In the Commons on 8 February 2024, Cambridge MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles, Daniel Zeichner, slammed the Government over archaic taxi legislation.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Zeichner said: "The Minister knows, and we've heard from colleagues, the cross-border issue remains a real issue right across the country.
"We now have the additional problem of the potentially changed relationship between operators and drivers which is highlighted by some of the press campaigns about the possible imposition of VAT on private hire journeys.
"So doesn't this all show that the Department should have modernised taxi and private hire legislation ages ago rather than wait for companies such as Uber to drive a coach and horses through regulations that were frankly written in the time of coach and horses?"
Much of the regulation governing taxi licensing relates back to the Town and Police Clauses Act 1847. Mr Zeichner brought forward the Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill in 2018 in a bid to modernise legislation, but the Bill was stalled by a rogue Conservative back-bencher, before being brought back and implemented a few years later.
The Cambridge MP’s contribution followed points from Labour MPs Stephanie Peacock and Clive Betts, who also criticised the Government’s record on the cross-border issue – where standards are undercut by drivers licensed in different authorities.
Since 2015, taxi drivers have been allowed to operate anywhere in England and Wales, regardless of which council licensed them. Wolverhampton has since become a popular destination for taxi drivers to get their licence, with Wolverhampton licensed vehicles a familiar sight across the country, including Cambridge.
Commenting afterwards, Mr Zeichner added: "I and others have been pressing the Government over this issue for many years.
"The measures in my Private Members’ Bill have helped on some of the broad safety issues, but the fact that companies like Uber can drive a coach and horses through the existing regulations shows that current legislation isn’t fit for purpose. It needs to be updated."