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TAXITAXI drivers will no longer be able to refuse to accept wheelchair-users – or charge them extra for a journey.

Sections 165 and 167 of the Equality Act 2010 will come into force this year – 20 years after they were first included in legislation.

Successive Conservative, Labour and coalition governments have refused to bring the measures into force, which were included in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and then incorporated into the Equality Act 2010.

The government’s low-key announcement, during a debate on taxi licensing regulations, appears to be the first success to follow the work of the House of Lords’ Equality Act 2010 and disability committee, which reported in March on how equality legislation affected disabled people.

The Government had spoken in evidence to the committee about the “burden” on taxi drivers of bringing the regulations into force.

But disabled campaigners had described the 20-year delay as indefensible.

Baroness [Celia] Thomas, the disabled Liberal Democrat peer whose idea it was to set up the Equality Act committee, welcomed the news.

She said: “It is almost certain that the only reason they have agreed to this now is because it was highlighted in the report of the Lords committee on the Equality Act and disability published in March.

“I hope they will also look at the other recommendations in the report, and act accordingly.”

Lord [Chris] Holmes, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s disability commissioner, said the announcement was long overdue and would finally give disabled people the right to travel by taxi on an equal basis.

He said: “While this is a step in the right direction, there are still many provisions of the Equality Act which have not been brought into force.

“The commission will continue to press Government to fulfil its responsibility to remove the barriers which hold disabled people back, and place accessibility at the top of its agenda.”