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E-scooter licence requirement due to 19th century law, says UK Transport Secretary

By Richard Wheeler, PA Parliamentary Editor

A 19th century law is the reason why riders will need a licence to use e-scooters on Britain’s roads, according to the Transport Secretary.

New regulations enabling trials of rental e-scooters will come into force on Saturday and will run for 12 months to assess the safety implications and whether they reduce motor traffic.

But Grant Shapps joked that legislation from 1880 had “with great foresight” banned e-scooters “long before they were invented”.

He added that the Government is working to deal with this.

Riders who participate in the pilot scheme will need a full or provisional car, motorcycle or moped licence, must be at least 16 years old, and will be urged to wear a helmet.

Only rental e-scooters will be allowed on roads, and they will be limited to 15.5mph.

Conservative Huw Merriman, chairman of the Transport Committee, welcomed the trials but said there is “some confusion” over whether driving licences will be required for the use of e-scooters.

He added: “It’d be a great shame if it’s only available to those who drive a car.”

Mr Shapps replied in the Commons: “E-scooters brought forward by the pandemic will be an excellent and eco-friendly way of getting around – I can see many members across the House who are looking forward to getting on their e-scooters.

“But it will, I’m afraid, in the first place be available to those with driving or provisional licences.

“That is not actually through desire but because of a quirk in the law – I think we’re tackling an 1880 law which actually, with great foresight, banned e-scooters long before they were invented.

“This is one way to allow trials to go ahead right now.”