Amendment 2

Part of Pedicabs (London) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 30 January 2024.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Gower Lord Davies of Gower Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 5:30, 30 January 2024

My Lords, I thank your Lordships for their diligence in scrutinising this Bill’s provisions. This second group of amendments is focused on electric pedicabs. My department is aware of concerns held by noble Lords surrounding batteries in e-cycles and e-scooters. Amendment 2 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, seeks to place a requirement on the Government to introduce independent conformity assessment processes for electrically powered pedicabs and the batteries used to power these vehicles. If I may say so, she Baroness puts her case well, and I will now seek to answer some of her points.

Noble Lords may recall my response to an amendment tabled in Committee on conformity assessments and potentially placing requirements on power-assisted pedicabs. My response to the amendment debated today will echo my previous position. The Bill is about closing the legal anomaly so that London pedicabs can be licensed for the first time. The amendment raises a much wider question about the construction of electrically assisted pedal cycles.

The UKCA, the UK conformity assessment marking, and its EU equivalent, the CE, the conformité Européene, demonstrate a manufacturer’s claim of conformity with statutory requirements. All e-cycles and e-scooters need to comply with UK product safety regulations. This includes the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, which set out the detailed health and safety requirements for the design and construction of a product. Additionally, there is an existing requirement in these machinery regulations that responsible persons for all machinery within scope, which would include power-assisted pedicabs, must draw up a detailed technical file and a declaration of conformity. There are existing requirements to carry out appropriate conformity assessment procedures. In instances where the responsible person does not comply with existing requirements, they are in breach of the regulations.

The Government are seeking to reform the UK’s product safety framework through the product safety review. The Office for Product Safety and Standards is currently reviewing responses to its consultation on how it regulates all products on the GB market, including machinery, and where multiple regulations apply to specific products. The Government’s intention is to publish a response later this year that summarises findings and sets out its future plans.

Product regulations would not cover a scenario whereby a pedicab driver or operator adapted their power-assisted pedicab following purchase, However, Clause 2(6) provides Transport for London with the ability to make provisions relating to matters such as safety requirements, testing, speed restrictions, and the quality and roadworthiness of pedicabs. Therefore, there is sufficient scope for Transport for London to determine the expected standards for pedicabs operating on London’s roads.

Although pedicab batteries when not supplied as part of a pedicab would not be subject to a regime that requires the UK conformity assessment marking to be affixed to them, their safety would be covered by the General Product Safety Regulations. These regulations require that all consumer products placed on the market are safe. Furthermore, batteries must comply with the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008, which restrict the substances used in batteries and accumulators, as well as setting out requirements for their environmentally friendly end of life.

In bringing my comments to a conclusion, I draw your Lordships’ attention to the work of the Office for Product Safety and Standards, and Defra. They are in the process of reviewing the position on batteries. This includes examining the new EU battery directive and looking into the safety of the lithium-ion batteries used in e-cycles and e-scooters. This work should conclude in 2024. Alongside this, my department is developing guidance on the safe use of batteries in e-cycles and e-scooters, and we will publish this soon. I respectfully suggest that the Bill, with its narrow focus on licensing London pedicabs, is not the place to start tackling this issue. It is best dealt with as part of the wider work being taken forward by the Office for Product Safety and Standards and by Defra.