Date laid: 30 June 2020
Parliamentary procedure: negative
These Regulations have been laid by the Department for Transport (DfT) to amend “road traffic regulations on the use of electric scooters (‘e-scooters’), to allow representative, on-road trials of e-scooters to begin. These trials are to gather evidence on the use and impact of e-scooters to inform possible future legalisation”. Similar schemes have been running in cities abroad for some time and we would have expected more use of evidence from those schemes to shape DfT’s proposal. DfT assert in paragraph 7.4 of the Explanatory Memorandum that “E-scooters could be a convenient and clean way to travel that eases the burden on the transport network and allows for social distancing”. They could equally be a hazard for other users of the cycle lanes and for pedestrians. It is unclear what the policy objective of this instrument is, and how its outcome will be measured. Is it a pilot scheme to test the viability of a controversial vehicle on British roads? Is it a means to rapidly expand transport capacity in cities all over the country during the Coronavirus pandemic? And are those two objectives compatible?
The House may wish to ask the Minister for further evidence to support DfT’s case for scaling up the number of trial schemes, whether there is sufficient data on safety, nuisance, and likely costs to local authorities, to justify this expansion, and also to clarify what the targets and objectives of these trials actually are.
These Regulations are drawn to the special attention of the House on the ground that the explanatory material laid in support provides insufficient information to gain a clear understanding about the instrument’s policy objective and intended implementation.
4.These Regulations have been laid by the Department for Transport (DfT) along with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM). Their purpose is to amend “road traffic regulations as to the use of electric scooters (‘e-scooters’), to allow representative, on-road trials of e-scooters to begin. These trials are to gather evidence on the use and impact of e-scooters to inform possible future legalisation” (Para 2.1 of the EM ). This report includes supplementary information provided to the Committee by the Department.
5.E-scooters are classified as motor vehicles and cannot currently be used on public roads (or pavements) in Britain. This instrument exempts e-scooters with certain characteristics from that ban, so that they can be used in the trials: those characteristics, set out in regulation 2, include that the e-scooters have two wheels, are designed to carry one person, have no pedals to assist propulsion, are fitted with an electric motor not exceeding 500 watts, have a maximum weight of 55 kgs, and a maximum design speed not exceeding 15.5 miles per hour.
6.Those who hire e-scooters are not required to wear a helmet but do have to hold a driving licence (which may be a provisional licence). The instrument also permits cycle lanes and shared “pedestrian and cycle zones” to be used by an e-scooter taking part in a trial, and provides for traffic signage to be amended appropriately.
7.This instrument applies only to e-scooters used as part of a trial arranged between a rental operator and a local public authority within a specified area. It does not permit the use of privately-owned e-scooters, or other e-scooters which are not participating in organised trials.
8.Paragraph 3.1 of the EM states that the DfT’s test plans have expanded because of the need to increase capacity due to coronavirus. We asked the Department to clarify what its original plan had been. DfT replied:
“The Department planned to run trials in four Future Transport Zones. Future Transport Zones are areas focusing on trialling transport innovations and providing evidence of their efficacy to inform the development of, and investment in, future schemes, which have been supported with £92 million of Government funding. The Zones are: Portsmouth and Southampton; the West of England Combined Authority (WECA); Derby and Nottingham; and the West Midlands. Further trial areas may have been added if additional data was required to assess the impacts of e-scooters.”
9.DfT states that it has revised its plans in response to COVID-19 so:
“that more areas will be able to host trials and that these will start sooner, to allow more transport options that allow for social distancing. The Department has not specified the number of trial areas. Local authorities wishing to host trials are being asked to submit a proposal, which will be approved where they have demonstrated that the trial is feasible and deliverable, that the trial will offer useful evidence and insights, and that other relevant matters have been considered/addressed.”
The Department has published guidance on how trials will be approved and operate.
10.The extent of these new provisions is potentially very wide. The press has mentioned up to 50 trial areas taking part. Local authorities can work with one or more e-scooter operators and can specify the maximum number of e-scooters each may operate in their local area, where they can/cannot be used and requirements on docking or parking of e-scooters.
11.DfT states that the Government will publish details of the trial areas on the Gov.uk website as each trial begins, and also the technical specifications required for e-scooters to be part of a trial. The Gov.uk website covers every arm of government. We are therefore concerned that the information will not be easily found. As we have said on previous occasions, where—as in this case—an instrument gives the Minister permissive powers, the location of relevant information should be identified more precisely.
12.Only e-scooters used as part of a trial will have permission to use the roads and cycle paths; we therefore asked how they will be distinguished from private vehicles. DfT replied that it has engaged with the police during the consultation on the regulations on the branding and distinguishing aspects of the trial e-scooters. All e-scooters will require a tamper-proof label with the e-scooter details and a unique identification number. This is welcome as it should make them more likely to be traceable in the case of an accident.
13.We also asked how those with privately-owned e-scooters would be deterred from riding while the trials are going on. DfT replied that someone using an e-scooter illegally could be liable to a fine, receive penalty points on their licence and have the e-scooter impounded.
14.Although helmets are encouraged, they are not mandatory. Given the potential for harm in the event of an accident, the House may wish to press the Minister for an explanation of why the decision was taken not to require the wearing of helmets.
15.The Department acknowledges that there are risks in introducing new types of vehicle into existing transport networks but does not indicate what they are. We would have expected the DfT to have illustrated the main risks to be expected using data from similar schemes abroad.
16.Reflecting on the UK’s infrastructure, the House may wish to ask the Minister for an assurance that there are sufficient cycle paths for this new policy, whether they are wide enough to cope with a vehicle that may be wider than a bicycle and weigh up to 55kg, and whether can they cope with the anticipated increase in usage and allow for overtaking.
17.We note that the DfT guidance states that operators should have appropriate insurance in place: “a minimum of third-party cover is required by operators (though not a legal requirement, they may also want to insure against vehicle theft/damage and include personal insurance too—to all users or on an optional basis)”.
18.Since e-scooters can be used in shared pedestrian zones, we asked whether e-scooters are required to give way to pedestrians trying to cross a cycle lane. DfT responded:
“E-scooter users will be expected to use cycle lanes in the same way as a cyclist would. The Highway Code does not give right of way to any particular group of road users. However it says that cyclists should be considerate of other road users, take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older or disabled people, and allow them plenty of room. They should always be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary.
On segregated cycle/pedestrian routes, e-scooter users must keep to the side intended for cycles and e-scooters as the pedestrian side remains a pavement or footpath.”
19.A problem that has been noted in similar rental schemes abroad is the tendency for users to leave the e-scooter wherever they have finished with it (“a dockless scheme”), usually on the pavement. This is a particular hazard for the disabled and those with poor vision. DfT guidance says that local authorities should take this into account but again allows a wide range of options. In supplementary information DfT said:
“Local authorities can determine whether to run docked or dockless e-scooter schemes and how parking requirements are managed. Our guidance for local authorities asks them to ensure, where a dockless model is used, that e-scooters do not become obstructive. A range of methods have been used abroad to control vehicle parking, including creating new parking spaces for e-scooters, requiring users to photograph where the e-scooter has been left before the journey is complete, GPS tracking, and continuing to charge users if the e-scooter isn’t parked correctly. Some local authorities are also considering long-term rental schemes only, where on-street parking of e-scooters is unusual.”
20.The use of e-scooters is promoted as environmentally friendly. A number of factors may, however, offset the benefits of using an electric vehicle: for example, whether they are recharged from a generator using fossil fuels, or whether, in the dockless model, fleets of vans are required to pick up discarded e-scooters and take them back to a main location.
21.Environmental gain also depends on what percentage of those using them shift from petrol engine vehicles: DfT’s initial assessment, based on the experience of European schemes, suggests that “around a third will transfer from walking, a third from public transport, 15-20% from car, 10% from cycling and around 2% for new trips. Social distancing requirements may cause the shift from public transport and the proportion of new trips to be higher than these estimates”. The House may wish to ask the Minister how the environmental gain from the scheme is to be evaluated and how the results of the evaluation will be published.
22.In contrast to some other instruments enabling pilot schemes, and many measures responding to coronavirus, these Regulations do not include a sunset clause. The EM states: “It is anticipated that a trial will run for 12 months from a trial commencing in a local area”—but also states: “The orders may be extended until such time as decisions are made to inform future legislation around e-scooters and other micromobility vehicles”. This implies that such schemes could operate indefinitely under these Regulations.
23.When we questioned this, DfT responded that:
“The trials are intended to run for 12-months. In each trial area, this will be 12 months from the date that trial commenced, so overall the regulations will have effect for more than 12 months. The administrative orders issued by the Secretary of State are required for trial e-scooters which do not comply with current vehicle construction and approval regulations to be used legally. These orders will set the start and end date of trials.
Following the trial period, the Government will consider the evidence gathered and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to inform future policy on whether e-scooters and other micromobility vehicles should be legalised. Depending on the evidence generated, the administrative orders may be extended to gather additional evidence, including where future legislative proposals are being proposed.
The regulations are not suitable for ongoing use of e-scooters. They apply only to rental operations and do not cover privately-owned e-scooters. The Department will bring forward proposals for how e-scooters (rental and private) should be regulated, based on the evidence from trials, which would supersede these regulations.”
24.The key areas where DfT will be gathering information are not described in the EM but in the guidance. They include:
25.We asked where and when the results of the monitoring programme and of the accident/casualty data be published. DfT’s reply gave no target date:
“The Department will gather data on collisions through the trials to understand safety and will be investigating perceived safety and factors which may contribute to or prevent accidents throughout the trial. Casualties and serious injuries on the road are relatively infrequent so trials will need to run at a sufficient size and duration to gather evidence that will be robust and statistically significant. Other modes of transport are not subject to routine monitoring and evaluation in the way the trials will be, so comparison between e-scooters and other modes will be difficult without proper evaluation of the evidence. It is important that individual incidents and casualty data points are not taken out of context.
Therefore, we do not expect to publish collision or casualty data without evaluation work, so this would not be published until later in the trials or following their completion.”
26.This instrument expands a limited plan to test the viability of the scheme in four locations into a limitless number in order, according to the Department, “to support the restart from COVID-19 and to help mitigate reduced public transport capacity”.
27.A small data gathering exercise has turned into a major implementation programme. Similar schemes have been very divisive in Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris and other major cities, yet only two weeks were allowed for consultation on something that will affect the public generally.
28.We have seen a number of regulations that defer or delay duties on local authorities because they are overburdened during the pandemic. Although these schemes are voluntary we wonder if this is the right time to divert local authority resource into setting up these schemes, particularly since DfT guidance says they expect trials to commence “between June and the end of August 2020”. We would also expect DfT to offer more substantial evidence of the anticipated benefits of these schemes to both individuals and local authorities in the EM and no cost/benefit analysis is offered.
29.This is a major development in transport policy yet it was put into effect in a matter of days without any opportunity for Parliamentary scrutiny. The information in the EM is insubstantial and it is the additional information that demonstrates the extent of the powers enabled by the instrument.
30.DfT assert in paragraph 7.4 of the EM that “E-scooters could be a convenient and clean way to travel that eases the burden on the transport network and allows for social distancing”. They could also be a hazard for other users of the road, cycle lanes and for pedestrians. It is unclear what the policy objective of this instrument is, and how its outcome will be measured. Is it a pilot scheme to test the viability of a controversial vehicle on British roads? Is it a rapid means to expand transport capacity in cities all over the country during the Coronavirus pandemic ? And are those two objectives compatible?
31.The House may wish to ask the Minister for further evidence to support DfT’s case for scaling up the number of trial schemes and to show whether there is sufficient data on safety, nuisance, and likely costs to local authorities, to justify this expansion. The House may also wish to ask the Minister for clarification about the targets and objectives of these trials.
Date laid: 1 July 2020
Parliamentary procedure: negative
This instrument has been laid by the Ministry of Justice to modify the Secure Training Centre Rules 1998 so that residents’ entitlements to visits, activities and education need only be met as far as reasonably practicable during a coronavirus transmission control period. Given that those residing in these Centres are children, the minimum regime that can be imposed, which only allows them out of their rooms for one and a half hours a day, raises concerns over their health and welfare, if applied for any length of time. We note the Secure Training Centres’ efforts to deliver the best regime that they can under the circumstances of a pandemic but highlight the need to balance the individuals’ mental and physical health appropriately, particularly in the light of their youth and existing problems. This variable regime could be applied for up to two years and the House may wish to ask how it is being monitored and whether regular reports to Parliament will be published.
These Rules are drawn to the special attention of the House on the ground that they are politically or legally important and give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House.
32.There are two privately-operated secure training centres (STCs) in England, which hold children, aged 12-17, sentenced and remanded by the courts They are sentenced for crimes ranging from breaches of court orders and domestic burglaries through to robberies, sexual offences and crimes involving violence against the person, up to and including murder.
33.In April 2020, approximately two–thirds of the population of STCs were in custody for the offences of robbery, sexual offences or violence against the person (this figure includes those remanded). Approximately one third were held on remand. On 7 July, Oakhill had 49 young people in their care and Rainsbrook, which accommodates both boys and girls, held 55, made up of 41 boys,13 girls and one mother with baby.
34.The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) explained that the normal operating regime at an STC is based around young people being out of their rooms for 14 hours each day. From 7:30am until 9:30pm, they are entitled to be out of their rooms, with a range of activities from education, interventions, enrichment, social leisure time, dining out and time out in the fresh air. Education is delivered in an on-site school (five hours per day, totalling 25 hours per week) and one meal a day is eaten in the dining room.
35.As with prisons, visits have been suspended during the transmission control period as declared by the Secretary of State for Health. However, there is no additional transition period in these amending Rules. The STC Rules normally prescribe that these young people will have access to a visit each week. While this has not been possible, MoJ state that the young people have access to telephones that they can use in their bedrooms, and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has provided tablets for them to have video calls with their family instead of face-to-face visits. These amending Rules allow visits to be suspended where necessary to prevent the risk of infection.
36.The STC Rules prescribe that children should participate in education and training for 25 hours per week. During the pandemic, health advice has in effect closed the education centres at each STC, preventing the delivery of the normal timetable. This has been replaced by bespoke homework for the residents requiring them to complete work set for them by teachers. The STCs have also delivered some small group teaching in living units and have reopened parts of the education centre to allow some classes to be delivered there. However, full-time face-to-face teaching has not been possible. MOJ state that STCs are increasing teaching during the recovery period, but if there are local outbreaks it may be necessary to close elements of the educational programme again. These amending Rules provide that the requirement for education will be met as far as reasonably practicable during a transmission control period.
37.The STC Rules require that young residents will also be occupied in programmes designed to tackle offending behaviour. This would normally involve a range of programmes lead by youth workers, psychologists or healthcare professionals. Some of these programmes have been suspended because heath guidance has prevented the face-to-face work taking place. Much of this work has been continued through phone calls between staff and children but other elements have not been possible. The instrument provides that this requirement will be met as far as reasonably practicable during a transmission control period.
38.Paragraph 7.3 of the EM describes the new operational guidelines, consistent with Public Health England advice, that have been issued by the Youth Custody Service, HMPPS to the Directors of the two STCs. They set out a temporary minimum regime for as long as appropriate during the coronavirus pandemic, which provides children with:
(a)Reduced time out of room: At least one and a half hours out of room a day (normally 14 hours);
(b)Reduced access to classroom education: There are opportunities to attend teacher-led sessions, in-room work and some children take part in independent study;
(c)Dining on the residential units or in-room; and
(d)Daily opportunities to access fresh air.
39.We have one procedural concern, which is that these amending Rules are being brought forward now as an emergency measure despite the fact that lockdown has been operating since March. We fully understand that the STCs were taking action to reduce risk in line with government guidance on COVID-19; however, it would appear that in doing that they have, for some months, been in conflict with their statutory requirements to deliver certain standards under the STC Rules. While these amending Rules now regularise the situation for any further outbreaks this matter should have been addressed much sooner.
40.As with the similar restrictions on prisoners, described in our 16th Report of this session, the minimum regime that can be imposed raises concerns over residents’ health and welfare, if applied for any length of time. These inmates are at a formative stage in their lives. We also observe that a third of the residents of the STCs are on remand. We note the mitigations that are being applied but highlight the need for the regime applied to balance the individuals’ mental and physical health appropriately, particularly in the light of their youth and existing problems. This variable regime could be applied for up to two years and the House may wish to ask how it is being monitored and whether regular reports to Parliament will be published.
1 DfT, E-scooter trials: guidance for local areas and rental operators (last updated 1 July 2020): [accessed 8 July 2020].
2 See, for example, ‘Invasion of the electric scooter: can our cities cope?’, The Guardian (15 July 2019): 15 July 2020]. .[accessed
3 (EM), Para 7.3.
4 EM, Para 9.1.
5 ‘Dozens of arrests in Copenhagen for drunk scooter driving’, BBC (8 July 2019): .[accessed 15 July 2020].
6 ‘Electric scooters cause 74 accidents and hundreds of traffic offences in three months since legalisation in Berlin’, The Independent (17 September 2019): .[accessed 15 July 2020].
7 ‘“Anarchy in the streets”: Electric scooter accidents plague Paris as residents demand police crackdown’, The Independent (22 June 2019): .[accessed 15 July 2020].
8 DfT, E-scooter trials: guidance for local areas and rental operators, section 4.
9 Youth Custody data is available at HM Government, ‘Youth custody data’, (last updated 20 July 2020): .[accessed 15 July 2020].
10 , Session 2019–21 (HL Paper 69) on the Prison and Young Offender Institution (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No.2) Rules 2020 ().