Amendment 1

Part of Automated Vehicles Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 6 February 2024.

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Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport) 3:45, 6 February 2024

My Lords, following on from the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, I remind the House that I raised national security and people hacking into the system at Second Reading. Group 5 today deals with data protection issues; careful control of data is one way in which to make it more difficult for outside forces to hack into it. However, if you present a complete picture of every road and road sign in Britain to people who are able to drive around the UK, then you are opening a very big picture to the world. There will be people who want to take advantage of that in a way which could be hugely damaging.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for his amendments. We had a vigorous debate in Committee about issues of safety. I do not know whether the definition produced in government Amendment 3 is absolutely the last word on the topic, but the Government have moved a long way. I thank the Minister for that amendment, which is an advance and improvement on the original. As the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, said, we need to take into account issues associated with international definitions. Government Amendment 7 is also important as a step forward, because it gives this House an important role at a key point when that statement of safety principles is issued.

The Minister will be pleased to know that I took his advice and went to visit Wayve in King’s Cross. Wayve is a local company which is developing a driverless car—an automated vehicle. I went for quite a long drive around the streets of King’s Cross and can report that I found it surprisingly relaxing. I did not expect to be relaxed but I was. I mention this because one key point was made to me during that drive, as we overtook a cyclist very carefully. The key point was that these cars will always be programmed to drive legally; that is a great deal better than you and me as, from time to time, we lapse from the highest standards. Some people out there drive in a way which does not follow the law—they wilfully drive too fast or inconsiderately, and so on.

Another point was made to me, because during that drive, first, we had a very indecisive elderly lady wondering whether she was going to cross at a zebra crossing and, secondly, we had that cyclist. Of course, those users are always going to be there, because even when we have totally driverless cars, which will be decades on, we are still going to have human nature intervening, so this is a very complex issue.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, for his contribution. I also thank the Minister for the steps forward that we have made in improving the definition and the role of this House in the statement of safety principles.