The RMT London Taxi Branch met twice with the Law Commission team. Once in May 2012 at The Union Jack Club SE1 (all London trade organisations were invited) and once at their head office late January 2013. Top of the agenda for both meetings was PP15 – Defining Plying for Hire.
The reasons for requesting the January meeting were due to the fact that we had obtained further material in support of our response after the consultation deadline and also to ask the team specific questions.
We asked ‘’are you still intent on proceeding with defining plying for hire?’’ To which they answered ‘’Yes’’
We felt confident that progress had been made, until we saw the interim statement issued by them in April 2013 just two months later stating the opposite!
It was decided that RMT HQ would write to the Law Commission in response to these turn of events. What follows are abstracts from those letters.
30th May 2013
Dear Sir David Lloyd Jones,
Following the publication of your interim statement on taxis and private hire, I am writing to request clarification on a number of issues.
• What impact will the review have on existing case law?
• Is the intention of the law commission to recommend the licensing of rickshaws/pedicabs?
• Has defining plying for hire been ruled out? If so why?
• Is it the intention of the law commission to limit taxi numbers but not limit the number of private hire vehicles?
I Look forward to your response
5th June 2013
Dear Mr Crow,
Thank you to your letter of 30th May 2013 seeking clarification in respect of certain issues further to the publication of our interim statement. I would like to stress, as we said in the interim statement itself, that, we will continue to develop our policy until our final report at the end of the year. The interim statement is not the last word. I deal with the questions that you posed in your letter.
• First, we proposed a single new statute setting out the legal structure for taxi and private hire regulation. Existing case law is based on earlier legislation, which will be repealed. Where the new statute replicates the substance of the existing law, as it will in many areas, the old cases will, however, remain relevant.
• Second, in our interim statement we said that pedicabs/rickshaws should be bought clearly within the scope of taxi and private hire regulation. Whether this means banning them, or setting standards for them, will depend on licensing authorities (as regards their use as taxis) or on the secretary of state and Welsh ministers (as regards private use of pedicabs)
• Third, we do not propose to provide a statutory definition of plying for hire. The proposal is that there should be a ban on the carriage of passengers for hire except by licensed taxis or licensed private hire vehicles. Taxis would have no restrictions in the ways they can engage passengers within their licensing area. (ranks, hails, pre-bookings); private hire vehicles would, by contrast, continue to be limited to accepting work through a valid pre-booking through a licensed operator. We see this as a clearer way of distinguishing between the services provided by taxis and private hire vehicles.
• Finally, in the interim statement, we said that we had changed our mind in relation to the power of local licensing authorities to limit the number of taxis. We did not propose that the numbers of private hire vehicles be limited, and we have not changed that view. Because of the nature of the way they engage with the public, we think that a higher level of regulation is more appropriate for the taxi trade than for private hire. That includes, for instance, price controls and (we now agree) quantity regulation.
I hope this reply addresses your concerns. I understand from the team that while of course frequently disagreeing they have been greatly assisted by discussions with RMT members and officials during the consultation process, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for that.
Sir David Lloyd Jones
SO WILL IT HAPPEN
That depends on each and every London Taxi driver coming together to defend our rights and privileges before its to late. Remember the Taxi trade, especially in London, has everything to lose. Private hire and pedicabs have everything to gain – By lobbying for it!