Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Third Report


Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


1. At its meeting on 13 December the Committee requested a memorandum about this instrument on the following points:

    "(1)  Given the provisions of section 15(1) of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998, explain the purpose and effect of regulation 3(a).

    (2)  Given section 4(3)(b) and (4) of the 1998 Act, explain why regulations 9(6) and 16(1)(a) impose a condition purporting to limit the period for which records of bookings are required to be kept to six months from the date of the booking.

    (3)  Identify the powers under which regulations 18 and 19 are made."

2. As to point (1), while the Department acknowledges that regulation 3(a) is not strictly necessary, it was included under the powers in section 32(2)(c) of the 1998 Act for the purpose of providing practical assistance to the reader and reducing the administrative burden on Transport for London, particularly during the initial stage. By combining this key piece of information with other information as to the manner of making applications, the provision obviates the need both to refer back to section 15(1) and to make inquiries as to the form in which an application must be made. The functions under section 15(1) will be exercisable by Transport for London who will also be empowered to amend the Regulations (see paragraph 16 of Schedule 21 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999). Regulation 3(a) does not specify what provisions Transport for London must include on the form.

3. As to point (2), in drafting the Regulations the Department gave considerable thought to the extent to which time limits could be imposed on the keeping of records required by section 4(3) of the 1998 Act. It concluded that it could not have been the intention of Parliament that section 4(3)(b) and (4) were to be read together in such a way as to impose an indefinite obligation to retain details of all private hire bookings, subject only to the prescribed period covering the case where an operator ceased to use an operating centre. The administrative burden of retaining such an enormous amount of information indefinitely would be wholly disproportionate to any conceivable benefit that might accrue. The Department therefore felt able to rely on the powers in section 32(2)(c) to include the time limit referred to in regulation 16(1)(a), on the basis that the reference in section 4(4) of the 1998 Act to the record required by virtue of section 4(3)(b) should be construed as a reference to that record in so far as it consisted of the prescribed particulars of bookings that remained in it by virtue of the time limit.

4. As to point (3), section 32(2)(c) of the 1998 Act provides that regulations may contain incidental, consequential, transitional and supplemental provisions. Section 4(3)(a) of the 1998 act requires a London PHV operator to display a copy of his licence at each operating centre specified in the licence. This is clearly of benefit to members of the public who go to an operating centre in that it provides them with details of the operator and confirms that he is licensed. Section 21(1) requires the holder of a London PHV operator's licence to produce that licence for inspection at the request of a constable or authorised officer. The Department felt that it was important to establish a simple system for the issue of replacements where business names or names on a licence changed or where licences were lost, destroyed or defaced and that this would be sufficiently incidental and/or supplemental to the licensing scheme as a whole. Regulation 18 is therefore made under section 32(2)(c) of the 1998 Act.

5. Where a licence has been issued in the sole name of an individual the Department felt that the goodwill of his business might tail off comparatively quickly in the event of death, bankruptcy or mental illness in the absence of a mechanism allowing the business to be continued on a temporary basis without the need for a formal application for an operator's licence. Such a mechanism was considered to be sufficiently incidental and/or supplemental to the licensing scheme as a whole and accordingly regulation 19 is made under section 32(2)(c) of the 1998 Act.

19 December 2000

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