The Equality Act 2010 made it a criminal offence to refuse carriage to an assistance dog at no extra cost, unless drivers have a medical exemption.
While this Act was an important step forward in tackling discrimination, the Guide Dogs charity has highlighted that there are still cases where guide dog owners are being refused access. This is not only illegal, but can also damage people's confidence and independence. It is clear there is still more to be done.
In May 2014, the Law Commission recommended that holders of taxi and private hire driver licences should be required to comply with the Equality Act as a condition of the licence. After nearly three years since the Law Commission's review of taxi and private hire services it is time for the Conservative Government to respond on this important issue.
I supported my colleague Andrew Gwynne MP when he introduced a Bill on Disability Equality Training in relation to taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. This Bill was debated on 18 November 2016 but unfortunately Government MPs talked out the Bill, and it will make no further progress.
However, the Conservative Government has stated that there will be a consultation on revised best practice for licensing authorities and this will include strengthened recommendations on how authorities respond to alleged instances of assistance dog refusal.
I will continue to follow developments on this and I and my Labour colleagues will press for action to improve enforcement of the Equality Act.