This paper explains the policy background to and contents and purpose of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill 2016-17 (HC Bill 143). The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 22 February 2017. It is scheduled to receive Second Reading on 6 March.Jump to full report >>
Different parts of the Bill extend to the various nations of the UK. Parts 2 (electric vehicles) and 3 (civil aviation) and clause 22 (laser offence) extend to the whole of the UK. Part 1 (automated vehicles), clause 21 (vehicle testing and fees) and clause 23(1), (3) and (6) (alternative courses for road traffic penalties) extend to the whole of Great Britain. Clause 23(2) (alternative courses for road traffic penalties) also extends to Northern Ireland.
Insurance for automated vehicles
The application of ‘intelligence’ to cars is gathering pace and there is a strong push by manufacturers to develop automated vehicles which will drive themselves. Currently, insurance law is driver-centric: all (human) drivers have to have insurance in order to provide compensation for third parties for personal injury or property damage due to a driving related incident. The Government’s view is that such principles need to be extended to cover automated vehicles when the car is the driver and the ‘driver’ is sometimes a passenger.
The intention behind the legislation is to emphasise that if there is an insurance ’event’ (accident) the compensation route for the individual remains within the motor insurance settlement framework, rather than through a product liability framework against a manufacturer.
The Government believes that answering the insurance questions sooner rather than later will encourage manufacturers to develop transport technology in the United Kingdom with the confidence that they can exploit market opportunities.
Since 2009 UK governments of all parties have sought to provide a framework in which electric vehicles, or ‘ultra low emission vehicles’ (ULEVs) can grow. The decarbonisation of both private cars and goods and passenger carrying vehicles is seen as critical to helping the UK achieve its climate change obligations and to improving air quality, particularly in cities such as London.
The measures in the Bill are intended to help deliver the aim in the Conservative Manifesto commitment for almost every car and van to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050. Taken together, the proposed powers would allow Government to regulate if necessary in the coming years, to improve the consumer experience of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to ensure provision at key strategic locations like Motorway Service Areas (MSAs), and to require that charge points have ‘smart’ capability.
The Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (ATOL) is a consumer protection scheme for package holidays that include a flight. It is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport. If an ATOL-licensed firm goes out of business, the CAA can refund protected consumers or, if they are already on holiday, ensure their safe repatriation home.
In recent years, there have been significant changes in the travel market. In particular, consumers are using the internet to ‘mix and match’ or ‘dynamically package’ the components of their holiday. In order to meet the needs of the modern consumer, the ATOL scheme was updated in 2012. Following a consultation in 2016, the Government believes that further legislative change is now needed. The measures in the Bill are intended to ensure that ATOL keeps pace with innovation in the travel market and align the scheme with a revised EC Directive on package travel and linked travel arrangements (2015/2302/EU), which must be implemented by 1 January 2018.
Air Traffic Services
NATS Holdings Ltd. (NATS, formerly National Air Traffic Services) is an air navigation service provider in the UK, responsible for providing air traffic services within UK and Eastern North Atlantic airspace. NATS is split into two main business units that provide distinct services. One, NATS (En-Route) plc (NERL), provides en-route air traffic control services and a centralised approach service at the London airports. NERL provides these services pursuant to a licence granted to it by the Secretary of State for Transport under the Transport Act 2000, as amended. It is economically regulated under that licence, by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The measures in the Bill are intended to modernise the licensing framework by updating the CAA’s regulatory powers, giving the CAA access to a wider range enforcement tools when regulating NATS, and updating the Government’s powers to extend the licence notice period, thereby promoting NATS’ ability to arrange more efficient financing.
Vehicle testing and fees
The Bill introduces a power for the Secretary of State to designate premises for vehicle testing and cap testing station fees. The Government believes that these changes are necessary to plug the gap in the law and allow authorised testing facilities to charge a pit fee on a statutory footing rather than on a contractual basis.
Shining a laser at a vehicle
The Bill would change the law so that an offence is committed when the actions of an offender result in a pilot, driver, or captain being dazzled or distracted by a laser.
The Bill would provide a specific legal basis for charging for diversionary courses. The Government’s view is that road traffic offenders would not notice any difference as the same range of courses would be offered as before, on the same conditions, for the same fee. The change is a purely technical one, to remove any doubt as to the legal basis for charging.
This paper will be updated as the Bill progresses through its Parliamentary stages.
Further information on road/motor vehicle and aviation policy can be found on the transport policy page of the Parliament website.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-7872
Authors: Louise Butcher; Lorraine Conway; Tim Edmonds