Clause 1 - Power to regulate pedicabs

Part of Pedicabs (London) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons am 3:45 pm ar 26 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 3:45, 26 Mawrth 2024

I wish to address all the amendments that have been put down by all colleagues. I am conscious that Sarah Olney representing the Liberal Democrats is not present, but I will deal with her amendments 21, 6 and 7 very briefly. On her amendment 21, the consultation will happen as she seeks. On her amendment 6, clause 2(7) addresses her concerns on that. On her amendment 7, I believe that that is covered by clause 7(6).

Simon Lightwood has put forward a number of amendments. He and I have discussed this on a previous occasion and prior to today, and I will address a couple of his key points. They were made in the best possible way and in the right spirit, being conscious of what was discussed in the other place. On his new clause 1, we believe it is not necessary given that clause 7(2) already achieves the policy intention by specifying that the Secretary of State’s guidance may include guidance about TfL’s functions. The key point is that we believe clause 7(2) addresses the overarching themes.

The crucial point the hon. Member wants to make is about DBS checks, and I acknowledge that point. Clearly, there are the primary checks we have repeatedly discussed in the past, but I am strongly instructed that the appropriate way to deal with these matters is to make amendments to the exceptions through the Police Act 1997 (Criminal Records) Regulations 2002, under the negative procedure, and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, under the affirmative procedure.

I can tell the Committee that the Home Office and, in particular, the Ministry of Justice are currently considering a range of proposals for changes to such eligibility, and we are looking to bring forward a consolidated package of changes in due course. I am not able to do that at this stage, and I do not feel that this Bill is the right venue to do it. However, the hon. Member’s point is well noted, has been taken on board and is very much live in the Ministry of Justice’s considerations.

My hon. Friend Sir Christopher Chope, in his typical way, made a heartfelt speech setting out his genuine concerns and his genuine desire to ensure that there is a pedicab business on an ongoing basis post regulation. I welcome his concern on that point, and as a strong Conservative I want to see exactly the same as him. I put that on record, and I make it very clear that we want a thousand flowers to bloom and we want pedicabs to continue on a long-term basis.

I know there is a desire to trade who said what over the last few years, but I want briefly to put on record some of the comments from some of the key organisations engaged here. Clearly, the London Pedicab Operators Association has made a variety of comments down the years. On 7 November 2023 one of the spokesmen, Mr Schroder, stated:

“It’s handy for us to have legislation and rules and regulations for the operators which includes insurance…we’ve been competing against operators who don’t follow any rules, who can do what they want, and that makes it difficult… It’s a shame that they don’t involve the industry in making the decisions, because then it’s take it or leave it.”

Mention was made of Mr Smallwood, who stated in August 2022 that he was “optimistic” because probably for the first time, all parties have a determination to finally establish a bespoke regulatory regime for pedicabs that extends throughout the country. He said this was a “positive and exciting” opportunity, and perhaps a singular chance in the foreseeable future to resolve this long-standing issue. He added—I think this is relevant to consideration of whether we are creating a bespoke arrangement to allow an organisation to continue in a safely regulated way—that regulations across Europe and the USA are simple, straightforward and effective. Clearly it is possible to regulate pedicabs and at the same time to allow the industry to flourish.