Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:58 pm on 8th March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 2:58 pm, 8th March 2017

The hon. Gentleman has long had a strong position on the matter. He knows as well as I do that people of this nation, whether he likes it or not, voted for an end to unchecked migration and an end to the billions of pounds for Brussels bureaucrats and to the payments to Brussels. Frankly, the vote meant that we would not be able to stay in the single market, because that aim was not compatible with the single market. Equally, it was clear that we would have to leave the customs union if we were to have a successful Department for International Trade. I am simply saying that if on day one no free trade deal has been agreed, we need to be ready to play our part. I believe that we can, should and must be, and I am setting out how we can help to deliver that for the good of this nation.

Finally, let me talk about motoring. I welcome the fact that we have had a freeze in fuel duty for more than seven years. I am proud of the work that has been done by the all-party group for fair fuel for motorists and hauliers, which I chair. My predecessor chairman, my hon. Friend Jason McCartney, worked very hard on the matter. The freeze is great, because it means drivers spend £130 less. That is a good thing for the hard-working classes of modern Britain who travel by road, and as I said 90% of all journeys are by road.

It is important that we are fair and just to the owners of diesel cars. I hear people say, “We have got to put more taxes on the drivers of these cars,” but let us not forget that after Kyoto, people were encouraged to buy such cars by the previous Government. It is right that we support those people to get replacement cars, if a replacement is necessary. It would be wrong to demonise them. We must make the right decisions. I think that we should increase the tax on gas guzzlers, but it is important that we are sensitive and careful.

We must also look at the statistics, which are clear. In London, diesel cars are 10% of the problem. We do not hear about polluting planes, which are also 10% of the problem. We do not hear about dirty diggers and construction sites, which are more than 10% of the problem. We do not hear about clapped-out London buses, which are 10% of the problem, or about ageing trains chuffing up fumes at various mainline stations, which are getting on for 10% of the problem. We need to look across the whole piece, rather than just picking 10% and saying, “Let’s bully these people and ignore the rest.” We need to deal with it holistically for the benefit of everyone, so that we all get fresher and cleaner air and can breathe more easily.

We need to invest more in roads to ease congestion, not to allow congestion to increase. It is very important to look beyond the strategic road network to the wider road network around the country. Regional bottlenecks and the problems of congestion across the country cost the country and the economy money. The air pollution problem also costs the country money. If we keep traffic flowing smoothly, we can reduce pollution. If we invest in the modern technology of the future—electric cars—we will reduce pollution. If we treat motorists fairly and encourage them to make the right decisions, we will reduce pollution. We can have a very positive future for motoring. Modern technology, modern vehicles, reduced pollution and effective roads will make our economy more successful and productive, and enable our children to have a better future in terms of economic prosperity and health.