Clause 2: Licences, fares and other matters
Amendment 1
Moved by
1: Clause 2, page 2, line 19, at end insert “(including, in particular, provision about making noise)”
Member's explanatory statement
This amendment spells out that provision in pedicab regulations about the conduct of drivers can include provision about making noise. Regulations might, for example, prohibit a driver from making certain kinds of noise or noise over a certain volume at some or all times or in some or all places.
Lord Davies of Gower Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Lord Davies of Gower) (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful for your Lordships’ continued interest in this small but important Bill. The Government have listened carefully to the concerns raised by noble Lords, and I reiterate what I have said in private sessions: that your Lordships’ engagement has helped the Government reflect on the Bill’s provisions.

The first group today consists of a single amendment. It will amend Clause 2(6)(i), which relates to the conduct of pedicab drivers. It will specify that pedicab regulations can include provisions about making noise. During Grand Committee, I was clear that the Bill as drafted provided sufficient scope for pedicab regulations to address the issue of noise, under Clause 2(6). Furthermore, Transport for London has provided assurance that the playing of loud music and causing disturbance would be covered in its regulations.

However, it was clear that your Lordships felt particularly strongly about this issue. This is understandable. The Government are aware of the stories of loud music being played from pedicabs during the day and long into the night, and understand the disruption this causes to residents, businesses and those going about their daily lives. The Government have therefore tabled the amendment in recognition of the importance of this issue and to support the emergence of an effective regulatory regime.

Consistent with the approach taken in the Bill, the precise manner in which noise nuisance is addressed will be for Transport for London to determine in bringing forward regulations, and, again, this will be subject to consultation as per Clause 1(3). I hope that noble Lords welcome this amendment and that it satisfactorily addresses any outstanding concerns. I beg to move.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston Portrait Baroness Stowell of Beeston (Con)
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My Lords, I welcome the amendment tabled by my noble friend. I am hugely grateful to him for having listened carefully during our debates in Committee. I congratulate him on the influence he has been able to have in the department in securing the Secretary of State’s agreement to this change.

I note that my noble friend said that in the Government’s view, the Bill’s original wording was sufficient to tackle the concern about noise; none the less, it is reassuring to have noise provisions in the Bill. I should be particularly pleased if my noble friend emphasised when he winds up that the explanatory statement alongside the amendment on the Marshalled List points out that the regulations that can be made to deal with noise, and which would be subject to consultation by Transport for London, might

“prohibit a driver from making certain kinds of noise or noise over a certain volume at some or all times or in some or all places.”

As my noble friend knows, one of my concerns, and one of the reasons why I was keen to get provisions on noise in the Bill, is that there has been a tendency to talk about noise only after a certain time of day. The existing law that allows any clampdown on noise pollution very much kicks in after a certain time and, as we know, the noise made by these vehicles and their drivers can be particularly disturbing and disruptive at any time of day. That is worth us reinforcing, so that TfL knows the expectation of this House.

As this is probably the last time I will speak during the passage of the Bill, I thank my noble friend again and congratulate him on his successful stewardship of this important Bill, which people have waited a long time for in London. I congratulate him on what he has been able to achieve over the past couple of months.

Lord Borwick Portrait Lord Borwick (Con)
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My Lords, I repeat my declarations of interest from previous occasions. I entirely agree with my noble friend Baroness Stowell—she is right. I worry about the House of Lords legislating for the difference between “noise” and “music”. We might be in a minority in the country overall in our distinction between the two, but this is a magnificent example of a Bill that has been changed by good points made by Back-Benchers in this House. The clause proposed by my noble friend Lord Davies is an entirely sensible move.

Viscount Goschen Portrait Viscount Goschen (Con)
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My Lords, I too congratulate my noble friend on his stewardship and handling of the Bill. It is, perhaps, not the biggest, most important transport Bill to come before your Lordships but is none the less highly targeted, and we commend it. In particular, I thank my noble friend for listening to the concerns about noise that have been raised almost universally around the House. I have witnessed this when walking back from your Lordships’ House to where I often stay during the week, and I have heard this extraordinary noise coming from these vehicles.

There is a problem, and the Bill is an enabling Bill. It allows TfL to produce the regulations and regulate the operators of these vehicles. Noise is one of the most important issues the House has heard about, and I am delighted the Government have recognised it and produced their own amendment.

Baroness Randerson Portrait Baroness Randerson (LD)
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My Lords, there is a risk that this is beginning to sound like Third Reading, but I put on record from these Benches my thanks to the Minister and his team for their time and the care with which they have considered the points we made on Report and in meetings between then and today. They have been generous with their time and prepared to give serious consideration to the points made.

This amendment is, as noble Lords have said, about noise. Where, when, how and how loud the noise is, is a key aspect of the concerns about pedicabs. This is therefore a very useful addition and clarification and is in direct response to points made in Grand Committee. I am delighted that this amendment has come forward.

Lord Liddle Portrait Lord Liddle (Lab)
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My Lords, on behalf of the Opposition, I will be very brief. We support this amendment and congratulate the Minister on bringing it forward; it demonstrates that Members of the House have been listened to. There is clearly a problem of noise created by pedicabs, and it affects people of all social classes who live in Soho, Mayfair and parts of Westminster. We are glad to see this amendment being proposed.

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful for the acceptance of this amendment. We recognise the point made by my noble friend Lady Stowell about noise being disallowed after 9 pm. Clearly, during the winter months and dark nights it is not good to have this sort of behaviour and high levels of noise on the streets. That was very much behind the thinking in bringing this amendment forward. I am very grateful to all other noble Lords who have spoken, and I will certainly pass the thanks on to the team.

Amendment 1 agreed.
Amendment 2
Moved by
2: Clause 2, page 2, line 19, at end insert—
“(6A) For the purpose ensuring greater safety of electric powered pedicabs (of a type specified in subsection (6B)) and secondary lithium-ion batteries used to power them, regulations must be made within 12 months of the passing of this Act specifying that such vehicles and the lithium-ion batteries used to power them must—(a) have had conformity assessment procedures carried out on them by a conformity assessment body authorised by the Secretary of State to carry out such assessments; and(b) have the technical documentation and declaration of conformity drawn up by the manufacturer.(6B) The type of pedicab to which section (6A) refers—(a) must be pedalled in order to receive electric-powered back-up; and(b) has an electric motor with a maximum power output of backup power of no more than 250 watts; and(c) can travel at no more than 15.5 mph as the electric motor will not propel the bike when travelling more than 15.5mph.”Member's explanatory statement
This amendment would require the Government to make regulations to introduce independent conformity assessment processes for electric powered pedicabs and the batteries used to power them.
Baroness Randerson Portrait Baroness Randerson (LD)
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I regret to tell the House that this group will take slightly longer than the previous one. This amendment in my name is about the safety of pedicabs and the lithium-ion batteries that assist with the pedalling to propel them in certain cases. It covers only pedicabs where the battery back-up is available only when the pedicab is being pedalled, where such back-up can be given only up to 15.5 miles per hour and where the maximum power is up to 250 watts. Currently, there are no requirements for independent safety tests on such vehicles and their batteries.

In Committee, my noble friend Lord Foster put forward amendments about these issues, which I also spoke to. He is unfortunately unable to be here today, so I am attempting to carry forward his work. From the outset on the Bill, safety and testing, in general, have been at the centre of the Government’s thinking. Clause 2(6)(c) refers to “safety requirements” and Clause 2(6)(f) to “the testing of pedicabs”. In his opening speech, the Minister referred to safety on four occasions.

My amendment builds on an issue that has been taken up by noble Lords across the Chamber. I have also raised it previously in different contexts, as has my noble friend Lord Foster. I raised it on 11 July last year with the Minister’s predecessor and my noble friend raised it on 23 November last year in a QSD. Unfortunately, on both occasions, government responses lacked the clarity that we need on the crucial differences in testing requirements between the L-category vehicles up to 1,000 watts and the sub-250-watt electric bicycles. The latter are pedal cycles with an auxiliary electric motor and a maximum continuous rated power of up to 250 watts. The other key difference is that the more powerful vehicles, over 250 watts, have to be registered and have a number plate, which vehicles up to 250 watts do not require.

In Grand Committee, Amendments 21 and 22 dealt with charging systems and with lithium-ion batteries powering electrically assisted pedicabs. The Minister, in his response, said:

“I note that the requirement for power-assisted pedicabs to meet suitable product regulation is covered by existing law and therefore this amendment is not necessary”.—[Official Report, 11/12/23; col. GC 243.]

He then went on to point out that manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products meet safety standards. That is self-certification, which is exactly the point of the amendment and why we need higher standards with third-party safety assessments coming in. Those safety assessments should be undertaken by conformity assessment bodies, also called test houses. To assist noble Lords with a parallel, that is how fire- works, for example, are tested and assured for safety.

In his response to our last debate, the Minister also said that batteries must comply with the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008. However, unfortunately, those regulations limit only the amount of cadmium and mercury in the battery and have nothing to do with fire safety testing. I press these issues because already, 13 people have died as a result of lithium-ion battery fires, one person on New Year’s Day this year. Many more people have been very badly injured and there has been a massive cost from the destruction of property.

These amendments are supported by organisations such as the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Association of British Insurers, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the charity Electrical Safety First. They are also supported by dozens of other similar organisations—30 in total.

In June, the noble Lord, Lord Offord, assured my noble friend Lord Foster that the Government were taking action on these issues, but nothing has happened since. A recent survey showed that a third of e-bikes and batteries are bought online, where is it known that standards are likely to be lower and the whole situation is known to be riskier. As the Bill is intrinsically concerned with a set of activities—pedicab riding—known to be without any regulation, where the Government rightly say that risks have been taken and these are dangerous activities, this is exactly the kind of situation where some of kind of control over the lithium-ion batteries involved in the vehicles would be very useful, worth while and likely to save lives or reduce the risk to people’s health.

Nearly half the people who charge their bike batteries do so in a communal area. That is known to be the most dangerous place to do it. If a fire breaks out, it blocks your exit and it is far too hot in these circumstances for you to be able to go through that area. More than half of people with electric bikes charge them while they are asleep, so a fire is more likely to take hold. All these risks could be dealt with by safety measures built into the regulations flowing from the Bill and public awareness could be raised. The Government have emphasised the dangers posed by pedicabs and battery fires are clearly part of that. I am certainly not going to push this to a vote today, but I ask the Minister—who is clearly keen to listen to concerns—to think about this very seriously. I urge him either to accept this amendment or to bring something back of a similar nature.

Lord Moylan Portrait Lord Moylan (Con)
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My Lords, I have considerable sympathy with the argument made by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. I find it very strange that, in this modern world, it seems impossible to rely on the safety of something as straightforward as a battery. We have known about battery-like things for at least 250 years. I think it was in the 18th century that the first battery was discovered.

Now we have lithium-ion batteries, which appear to be perfectly safe in one’s telephone but not if they are attached to a pedicab. We have a similar problem with e-scooters. On some occasions, the batteries have been known to blow up, which is why they are banned from every part of the London Underground network—platforms and stations as well as trains; they are a fire risk. How has this circumstance come about? I have no answer.

While I have sympathy with the noble Baroness’s argument, I am glad to hear that she is not intending to advance this to a vote. I am not entirely sure that this is the right Bill for the issue to be addressed in. There is a wider question about what the Government are doing to ensure the safety of batteries that are available for consumers to buy as part of equipment. In this case, they are allowed to buy e-scooters, but not to ride them on the public highway. That is another anomaly that perhaps we will address at some stage, when the endless trial the Government have been conducting on e-scooters is eventually brought to a conclusion and some determination is made about their future. There needs to be a measure that addressees the safety of batteries more broadly than simply in pedicabs, as this amendment would.

We will come in the next group to the question of guidance. I will simply say that if my noble friend were to say that safety issues including the safety of batteries would be included in guidance and covered by regulations, I think that would be satisfactory, without the need for the noble Baroness’s amendment. It is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Lord Borwick Portrait Lord Borwick (Con)
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My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend; it all makes sense. I shall give a little history: at one stage I was chairman of a lithium battery manufacturer. It is possible in the manufacturing of a lithium battery for a little strip of lithium to move from one part of the battery to another during the manufacturing process. That can later cause a fire.

The trouble with this amendment is entirely that, as my noble friend mentioned, if we got it right in pedicabs, we would be getting it right in only a tiny percentage of the total number of vehicles with large lithium batteries. It is a particularly serious problem when fires break out in big batteries in small houses. These pedicabs are not going to be recharged in people’s houses in the majority of cases; it will be done at a depot of some sort.

This is a good provision in the wrong place. I would look forward to supporting such a clause in a different place, if only there was something equivalent. The noble Baroness has grabbed the opportunity and should be applauded for doing that.

Viscount Goschen Portrait Viscount Goschen (Con)
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My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that the first part of the noble Baroness’s amendment is very interesting but has a much wider application. None the less, she has cleverly found an opportunity to air broader concerns about lithium batteries. However, I feel rather sorry for the second part of her amendment, which is a very substantive measure. I do not think she particularly referred to it in her remarks and it has not been covered in the debate so far. It is about the amount of power that can be deployed by these vehicles and that they must be pedal-assisted and not just pure electric power.

The reason I support the noble Baroness’s sentiment behind that is something that we have covered in earlier debates. With electrically powered vehicles, which I think are great and have the ability to solve all sorts of environmental and other problems, particularly in cities, there is a blurring of where an electric bicycle ends and an electric motorcycle begins, and where an electric-powered but pedal-assisted vehicle ends and a motor vehicle begins, and whether the words that the noble Baroness has suggested really belong in TfL’s guidance or in the Bill. My concern is about putting very specific things in the Bill in terms of future-proofing. Who knows what will come along in future developments? Perhaps it is better covered by guidance.

However, there is a much wider concern about the difficulty of keeping up, from a regulatory perspective, with very rapid consumer change and the availability of electric scooters, which we talked about a lot at earlier stages of the Bill. Perhaps when the noble Baroness comes to wind up her remarks, she might just dwell a little on the second part of her amendment.

Lord Liddle Portrait Lord Liddle (Lab)
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My Lords, we on this side of the House have enormous sympathy for the amendment that the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, has proposed, and I find myself, at least on this occasion, in full agreement with the remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Moylan and Lord Borwick, and the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen. However, it is the Government’s decision that one of the few transport measures they were prepared to put in their programme for this Session was a pedicabs Bill which, of course, is of very limited reach and scope. In fact, you could say that its reach is two wards of a single London borough. That is a pity, given that the country has enormous transport challenges in front of it, such as a failing railway system and the need for bus regulation. I could go on.

However, one of the issues that clearly has to be addressed is the one highlighted in this amendment. Although it would be inappropriate to try to carry amendments on this question of electric batteries, I hoped that the Minister might be able—indeed, I have urged him privately to do this—to come up with a timetable for when the Government might address these wider and more important questions. I am looking forward to his speech because it seems to me that in the House we have had a lot of concern raised about electric batteries and about the experimental period, as it were, of regulation of e-scooters, and we do not know how long that is going to go on for or what the outcome is eventually going to be. I would have thought that the Government must have a plan—after all, they are, I assume, thinking they might be re-elected—so we would quite like to know what future plans the Government have on what are very important and serious matters in which lives are at stake.

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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My Lords, I thank your Lordships for their diligence in scrutinising this Bill’s provisions. This second group of amendments is focused on electric pedicabs. My department is aware of concerns held by noble Lords surrounding batteries in e-cycles and e-scooters. Amendment 2 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, seeks to place a requirement on the Government to introduce independent conformity assessment processes for electrically powered pedicabs and the batteries used to power these vehicles. If I may say so, she Baroness puts her case well, and I will now seek to answer some of her points.

Noble Lords may recall my response to an amendment tabled in Committee on conformity assessments and potentially placing requirements on power-assisted pedicabs. My response to the amendment debated today will echo my previous position. The Bill is about closing the legal anomaly so that London pedicabs can be licensed for the first time. The amendment raises a much wider question about the construction of electrically assisted pedal cycles.

The UKCA, the UK conformity assessment marking, and its EU equivalent, the CE, the conformité Européene, demonstrate a manufacturer’s claim of conformity with statutory requirements. All e-cycles and e-scooters need to comply with UK product safety regulations. This includes the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008, which set out the detailed health and safety requirements for the design and construction of a product. Additionally, there is an existing requirement in these machinery regulations that responsible persons for all machinery within scope, which would include power-assisted pedicabs, must draw up a detailed technical file and a declaration of conformity. There are existing requirements to carry out appropriate conformity assessment procedures. In instances where the responsible person does not comply with existing requirements, they are in breach of the regulations.

The Government are seeking to reform the UK’s product safety framework through the product safety review. The Office for Product Safety and Standards is currently reviewing responses to its consultation on how it regulates all products on the GB market, including machinery, and where multiple regulations apply to specific products. The Government’s intention is to publish a response later this year that summarises findings and sets out its future plans.

Product regulations would not cover a scenario whereby a pedicab driver or operator adapted their power-assisted pedicab following purchase, However, Clause 2(6) provides Transport for London with the ability to make provisions relating to matters such as safety requirements, testing, speed restrictions, and the quality and roadworthiness of pedicabs. Therefore, there is sufficient scope for Transport for London to determine the expected standards for pedicabs operating on London’s roads.

Although pedicab batteries when not supplied as part of a pedicab would not be subject to a regime that requires the UK conformity assessment marking to be affixed to them, their safety would be covered by the General Product Safety Regulations. These regulations require that all consumer products placed on the market are safe. Furthermore, batteries must comply with the Batteries and Accumulators (Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008, which restrict the substances used in batteries and accumulators, as well as setting out requirements for their environmentally friendly end of life.

In bringing my comments to a conclusion, I draw your Lordships’ attention to the work of the Office for Product Safety and Standards, and Defra. They are in the process of reviewing the position on batteries. This includes examining the new EU battery directive and looking into the safety of the lithium-ion batteries used in e-cycles and e-scooters. This work should conclude in 2024. Alongside this, my department is developing guidance on the safe use of batteries in e-cycles and e-scooters, and we will publish this soon. I respectfully suggest that the Bill, with its narrow focus on licensing London pedicabs, is not the place to start tackling this issue. It is best dealt with as part of the wider work being taken forward by the Office for Product Safety and Standards and by Defra.

Baroness Randerson Portrait Baroness Randerson (LD)
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I thank the Minister for his response, although it was rather disappointing. The noble Lord, Lord Moylan, makes the point that this is not the right place for these regulations, but he accepts that there is a clear danger. I simply approach it from the point of view that this might be a good place to start dealing with this danger. However, I accept that pedicabs make up a tiny percentage of the problem, as the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, says.

I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, that the key point that I was trying to tackle was that the second half of the amendment simply explains that the safety measures in the first half of the amendment apply specifically to pedal-powered bikes up to 250 watts. In our debate in Grand Committee, the issue became rather opaque, shall we say? My hope was that, within the 12 months specified in the amendment, perhaps the Government might actually tackle the whole issue so that, in tackling the pedicabs issue, they would also be tackling all the bikes concerned.
I am pleased to hear that the Minister thinks that Transport for London could do something to address this issue, and time will tell whether these are adequate powers for it. I am not arguing that it should be given the additional powers in relation to this, because I think this is a job for central government. However, we will see whether it has the sorts of powers needed to raise levels of safety. We will, I am sure, be looking to see what the office of public safety recommends, because this is not an issue that I have dreamed up. It is based on clear evidence of danger and risk and repeated fires, which come when something has gone wrong, when corners have been cut in the manufacturing process. There is clear evidence, and I very much hope that the Government pursue this with some additional urgency following this debate. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 2 withdrawn.
Clause 6: Procedure for pedicab regulations
Amendment 3
Moved by
3: Clause 6, page 4, line 24, leave out subsection (2)
Member's explanatory statement
This amendment means that pedicab regulations will no longer be subject to any form of parliamentary procedure.
Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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My Lords, this final group of amendments covers the process for regulations made under the Bill. Amendment 3 places responsibility for making pedicab regulations solely with Transport for London, meaning that pedicab regulations will no longer be subject to any form of parliamentary procedure.

Noble Lords will be aware that this marks a shift in the Government’s approach. The Government have listened to, and reflected on, the points raised at Second Reading and in Grand Committee, and reached the conclusion that these powers should rest with Transport for London. The Government have reached this view for several important reasons. First, it is consistent with the position for taxi and private hire vehicle licensing in the capital, where Transport for London has demonstrable experience of operating effective licensing regimes. Secondly, the Bill’s provisions extend to Greater London only, addressing the legal anomaly that has meant that London’s pedicab industry has been unregulated. The Bill presents a solution to a London-centric issue. Thirdly and finally, the relative size of the pedicab industry in London is an important factor. Estimates suggest that pedicab numbers range from 200 up to 900 in peak season. This is a significantly smaller industry than London’s taxi and PHV industries, where there are over 100,000 licensed vehicles and over 120,000 licensed drivers. Therefore, this amendment offers a proportionate approach.

While I am confident that this amendment is supported by the majority of your Lordships, I am aware that there may be some noble Lords concerned that Transport for London would seize this opportunity to remove all pedicabs from London’s streets, or to impose draconian restrictions that all but ban these vehicles. I reiterate that I do not—

Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab)
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I apologise for jumping in on this point but it is very important. The Minister said that the generation of regulations would be solely the responsibility of Transport for London, which is exactly where we seek to be. In preparing for this debate I looked through the Bill, and all the Minister’s amendment does—I say “all” but it may be enough, in which case I will be delighted—is to take a subsection out of Clause 6. Can I be assured that that subsection’s deletion effectively removes any DfT input to the creation of regulations other than the amendment that goes with it to introduce guidance?

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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Yes, that is my understanding of the amendment and is correct.

Although I am confident that this amendment is supported by the majority of your Lordships, as I said, I am aware that some noble Lords may be concerned that Transport for London would seize this opportunity to remove all pedicabs from London’s streets or to impose draconian restrictions. However, I reiterate that I do not understand this to be TfL’s intention and, furthermore, it is highly unlikely that pedicab regulations could be used to do this.

However, this moves me to Amendment 4, which gives the Secretary of State the option of issuing statutory guidance to Transport for London relating to how functions under pedicab regulations are exercised. The amendment specifies that statutory guidance may cover how functions are exercised so as to protect children and vulnerable adults from harm. This amendment intends to strike a balance with the removal of parliamentary procedure for secondary legislation made under the Bill. The Government remain aware this will be a newly regulated industry, and this amendment will give the Secretary of State the option of influencing the shape of the London pedicab regime.

Transport for London or any person authorised by it to carry out functions under pedicab regulations on its behalf will need to have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State. This provides a level of oversight which I hope provides assurance to any noble Lords with concerns. Further to this, Clause 1(3) requires TfL to conduct a consultation prior to making pedicab regulations.

I hope this demonstrates that the Government have listened, and that these amendments are viewed by your Lordships as a thoughtful way forward, one which will best enable Transport for London to commence work on bringing forward its regulatory regime. I beg to move.

Lord Storey Portrait Lord Storey (LD)
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My Lords, this is almost full circle for me. About six years ago I received several complaints about pedicabs, and I tabled Written Questions for the then Minister, to be told straight off, “It is nothing to do with the Government—it is a matter for Transport for London”. Therefore, it is quite good that, coming full circle, many of these issues will be taken—with guidance—by Transport for London. That is the right and proper place for some of these issues; it makes sense to me.

I am particularly pleased that notice has been taken of safeguarding issues, particularly for children, and I am sure guidance will include that, and for anybody who is in a vulnerable situation as well, whether it be children or young women. That is absolutely right and proper.

I slightly worry that the issue of identification has not taken place. For example, if a pedicab driver does something that is not correct or behaves in an outrageous way—as we have often seen happen—as I understand it, there is no way to identify who is the owner or the driver of that pedicab and therefore to take action. I hope that this issue might be raised, maybe in guidance to Transport for London.

Baroness Randerson Portrait Baroness Randerson (LD)
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My Lords, I will speak to Amendment 5 but in doing so, I welcome the Minister’s acceptance that this is very much an issue for Transport for London. My Amendment 5 is simply there to give the Minister the opportunity to provide this House with clarity on the potential scope of the Secretary of State of State’s guidance. Because we have had this complete somersault between Committee and Report over who is going to be responsible for this, it is important to get that clarification.

There is cross-party consensus that this really is an issue for Transport for London. Like my noble friend Lord Storey, I am very pleased to see the reference to safeguarding in Amendment 4. This legislation obviously applies only to London, but it would be helpful if the Government were to publicise it beyond London because, as we made clear in our discussions at the previous stage, there are pedicab regulations in other parts of the country. It would be useful to have greater awareness of issues such as the importance of safeguarding, registration, safety and so on.

My amendment is a kind of checklist of the main issues to consider: environmental benefits; safety, which is about a lot more than just battery fires; and minimising disruption, danger and disturbance to other people, as some neighbours in London have suffered from noise and inconsiderate parking for a long time. We should not be discussing the suitability of cab ranks in detail here, but it will clearly be of great importance when decisions are made by Transport for London. My final issue is that of licensing and penalties. I assume that licensing will involve identification and registration.

It is important to make it clear that we do not want regulations which are so onerous that they destroy this industry altogether. Like other noble Lords, we want just to bring it under control so that it benefits London and is an asset, not a liability, to London tourism. For the people who hire these cabs, it should be safe and fun, not risky. I press the Minister to reassure us that the Secretary of State’s guidance will not be so onerous that it enables penalties so stiff that they put people out of business.

Proposed new subsection (6) of government Amendment 4 refers to consultation, and rightly so. Can the Minister give us an assurance that there will be Secretary of State consultation with cycling organisations and the organisation representing pedicab operators in London? Its representatives were in touch with us prior to Committee, so there is clearly such an organisation, and it is the kind of organisation that, in other industries, brings a sense of coherence that raises standards, as taxi organisations do. It is important that proper consultation is done.

Lord Borwick Portrait Lord Borwick (Con)
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I am grateful to my noble friend for bringing forward this suggestion, which, as he said, was proposed by many parties. But I am still confused, in that the Member’s explanatory statement, which is very sensible, does not quite tie up with Amendment 3 itself. Amendment 3 says “leave out subsection (2)”, but why is subsection (1) still in place? That says that

“The power to make pedicab regulations is exercisable by statutory instrument”.

If the intention is that they should not be exercisable by statutory instrument, why should we leave in that phrase? Would it not be better if the amendment left out both subsection (2) and subsection (1)? I think that would improve the Bill.

Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab)
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My Lords, I first thank the Minister, as others have done, for the amount of time he has taken on this Bill. Our central concern was that this is a London problem, and we created TfL to look after London’s problems. Now, I am in favour of TfL—somewhat biasedly, because I helped create it—but it has lived up to our expectations and has done a good job over the 23 years of its existence. It is very much the right organisation to do this task.

I thank the Minister for his Amendment 3, which he assures me will give TfL sole responsibility for developing regulations. I do take the point about why subsections (1), (3) and (4) are being retained, but I am sure it is all right because I have faith in the wonderful drafting powers of his team. If, upon consideration, they become a concern, I am sure that a government amendment will be tabled at Third Reading to amend any conflicts between the different parts. I hope he will give that consideration, if his team do advise him that there is a conflict.

Having said that I am in favour of Transport for London doing this task, I grudgingly accept that some of the concerns about TfL getting carried away and banning everything in sight, and making people bankrupt by charging them utterly unreasonable fees et cetera, do make a case for Amendment 4. Therefore, I recognise that that is the trade-off between the important position to take throughout the parliamentary process, while making sure there is a potential for government to create guidance that TfL has to have regard to. The balance between the two amendments, from our point of view, is acceptable.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, has produced Amendment 5, which is drafted very much in the terms of many of her amendments, in the sense that it is motherhood. I am actually in favour of motherhood; it helps the world go round, and it says a series of sensible things. But the problem with putting something in legislation is whether it says all the things that should be said, or whether, conversely, it contradicts things that might be wanted. I am afraid I cannot support her. I do not think it is her intention to press the amendment, but I do commend it as a questionnaire for the Minister, to clarify the Government’s position on the points raised.

Lord Davies of Gower Portrait Lord Davies of Gower (Con)
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My Lords, I once again thank your Lordships for their careful consideration of the Bill. I have outlined the purpose of the Government’s amendments in this group, and will now address Amendment 5, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson.

I first reiterate the Government’s objective in bringing forward this Bill. The purpose is to provide Transport for London with the tools it needs to regulate London’s pedicabs so that journeys and vehicles are safer and fairer. This means addressing both the safety-related and traffic-related concerns, and tackling the antisocial and nuisance behaviour of certain pedicab operators and drivers.

Amendment 5, which attempts to set objectives to which the Secretary of State must have regard when issuing statutory guidance, shares the Government’s objectives. However, this has been tabled in response to the Government’s Amendment 4, which provides the Secretary of State with the option of issuing statutory guidance to Transport for London relating to the exercise of its functions and the pedicab regulations. This provides clear parameters for the scope of any statutory guidance and therefore Amendment 5 is not necessary, as the matters it covers are addressed by provisions in the Bill. In addition, I note that prescribing in detail what the Secretary of State must consider when issuing guidance could have the effect of inadvertently excluding from the scope of the guidance matters which have not been specifically listed. For this reason, a general approach is considered preferable.

I will highlight some of the relevant provisions in the Bill. Clause 2(5) covers fares, including what fares may be charged and how passengers are notified of these. Clause 2(6) covers a wide range of issues relating to the operation of London’s pedicabs. This includes safety, the quality and roadworthiness of pedicabs, the working conditions of drivers and their conduct. Clause 2(7) gives Transport for London the power to place limitations on where and when pedicabs can operate, and Transport for London has already confirmed it will need to give proper consideration to the matter of pedicab ranks, taking into account the needs of pedicab drivers, passengers and other road users. Clause 3 sets out the enforcement mechanisms available to Transport for London and includes details of penalties.

A couple of points were raised by noble Lords. The noble Lord, Lord Storey, talked about identification of the pedicabs. That really will be a matter for Transport for London, however it intends to license them. I can think of various ways it could do it; I am sure he could as well but it will be a matter for Transport for London. On the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, regarding the need to consult, that is written into the Bill, most certainly, and I feel quite sure that cycling organisations will be included in that. I think that more or less covers everything apart from the point from the noble Lord, Lord Borwick. On that, we can confirm that this is solely Transport for London’s responsibility.

Amendment 3 agreed.
Amendment 4
Moved by
4: After Clause 6, insert the following new Clause—
“Guidance(1) The Secretary of State may issue guidance to Transport for London about the exercise of their functions under pedicab regulations.(2) The guidance may, in particular, include guidance about how those functions may be exercised so as to protect children, and vulnerable individuals who are 18 or over, from harm.(3) The Secretary of State may revise any guidance issued under this section.(4) The Secretary of State must arrange for any guidance issued under this section, and any revision of it, to be published.(5) Transport for London, and any person authorised by them to carry out functions under pedicab regulations on their behalf, must have regard to any guidance issued under this section when exercising their functions under the regulations.(6) Before issuing guidance under this section the Secretary of State must consult whoever the Secretary of State considers appropriate.”Member's explanatory statement
This clause allows the Secretary of State to give guidance to TfL about the exercise of functions under pedicab regulations. Subsection (5) requires TfL, and those authorised by TfL to exercise functions under the regulations, to have regard to the guidance when exercising functions under the regulations.
Amendment 5 (to Amendment 4) not moved.
Amendment 4 agreed.
House adjourned at 6.08 pm.