Part of Automated Vehicles Bill [HL] - Third Reading – in the House of Lords am 3:38 pm ar 19 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Randerson Baroness Randerson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport) 3:38, 19 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, in line with the usual courtesies of the House, I thank the Minister and his team, all of whom were exceptionally helpful and willing to give their time and expertise in some useful meetings with myself and my Liberal Democrat colleagues. I also thank my noble friends Lady Brinton and Lady Bowles, supported by Sarah Pughe in our Whips’ office, for their work. Finally, I thank noble Lords across the House: there was exceptional co-operation in improving the Bill, and one of the outcomes was the amendment of the Minister which clarified the statement of safety principles.

The Bill was a logical progression from 2018, and I would predict that this second Bill will be followed, I am sure, by a third Bill to try and get this right. There are still unanswered questions, and I will briefly list them. There needs to be a fresh look at the legislative framework affecting delivery vehicles that are already on our streets. Those who operate them are concerned about lacunas in the legislation.

We are also particularly concerned about the issue of disabled access, which is where my noble friend Lady Brinton worked closely with the noble Lord, Lord Holmes. As the noble Lord, Lord Holmes, said,

“the promise of automated vehicles is accessible mobility for all”.— [Official Report, 6/2/24; col. 1585]

It is, therefore, deeply disappointing that the concept of disabled access—from the physical space of the vehicle to the software that drives it—is not to be built in from the start. It always costs more to adapt things later, and I believe this is yet another missed opportunity.

Finally, it is a great pity that the vote on the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, was lost so narrowly. It was just the kind of thing an advisory council could provide a sense of direction on. I hope the Minister will reflect on the need for certainty on the future structure of appropriate bodies to provide advice and regulation.

We remain concerned, in particular, about data protection in respect of the Bill, which is predicated on a future conglomeration of personal and commercial data, and data associated with the security of the state. It will come together in an unprecedented way. It would enable a massive intrusion of personal privacy, but in its entirety would offer massive power to a malign foreign power or even to a clever, meddling, individual hacker. Although it is well intentioned, the Bill hardly starts to tackle the dangers of that accumulation of data.

Having said all that, I thank the Minister again for his co-operation, assistance and leadership on the Bill.