All 1 Lord Leigh of Hurley contributions to the Pedicabs (London) Act 2024

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Wed 22nd Nov 2023

Pedicabs (London) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Department for Transport

Pedicabs (London) Bill [HL]

Lord Leigh of Hurley Excerpts
2nd reading
Wednesday 22nd November 2023

(8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Leigh of Hurley Portrait Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con)
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My Lords, I too wish to speak in the gap. I am quite sure that I put my name down for this debate, but it seems to have disappeared. I have a horrible feeling that I am expected to be in another debate tomorrow which I had not expected to speak in.

I want to very much welcome this Bill. I do not think I have any declarations of conflicts of interest, other than that I have lived and worked in Westminster for over 35 and am a patron of the Westminster North Conservative Association. I welcome my noble friend the Minister and his shadow to the Front Bench. This Bill might be called a somewhat soft entry, but I also take this opportunity to congratulate my noble friend Lady Vere on her new appointment after a very successful stint at transport.

I have also had the pleasure of spending quite some time talking to the most admirable MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, my honourable friend Nickie Aiken, who has been the driving force behind the Bill and has an amazing track record of turning London into a better city for all its citizens. It is very disappointing that her Private Member’s Bill was stopped by one MP, who selectively blocks such Bills in a manner which really should not be allowed, in my opinion.

I note that my noble friend Lord Blencathra picked up what he detected was the disdain of His Majesty the King for having to introduce this Bill, early on in his Speech. What does he expect from a person who arrives here on a trailer adapted to provide carriage for no more than one or two persons on a paid-for basis? However, it is a shame that it has taken 13 years since Mark Field’s first attempt to deal with this issue and that the objections made killed earlier Bills.

Tourists should have every reason to assume that a city as sophisticated as London would not allow pedicabs on its streets to take on passengers without proper protection for them, as it does for buses, taxis and other such transport. Like the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, I have been in one once—never again, I assure your Lordships. I regularly cycle around the streets of Westminster and feel perfectly safe, but I really did not feel safe when I was in a pedicab. They are very low to the ground and of flimsy construction, and the cyclist clearly does not respect any traffic rules. As a Conservative, I respect entrepreneurs who get up and start off a service that is in demand. The cyclists make a living by working hard—and they certainly work hard, pedalling away—but this must be within reasonable guidelines.

My main concerns with the Bill are that so much power and leeway is given to Transport for London specifically to make the regulations. Transport for London, under the current Mayor, is not a popular organisation for many Londoners. As I say, I am a cyclist, but I am not happy with some of the ridiculous cycle lanes it imposes on London or some of the bizarre decisions it makes on traffic-light regulation. Then of course there is the unfortunate ULEZ and the false information that has been provided.

I would rather see, at the very least, some guidelines to TfL to ensure that it undertakes a proper job. The Bill talks about what TfL may do but not what it must do. Why is that? Can we have an assurance from my noble friend the Minister that it will be the driver who is licensed, not just the vehicle? Otherwise, how will the fines and penalties referred to in the Bill be enforced and, hopefully, collected?

At the moment, the Bill allows leeway for TfL to license just the pedicab, not the cyclist. Like the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, I am concerned that there seems to be no mention in this Bill specifically about curtailing the noise that pedicabs make, which I understand is a main source of complaint from the public. Can we have an assurance that that will be addressed directly?

Finally, some Members of your Lordships’ House may think that this is just a summer problem, but last night, at about 10 o’clock, in my never-ceasing research which I undertake before I stand before your Lordships in this Chamber, I passed the Winter Wonderland and counted some 40 pedicabs touting for business. This is a whole-year-round issue, and I am very pleased to see it being addressed now.