Clause 28 - Warrants for entry, search and seizure

Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:00 am on 19 March 2024.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

With this it will be convenient to consider clauses 29 to 33 stand part.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I will make a brief point about the clauses, because they will be a source of concern for many people. It is therefore good to put on the record that the clauses give the investigators and authorities powers not just to do thorough investigations of data, as we just talked about, but to enter and search premises to take away materials and so on. We must ensure that we have full powers to really understand what has gone wrong, if and when something goes wrong, so these clauses ensure that the investigators have all the powers they could possibly need to do that.

Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

The vital point was made on Second Reading that there should be proper investigations —I am sure the insurance industry would be vociferous about this—where the owner or operator of a vehicle has carried out modifications or not maintained the vehicle adequately—it may be tyre wear or brake pad removal. Even though it is an autonomous vehicle and is not being driven by a human driver, the human owner has responsibility for maintaining it in a roadworthy condition. Presumably, if that was the cause of the accident, the investigators would be able to determine that and apportion blame and liability.

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Again, the hon. Gentleman makes a lot of very valid points based on his time on the Transport Committee. Cars that have the no-user-in-charge feature must have a licensed operator, and the form and details of the licence will depend on exactly how the vehicle operates and its use case. For a fleet of taxis of the type that Waymo has in America, the NUICO—the no-user-in-charge operator—will be responsible for the maintenance of the vehicles, including the tyre wear and the brake pads, and for ensuring they have not been tampered with.

If it is an individual driver with their own car—this is a long, long way down the line, and I do not think anyone expects this to happen in the next few years—it might be reasonable to expect them to be responsible for the tyre wear and the maintenance. If they make any modifications that nullify the action of the self-driving feature, they would have liability for that. We would not expect the no-user-in-charge operator to be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the car, but they would be responsible if something goes wrong when the vehicle is in no-user-in-charge mode.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 28 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 29 to 37 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 1 agreed to.