Southampton MPs have backed city cabbies in opposition to proposals to abolish limits on the number of taxis set by councils and to remove restrictions on cross-border private hire.

Cabbies met with the MPs as part of a union campaign against the Law Commission proposals which they fear will damage the Hackney Carriage hail-and-ride taxi trade in the city.

Itchen MP John Denham has written to transport minister Norman Baker warning there were a number of issues that could “hit taxi drivers unfairly and will lead to a worse service to the community in Southampton.”

He highlighted proposals that would allow private hire vehicles to operate in any area with few restrictions, They would be able to licence themselves in a local authority with the cheapest licence while competing for fares elsewhere.

He told the Echo: “These changes will only make it harder for taxi drivers to earn a living and for passengers who rely on the community service their local cabbies provide”

Test MP Alan Whitehead added: “Cabbies are having to contend with high fuel prices, price-conscious passengers and now unnecessary changes by the Law Commission. The proposals will have a detrimental effect on all of Southampton’s local drivers.”

Struggling Southampton cabbies recently persuaded councillors to keep the number of hail-and-ride cabs in the city capped at 283 after warning more competition would ruin their livelihoods.

An independent survey found no unmet demand for more taxis.

The Law Commission is carrying out an independent review of the trade. It is considering making recommendations to Government to strip out regulations, clarify grey areas of the law, improve national safety standards and local enforcement of licensing rules and open up the trade to more competition.”