§ 2.41 p.m.
§ LORD DYNEVOR
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are aware of the inconvenience caused to elderly and/or infirm persons by the latest design of London taxicabs, and whether they will cause a sufficient number of cabs to be licensed that have a running board or step by which to get in or out.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
My Lords, the design of London taxicabs is a matter for the manufacturers, subject, however, to conditions of fitness laid down by the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis as licensing authority. As a result of a review by a technical advisory committee appointed by the Deputy Commissioner, changes are to be made in these conditions. The new conditions will require the top of the tread of the lowest step for any entrance to a London taxi, or, where there is no step, the floor level itself at the entrance, to be not more than 15 inches above the ground when the vehicle is unladen. The maximum height under the current conditions is 17 inches.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, in view of the changes in the design of these cabs, if an individual sustains an accident on entering or alighting, can the noble Earl say whether he or she would be covered by the insurance companies?
My Lords, off-hand I cannot answer the noble Lady's question, but I will write to her.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that the noble Lord who has raised this question has performed a public service, because whoever passed the design to which the noble Lord objects should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, whether it be the Home Office or the Chief Commissioner of Police?
§ LORD BARNBY
My Lords, does the noble Earl's reply include the complete height from the floor level of the cab without the step to the ceiling?—because the inconvenience to the general public is greater than that to invalids. One can always get a bad crack in the back in trying to got out.
My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord raised that point. It is one I asked myself when I heard of this change. The noble Lord will be glad to learn that the minimum height of the door will be the same as it is at present, which is 47 inches.