Greg Hands MP, The Evening Standard
Monday 25th September 2017
London has been the talk of the world in recent days but for all the wrong reasons. Sadiq Khan’s decision to not renew Uber’s licence on Friday reverberated rapidly around the globe, and understandably so. Not only was the world’s financial capital sending a signal that it was closed to business and innovation but closer to home — at the flick of a pen — Sadiq Khan was threatening to put more than 40,000 jobs at risk and denying the opportunity for extra income for tens of thousands of people.
I admit I’m one of the 3.5 million Uber account holders across London though I use black cabs and minicabs more often. Most often of all, I use the Tube or the bus. I’m lucky in having these other options. The widest possible consumer choice should be an objective in its own right. But what hasn’t really been noticed yet is the effect that this ban would have on people who have to get around out of hours. What about the hotel worker who lives in Epsom, who has to work late and can’t get home after the trains have finished, or the office worker in Bexley who just wants to get home?
Just as this ban would affect people in outer London who rely on it, Labour’s decision to place a blanket ban on Uber in the capital will hit people who can’t use public transport as much as the rest of us. It won’t be the people who took this decision who are affected the most.
Have 600 cities around the world got it wrong? More than 700,000 people don’t seem to think so. That’s the number — and counting — who have signed a petition asking Sadiq Khan to reverse his decision.
Should Uber comply with the law? Yes. Should there be a fair and level playing field? Yes. Should all companies comply with the rules and regulations? Yes, of course. But should Labour place a blanket ban on a company that offers 40,000 jobs and is used by millions? No. Labour should rethink its ban on Uber, and work with the company to make sure they meet safety standards.
As the minister for International Trade and minister for London, I’m working to sell our city around the world as a great place to come, invest and create jobs. The Mayor likes to tell us “London is open” but telling the world that companies such as Uber are not welcome says the opposite.
I’m calling on Sadiq Khan to look out for the interests of all Londoners, and rethink the ban. The Mayor and Uber should together work to address any safety issues and make sure that there’s a level playing field.
But once again, Labour has taken it too far, and it’s ordinary working people who will pay the price. A blanket ban on Uber operating in London is not the answer.