Clause 82 - Power to grant permits

Part of Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 2:30, 19 Mawrth 2024

Before I address the amendment, I will set out a bit of background. The existing law on taxi, private hire and public service vehicle licensing is predicated on having a professional driver in the vehicle, which makes the application of the current licensing laws to automated passenger services complex and uncertain. Recognising this uncertainty, the Law Commissions recommended the creation of an alternative, bespoke permitting system for passenger services.

Holders of valid automated passenger service permits will, then, not be subject to existing taxi, private hire and public service vehicle law when operating within the terms of their permit. Permits will be issued by the appropriate national authorities: the Secretary of State in England and relevant Ministers in devolved Administrations. The Bill therefore provides broad flexibility over the terms of passenger permits to ensure that we can respond appropriately.

That brings me to the hon. Member for Wakefield’s amendment. The permit system already allows us to mandate that such information be provided to users in accessible formats. That power is already there and we have already committed—I know the hon. Gentleman will come to this in a moment—to having an advisory council of accessibility and disabled groups for public service vehicles and taxis. Crucially, as permit conditions can be specific to the service in question, the existing system operates in a way that is more flexible than the approach proposed in the amendment. For example, the provision for bus-like services could be very different from that for taxi-like services. We want to retain that flexibility.

The amendment is not necessary because the power is already there. We already have a consultation on an advisory board for disabled and accessibility groups. Part of the reason for the legislation is that it improves accessibility for a whole range of different user groups, and we are committed to doing that.