MPs urge clean up of the minicab trade

A TWO-TIER licensing system for all taxis and minicabs should be established to rid the trade of illegal operators, an all-party committee of MPs suggested yesterday, writes Christian Wolmar.

The House of Commons transport committee says action is urgently needed because of the number of attacks by drivers on passengers, accidents involving uninsured vehicles and the number of former criminals driving private hire vehicles. However, despite the opposition of the licensed taxi trade in London, which wants the same regulations applied to all hire vehicles, the MPs recommend a lighter regulatory framework for minicabs, which are not allowed to pick up people who hail them in the street.

The committee argues that the two types of trade 'represent two quite distinct products serving their own markets' and said the arguments of witnesses representing the taxi trade were 'self-serving'.

The committee recommends that minicabs, which are at the moment unregulated, should have four doors, seat belts, first-aid kits and fire extinguishers and be subject to six-monthly tests. Criminals with records for sex offences or violence should not be employed as drivers.

Nicholas Hawkins, Tory MP for Blackpool South, issued a minority report dissenting from some of the report's recommendations. In particular, he wants to retain controls over the number of licences.

Over 700 replies to a consultation paper published by the Department of Transport last October are being considered by the Government.

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