When Sadiq Khan proposed that Uber drivers should undergo formal English tests, we derided them as unneccessary arguing that they had little to do with protecting the public, and everything to do with protecting the wages of black cab drivers.
It turns out that (as usual) we were right. The Sunday Times reports:
"Minicab drivers are being asked to write or answer questions about life on Mars, the aurora borealis and snowboarding to prove they have a good enough grasp of the English language...
Alan Skelly, a 55-year-old Uber driver for the past three years who left school at 15 without qualifications, said he had been left feeling embarrassed after being asked to read a series of paragraphs about the aurora borealis and to answer questions about the passages during his test. “A lot of people are going to struggle with this,” said Skelly, who has also worked for 20 years as a freelance chauffeur driving passengers including Zara Tindall. “Just the words aurora borealis are going to catch out a lot of people.”"
This is a classic example of pointless red tape. Someone who has worked as driver for over 20 years now risks losing his minicab license. Of course, as I pointed out back in September for The Times, these £180 tests are completely unnecessary.
"Uber already has an excellent system for weeding out bad drivers. If my driver can’t understand basic instructions, I’ll give him a 1-star rating. Under Uber’s strict rules, just a few 1-star ratings lead to a driver getting kicked out. Try complaining about a sloppy cabbie and see how far it gets you."
Sadiq of course should show some common sense and scrap these pointless tests.
But let's look on the bright side. Over the years special interest groups have successfully lobbied for all number of ridicoulous rules and regulations, think how much richer we could be if we made the effort to ditch them.