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 Anthony Browne Anthony Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 3:15, 19 Mawrth 2024

There is always an opportunity. Andrew Lansley is a good friend of mine, and my predecessor as MP for South Cambridgeshire.

I agree with the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North in the ambition as regards consultation. It is unbelievably important that we consult with all affected stakeholders. We talked earlier about the importance of bringing the public with us. Naturally, there are concerns and scepticism about this, and lots of people are wondering how this new, unknown and evolving technology will affect them, their safety and so on. It is therefore important that we consult as much as possible. That is why we have been consulting endlessly. The Law Commission, in three years’ work, consulted an incredibly wide group of people, including many of those from unions and disabled groups that have already been mentioned. I and the Secretary of State have also had quite a few roundtables and engagement with a wide group of people, including some disability groups and road user groups already.

I was just counting the number of different routes we have for engagement. I have a list and I am afraid I will go through it. First, the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, which is the Government entity that is driving this agenda and the Bill, has an expert advisory panel with a wide range of experts that have been feeding into it. In the legislation, we have committed on the statement of safety principles to consult road users, road safety groups and industry. We have also agreed to have an advisory panel on accessibility as we develop the standards on accessibility for passenger services and taxi services.

We already have a statutory consultation body, the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee, which will be involved with consultation on the matter, with a particular view to accessibility and disabled groups. In the legislation, we have the general monitoring duty, so once a year the Secretary of State will now have a legal requirement to publish a report on how the statement of safety principles has been rolled out, its impact and how it is all going. Also, just to make sure we are learning lessons, we are setting up the incident investigation capacity to learn the lessons from every incident.

I have counted at least six different ways in which we are engaging and learning lessons from this as we go forward. That is on top of all the informal consultation, and a lot of the statutory instruments that come out of this will involve consultations over the next two years. There will be many different public consultations and opportunities to put into this. Indeed, my fear is that there will be death by consultation, in that people will get fed up with the number of consultations that are part of this.

I completely understand the desire of the Opposition parties to set up, on top of that, another statutory advisory council, but given all the consultation that we have done, are doing and will do as we go through this, we do not think it adds much to the sum of knowledge that we have on the subject. Coming back to the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, it is important that we share the ambition of engagement, but we think we have a lot already and the amendments do not add anything.