Sir Roger for not having interrupted me once during the time that I have been speaking. I hope that that is an indication of the genuine good will that exists across the House about the importance of this issue and how we need to get to grips with it and resolve it amicably.

This issue has been going on for more than 20 years. As I mentioned on Second Reading, it could have been dealt with in the 2005 private legislation, which was brought forward by London authorities. It has never been implemented because there has always been a conflict between those in London who want to legislate pedicabs out of existence and those who wish to have a properly licensed regime with good, effective and proportionate regulation. On that basis, I commend my amendments to the Committee.

Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

It is a pleasure to speak in my inaugural Committee of the whole House on behalf of the official Opposition. As we set out on Second Reading, Labour is clear that the Bill can help to sustain a thriving London pedicab industry that is also safe and trusted by its customers, and we support its progress. However, there are two areas in which Labour believes that the Bill can be improved: pedicab infrastructure, and the crucial safeguard of requiring enhanced disclosure and barring service checks for pedicab drivers.

Amendment 8, which was tabled in my name and those of my Front-Bench colleagues, would enable Transport for London to use pedicab licence fees for investment in pedicab infrastructure in London. Alongside passenger safety and unregulated fare charging, one of the biggest issues presented by unregulated pedicabs is the nuisance of operators blocking pavements and roads as they ply for trade. The Heart of London Business Alliance, which represents over 600 businesses across London’s west end, is clear that pedicabs frequently block pavements and roads outside many of its members’ premises. That can cause chaos at busy periods, such as when many hundreds of people are filing out into the street after a west end show.

The amendment would enable Transport for London to use fees levied from pedicab licences to invest in infrastructure that supports the industry. That infrastructure could include designated pedicab ranks in certain areas, designed to relieve the nuisance of blocked pavements by giving operators a specific area in which to pick up customers. TfL has already set out in its potential licensing framework that it will consult stakeholders on the provision of pedicab stands. I hope that the Heart of London Business Alliance, along with other associations and bodies, including the London Pedicab Operators Association, can feed into those discussions.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My hon. Friend is making a good closing speech on why regulation is important. Nickie Aiken and I share the view that the Bill strikes the right balance between allowing a sustainable and supported pedicab industry to develop, and giving Transport for London the powers that it needs to ensure that the sector runs safely. Does he agree?

Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

I agree, but there could be enhanced DBS checks, which our new clause 3 would provide for.

As I have said, TfL has already set out in its potential licensing framework that it will consult stakeholders, and I hope that that will include the London Pedicab Operators Association. Of course, although it is vital that fees are set at a level that enables investment, they must remain proportionate. We are trying to provide for a prosperous pedicab industry, after all, so we must ensure that fees are not prohibitive. Clause 2(4) already provides for TfL to set fees at a level that enables the recovery of costs incurred for administering the licensing scheme. Licensing fees being set on a cost recovery basis is fair and proportionate. Amendment 8 to clause 2(4) would simply grant TfL a degree of flexibility while acknowledging the benefits that investment in pedicabs infrastructure can have.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (AI and Intellectual Property)

My hon. Friend is making an excellent speech clearly setting out the importance of having the right balance. Does he agree that, from this work in London, lessons could be learned for other towns and cities around the country, and that encouraging the pedicab industry and other delivery by bicycle in a sensitive way around the country could generate a great number of local jobs and remove fumes and other menaces from the public realm?

Photo of Simon Lightwood Simon Lightwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

My hon. Friend makes a very important point; hopefully, during TfL’s consultation, it will engage with those other organisations to ensure maximum benefit. Labour’s priority, after all, is to grant TfL the flexibility it needs to implement a regulatory regime that promotes safety while also allowing the regulated pedicab industry in London to flourish. Naturally, infrastructure such as pedicab stands would be competing against many different demands for the use of central London’s kerbsides, and it will remain TfL’s responsibility to work with local authorities on where infrastructure can be viably located.

Some hon. Members may not agree that this Bill is an appropriate place to discuss pedicab infrastructure. Labour believes that on the contrary, the conduct of pedicab drivers and the safety of the public are undeniably linked to TfL’s ability to fund and make provision for infrastructure that supports a regulated pedicab industry. Amendment 8 clarifies one potential revenue stream for the provision of that infrastructure, and I hope the Government will consider its merits carefully.

I now turn to new clauses 1 to 3, which stand in my name and those of my Front-Bench colleagues. All three new clauses concern the safety of children and vulnerable adults using pedicabs. As we heard on Second Reading, and as has been reported widely in the media and by numerous stakeholders, misconduct by pedicab operators arguably provides the strongest case for the desperate need to regulate the industry. Blocking streets and pavements, reckless driving and noise nuisance are all important areas that regulation will address, but they pale in comparison with the vital responsibility we have to ensure that TfL has the power to ensure public safety effectively. As TfL’s proposed licensing framework sets out, that emphasis on safety will be its guiding principle for pedicab regulations.

At the front and centre are eligibility requirements for operators and drivers. TfL has set out a raft of proposed licensing requirements, including alignment of visa status requirements with taxi and private hire licensing, English proficiency, and highway code and hazard perception awareness. That is of course welcome, but TfL is also clear that it would like to see compulsory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks for pedicab drivers, again in line with the taxi and private hire requirements. That should be a vital component of ensuring the safety of pedicab customers, but TfL has explicitly stated on page 5 of its draft licensing framework that it would require changes in legislation, because while clause 2(6)(a) of the Bill empowers TfL to regulate licensing eligibility, enhanced DBS checks may not form part of those requirements if TfL does not have the right powers. Those difficulties were raised in the other place and were acknowledged by the Lords Minister himself.

The draft licensing framework also makes a clear distinction between basic and enhanced DBS checks, and explicitly states that enhanced DBS checks for pedicab drivers would be TfL’s preference. I say for the benefit of colleagues that an enhanced DBS check may show information held by local police forces on individuals. That intelligence may prove vital when deciding whether to award a licence to a pedicab driver, and it is absolutely right that TfL should be able to require enhanced checks. While enhanced DBS checks are not a panacea, they are clearly an important component of thorough eligibility requirements. Labour recognises the need to balance getting the Bill swiftly on to the statute books with the need to ensure that it conveys sufficient powers to TfL to truly make pedicabs a trusted and safe mode of transport in London. If TfL does not have the right powers to vet pedicab drivers through enhanced DBS checks, that will threaten its ability to truly implement a watershed regulatory framework.

Labour’s new clause 1 would add this Bill, upon Royal Assent, to the list of existing taxi and private hire vehicle legislation under section 177 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017. As colleagues may be aware, section 177 empowers the Secretary of State to issue statutory guidance on how licensing authorities can ensure the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. Including pedicabs in the list of licensed activities covered by the statutory guidance would be a crucial step towards a safer pedicab industry.

Labour’s new clause 2 is designed to build on new clause 1 by turning the Secretary of State’s power to issue statutory guidance to TfL into a duty. Crucially, under subsection (2), this guidance would also include a requirement for enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks to be a condition of a licence. In concert with new clause 1, this new clause would equip TfL with the powers it needs to properly regulate in the name of safety by including enhanced DBS checks as a baseline standard for driver eligibility.

Finally, Labour’s new clause 3 would insert into the Bill the power for TfL to make enhanced DBS checks as a condition of a licence to operate a pedicab, and provides for the Secretary of State to amend the relevant secondary legislation to facilitate this. It is important to emphasise once again that these are powers that Transport for London has explicitly said it wants to use.

If we are to truly place safety at the heart of these regulations, TfL must have the power to mandate an enhanced DBS check for all pedicab drivers, and the three new clauses provide a way to achieve that. However, in the spirit of getting the Bill on to the statute book as urgently as possible, if it is clear that these amendments do not have the support of the House, I am content to not push them to a vote.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 3:45, 26 March 2024

I wish to address all the amendments that have been put down by all colleagues. I am conscious that Sarah Olney representing the Liberal Democrats is not present, but I will deal with her amendments 21, 6 and 7 very briefly. On her amendment 21, the consultation will happen as she seeks. On her amendment 6, clause 2(7) addresses her concerns on that. On her amendment 7, I believe that that is covered by clause 7(6).

Simon Lightwood has put forward a number of amendments. He and I have discussed this on a previous occasion and prior to today, and I will address a couple of his key points. They were made in the best possible way and in the right spirit, being conscious of what was discussed in the other place. On his new clause 1, we believe it is not necessary given that clause 7(2) already achieves the policy intention by specifying that the Secretary of State’s guidance may include guidance about TfL’s functions. The key point is that we believe clause 7(2) addresses the overarching themes.

The crucial point the hon. Member wants to make is about DBS checks, and I acknowledge that point. Clearly, there are the primary checks we have repeatedly discussed in the past, but I am strongly instructed that the appropriate way to deal with these matters is to make amendments to the exceptions through the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002, under the negative procedure, and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, under the affirmative procedure.

I can tell the Committee that the Home Office and, in particular, the Ministry of Justice are currently considering a range of proposals for changes to such eligibility, and we are looking to bring forward a consolidated package of changes in due course. I am not able to do that at this stage, and I do not feel that this Bill is the right venue to do it. However, the hon. Member’s point is well noted, has been taken on board and is very much live in the Ministry of Justice’s considerations.

My hon. Friend Sir Christopher Chope, in his typical way, made a heartfelt speech setting out his genuine concerns and his genuine desire to ensure that there is a pedicab business on an ongoing basis post regulation. I welcome his concern on that point, and as a strong Conservative I want to see exactly the same as him. I put that on record, and I make it very clear that we want a thousand flowers to bloom and we want pedicabs to continue on a long-term basis.

I know there is a desire to trade who said what over the last few years, but I want briefly to put on record some of the comments from some of the key organisations engaged here. Clearly, the London Pedicab Operators Association has made a variety of comments down the years. On 7 November 2023 one of the spokesmen, Mr Schroder, stated:

“It’s handy for us to have legislation and rules and regulations for the operators which includes insurance…we’ve been competing against operators who don’t follow any rules, who can do what they want, and that makes it difficult… It’s a shame that they don’t involve the industry in making the decisions, because then it’s take it or leave it.”

Mention was made of Mr Smallwood, who stated in August 2022 that he was “optimistic” because probably for the first time, all parties have a determination to finally establish a bespoke regulatory regime for pedicabs that extends throughout the country. He said this was a “positive and exciting” opportunity, and perhaps a singular chance in the foreseeable future to resolve this long-standing issue. He added—I think this is relevant to consideration of whether we are creating a bespoke arrangement to allow an organisation to continue in a safely regulated way—that regulations across Europe and the USA are simple, straightforward and effective. Clearly it is possible to regulate pedicabs and at the same time to allow the industry to flourish.

Photo of Matt Rodda Matt Rodda Shadow Minister (AI and Intellectual Property)

Will the Minister reflect on the benefits of this regulatory approach being brought forward to look at other comparable new and emerging forms of transport, particularly electric bikes and scooters? There is a great deal of concern among my constituents and others that we need a sensible approach to these new vehicles that encourages the use of more modest and environmentally friendly transport, but that also keeps them off pavements and avoids people being scared to walk down the street. Will he commit to looking into that important matter as well?

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman tempts me to go somewhat beyond the Bill, and I will try to address that issue in a couple of ways. Clearly, the Department for Transport must look at all types of vehicles, in whatever shape or form, that utilise the roads, including cycles and various types of scooter and the like. It is complex legislation, as we are showing by dealing just with the simple issue of pedicabs, but it is unquestionably the case—I speak as the Minister who answers for accessibility issues—that this cannot be the long-term situation. I accept that a research project is ongoing in respect of these alternative vehicles, but that cannot be the case long term.

It is my humble opinion that we have an unregulated system where vehicles can be deposited on the pavement, and those who have accessibility issues, or who are blind or have other disabilities, are unquestionably compromised by that. There must be regulation going forward. I am keen to see that but again—this slightly touches on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch—there has to be a way to get the right form of regulation to allow this to go ahead. To be fair to successive Mayors of London, having what are sometimes called Boris bikes, and sometimes called other types of bikes, with a docking station, has been exceptionally successful at getting people out of a bus or car, and it is the right thing to do. I am utterly on board with what the hon. Gentleman says. It is for all parties to look at their transport manifestos, but it would unquestionably be my view, as a very junior and humble Minister, that we must consider that issue.

Ben Knowles of Pedal Me stated that pedicabs

“have been undermined by the business models under which they’re run and by the lack of regulation… So I’m really excited to see this regulation coming in because I think it might help boost standards across the industry and turn it into the reputable, useful service it always should have been.”

To assist my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, and all colleagues, I asked TfL to update, improve and enhance its draft regulations, and I wish to try to address that briefly. I do not think I have ever come across a Bill that is so brief but has such detailed draft regulations for pre-scrutiny. I have done this job for 14 years, and I have never seen such copious detail.

Photo of Nickie Aiken Nickie Aiken Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster

My hon. Friend is making an important point. I have not always seen eye to eye with the current Mayor, but on the regulation of pedicabs we are absolutely at one. I know from his transport strategy that he wants to encourage more cycling and more green transport, which pedicabs are. The last thing the Mayor of London wants to do is eradicate pedicabs, and the fact that these draft guidelines have been put together and that the Mayor has worked closely with the Department for Transport make it clear that they want this regime to work.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

May I put on record my agreement with my hon. Friend? The Department for Transport and TfL have worked closely to make progress. There is a desperate desire to get regulation ongoing, so that pedicabs can go forward as a properly regulated business. To be fair, TfL has put that in writing, and I briefly mention the comments at paragraph 2, which states

“we recognise the need for regulations to not only improve safety but to minimise the other associated negative impacts pedicabs have on London, from congestion on streets and pavements, to loud music causing public nuisance or disproportionate fares undermining London’s reputation as a global tourist hub. Once this behaviour is effectively managed through a regulatory regime however, we believe there are a number of benefits pedicabs may have, especially in central areas, where these services could offer a green and space efficient option.”

I do not think TfL could have been any more clearer about its intent to have a regulatory regime, but also a safe regime.

Photo of Florence Eshalomi Florence Eshalomi Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I thank the Minister for making those points, and I thank Nickie Aiken. It is fitting, as we are coming to the last few debates in the Chamber before Easter, that the Bill has been resurrected perhaps five times. We are nearly there. On what the Minister has just outlined, does he agree that there is cross-party support for seeing a pedicabs industry that works, that supports customers and drivers, and that can flourish? Unfortunately, the current situation is causing tensions, hence why we need this legislation passed quickly.

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

It is unquestionable that this Bill has cross-party support. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch, who has understandable concerns, is supportive of light-touch regulation on an ongoing basis.

May I just address a couple of extra points? It is on the record that the Bill does not require a statement under section 13C of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which is good news.

I will be moving my amendment 20. As for my hon. Friend’s amendments, I regret that I will disappoint him, as I do not agree with them, but I will deal with them briefly. Amendment 9 is covered by clause 7(5). Amendment 1 is covered by clause 1(3), which requires a statutory public consultation. We have the updated and published February 2024 guidance. On amendment 2, those bodies will be consulted, and no reasonable consultation could possibly go ahead without them being involved. Amendment 4 is dealt with by clause 7. Amendment 12 is the same issue as raised by Sarah Olney.

On amendment 17, the Bill is unquestionably for pedicabs transporting passengers. Amendment 14 is dealt with by clause 3(5). Amendment 15 talks about what would happen in practice, but it is dealt with by clause 3(6). Amendment 18 is dealt with by clause 1(2), which defines pedicabs as a pedal cycle or power-assisted pedal cycle. The term “power-assisted” captures the point raised by the amendment, and is broader than “electrically assisted”. Amendments 3 and 19 have been dealt with previously, but clearly the Secretary of State must have the power to assess this process once the Bill has progressed. Amendment 10 is about guidance not circumventing consultation and regulation. Amendment 11 is dealt with by clause 7(1).

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

Will the Minister assure me that under no circumstances will the Government allow Transport for London to prevent pedicabs from being able to ply for hire?

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

With great respect, this matter should be dealt with through the upcoming consultation. TfL could not be any clearer than the introduction to said consultation, where it states that it wishes pedicabs to continue. It is unquestionably the case that they will have to manage the number of pedicabs there are, but, with great respect, that is dealt with in both the introduction and the subsequent matters. After all, that is the point of a consultation. There should be an open consultation discussing the matter with all the particular individuals relevant to it.

In those circumstances and, with due respect, I invite all colleagues not to press their amendments, and I commend the Bill to the House.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 4:00, 26 March 2024

I thank the Minister and everybody who has participated in the debate. On the last point about plying for hire, it seems as though Transport for London is actively contemplating a situation in which no pedicabs will be able to ply for hire. Page 8 of the consultation states, “If, following consultation, pedicabs are allowed to continue to ply for hire”. That envisages a situation in which they might not be allowed to ply for hire. Unless they can ply for hire, that is the end of pedicabs as we know them.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating on this matter. I have seen over the years in London how we had a Greater London Council that interfered and acted against the wishes of the people. We now see Transport for London alienating a lot of people over the ultra low emission zone extension and its proliferation of 20 mph limits. I suppose we must trust Transport for London to ensure that it actually does what it says it will do, but I am grateful to the Minister for pointing out that he and I are ad idem in our determination to ensure that there is a vibrant, lively and continuing pedicab industry in London. In those circumstances, I will withdraw my amendments because there is no need to take the matter any further, but I look forward to the consultations that will flow on those regulations. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), Chair, Restoration and Renewal Programme Board Committee, Chair, Restoration and Renewal Programme Board Committee

Just for the record, Sir Roger told me that you were gloriously within order throughout speaking to the amendments.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 2 to 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.