Prevention of child sexual exploitation and private hire vehicles

Part of Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 12 April 2016.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:15, 12 April 2016

I hope that I am going to cheer everybody up—spoiler alert! I am not going to repeat the arguments made by the hon. Member for Swansea East and the shadow Minister, who have summed up the problem exactly. We have been working closely with the Local Government Association and others to ensure that best practices are spread. I recently enjoyed a taxi ride from Stoke-on-Trent station to my constituency home, in which the taxi driver, without knowing who I was, told me all about the safeguarding training he had been through that day. It was very good to hear him share that knowledge with someone he thought was a complete stranger to it.

We still need to go further. I have been working with the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend Andrew Jones on the further reforms that are urgently needed on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing arrangements.

Although I absolutely agree with the spirit of the new clause, I suspect—the hon. Member for Swansea East may be shocked to hear this—that more will be required, with respect both to strengthening the Bill’s provisions and to making additional amendments to relevant legislation. I assure her that I am committed to delivering this change; we want to ensure, working with colleagues at the Department of Transport, that those exercising licensing functions have access to the powers and are subject to the appropriate duties that best ensure that our licensing arrangements provide the strongest possible protections. Once we have determined the best way forward, we will carefully consider what legislative vehicle is most appropriate to make any necessary changes. I cannot promise that that will be in this Bill, but it may be. With that assurance, I hope that the hon. Lady will be content to withdraw her new clause.