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This note looks at the issue of quantity restrictions on taxis and proposals for their removal. Taxi regulation is a devolved matter; this note deals only with England and Wales.

The present law varies depending where one is. In England and Wales, outside London, taxis (hackney carriages) are licensed by district councils under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 or that Act as amended by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. All taxis and their drivers must be licensed. The licensing conditions that are applied to taxi drivers and the local conditions of vehicle fitness are for each council to decide, so can vary considerably from area to area. In London, the taxi legislation dates back to the nineteenth century, but the main licence conditions are made under the London Cab Order 1934.

Licensing authorities have the power to limit the number of taxis they licence in their area, for reasons of managing the supply. Successive governments have looked at whether it would be right to remove the ability of licensing authorities to impose such restrictions. Following a report by the OFT in 2003 the Labour Government opted not to abolish quantity restrictions. The Law Commission published a consultation in May 2012 asking for views on proposals to reform and deregulate taxi licensing across England and Wales, including removing these restrictions. It announced in May 2014 that it would not recommend abolishing restrictions but that licences in areas where new restrictions were imposed should not be tradable.

Other notes are available on taxi and minicab licensing and policy generally (SN2005), disabled people and taxis (SN601), and the carrying of guide dogs by taxis and PHVs (SN1899).

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