Business Secretary Sajid Javid today refused to rule out overturning any Transport for London plans to undermine the competitiveness of mini-cab app company Uber.
Speaking before the Business Select Committee this morning, Mr Javid hit out at plans from TfL which could see a five minute delay introduced between someone ordering an Uber cab and it picking them up.
Black cab drivers in London are angry at the lack of regulation for Uber, and have staged numerous protests on the capital’s streets calling for a crackdown on the service.
Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith – who would oversee TfL if elected to the post - also spoke out against the proposal’s today, specifically criticising the five-minute delay plan.
Today, Mr Javid was asked if his department would “step in” to curb any regulations imposed by TfL, such as the five-minute waiting time.
The Business Secretary said: "I have made my thoughts on this clear. We as a government welcome innovation, we welcome disruptive technology. I wouldn't want to see anything done that jeopardises our status as a country that welcomes investment, jobs and puts consumers first.”
Earlier in the session, Mr Javid said: "TfL is perfectly within its rights to review transport related issues in London.
"I think what is going to be a big test is does the review come out on the side of ordinary Londoners that want choice, they value competition. That is something a lot of people want to look at.
"From my own point of view I'm not interested in heavy handed regulation, I want to make sure that consumers are put first."
The Uber app was launched in America in 2010, and became available to Londoners in 2012.
One of its key features is an interactive map which allows users to see if a mini-cab is nearby and can be hailed virtually instantly.
As well as concerns over the safety of the system, black cab drivers believe the app acts as a taxi meter, but Uber drivers are not subject to the same regulations.
In an interview with City AM today, Mr Goldsmith labelled TfL’s proposed regulations as “misguided”.
The Richmond Park MP accepted that some regulations, such as a limit on the number of licenses issued, were needed, but any interventions had to be “sensible” and “people have to be able to understand why they’re being brought in.”
Mr Goldsmith said: “Things like the five-minute pause, I don’t think any customers going to understand why there is a cab hanging around nearby and they have to wait five minutes.”
Other proposals being considered by TfL include allowing customers to book an Uber seven-days in advance – a facility not currently offered.
The consultation will run until December 2015.