Amendment 3

Pedicabs (London) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 30 January 2024.

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Lord Davies of Gower:

Moved by Lord Davies of Gower

3: Clause 6, page 4, line 24, leave out subsection (2)Member's explanatory statementThis amendment means that pedicab regulations will no longer be subject to any form of parliamentary procedure.

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

My Lords, this final group of amendments covers the process for regulations made under the Bill. Amendment 3 places responsibility for making pedicab regulations solely with Transport for London, meaning that pedicab regulations will no longer be subject to any form of parliamentary procedure.

Noble Lords will be aware that this marks a shift in the Government’s approach. The Government have listened to, and reflected on, the points raised at Second Reading and in Grand Committee, and reached the conclusion that these powers should rest with Transport for London. The Government have reached this view for several important reasons. First, it is consistent with the position for taxi and private hire vehicle licensing in the capital, where Transport for London has demonstrable experience of operating effective licensing regimes. Secondly, the Bill’s provisions extend to Greater London only, addressing the legal anomaly that has meant that London’s pedicab industry has been unregulated. The Bill presents a solution to a London-centric issue. Thirdly and finally, the relative size of the pedicab industry in London is an important factor. Estimates suggest that pedicab numbers range from 200 up to 900 in peak season. This is a significantly smaller industry than London’s taxi and PHV industries, where there are over 100,000 licensed vehicles and over 120,000 licensed drivers. Therefore, this amendment offers a proportionate approach.

While I am confident that this amendment is supported by the majority of your Lordships, I am aware that there may be some noble Lords concerned that Transport for London would seize this opportunity to remove all pedicabs from London’s streets, or to impose draconian restrictions that all but ban these vehicles. I reiterate that I do not—

Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Minister (Transport)

I apologise for jumping in on this point but it is very important. The Minister said that the generation of regulations would be solely the responsibility of Transport for London, which is exactly where we seek to be. In preparing for this debate I looked through the Bill, and all the Minister’s amendment does—I say “all” but it may be enough, in which case I will be delighted—is to take a subsection out of Clause 6. Can I be assured that that subsection’s deletion effectively removes any DfT input to the creation of regulations other than the amendment that goes with it to introduce guidance?

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

Yes, that is my understanding of the amendment and is correct.

Although I am confident that this amendment is supported by the majority of your Lordships, as I said, I am aware that some noble Lords may be concerned that Transport for London would seize this opportunity to remove all pedicabs from London’s streets or to impose draconian restrictions. However, I reiterate that I do not understand this to be TfL’s intention and, furthermore, it is highly unlikely that pedicab regulations could be used to do this.

However, this moves me to Amendment 4, which gives the Secretary of State the option of issuing statutory guidance to Transport for London relating to how functions under pedicab regulations are exercised. The amendment specifies that statutory guidance may cover how functions are exercised so as to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. This amendment intends to strike a balance with the removal of parliamentary procedure for secondary legislation made under the Bill. The Government remain aware this will be a newly regulated industry, and this amendment will give the Secretary of State the option of influencing the shape of the London pedicab regime.

Transport for London or any person authorised by it to carry out functions under pedicab regulations on its behalf will need to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This provides a level of oversight which I hope provides assurance to any noble Lords with concerns. Further to this, Clause 1(3) requires TfL to conduct a consultation prior to making pedicab regulations.

I hope this demonstrates that the Government have listened, and that these amendments are viewed by your Lordships as a thoughtful way forward, one which will best enable Transport for London to commence work on bringing forward its regulatory regime. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

My Lords, this is almost full circle for me. About six years ago I received several complaints about pedicabs, and I tabled Written Questions for the then Minister, to be told straight off, “It is nothing to do with the Government—it is a matter for Transport for London”. Therefore, it is quite good that, coming full circle, many of these issues will be taken—with guidance—by Transport for London. That is the right and proper place for some of these issues; it makes sense to me.

I am particularly pleased that notice has been taken of safeguarding issues, particularly for children, and I am sure guidance will include that, and for anybody who is in a vulnerable situation as well, whether it be children or young women. That is absolutely right and proper.

I slightly worry that the issue of identification has not taken place. For example, if a pedicab driver does something that is not correct or behaves in an outrageous way—as we have often seen happen—as I understand it, there is no way to identify who is the owner or the driver of that pedicab and therefore to take action. I hope that this issue might be raised, maybe in guidance to Transport for London.

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

My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 5 but in doing so, I welcome the Minister’s acceptance that this is very much an issue for Transport for London. My Amendment 5 is simply there to give the Minister the opportunity to provide this House with clarity on the potential scope of the Secretary of State of State’s guidance. Because we have had this complete somersault between Committee and Report over who is going to be responsible for this, it is important to get that clarification.

There is cross-party consensus that this really is an issue for Transport for London. Like my noble friend Lord Storey, I am very pleased to see the reference to safeguarding in Amendment 4. This legislation obviously applies only to London, but it would be helpful if the Government were to publicise it beyond London because, as we made clear in our discussions at the previous stage, there are pedicab regulations in other parts of the country. It would be useful to have greater awareness of issues such as the importance of safeguarding, registration, safety and so on.

My amendment is a kind of checklist of the main issues to consider: environmental benefits; safety, which is about a lot more than just battery fires; and minimising disruption, danger and disturbance to other people, as some neighbours in London have suffered from noise and inconsiderate parking for a long time. We should not be discussing the suitability of cab ranks in detail here, but it will clearly be of great importance when decisions are made by Transport for London. My final issue is that of licensing and penalties. I assume that licensing will involve identification and registration.

It is important to make it clear that we do not want regulations which are so onerous that they destroy this industry altogether. Like other noble Lords, we want just to bring it under control so that it benefits London and is an asset, not a liability, to London tourism. For the people who hire these cabs, it should be safe and fun, not risky. I press the Minister to reassure us that the Secretary of State’s guidance will not be so onerous that it enables penalties so stiff that they put people out of business.

Proposed new subsection (6) of government Amendment 4 refers to consultation, and rightly so. Can the Minister give us an assurance that there will be Secretary of State consultation with cycling organisations and the organisation representing pedicab operators in London? Its representatives were in touch with us prior to Committee, so there is clearly such an organisation, and it is the kind of organisation that, in other industries, brings a sense of coherence that raises standards, as taxi organisations do. It is important that proper consultation is done.

Photo of Lord Borwick Lord Borwick Conservative

I am grateful to my noble friend for bringing forward this suggestion, which, as he said, was proposed by many parties. But I am still confused, in that the Member’s explanatory statement, which is very sensible, does not quite tie up with Amendment 3 itself. Amendment 3 says “leave out subsection (2)”, but why is subsection (1) still in place? That says that

“The power to make pedicab regulations is exercisable by statutory instrument”.

If the intention is that they should not be exercisable by statutory instrument, why should we leave in that phrase? Would it not be better if the amendment left out both subsection (2) and subsection (1)? I think that would improve the Bill.

Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Shadow Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow Minister (Transport) 6:00, 30 January 2024

My Lords, I first thank the Minister, as others have done, for the amount of time he has taken on this Bill. Our central concern was that this is a London problem, and we created TfL to look after London’s problems. Now, I am in favour of TfL—somewhat biasedly, because I helped create it—but it has lived up to our expectations and has done a good job over the 23 years of its existence. It is very much the right organisation to do this task.

I thank the Minister for his Amendment 3, which he assures me will give TfL sole responsibility for developing regulations. I do take the point about why subsections (1), (3) and (4) are being retained, but I am sure it is all right because I have faith in the wonderful drafting powers of his team. If, upon consideration, they become a concern, I am sure that a government amendment will be tabled at Third Reading to amend any conflicts between the different parts. I hope he will give that consideration, if his team do advise him that there is a conflict.

Having said that I am in favour of Transport for London doing this task, I grudgingly accept that some of the concerns about TfL getting carried away and banning everything in sight, and making people bankrupt by charging them utterly unreasonable fees et cetera, do make a case for Amendment 4. Therefore, I recognise that that is the trade-off between the important position to take throughout the parliamentary process, while making sure there is a potential for government to create guidance that TfL has to have regard to. The balance between the two amendments, from our point of view, is acceptable.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, has produced Amendment 5, which is drafted very much in the terms of many of her amendments, in the sense that it is motherhood. I am actually in favour of motherhood; it helps the world go round, and it says a series of sensible things. But the problem with putting something in legislation is whether it says all the things that should be said, or whether, conversely, it contradicts things that might be wanted. I am afraid I cannot support her. I do not think it is her intention to press the amendment, but I do commend it as a questionnaire for the Minister, to clarify the Government’s position on the points raised.

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

My Lords, I once again thank your Lordships for their careful consideration of the Bill. I have outlined the purpose of the Government’s amendments in this group, and will now address Amendment 5, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson.

I first reiterate the Government’s objective in bringing forward this Bill. The purpose is to provide Transport for London with the tools it needs to regulate London’s pedicabs so that journeys and vehicles are safer and fairer. This means addressing both the safety-related and traffic-related concerns, and tackling the antisocial and nuisance behaviour of certain pedicab operators and drivers.

Amendment 5, which attempts to set objectives to which the Secretary of State must have regard when issuing statutory guidance, shares the Government’s objectives. However, this has been tabled in response to the Government’s Amendment 4, which provides the Secretary of State with the option of issuing statutory guidance to Transport for London relating to the exercise of its functions and the pedicab regulations. This provides clear parameters for the scope of any statutory guidance and therefore Amendment 5 is not necessary, as the matters it covers are addressed by provisions in the Bill. In addition, I note that prescribing in detail what the Secretary of State must consider when issuing guidance could have the effect of inadvertently excluding from the scope of the guidance matters which have not been specifically listed. For this reason, a general approach is considered preferable.

I will highlight some of the relevant provisions in the Bill. Clause 2(5) covers fares, including what fares may be charged and how passengers are notified of these. Clause 2(6) covers a wide range of issues relating to the operation of London’s pedicabs. This includes safety, the quality and roadworthiness of pedicabs, the working conditions of drivers and their conduct. Clause 2(7) gives Transport for London the power to place limitations on where and when pedicabs can operate, and Transport for London has already confirmed it will need to give proper consideration to the matter of pedicab ranks, taking into account the needs of pedicab drivers, passengers and other road users. Clause 3 sets out the enforcement mechanisms available to Transport for London and includes details of penalties.

A couple of points were raised by noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Storey, talked about identification of the pedicabs. That really will be a matter for Transport for London, however it intends to license them. I can think of various ways it could do it; I am sure he could as well but it will be a matter for Transport for London. On the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, regarding the need to consult, that is written into the Bill, most certainly, and I feel quite sure that cycling organisations will be included in that. I think that more or less covers everything apart from the point from the noble Lord, Lord Borwick. On that, we can confirm that this is solely Transport for London’s responsibility.

Amendment 3 agreed.