Written Answers. - Taxi Licences.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

18 Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if there has been a significant increase in the number of complaints received by the gardaí regarding the conduct of taxi drivers since deregulation; the steps in place to provide for the vetting of applicants before taxi licences are issued; if he has satisfied himself with the adequacy of these procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17109/03]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that in the two years prior to deregulation, there were 6,386 public service vehicles and 520 complaints in the Dublin metropolitan region. In the two years after deregulation, there were 11,009 public service vehicles and 1,049 complaints in the same region. These figures indicate an absolute increase in the numbers of taxis and hackneys of 72% with an increase in complaints of over 100%. These figures are in respect of the Dublin metropolitan region only as the information could not be collated on a national basis in the timeframe allowed for this question.

The House will be aware that the procedures for granting public service vehicle licences are being strengthened in the Taxi Regulation Bill which was published by my colleague, the Minister for Transport, this week. In particular, the Bill provides for automatic disqualification of a licence holder who is convicted of certain serious criminal offences which are specified in the Bill.

The Deputy may wish to refer to my answer to Parliamentary Question 23 on 6 February 2003 for the procedures currently in place to deal with applications for small public service vehicle licence applications.