Pedicabs (London) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:37 pm on 22 November 2023.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Gower Lord Davies of Gower Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 4:37, 22 November 2023

My Lords, this Bill will correct a long-standing anomaly where pedicabs are the only form of unregulated transport operating on the streets of London. Pedicab regulation in the rest of England and Wales is done under taxi legislation. However, a legal quirk has meant that pedicabs within London are classed as stage carriages. These are captured under the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, but that Act’s provisions do not permit their regulation. The reality is that legislation has failed to keep up with the emergence and nature of this industry, making this Bill a small but important addition to the statute book.

Pedicabs have an important role to play in London’s transport mix. They are a quick, green option for Londoners and for tourists looking to get from point A to C via B, while taking in the sights of this wonderful city. They complement London’s vibrant night-time economy, and the entrepreneurial spirit shown by many operators demonstrates the opportunities available to those willing to work hard and get on.

Despite the lack of regulation in this sector, there are hard-working and reputable operators who support this legislation and look forward to working with Transport for London in making the pedicab industry a reputable and respected place to work, providing a safe and reliable road transport option for short journeys in the heart of London. However, as happens all too often, the actions of a few have far-reaching consequences and tarnish the reputations of the majority. We have all seen news reports of unwitting tourists being charged hundreds of pounds to go from Covent Garden to Leicester Square, or being confronted with a bill from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch that would make that pedicab ride the most expensive transport mode in the UK on a per-mile basis.

The consequences are felt not only by visitors but by all who call this city home. Unscrupulous pedicab operators are the cause of nightly misery. They are responsible for noise pollution; for blasting loud music at all hours of the night; for making our pavements hazardous; for congregating in large groups to block footpaths, endangering other road users and pedestrians alike; for cycling recklessly, using potentially unsafe vehicles and generally operating in a way that is not in keeping with the image that London projects to the world. The Bill equips Transport for London with the tools it needs to tackle the anti-social, unsafe and nuisance behaviours found in the pedicab industry. It achieves this by conferring powers on TfL to make regulations concerning the use of pedicabs in public places in Greater London.

It will be for TfL to determine the precise details of a regulatory regime. However, the Bill will allow Transport for London to bring forward measures covering matters such as: the licensing of pedicabs, pedicab operators and drivers, including the conditions placed on licences, their duration, renewal, revocation, and suspension; the fares charged for pedicab services and when and how passengers are made aware of these; and requirements for pedicabs, operators and drivers. This will cover eligibility requirements for operators or drivers, safety and operational standards, such as what equipment must be carried on a pedicab, and their appearance. It will also cover testing, speed restrictions and the working conditions and conduct of drivers. It will cover the operation of pedicabs, including specifying times and places of operation; the provision of publicly available information about licences or the pedicabs, operators or drivers to which they relate; and enforcement of the regulatory regime, which covers the creation of offences and/or civil sanctions, and corresponding rights of appeal for pedicab operators and drivers against enforcement decisions.

Furthermore, the Bill requires that any pedicab regulations brought forward by TfL include provisions corresponding to those in the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, in relation to immigration status. This will ensure that those working in the industry have been subject to right-to-work checks. These provisions will provide Transport for London with powers to effectively regulate London’s pedicab industry for the first time. In designing the regulations, Transport for London will be required to conduct a consultation, and any proposals will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny via the negative resolution procedure. This Government have been unwavering in our commitment to bringing forward this legislation when parliamentary time has allowed. I am pleased that the legislative timetable has now allowed for this common-sense Bill to be considered for inclusion on the statute book and I beg to move.