New Clause 1 - Advisory Council

Part of Automated Vehicles Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:15 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Transport) 3:15, 19 Mawrth 2024

I agree with the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North—or maybe it was his daughter who I was agreeing with; I was not entirely clear. I wish her a happy 14th birthday.

New clause 3, which I am speaking to, calls for the establishment of an advisory council. A Division on a very similar amendment in the Lords was narrowly lost. I accept the point made by the hon. Member about the benefits of the additional reference to the devolved Administrations in his new clause.

New clause 3 is largely about why this legislation matters so much and why it is so important that through it we are as successful as possible in predicting the impact of the new technology’s evolution. In doing that, it is essential that the benefits are enjoyed by all in society, not just by a few; the hon. Member made that point in passing. When I say all, I mean workers, those with disabilities and older people. We must minimise the risk of liability in the event of incidents that necessitate insurance claims, and we must ensure that safety is delivered as widely as possible. That is why an advisory council would be such a valuable addition to the legislation.

We saw for generations what happened with deindustrialisation in this country. That came at different times across the country, but very many people were affected and continue to be affected—their areas, their communities and their life chances were badly impacted. Prizes to be won through this legislation include avoiding the damage done by deindustrialisation while ensuring that all groups impacted by this exciting new technology benefit from it and that we gain the maximum and widest-possible economic benefits from it. Having an advisory council that has the breadth of experience to give the Government support on all those areas is highly desirable.

In the Lords, the Government said that such a council was not necessary. The Minister has reiterated today that consultation will be important to him, and I do not doubt that, but there are advantages to formalising the set-up of an advisory council so that particular interests do not come to the fore. We want innovation and enterprise; we want to attract the investment that ensures, as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders estimates, the creation of 342,000 jobs—I think I quoted a slightly lower figure earlier—12,250 of which will be in automotive manufacturing. We need to ensure that those jobs are delivered, that we have an upskilled workforce and that new jobs are created, not lost, through this change in industry, to replace the jobs that will go.

We need to ensure that disability groups are embedded from the start. This is an issue across the wider Transport brief. We said on Second Reading that it was regrettable that we had not seen a transport Bill to address some of these wider points. With this new clause, we have an opportunity to address some of the challenges in what is an exciting and potentially significant development over the coming years.

The stakeholders all make the point that wider statutory engagement is desirable. The TUC states that job transition is its primary concern, and that embedding the principle of creating good new jobs is really important at this stage, before we know exactly how the technology will develop. Having that principle in the Bill is very important.

Much of the detail will come out in secondary legislation, so ensuring that the trade unions have a seat at the table and a voice from the start is really important. The point about disability and accessibility is made by Guide Dogs. The point about transport more widely is made by Transport for All.

I hope that the Minister will give this point the attention it deserves in his response. He and his colleagues have noted how the technology is developing and will continue to change. I put it to him that there is no reason to limit the consultation with the trade unions or the other groups that are set out in our new clause 3, and indeed in SNP new clause 1. The Minister says he is keen to engage with the trade unions and is looking forward to an early meeting. A very good way of showing his intent would be to agree to new clause 3 this afternoon.

Nine sub-groups are listed in subsection (2) of new clause 3—consumer groups; organisations representing drivers; road safety experts; relevant businesses; vehicle insurance providers and providers of delivery and public transport services; trade unions; the police and other emergency services; highway authorities; groups representing people with disabilities; and groups representing other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. Which of those nine sub-groups would the Minister want to leave out of consultation? If he agrees that all of them should be included, why not put it in the Bill? Why not set up an advisory council as part of primary legislation?