In an interim statement made on 9 April 2013, the Law Commission recommended that funeral vehicles should retain their statutory exemption from licensing.
Last year, the Law Commission published a consultation document which contained provisional proposals for reform of the legal framework relating to taxis and private hire vehicles. The Commission’s provisional proposal was that weddings and funerals should no longer be expressly excluded from private hire licensing through primary legislation.
The NAFD responded to the consultation, which closed in September 2012, to highlight concerns with the proposal, and the Cross Party Funerals and Bereavement Group in the Welsh Assembly and All Party Parliamentary Funerals and Bereavement Group in Westminster both submitted separate responses as well.
The Law Commission has now published the responses it received alongside an interim statement that included a recommendation that wedding and funeral cars retain their statutory exemption from licensing, rather than relying on the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers to exempt them.
The Commission stated:- “We recommend that wedding and funeral cars should continue to be exempted from licensing. Our provisional recommendation in respect of the wedding and funeral car exemption raised unparalleled concern among members of these trades, although licensing authorities and the police agreed that the current exemption could cause problems. On balance, we have concluded that there are valid arguments to keep the exclusion from licensing in primary legislation.” (Law Commission Interim Statement, 9 April 2013).
The Law Commission will publish its analysis of consultation responses when its final report is ready for publication, alongside the proposed Law Commission draft Bill, at the end of the year. It is not standard practice for the Law Commission to publish its policy recommendations in advance of a final report. However, the Commission stated that, for the many stakeholders who expressed concerns regarding the possible changes to taxi and private hire legislation, it appreciated that waiting until the end of the year for the conclusions to be published was not appropriate.
NAFD Chief Executive Officer, Alan Slater, stated: “The Law Commission’s interim recommendation that funeral vehicles retain their statutory exemption from licensing is a very positive development for the funeral industry. If the exemption is removed the funeral industry would see an increase in red tape and costs that would ultimately be passed on to the bereaved. I would like to thank all NAFD members who submitted consultation responses to ensure that the Law Commission was aware of the depth of concern felt by the funeral industry about the proposals set out in the consultation.”