Amendment 1

Automated Vehicles Bill [HL] - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:59 pm on 10 January 2024.

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Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted:

Moved by Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted

1: Clause 1, page 1, line 14, at end insert—“(3A) Vehicle testing must include substantial real testing on roads in the United Kingdom in addition to simulation testing.”Member's explanatory statementThis amendment would probe the intention with regard to real as well as simulation testing for UK road situations.

Photo of Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I think that this is the first time I have had an Amendment 1, but, in any event, it gives me pleasure to start the Committee stage of the Bill. For the purposes of Committee, I declare my interest, in that a family member works in the vehicle connectivity sector, but I have no financial interests.

I have three amendments in this group: Amendment 1, and Amendments 20 and 27, which are the same text appearing in different clauses. Amendment 1 is very much a “does what it says on the tin” amendment, and states that vehicle testing must include substantial real testing on roads as well as simulation testing for UK road situations. As well as for initial licensing, this may also have relevance when vehicles licensed in other countries are brought here, especially when driving on different sides of the road and road signs are differently placed. I was prompted to put in this rather obvious statement because among the various things that I read in the documents it was pointed out that simulation testing for UK road situations would be allowed—and I can accept its usefulness as an element when converting from well-proven automation on roads in other countries, for example. However, what I cannot accept is simulation on its own being sufficient, and I wish to ensure that that is not the case.

A further reason for this amendment is that I am aware of how, in the US, there have been issues moving from one city location to another, because of different road widths, despite those having been simulated. Noble Lords who do transport all the time can probably identify what I have read, but I am sure that moving from Los Angeles to the UK would have even more issues, including, for example, more narrow, ancient, humpback or bendy traffic bridges without traffic lights where it is possible only to go one way at a time.

Despite having come up with amendments, I take the approach across this legislation that I understand it is an enabling framework and will not contain detail and, further, that with consultations and so on, a broadly sensible approach will result. Nevertheless, when we have been given documents that explain current thinking and direction, they also explain that they are not fixed promises—presumably because there is still quite a lot of work to do and we do not yet know what the priorities will be. From looking at other amendments generally, it seems that other noble Lords also think we need a few more fixed promises on things that we can be certain will not be left out, and therefore seek to have them in the Bill. For me, real UK road testing, rather than only simulations, is one of them. Obviously, within that, I would expect the road testing to apply to the roads on which the vehicles will be licensed for automated use: on motorways for motorway driving, in towns for town driving, and country lanes with single-lane passing places—if you are lucky—for country lane driving. Will the Minister confirm that this will be the approach, and can we have assurance by some text in the Bill?

My other two amendments, Amendments 20 and 27, relate to adding insurance and captive insurance into the provisions that establish the financial soundness of an authorised self-driving entity. The Law Commission referenced insurance as being able to provide part of the financial soundness, and I would like to see that included, rather than it being thought an additional measure on top of everything else.

I also raised the issue of captives with the Minister at Second Reading, and I thank him for his reply. In the Bill, I would like to see captives acknowledged alongside mainstream insurance as an acceptable form of insurance in the context of ASDE financial stability. Call me cynical or pedantic, or probably both, but I have had too much involvement in financial services and insurance not to think that it needs specific elaboration to ensure that captives, as well as independent insurance, can be considered as an element of the financial stability package.

As I said, I found insurance mentioned in the Law Commission documents as a possible part of the financial stability assurance, so can the Minister say whether there was any specific reason for not following suit and not mentioning it in the Bill? If there were no specific reasons, will the Minister be inclined to recognise my warning, as there might be quibbling if it is not specified? I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

My Lords, I have a number of amendments in this group. I begin by asking my noble friend the Minister to encourage his team to get me a reply to what I call my Eastbourne email. I hope to use that as a means of understanding exactly where the Government find themselves with a practical example of an early-stage project. It would be helpful to have that by the second day in Committee. If I have already received it, I have missed it, so I would be grateful to him for pointing that out to me.

What binds the amendments in this group together is, first, that I do not expect these things to appear in the Bill because I think that they are covered. But they are covered in a way that does not make it clear what the Government will actually do, so I hope to draw out of them some information on what their intentions are.

Secondly, the amendments encourage the Government to take the standards-setting process seriously. I have some long experience observing the telecommunications industry. That has faded from my early days in the City, when we were one of the dominant world players, to now, when we are nothing. Part of that decay has been because we let standards-setting slip. If you want to be a place where a new technology is establishing itself and where companies want to come and be part of what you are doing, being part of the standards-setting is absolutely key. You have to assign good people to it—people who will be internationally respected for their views and insights in the industry—and give them the time to make a really serious contribution to the process. It is then independent of what is happening in the UK; they become part of the wavefront of what is happening, because the whole standards-setting process involves understanding the way things are going, what is happening and who is doing what. That information then flows back into the structures in the UK, and you get a local understanding of where the opportunities are and how the UK might take advantage of them.

If we had had that with telecommunications, we would not be in the dire state we are in now. We started with huge advantages, but they have all gone. Here we are with a new industry and a very clear need for international standards, so we absolutely must take that seriously and put our backs into being part of that process.

I will pick up on the individual amendments. The vehicle identification system—the way in which vehicles will say, “Hi, this is me”—will clearly be electronic. The whole business of using number plates has broken down, and there are 10 million or so unauthorised vehicles on British roads, for all sorts of reasons—vehicles that are just not known to the DVLA, are not taxed and have strings of outstanding parking tickets. Nobody knows whether a number plate they see is real or cloned. We do not need this happening in a new industry, where it will be really important to establish exactly which vehicle was doing what and at which time. It has to be an electronic system, it has to be something that is embedded in hardware, and it absolutely has to be consistent internationally. A vehicle coming over from the continent has to use the same system. This is an example of something that we have to develop and a direction we have to go in, and we absolutely have to be part of setting that standard.

Amendment 15 looks at the question of a passenger alarm. If you are in a vehicle that is travelling totally autonomously and something is wrong and you want to raise the alarm, how do you do it? What is the system? What should you expect to find in the vehicle? Are we going to restrict travelling to people who happen to have mobile phones on them at the time? I hope not. What is the system to be? Again, we ought to be part of establishing international standards, because we want to be able to admit vehicles to the UK. This should be about not just our own domestic expectations; there should be something running internationally.

We want vehicles to be able to communicate where they are and, if they are part of some kind of lending, taxi or other scheme, whether they are available. Again, this needs to be done in a standard way, so that different owners and manufacturers are all sending this information out in a consistent way, and on the back of it can be built the sort of systems consumers will need to know whether or not an autonomous vehicle is available to them. We should not reach a block or allow this to become balkanised, with different companies owning little bits; the information available to consumers ought to be clearly available to everybody.

Amendment 17 looks at the process of reporting on the condition of vehicles, as there are various bits of the Bill that make it clear that automated vehicles are expected to be well maintained. If a vehicle detects that it is not in the state that it ought to be in, that needs to be reported. It needs to be reported not just internally to the system but in a way that makes that information, and the fact that it was reported, available to investigating authorities. Again, we need a standard for that, and it needs to be an international one.

Amendment 18 looks at the question of waymarkers: how a vehicle knows exactly where it is in a relatively autonomous landscape. Are we going to be totally reliant on the navigation satellites working or are we going to have a more ground-based reference system? Some manufacturers clearly think that they will have within their vehicles an image of the routes that they are taking and that the vehicles will recognise where they are. That is a darned hard thing to do on some motorways—you just do not know which bit you are on, or indeed which country you are in: “Am I in Germany or am I still in the UK?” There is a system on motorways where, in the physical sense, you can look at the waymarkers—if you are not travelling too fast—and see where you are; if you break down, it allows you to read the sign and say what distance from it you are. Are we thinking of building that into automated vehicles?

Lastly, how will vehicles communicate with the emergency services, whether it is a fire engine coming up from behind asking the vehicle to pull over and let it through or a policeman standing at the edge of the road, waving down the vehicle to stop? How will that be achieved? Again, we will want there to be an international standard; we do not want to find that vehicles coming in from abroad are unable to speak English. There has to be a common system in there somewhere. However, we absolutely want it to happen—we do not want our police to be powerless and for the automated vehicles to sail past them because they do not understand a hand wave. There has to be some communication system. There are lots of options, but we have to specify it.

In all these areas, I am really asking that the Government get their thinking cap on as to what will need to be standard—universal across the fleet of automated vehicles—and how we can get involved in making sure that we are one of the leading group in setting these international standards.

Photo of Lord Berkeley Lord Berkeley Labour 5:15, 10 January 2024

My Lords, in principle I support the amendments in this group. Noble Lords who have tabled them have given us some pretty concerning views on what might happen when things go wrong. It all boils down to the fact that there needs to be proper standards, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, said, and proper testing of those standards in real life, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, said. My worry is that government has a habit of cutting corners on these things, saying, “It’s going to be all right on the night”.

Looking at the number of cars, 4x4s and other vehicles on the road in this country, and adding the trucks which go all over Europe, if not further, one wonders what kind of standard approach will be developed. It cannot be done just by the British Government or their agencies; it has to be done on a worldwide basis. If we do not have the right standards, we will have no means of checking, when these things are tested on the road, whether they comply with the standards. We had this discussion two or three weeks ago, before Christmas, on the pedicabs Bill and batteries catching fire. It is the same issue here; we probably have the same type of batteries, although maybe just a bit bigger. There has to be a standard, not just for the batteries and other components but for how the whole thing works together. I hope the Minister can tell us how this will work in real life.

As we know, many regulations will be introduced to tell us the detail we have not had today. How many such vehicles that come here, for whatever reason, are not registered in this country? Will they be able to take part in this electric vehicle trial or will they be told that they have to have a driver? If they have to have a driver, somebody will say that that is anti-competitive, and they will take us to a European court of some description because we are keeping foreign drivers—if we can call them foreign—at a disadvantage.

All these questions need answering, as well as the fundamental question of what the backup is when there is a failure—whether it is the satellites, the GPS or whatever else. What will happen when it fails? I am sure the Minister has many good answers to these questions, which I shall enjoy listening to. If he cannot answer them, perhaps we can have another long letter—his are very helpful—explaining what might happen with all these things. We are coming to Report, so this will be our last opportunity to question him. I very much look forward to his comments and I support these amendments in this group.

Photo of Baroness Brown of Cambridge Baroness Brown of Cambridge Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Lords), Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Lords)

My Lords, I will make a comment on Amendment 1, but perhaps also a more general comment on some of the amendments in this group and the next. I absolutely recognise that these automated driving systems need to be accepted by the public, and I see that many of the amendments look to do that by increasing the emphasis on ensuring safety. I am sure that we are all hugely sympathetic to that, so I am very sympathetic to the motivation for many of the amendments—but we need to be a bit careful. This is a new area of technology—it is still developing, of course—and there may be some unintended consequences of some of the changes that people are proposing.

In talking about this, I will briefly refer to some recent research by Konstantinos Mattas and his colleagues from the European Joint Research Centre in Ispra in Italy. For example, in Amendment 1 we are asked to include a phrase about

“substantial real testing on roads”.

I think we really need to explore the value of this. Human drivers have a frequency of fatal crashes of one every 3.4 million hours, which would imply continuous driving for 380 years. To demonstrate that automated vehicles are safer than humans, you would need to run 100 automated vehicles for 24 hours a day for 225 years. Of course, if you change the software or the hardware, you might well need to repeat tests of this length. We need to recognise the challenge of demonstrating safety by long periods of testing on roads. The vehicles will have to be significantly unsafe for a realistic period of testing to start to show up the problems.

I cannot support Amendment 1, even though I hugely sympathise with it, because it is an apparently simple ask but I do not think it is likely to deliver the benefits intended. Unfortunately, it could be counterproductive, so I think the wording of the Bill as it stands is preferable to the proposal in Amendment 1.

Photo of Lord Holmes of Richmond Lord Holmes of Richmond Conservative

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 55C in my name in this group and apologise to the noble Baroness who moved the initial amendment. I was just sitting down when she started to speak, so I apologise for not being fully in my seat. I declare my technology interest as adviser to Boston Ltd.

What we are talking about here with autonomous vehicles is really mobility enabled through technology. My Amendment 55C seeks to take some of the themes that have already been spoken to, not least by my noble friend Lord Lucas: the sense of how technologies are able to interact and communicate with one another—what we call interoperability. Interoperability should be a golden thread running through many sections, because it is critical to the success of these technologies.

There are extraordinary economic, environmental, decongestion and safety benefits to potentially be gained through the mass deployment of automated autonomous vehicles, but they will be gained only if the systems are interoperable with one other, so all the vehicles can speak to one another and to the transport control centres and emergency services control centres. Only through having that key golden thread of inter- operability will we enable the economic, environmental, social, safety and accessibility benefits. That is what my Amendment 55C is all about, and I look forward to my noble friend the Minister responding in due course.

Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport)

My Lords, I am pleased to take part in this debate, first to support the amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady Bowles. I will also speak to Amendments 22 and 43 in my name.

My noble friend has raised some important issues about the adequacy of simulation as a way of establishing the safety of automated vehicles. Cycling UK, in its briefing to some of us, has raised similar issues in the context of the more vulnerable road users. Experience in the USA—very definite real-life experience, especially in San Francisco—has revealed that there is no substitute for real-life testing and that permission to operate on real roads can be given too easily.

We all know that how we drive is based on the skills we have learned and the experience we have developed as human beings. I have no doubt that a vehicle driving itself will in some ways be a lot less vulnerable than we are to feeling sleepy, losing concentration and so on. But it is a very complex thing to simulate and build something that, for example, notices that the gentleman ahead, who has a white stick, will therefore be blind or very poorly sighted. It is difficult for a simulation to tell the difference between the hesitation by the side of the road of an elderly person who is looking anxiously around and that of someone who is hesitating because they are reading their phone at the same time, or to notice that someone who has just stepped off the pavement is a teenager who was having a joke with his mates 10 seconds before and may not be concentrating. These are all things that we notice every day and make a judgment on; we see potential issues that we may have to take into account.

I am sure that simulating all that can be done, but it is the real-life, real-road experience that needs to be taken into account—the subtle messages. It is difficult to imagine a road system much more complex than that in the UK, with its bendy roads that are heavily trafficked and a high number of pedestrians. I was recently in the USA, where I was immediately struck, as I looked down from the air, by the regularity of the grid system. When I got into towns and cities, I was struck by the very low number of pedestrians in the streets compared with Britain. We have a much more complex and unpredictable set of circumstances.

My Amendment 22 refers to the checks and permissions that will be required before foreign vehicles are allowed on UK roads. Foreign vehicles drive on our roads all the time, but it will be much more complex in future. At the moment, we rely on the fact that foreign vehicles have had permission in their own country and are deemed to be satisfactory for their own country, and that the driver, if they have come from abroad, will be adapting—some much better than others, obviously. We rely on that awareness and adaptation. The cars, vehicles, vans and HGVs concerned will have to download a whole new lot of software, because every perception of the vehicle—all the distance, width and so on—will have to be done from a different point of view. They will have to download the map of the whole UK that these vehicles will operate on. Some of our road signs are different from those in other countries, so awareness of them will be a more complex issue.

Most of the foreign vehicles on our roads are from EU countries. It is certainly true that the EU is well ahead of us in regulating automated vehicles—France and Germany are particularly advanced—despite the fact that it was said that our situation would be a Brexit benefit. My question to the Minister is: are we learning from the EU’s experience? How are we monitoring the issues that have arisen in other countries so that we can take those into account? We have one difference, which is that we drive on the left, that makes it much more complex than moving, for example, from France to Germany or any other EU country. In future, it will have to be a more formal process for foreign vehicles to drive on our roads. As my noble friend has commented, the USA has already discovered problems as vehicles adapt to what are relatively minor differences from one state to another.

There are also issues, of course, about security and the ownership of the personal information that goes with the vehicle. This is not just an issue of Europeans bringing their cars to the UK on holiday; it is about a massive number of goods vehicles, light vans to HGVs, on which our economy largely depends. Obviously, you would be aware of this issue if you traded regularly in this country and would treat it as a business issue and a business cost to be dealt with, but there are, of course, companies that will visit the UK only occasionally. Of course, any issues would apply in reverse to British companies wanting to trade abroad using automated vehicles in other countries.

I turn to Amendment 43. An obvious issue that is bound to occur regularly is what happens when a manufacturer or software developer ceases to trade. I hope that the Government have a full response to this because I am sure I am not the first person to think of it, but I could not find a satisfactory answer within the Bill. This is an industry made up of many small businesses, as well as the giants, and failures will be common. Various studies and reports have been sent to us in the last few weeks. Of those that I have looked at, the ones from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Transport Committee in the other place and the Law Commission have all touched on the need for the ongoing maintenance and updating of software. That becomes an acute issue when a company goes bust.

Time is of the essence: anyone who has a modern car will know that, from time to time, you get software updates on almost a weekly basis. For the safety of the car, there can be no time lapse between a company going bust, or ceasing to trade for any number of reasons, and dealing with updating the software. Who will inherit the responsibility for that? Who will have the legal obligation to do it, and how will it be enforced? I hope that the Government have a full answer on that very practical issue. I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Photo of Lord Liddle Lord Liddle Shadow Spokesperson (Transport) 5:30, 10 January 2024

My Lords, since this is the start of Committee, I reiterate the support on this side of the House for the principles of the Bill, and we want to facilitate innovation as much as possible in a safe and secure way—by God, our economy needs innovation if we are going to get out of the rut of stagnation that we have seen in the last period, which has been too long. There is a consensus behind this measure. The important things that we have to debate are not in this group of amendments but on the questions of safety, which we are addressing next, and on how the Government go about what will be an evolving process of regulation and consult widely at all stages.

On the specifics, these amendments are all probing in their nature: we are not being very specific about how we want to change the Bill, but we are very interested in what the Minister has to say about the issues raised. That is a good reason for putting down the amendments. I will comment on what others have proposed, then on a couple of things that we have proposed.

I agree completely with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, about the importance of standards-setting. His example of mobile phones is an area where Britain was able to put itself in the lead and to work to get European regulation in line with what we wanted. As a result, we initially had a very successful industry. I fear that that is not happening in the case of automated vehicles. Someone referred to how we were already behind France and Germany—I think that the briefing we received from techUK said that we were three or four years behind not just the United States, where we know there have been a lot of advances in this area in particular states, but France and Germany. That is a serious concern. The Government should consider seriously all the detailed points that the noble Lord made. There will probably be an argument that they should not be in legislation; none the less, this is our opportunity as a House to say what issues we think the regulation has to take into account. That is a good thing about what the noble Lord has proposed.

I have to say that, when I listened to the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles, talking about the need for real testing rather than relying on simulation testing, I thought, “Gosh, this is spot on here—absolutely right”. But of course, that shows the depth of my ignorance of the subject, because I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Brown, with all her scientific expertise, countered that argument very well. Of course, the truth is that we will have to rely on simulation in large part, though we should do as much real-time testing as we can and as is realistic.

I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, on the importance of interoperability. I hope the Government will take that into account in their future regulatory policy.

In terms of the amendments in my name, Amendment 13 is on the question of foreign manufacturers, as it were, and our attitude to them. I gathered from the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, outside, that it is poorly drafted. I am sure that is right, but what we are trying to do here is raise an issue of concern. We cannot find ourselves in a position that, just because something has been approved in one country that has approved the specifications of its manufacturers, this automatically transfers into the UK. I think that would be dangerous.

I think there are also some national security arguments in this area, given the reliance on the systems on artificial intelligence. I have been reading a lot in newspapers recently about how Chinese electric vehicles are poised to take over the European market and are in a very strong position. What would happen if we thought that Chinese automated vehicles were in such a position in a few years’ time? Would we be very relaxed about that, or would we be anxious that a wider range of considerations should be taken into account? I suggest the latter.

I turn to Amendment 26. I think it is essential that we have a public record of all authorisations, and as much information as possible that people can query. On Amendment 28, to put it in simple terms, as I see it, we have these no-user-in-charge operators. Of course, I am sure the scheme of regulation that the Law Commission devised is sound in legal terms, after they put so much effort into it. However, what is the kind of MoT that these no-user-in-charge people will have to satisfy every year? What guarantees do the people who are running the automated vehicles have to show to prove that they are continuing to keep these vehicles in the state in which they were sold originally? With those comments, I look forward to a reply from the Minister.

Photo of Lord Borwick Lord Borwick Conservative 5:45, 10 January 2024

My Lords, I will quickly come in to comment on the amendment from the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, while first referring to my interests in the register, which I referred to in more depth at Second Reading. The comment I made, which was mentioned so generously by the noble Lord, is that his Amendment 13 talks about a “specified manufacturer”. However, there are two different ways of making an automated vehicle. One is to make it from scratch—something that Tesla does. The second is to adapt somebody else’s vehicle, as Waymo, Wayve, Oxa and other automated vehicle people do. Because the word “manufacturer” is defined in type approval legislation, I believe that those companies are not called “manufacturers” because they are adapting somebody else’s vehicle. So there is a problem in using the words “specified manufacturer” for those who are adapting other vehicles. This is all part of the immense complexity of this subject and it is not surprising that it would be easy for an amendment to fall into the wrong section if we were not very careful about it.

Photo of Lord Davies of Gower Lord Davies of Gower Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My Lords, I am very grateful to colleagues across the House for their contributions this afternoon and for the discussions that we have had on the Bill in recent weeks. The amendments in this first group relate to the assessments we will apply both to vehicles and the corporate entities that operate and take responsibility for them.

I will begin with Amendments 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, all tabled by my noble friend Lord Lucas. I whole- heartedly agree with the points that he and the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, raised about the importance of standard setting. Indeed, we are already well established in the key international fora on these issues and are funding the British Standards Institution to help develop industry best practice. However, as always, a balance must be struck between the benefits of leading the way and the risks of acting prematurely. I absolutely acknowledge what my noble friend says about the intention of these amendments. None the less, taken at face value, these amendments risk creating an inflexible system that could hamper, rather than enhance, the UK’s international influence in this industry.

I will take each amendment in turn. On Amendment 14, it is the Government’s view that the number plate remains fit for purpose and that mandating an alternative, as yet unproven, technology would be of little value without significant investment in the corresponding roadside monitoring equipment. On Amendment 15, our policy scoping notes already set out our intention to consider passenger communication as a component of operator licensing. We believe that this is the right place to specify these types of requirements. On Amendment 16, Clause 12 requires that licensed operators oversee their vehicles and respond to issues that may arise. This means that the ability to monitor location is already implicitly required. The requirement to indicate availability is confined to automated passenger services. It is therefore disproportionate to apply it to all self-driving vehicles.

Moving on, we believe that the intent of Amendment 17 is already provided for. In order to satisfy the self-driving test, Clause 1 requires that vehicles be capable of operating safely and legally. A vehicle that was able to enter self-driving mode while aware of a safety-critical fault, such as a sensor failure, would not satisfy the self-driving test and would not be authorised.

Turning to Amendment 18, self-driving vehicles must be capable of operating using the road infrastructure as it exists today. This will necessitate the ability to recognise the range of signs currently found on our roads. Adapting road signs or developing other way-markers to accommodate self-driving vehicles is therefore, in our opinion, unnecessary.

Finally, we believe that Amendment 19 is already largely addressed by the stopping powers provision in Clause 57. I hope this also addresses the point raised by my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond. I will finish on this section by assuring my noble friend Lord Lucas that we will get a prompt response to his email regarding the Eastbourne scheme.

I turn now to my noble friend Lord Holmes of Richmond’s Amendment 55C. The benefits of harmonisation must be considered carefully against the impact on innovation, costs and cybersecurity. A harmonised interoperability standard will be lengthy and complex to negotiate. Doing so quickly risks picking the wrong technologies and falling behind.

Amendment 28, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, risks confusing the role of the no-user-in-charge operator with that of the authorised self-driving entity or ASDE. Before a self-driving feature can be authorised, the ASDE must demonstrate the technology can deal safely with faults by executing a minimum-risk manoeuvre and bringing the vehicle to a safe stop. We would not wish to undermine this key ASDE responsibility by suggesting that a no-user-in-charge operator can compensate for inadequate design in the technology. Operators will of course be subject the ongoing requirements of their licences. We will have broad powers to ensure these are followed.

Moving on to Amendment 13, I reassure the Committee that all manufacturers will be subject to the same high expectations and robust requirements, regardless of who they are. To arbitrarily constrain the pool of manufacturers which can be authorised would risk stifling innovation. Our focus is rightly on ensuring that corporate entities meet the appropriate standards of competence, repute, financial standing and technical capability. The powers in Clauses 6 and 91 already make ample provision to set such standards. On the point the noble Lord raised about national security, such issues could be taken into account in a consideration of the good repute requirement.

On Amendment 26, Clause 10 already requires that the register of authorisations be made public. In line with standard practice for official government publications, I can confirm that this will be done online. The amendment is therefore unnecessary.

Turning to Amendment 43 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, we intend to explore technical solutions to ensure that automated vehicles cannot operate unless they can do so safely. For example, we could require a vehicle to check it has the latest software update before the self-driving feature can be engaged. Such provisions are possible under the powers of the Bill. Due to the technical nature of such requirements and the continued development of the technology, this is best achieved through secondary legislation. We also have the safeguard that, where an authorised-self driving entity ceases to assume responsibility for the vehicle, the vehicle’s authorisation would be withdrawn. In such a case, standard consumer protections would apply. On the specific question of responsibility for safety- critical updates, this sits with the authorised self-driving entity as the body accountable for a vehicle’s safety.

This brings me to the noble Baroness’s Amendment 22. I am conscious that the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, also touched upon this issue. The Bill does not prevent foreign vehicles from being authorised as self-driving in the UK. However, they will naturally need to demonstrate that they are capable of operating safely and legally on our roads. Requirements to be overseen by an appropriate authorised self-driving entity and licensed operator will also apply as usual. Any non-authorised feature would be classed as driver assistance. The driver could therefore be charged with motoring offences if they divert their attention from the road. Of course, appropriate information will need to be provided at the border. We are working with international partners to develop guidelines to facilitate automated vehicles passing from one jurisdiction to another, including as part of the relevant UN expert group. In the interim, we expect other jurisdictions to apply similar safeguards as we intend to, for example, that vehicles’ systems be designed to deactivate outside of their authorised geographic area. I hope this offers the noble Baroness a sufficient explanation of the position.

On Amendment 1, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Bowles of Berkhamsted, the Government agree that real-world testing will play an important role in ensuring the safety of self-driving vehicles. That is why we are already funding real-world trials here in the UK. Setting requirements for real-world testing through the powers in Clauses 5 and 91 will allow these requirements to evolve alongside the standards they assess. Regarding the “substantial” amount, I would also add that it is ultimately the quality of testing that matters, rather than the quantity. This point was made very well by the noble Baroness, Lady Brown of Cambridge. For example, 100 hours of rush-hour driving is likely to be more revealing than 1,000 hours of navigating empty streets. Again, these nuances are best captured in secondary legislation.

Moving finally to the noble Baroness’s Amendments 20 and 27, the Bill leaves flexibility for financial standing to be demonstrated through insurance cover—a model we refer to in our policy scoping notes. While I believe it would be too specific to make a reference on the face of the Bill, it will be appropriate to expand on this issue as part of authorisation and licensing requirements. I will welcome the noble Baroness’s expertise if she wishes to make representations at that stage. Lastly, I can confirm the Government’s wider consultation on insurance captives is due to be published in the spring. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness will be prepared to withdraw her amendment.

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Conservative

My Lords, I was struck by my noble friend’s answer on Amendment 43. Is he saying that, should one of the small innovative companies we have in the UK go bust, anybody who has bought their product will immediately find it is valueless because they are no longer allowed to use it? That would seem a considerable disincentive to buy kit from small British companies.

Photo of Lord Davies of Gower Lord Davies of Gower Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am sorry if the noble Lord took that view of it, but that was not my intention.

Photo of Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his responses. At this stage, of course, everything is probing. I possibly still entertain a hope that we can have some little light-touch mentions that are not overbearing somewhere in the text. Maybe we will return to some of these issues on Report.

There are one or two things other noble Lords have said that I would like to touch on. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, mentioned connectedness. We are falling into a bit of a trap if we start talking about the connectedness of automated vehicles, because the big prize is the connectedness of all vehicles—those which are driven and those which are automated. That is where the real benefits to traffic management and the economic benefits reside. That is a much bigger scheme of interconnectedness, and we are doing ourselves a disfavour by almost sidelining the connectedness and connected car issues as if they are something small and of less importance than the big goal of automated vehicles. In the near term, connectedness is a lot more relevant and moves into what is happening with automated vehicles. We should try to think of it as more of a whole.

I am aware on the simulation aspects, which were addressed, and that we cannot have millions of hours of road driving. Simulations are important and it is an iterative process between simulated tests and road tests. I am perhaps reassured that that is what is in mind. I still do not like the vision that, sometime in the future, it might happen that there are absolutely no road tests—even small ones. Maybe it is wrong to try to insert “substantial”, implying that—this is not what I intended—it would be more than the simulated tests. I still think there should be a significant amount in there for a very long time into the future.

The noble Lord, Lord Liddle, said that his main interest is safety. Certainty is quite fundamental to safety. There is lots more to get to, so I will not say any more now. With the notion that I might return with this in a gentler form on Report, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 1 withdrawn.