Clause 1 - Power to regulate pedicabs

Part of 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 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.