Our inquiry focused on issues relating to taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) operating outside of the district in which they were licensed. The principal Acts covering taxis and PHVs date back to 1847 and 1976 respectively. The cross-border hire issues raised with us, and the increasingly complex case law in this area, lead us to conclude that the case for a thorough overhaul of this legislation is irresistible. We are not persuaded that the Government is right to refer the matter to the Law Commission: we recommend that the Government should engage with the trade, local authorities and users about the objectives of future legislation and commit to reform the law in this Parliament. We suggest that this could be done by means of a legislative reform order.
We recommend that the following principles should underpin new legislation:
- Listen to the views of users, particularly vulnerable groups;
- Keep it simple: combine the legislation on taxis and PHVs in one Act. The distinction between taxi and PHV services could be maintained by providing for two types of vehicle licence under the Act; and
- Keep it local: Taxis and PHVs should feature more prominently in local transport plans. We recommend that there are strong arguments for national licensing standards in relation to some issues, such as CRB checks, but others matters are best determined at a local level and licensing should remain a local function.
We make recommendations about making enforcement easier and the potential to create larger licensing districts and we also suggest how cross-border issues could be resolved by permitting local authorities to take action against out-of-town drivers and operators where there is evidence, for example, that they have worked, or sought to work, for a specified period of time in that district.