Transmission of data relating to charge points

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill (Programme) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 7:05 pm on 29th January 2018.

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‘(1) Regulations may make provision for the purpose of ensuring the ongoing transmission of charge point data to a prescribed person or to persons of a prescribed description.

(2) “Charge point data” means prescribed information relating to a charge point (which may include information about energy consumption and geographical information).

(3) Regulations under subsection (1) may impose requirements—

(a) on operators of charge points that are public charging points, and

(b) in relation to charge points that are not public charging points, on prescribed persons or persons of a prescribed description.

(4) Regulations under subsection (1) may make provision about when, how and in what form charge point data is to be transmitted.’—(Jesse Norman.)

This new clause confers power to make regulations for the purpose of ensuring the transmission to specified persons (who could include the National grid and electricity distribution network operators) of certain kinds of data relating to charge points. The data could include, for example, data relating to energy consumption and geographical data.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 2—Public facility operators: provision of public charging points—

‘(1) Regulations may impose requirements on owners and operators of public facilities falling within a prescribed description, in connection with the provision on their premises of public charging points.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may, for example—

(a) require owners and operators of public facilities to provide public charging points;

(b) require owners and operators of public facilities to work with local authorities on the provision of public charging points;

(c) require public charging points to be available for use at prescribed times; and

(d) require services or facilities prescribed by the regulations to be provided in connection with public charging points.

(3) In this section “public facilities” means—

(a) supermarkets;

(b) public car parks;

(c) airports;

(d) train stations; and

(e) such other public facilities as prescribed in regulations.’

This new clause would provide the Secretary of State with the power to make regulations requiring owners and operators of certain public facilities to work with local authorities to provide public charging points and to ensure that public charging points are maintained and easily accessible to the public.

New clause 3—Charging points strategy: public transport and commercial vehicles—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, within 12 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, lay a report before Parliament setting out a comprehensive UK charging points strategy for public transport and commercial vehicles.

(2) The report must, in particular, consider the establishment of charging points for—

(a) buses;

(b) electric bikes and other mobility vehicles;

(c) haulage vehicles;

(d) commercial vehicle fleets; and

(e) such other public transport and commercial vehicles as considered relevant by the Secretary of State.’

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to set out a strategy for establishing charging points for public transport and commercial vehicles.

Government amendments 1 to 3.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Following a fruitful debate in Committee, the Government decided to table new clause 1 to part 2 of the Bill. Smart charge points will play a vital role in managing the demand on the grid created by charging electric vehicles. Estimates from the national grid suggest that the increase in peak demand caused by electric vehicles could be significantly reduced by smart charging. Less electricity generation and fewer network upgrades would be required, thereby reducing energy costs and costs to bill payers. Smart charging can not only ensure that vehicle owners receive the required amount of electricity within the time required, but adapt power flow to meet the needs of consumers and various parties in the energy system.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Conservative, East Yorkshire

I support the new clause because smart charging is the way forward. Filling station owners currently need to display the price per unit of their petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas on a large sign so that motorists can decide whether to go to that particular station before they enter the forecourt. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is essential that electric charging points are required to display similar information?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I certainly agree that consistency in the presentation of information is important, and I take my right hon. Friend’s wider point about whether such information should be displayed in the same way as petrol prices. He makes a valuable contribution to the debate.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon

One of the most frustrating aspects of filling up a car is the tax on top of the cost of the fuel itself. Do the Government have any intention to levy any form of taxation on electricity bought at petrol stations?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that we have already wandered quite far outside these narrowly defined amendments to a tightly defined Bill. I am not going to comment on future Government policy.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

Jaguar Land Rover builds its cars in my constituency, and Geely, which makes black cabs, and has also invested a lot of money. What sort of consultation has the Minister had with those companies and, more importantly, with people who run small garages?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman refers to a variety of groups. I met the chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover only a few months ago. My colleagues are regularly in touch with representatives of fuel retailers, and the same is true for the other group that he mentioned.

The information provided by smart charging also helps to predict future demand on the grid and local network hotspots so that infrastructure can be planned as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Clause 12 gives the Secretary of State the power to introduce regulations to stipulate that all new charge points must have smart functionality. However, as was pointed out in Committee, it stipulates that smart functionality must only be operational at the point of sale or installation, and the policy intent is that smart functionality would not be turned off once operational. Consumers will be encouraged to keep their smart functionality switched on through incentives such as cheaper time-of-use electricity tariffs and the ability to monitor and manage their vehicle’s energy consumption.

However, as was discussed in Committee, if the Bill is not amended, there is a chance that data from a domestic or public charge point may not be transmitted to the specified persons after the installation is completed. That could mean that bodies such as the national grid and distribution network operators do not receive information that would help to plan for demand on the grid.

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 7:15 pm, 29th January 2018

I understand the purpose of new clause 1, which has good intentions. I am sure that the Minister has considered the implications for privacy and personal data, so will he explain how that will be secured under this system?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

A considerable amount of work is being done in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe on how data is to be handled in terms of safety on the autonomous vehicles side. As for the electricity side, there is no reason to think that the protocols that are being developed will impinge upon privacy, but that remains a matter for definition in future secondary legislation.

Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset

I am grateful to the Government for bringing forward this new clause, for which I argued in Committee, and I think the drafting is appropriate. The answer to the question asked by Helen Goodman is that the data transmitted will be highly aggregated and will be used by the grid and DNOs to manage the system better. It is important that the Government persist with this change, because it alone provides the basis for the kind of interactivity that we need between electric vehicles, as a latent battery for the country, and the grid.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

As I am sure the Secretary of State will say on Third Reading, we are all in the debt of my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin for his excellent work in Committee, of which this change is a good example.

New clause 1 addresses concerns raised in Committee by introducing a requirement for the continuing transmission of data from charge points to prescribed persons, who could include the national grid and distribution network operators. Consumers will be still encouraged to keep the smart functionality operational once installed, with regulations taken forward only if the information required for effective energy infrastructure planning is not made available. Full consultation will be carried out before regulations are brought forward.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Some people may be worried about whether the grid can cope with the demand from electric car charging. Are there are enough charging points across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland? Is the infrastructure in place so that we can move forward and get the benefits of this sector? There is a skeleton, but are the bones ready?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

This country is publicly recognised as being at the forefront of a group of nations that is leading the way on electric car infrastructure. Something like 11,500 charge points have already been installed, and the Bill provides plenty of scope to encourage and support further installations.

Two further consequential amendments are required to clause 14, which concerns the Secretary of State’s power to create exceptions in regulations and to determine that regulations should not apply to certain persons or things. The amendments ensure that the new clause is fully operative within the Bill.

This change is illustrative of the rigorous and constructive discussion of the Bill in Committee, the members of which I thank again for their time and dedication, which has resulted in a better product.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham

I did not have an opportunity to serve in Committee, but I am privileged to be the chairman of the all-party group on electric and automated vehicles. Would the Minister care to comment on the latest apps, such as that which allows Tesla drivers to plug in their vehicle when renewables are being used, thereby reducing the cost of electric motoring even further and, more importantly, making electric motoring very, very green?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that one of the purposes of a smart grid is precisely to allow people to recharge their car at the most cost-effective time. I recently had the opportunity to drive a Tesla, and it is extraordinary how the car is continually updated with patches that can reduce its impact on the atmosphere and improve other aspects of driving in a very green way.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

As my hon. Friend knows, the new clause was tabled at my behest, having been prompted by my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin in Committee. Ruskin said

“when we build, let us think that we build for ever.”

What we build in respect of electric charging points is vital. The Minister will be familiar with the RAC Foundation’s analysis in “Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure—What Can Be Done”, which shows that, although the number of charging points is growing reasonably quickly, the number of rapid charging points is growing much more slowly. Is it not vital that, in his work to build this infrastructure so that it is fit for purpose, account should be taken of the need for more rapid charging points?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

We must all thank my right hon. Friend—I am sure the Secretary of State will want to echo my thanks—for the careful, judicious and wise way in which he has hitherto steered this Bill and its predecessor, including in Committee. He quotes Ruskin to good effect, and secondary legislation under the Bill will allow us to reflect changes in the market. My right hon. Friend’s general point is absolutely right and, as he well knows, it is part of the purpose of this Bill.

Amendment 1 to clause 13 will provide more clarification about the enforcement of regulations under part 2 of the Bill. It provides for an appropriate civil enforcement regime to ensure that any requirement under the power can be properly enforced so that the desired effects are achieved. The clause gives explicit examples of the expected elements of such a regime, including details about identifying failures of compliance. The amendment adds further detail to what one should expect to be included in regulations to assist inspectors in determining whether a breach of the rules has taken place.

Examples of that detail include taking photographs or removing materials from a site to provide evidence of compliance or non-compliance when inspections are carried out. In general, the Government aspire to be as transparent as possible regarding what they intend to include in regulations, and the amendment adds further clarity on what will be included in the inspection regime.

Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield

Any initiative to try to expand smart charging has to be good news, but I put it to the Minister that if there is to be a step change in certainty for many drivers, it will be through the expansion of on-street charging outside people’s homes. What initiatives will the Government take to expand that, particularly with regard to the holy grail of wireless charging?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

At the moment there are many mild yet reducing impediments to buying an electric car, such as range anxiety and the resale amounts that might be achieved. The hon. Gentleman is right to point out the importance of the charging network. As he will know, the Government have put in place substantial funding not merely for the plug-in car grant, but for a £200 million commitment, to be matched by a private commitment, to create a charging infrastructure investment fund that is dedicated to addressing precisely the issues he describes.

New clause 2, which was tabled by Wera Hobhouse, understandably highlights many other locations, such as supermarkets and hotels, where it might be appropriate to require the installation of charging facilities. We want people across the country to have the opportunity to make the transition to buying and using an electric vehicle. The vast majority of electric vehicle drivers choose to charge their car at home overnight, but appropriate and adequate provision of public charging is still vital to supporting thousands more electric vehicles.

We understand that regulating for provision in the wide range of areas contemplated in the new clause will not always be the right approach—sometimes the carrot is more important than the stick. The Government already offer a variety of grants, schemes and policy measures to support the installation of charge points, where they are needed, in the types of locations identified. For example, we are committed to placing more emphasis on the delivery of charge points at railway stations as part of the franchising process. Planning policy, and the national planning policy framework in particular, is proving to be an important tool in leveraging infrastructure and future-proofing developments.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

That is precisely what we have been saying about making it widely practical for people to consider buying an electric car. New clause 2 would work as not only a carrot but a stick. Given that we need to move forward so quickly, it is important that the Government consider new clause 2.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

By tabling new clause 2, the hon. Lady has placed the issue firmly and properly on the public record. The new clause would require owners and operators of “public facilities,” which is a wide term, to provide public charging points. Those public facilities would include:

“supermarkets;
public car parks;
airports;
train stations;
and such other public facilities”.

That is a very wide definition, and it does not specifically address the issue of range anxiety. The attraction of targeting large fuel retailers and motorway service stations, as we have done, is that doing so precisely addresses concerns about range anxiety.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Wera Hobhouse refers to charging at supermarkets and public places. What has been the response from the supermarket chains? Has the system had private buy-in? Do we have figures indicating that the supermarkets want to be part of this system, and will the Government encourage them?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The key point is that we must allow the market to operate and require installation only in places where we can be certain that it will serve a public purpose. That is the balance that the Bill is designed to strike. Many supermarkets, of course, will regard fitting charging stations and charging points as a competitive advantage, and the same will be true of the other locations set out in new clause 2.

In addition to the measures I have described, enhanced capital allowances have also been introduced as a tax relief for companies that support the development and installation of charging equipment for electric vehicles. The first-year allowance of 100% allows businesses to deduct charge point investments from their pre-tax profits in the year of purchase. As a result of those measures, and because of the opportunities in this new market, the private sector is increasingly taking the lead, with chargers going in at destinations including hotels and supermarkets.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham

I appreciate that the Minister wants the market to apply, but London Underground owns the carparks at my stations in Chesham and Amersham. What incentive can he give London Underground and the Mayor of London to install more charging points in those carparks? My constituents do not have a single vote for a member of the London Assembly or for the Mayor of London. Without a carrot or a stick, there is no reason for them to install the charging points. Can the Minister help?

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

My right hon. Friend is talking about a democratic deficit as much as a failure of public policy to seize the opportunity. Unfortunately, as she knows, the Mayor of London is outside my Department’s policy remit and has separate devolved budgets. She makes the wider point well that there is a democratic gap that means that the Mayor of London cannot be held to account for such actions.

As a result of the measures that I have described, the private sector is taking the lead. Further to our consultation, we have suggested that it would be more appropriate to mandate provision at sites, such as fuel retailers and service areas, that are already invested in providing services related to vehicle refuelling. By that means, we can address concerns about range anxiety without placing regulation on others that might be unnecessarily burdensome and expensive to comply with.

The hon. Members for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western), for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) and for Middlesbrough (Andy McDonald) have proposed a new clause to require the Secretary of State to bring forward a strategy specifically on electric vehicle charge points in the UK. I agree that it is important that the Government take a strategic approach to encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles, and that is precisely the intent behind this Bill. Indeed, in 2013, the then Government published a strategy entitled “Driving the Future Today”, which set out a path that they planned to take to achieve their aims. Of course, much has changed since then. Although many of the aims of that strategy remain relevant today, it is right that we reconsider our approach to delivery. We need to reflect on the automotive sector’s much more positive approach towards electric vehicles, on progress in battery technology, and on the upturn in consumer confidence that saw more than 10 times more electric cars bought in the UK in 2017 than in 2013.

I am therefore pleased to confirm that, as was made clear by my right hon. Friend Mr Hayes on Second Reading and in Committee, we plan to publish an updated strategy for promoting the uptake of all electric vehicles well within the next year—indeed, we expect it to be published by the end of March. This will comprehensively address issues relating to charge points for all electric vehicles, not merely cars. Inserting a requirement for a strategy in primary legislation at this stage would be disproportionate and unnecessary, especially given my assurance that we will set out our plans on an earlier timescale than that set out in the new clause.

Let me conclude so that I do not take up any more time than is necessary. I hope that right hon. and hon. Members will be able to support new clause 1 and amendments 1 to 3, but I urge them to not to press the other new clauses, which I do not believe are required.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport) 7:30 pm, 29th January 2018

The Opposition Front-Bench team are supportive of the Government’s new clause 1 and the consequential amendments. In Committee, some of my colleagues and I tabled amendments to ensure that planning and consultation between the Government, National Grid and electricity distribution operators took place in order for this policy to work. The new clause enables regulations to be made for the transmission of charge point data, for example, on energy consumption levels and geographical data, to be given to “specified persons”, such as National Grid. As we set out during earlier stages of this Bill, the sharing of specific data such as that on energy consumption and geography will be fundamental in enabling and encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles, which I am sure Members on both sides of this House want to achieve.

Labour has been working to improve this Bill to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of research and development in this important and fast-moving industry. The sharing of data is necessary in order to grow the number of charge points, and to ensure that the relevant agencies can monitor and plan for energy demand and consumption at charging points. I wish to pay tribute to the former Minister, Mr Hayes, who gave me a “binding assurance” in Committee that the Government would come back to Parliament with more detail and specific proposals. The Bill originally did not include much detail on regulations for the distribution of data relating to charge points, so I am grateful that the Government have listened to the Opposition on this point.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon

Is the hon. Gentleman reassured about the transmission of data relating to rural petrol stations, which may not use much electricity—they may not be used very often? Is he assured that the transmission of such data elsewhere may lead to a tendency for such petrol stations not to maintain that service in the way that they might, thus discriminating against more remote areas?

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport)

The strategy has to address the issue of remote areas—that is essential. In Committee, the then Minister gave assurances that it would. We now know, of course, that the strategy will be published in March. I would like to press this Minister on how security will be ensured in regards to the transmission of data from charge points. That issue was brought up repeatedly in Committee, and the Government’s new clause does not seem to address it head on.

The Opposition are also supportive of Government amendment 1, which relates to enforcement. It expands Clause 13 so that the requirements allow for the inspection or testing of “any thing” to do with charge points rather than just allowing the person “to enter any land”. That position was ambiguous and we welcome any tightening up of the wording in the Bill. The original subsection gave prescribed persons permission to enter land but did not include much else. The Government amendment extends the scope of enforcement, and defines what documents and other important data and information can be investigated in order to inspect whether the proper regulations have been complied with when it comes to charge points.

We are also supportive of new clause 2, which was tabled by Wera Hobhouse. Currently the Bill regulates for the provision of public charging points at large fuel retailers. The new clause would mean that owners and operators of public facilities such as supermarkets, public car parks and airports would also be required to provide charging facilities. Such locations would already have the service areas for vehicles to park up and be placed on charge. Having accessibility to charging points is vital to promoting the use of electric vehicles, and the new clause seems a sensible way of doing just that. The objective of the new clause is commendable, and I trust the Minister will bear that in mind when he is devising the Government strategy on this.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I refer to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. At the moment, electricity charging points at motorway service stations are separate from petrol stations. Does my hon. Friend anticipate that when we have fully accessible electricity charging point provision they will be one and the same, on the same location—or will they remain separate?

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport)

I think they will be an integral part of these sites. That is how things would have to work in order to be practical.

I congratulate my hon. Friend Matt Western on tabling new clause 3 and put on record my personal support, and that of our Front-Bench team, for the new clause. New clause 3 focuses on public transport and commercial vehicles, but it raises many of the issues I was hoping to speak to in relation to new clause 4. For uptake to be encouraged, electric vehicles need to be practical, affordable and convenient for users, which means putting in place the necessary infrastructure. There are currently nearly 12,000—11,862, to be precise—charging points for electric vehicles in the UK, but there are multiple charging point operators, each with their own plugs, software, customer charges, billing systems and payment methods. These are also unevenly distributed, with more charging points available on the Orkney Islands than in Blackpool, Grimsby and my own fair city of Hull combined. New clause 3 would ensure that the Secretary of State assesses the costs, benefits, location and feasibility of charging points to enable the promotion of a national network of sustainable charging points for commercial and public transport.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the visibility and recognisable features of the charging points will be a spur to the take-up of electric vehicles?

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport)

I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman. There were many suggestions in Committee that we call the charging points Hayes hooks. The former Minister, the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings, was keen for schools and colleges to get involved in some sort of national competition on the design.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

As I have been mentioned by name, I feel obliged to intervene to thank the hon. Gentleman for his earlier complimentary remarks and to say that I know that the competition is indeed envisaged. One of the last acts that I commissioned in the Department was to sort out the detail of who would judge what and when. I am sure that the Minister will want to enlighten the House as to the progress that has been made, what day the competition will begin, when it will end, and what the criteria will be.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport)

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention. In Committee, we discussed making the charging points as recognisable as telephone boxes. That is essential. I hope that the Minister has taken on board what was said in Committee and appreciates the work that the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings did on the Bill.

It would be eminently sensible for the Government to promote a national network of sustainable charging points for private vehicles. We welcomed the announcement in the Budget of £200 million of public money to be invested in charging infrastructure. Of course, that matched Labour’s manifesto commitment to invest £200 million to support ultra-low emission vehicles.

This Bill was an opportunity to set out a long-term plan for building the infrastructure needed to encourage the uptake of automated and electric vehicles, and it is a little disappointing that it has failed to do so fully. The Bill could have been a major step forward in taking high-emitting vehicles off our roads. We know that air pollution is linked to the premature deaths of around 50,000 people in the UK each year. That is a staggering number and the Government need to do an awful lot more to address that.

Electric and alternatively-fuelled vehicles are key to reducing air pollution and meeting the UK’s climate change objectives. In Committee, the then Minister said:

“It is very important that we monitor closely how charge points are rolled out. We have spoken about workplaces, local authorities, service stations and so on and so forth, but we need to get a clear view about where the concentrations of charge points are and what needs to be done to fill in any gaps that emerge.”––[Official Report, Automated and Electric Vehicles Public Bill Committee, 14 November 2017;
c. 186.]

Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset

I remind the House of my interest in the Faraday Institution.

Given that the whole House agrees, roughly speaking, with what the hon. Gentleman said, and that the Minister has announced that he is going to produce the strategy that the Opposition Front Bench team very sensibly want, may I beg the hon. Gentleman not to press his new clause to a vote? Were he to do so, it would have the sad effect of dividing the House on an issue on which we really do not need to divide and on a Bill on which we are all agreed.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport)

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do not intend to push anything to a vote.

We agree with what the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings said in Committee, which I just read out, and believe that the Government should take this opportunity to set out in the Bill their strategy for doing that.

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

I am happy to support Government new clause 1 and the consequential amendments.

I rise to make one point only on a matter that was discussed in Committee, particularly when we took evidence from witnesses before line-by-line consideration commenced. It follows on from the point the shadow Minister, Karl Turner, made about the need for the charging network to be as accessible and easy-to-use as possible so that we can encourage the uptake of electric vehicles. One of the key requests was that we have a simplified payment system for use of the charge-points. There is evidence from Ireland and the state of California that some Government intervention was required to achieve a harmonised payment system, before which users were having to carry around a multiplicity of payment cards to use the system. New clause 1, in conjunction with clause 9, will give the Government sufficient powers to nudge the industry to achieve that. I just wanted to put on the record that that requirement will be integral to making the charging system and the uptake of electric cars as complete as we would like.

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 7:45 pm, 29th January 2018

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker; I was not expecting to be called to speak so early as I have not tabled an amendment.

I did not serve on the Bill Committee, but I spoke on Second Reading about charging points. Just before Second Reading, I purchased a Nissan Leaf. Three months on, I have a little more experience, and I am afraid that I am slightly less enthused of my Leaf than I was in October. My experience has highlighted some policy issues. If Ministers want people to make the transition to electric vehicles, the issue of charging points and their availability is fundamental. We need more charging points.

New clause 2, tabled by Wera Hobhouse, is absolutely spot on. Along with all public car parks, I would add to the list in her new clause hospitals, public buildings, local authority buildings, schools and libraries. All are places where people park. We do not just go between shops and our homes; we go to many different places.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Does the hon. Lady agree with my experience, which is that we need a carrot and a stick?

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. I have the slightest suspicion that those people who wrote the strategy and who have worked on the Bill may not yet have electric cars themselves. It all seems to be good in theory, but how does it work in practice?

Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Public Health)

I am curious as to whether my hon. Friend has, in the three months she has had her Leaf, attempted to drive from her wonderful constituency in Bishop Auckland down to Parliament? If she has, what was it like? If she has not, why not?

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I certainly would not dream of driving to Westminster because it is far too far—it is way beyond the range. I shall talk about how far I can get in my car when I have finished my remarks on charge points.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Conservative, Chippenham

Does the hon. Lady share my disappointment that only five councils in the UK have taken advantage of the Government’s on-street residential charging point scheme, which offers to fund 75% of the cost of creating charging points?

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

That is very interesting. I think local authorities have not taken up that offer in the way people hoped because there are no resources for the upkeep of the charging points.

On Second Reading, I asked whether planning permission for new housing developments should require charging points. I am disappointed that that has not been mentioned by the Minister or in any of the new clauses or amendments. I also sent a rather long letter to the Department, to Mr Hayes who was handling the Bill extremely well. I am also disappointed that I have not had a reply to my letter, as the then Minister told me that he was going to discuss the planning issues with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It is no good Ministers relying on people charging their car at home, because in order to do so, people must have off-street parking. A third of this country lives in terraced housing or flats without off-street parking, which is why we need charge points along residential roads everywhere.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

I do not want to anticipate my long and fascinating speech except to say that I did initiate discussions and I am confident that my successor will perpetuate them.

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Good. I am very pleased to hear from the right hon. Gentleman, and I look forward to a positive response from the Minister on this issue of planning permission.

To some extent, new clause 3 covers my next point, which is that we need one system not just for paying when we go to the charge point, but for interconnections. When trying to charge up a car at a public point, it is incredibly annoying for a person to find that they have the wrong kind of plug. It is as absurd as if we had an electricity system in which some houses have three-point plugs, some five point plugs, and others two-point plugs. We have gone way beyond that. Although we want to encourage the private sector—when it comes to manufacturing the cars and the great work that Nissan and Toyota do, we are all in favour of it—the infrastructure for charging is a natural monopoly. It is obvious that the Government should be taking control of it. I am also slightly concerned that there has been systematic mis-selling and over-inflation on the range of electric cars.

Photo of Paul Girvan Paul Girvan Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Education), Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport)

I appreciate the issue associated with the difference in the types of plugs that are required, but is that not going to demand an international standard to be set and agreed not just by this Government but worldwide, to ensure uniformity of connections with each make of vehicle and the grid?

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; I had not thought of that point. When I go on holiday, I normally hire another car, rather than driving from the UK, but, of course, many people want to take their own car overseas, so he makes a very fair point. It would be interesting to know whether the Government have initiated any discussion in the European Union, for example, on this point.

Let me come back to the point about range, and what I think is a serious breach of consumer rights and trade descriptions. I bought my Leaf from Bristol Street Motors in Darlington, and I was told that it had a range of 125 miles. As I was about to explain to my hon. Friend Mrs Hodgson, I thought that that was fine because it meant that I could travel from my constituency to Newcastle, when I visit the regional organisations for the north-east, and get back again on one charge, but when I collected the car, it was charged up to only 75 miles. I said, “This is 30% less efficient! It is like buying a box of six eggs, but finding when you open the box that there are only four eggs. This is really not acceptable.” The garage people tweaked it around a bit, but they still could only charge it up—I have never charged it beyond this—to 85 miles. That is very different from the 125 miles that I was told. Indeed, having looked at the Nissan website, I found that the over-emphasis not only came from the dealer to whom I spoke, but was on the website itself. The guy who came round to fit my pod point and to whom I explained this problem said, “Oh, I hear it all the time. People are constantly disappointed that their cars don’t have the range that they were sold as having.” This is pretty fundamental. People need to know what they are buying and what they are getting. A 30% reduction in the capacity of what the car can do is a significant difference.

Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Public Health)

As my hon. Friend knows, Nissan is in my constituency, so I am very interested in her point. When I took a Leaf for a test drive—I do not have one yet; I am not as lucky as she is—I was told that the number of miles that people can get depends on how they drive. Is that the issue to which she is referring, or is it something different?

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

I do not think it can be that, because when I charge up the car, it does not even reach the amount. Sometimes when I am driving along, the charge seems to go down much faster than the number of miles that I am actually covering, but I cannot charge it to the level that is claimed.

Photo of Richard Burden Richard Burden Labour, Birmingham, Northfield

A number of people recognise that the first version of the Leaf—my hon. Friend got one of the last ones—did not have a great range. A new model is now out, which at least says that it has a much higher range, and I have no reason to doubt that. What this actually highlights is that the Government need to do more to incentivise plug-in hybrids. Although pure electric is fine for the short journey, it is likely that, for a while yet, the car needs another technology for the longer journey. Getting clear incentives for plug-in hybrids might make a contribution towards that. In fact, the way that grants have been structured, we have gone rather in the other direction.

Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

My hon. Friend makes a very fair point. It is also related to the issue that the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings raised about the importance of having fast charge-up plugs—I am not sure what one calls them—rather than the ordinary slow-speed ones. Last week, for example, I wanted to charge up the car while I went to the supermarket. In the half hour that I was in the supermarket, it had only increased its charging by 8 miles. That is pathetic by anybody’s standards. That is just not what one would expect. If that is the rate at which people are charging up on motorways, it really is not working. The technology needs to be improved with respect to the measurement inside the car. Last Thursday night, I set off to go home with 22 miles on the meter, but at 14 miles the car conked out in the dark. Not only was I extremely inconvenienced by this, but it was extremely dangerous, because somebody else could have driven into the car. It is also a problem for the police, and so on. It is incredibly important that we get this right. I would like the Minister to be far more ambitious. We need a really big strategy. I know that the Minister loves markets, but I am a Keynesian, and I think that this would also be really good for the British economy.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

I want to contribute briefly to this debate. I have enjoyed the scrutiny of the Bill over what seems most of my recent life. I have spent more time speaking about automated electric vehicles than I care to count, having shared that endeavour with a number of hon. Members in the Chamber.

The amendments introduced by the Minister are a direct consequence of the scrutiny that we enjoyed in Committee. That Committee, like its predecessor—the Committee that considered the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, which also considered these matters—was conducted in a positive, constructive, collaborative and wholesome way and I believe that the Bill can genuinely be said to have been improved as a result of the endeavours from Members from all parts of the House.

The infrastructure for electric vehicles is one of the critical elements of their gaining wider acceptance. It is not the only one, but it is salient. As has already been said, that requires us to think broadly about how and where people will want to charge. Richard Burden made the very good point that most people will want to do that as close to their home as is conveniently possible and on-street charging is vital. The work with the local authorities, which has been recommended from a number of places in the Chamber, is critical to achieving that. The planning system also needs to recognise it, in respect of new developments. I go further and say that the Government have already taken steps and can take more on local authorities that are laggards—if I can put it that way—about putting into place the necessary measures to bring about on-street charging.

Photo of Neil Parish Neil Parish Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

I pay tribute to the great job that my right hon. Friend did as Transport Minister and in his many other ministerial roles.

It is very much the charging points—their accessibility and the ability to charge vehicles quite quickly—that will really encourage people to have electric vehicles. At the moment, only about 1% or 2% of vehicles are electric. We really need the infrastructure if we want that figure to be 25% or 30%. Until we get the infrastructure right, we will not necessarily get everybody to sign up to having an electric car. We have to be absolutely certain to get the infrastructure right.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who has been not only a student, but a mentor to me as my PPS and as my great friend. He is right, as he often is on this subject. It is right that we build an infrastructure that is accessible. It also needs to be affordable and recognisable. The arguments that have prevailed so far have focused on those points—that the infrastructure must be easily recognised by anyone who wants to charge their vehicle.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Conservative, Chippenham

Does my right hon. Friend agree that another aspect that could hold back the industry is the skills shortage in the science, technology, engineering and maths sector? That is why schemes such as the Year of Engineering are so vital to companies in my constituency and in Wiltshire, such as Dyson and AB Dynamics, which are leaders in the sector.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

Yes. When we speak of infrastructure, we often think of physical infrastructure. But it is also a matter of human infrastructure, and skills are critical to the success of this industry. I recommend to my hon. Friend the report by the Institute of the Motor Industry that addresses exactly those points. It highlights the accreditation system that it has put in place and recognises that, so far, only a small proportion of the technicians and people who service cars more widely have achieved the necessary competences to work on electric vehicles—of course, autonomous vehicles are yet to come. It will be vital that that understanding and those competences are widely spread. If I might make a point particularly on that, I am anxious that they are not simply owned by large corporate companies. We do not want to see the disappearance of local garages and start-up businesses. The spread of the ability of those who can repair and service these new types of vehicles needs to be sufficient not only to seed those competences in the way I have described, but to make them available to people in rural areas as well as in urban centres. My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to that human aspect of this technological challenge.

As well as the charge points being recognisable—and I am delighted that the shadow Minister has confirmed that they are going to bear my name, which I expect the Minister will also confirm—I am delighted that there is a determination to ensure that there is some consistency about the charge points. One needs to be able to drive down a road in an electric vehicle and immediately recognise a charging point, as we recognise a telephone box, a pillar box and many other things. And it should be beautiful, by the way.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

I agree with my right hon. Friend about the importance of recognisability and that a charging point should be a thing of beauty that adds to the landscape of our towns, cities and rural areas. There has again been mention in the Chamber tonight of the competition for a beautiful design that the Government will sponsor. Will my right hon. Friend—and, perhaps, the Minister—comment on whether the design competition will be for a UK design, rather than just an England, or England and Wales, design?

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

Well, that would certainly be my wish. It will be for the Minister to confirm or otherwise whether that is the official position. I no longer speak in official terms, but happily endorse the view of my hon. Friend that we should have a UK-wide design and competition. When Gilbert Scott designed the red telephone box, of course he recognised that it was a functional item, as it remains. But he was also determined to make it something of elegance and style—something that, in the words of my hon. Friend, added to the built environment. And so it should be with these charging points.

The third important element of charging points, as well as their accessibility and recognisability, is their affordability. It is absolutely right that we should have a single means by which people can pay. It is preposterous that people might arrive at a charge point, ready to charge their vehicle—perhaps even desperate to do so, if the remarks of Helen Goodman hold true—and then find that the means by which they have to pay does not fit their expectation and that they need some card or prepayment system. We need to ensure that all charge points conform to a single means of payment, or at least a number of means of payment that suit every circumstance. What we cannot have is different charge points with different technologies, different modes of payment, and a different look and feel. That would be preposterous and I know that the Government will not want anything preposterous to happen.

Photo of Craig Mackinlay Craig Mackinlay Conservative, South Thanet

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way; he is being very generous with his time. As he got the Bill to its current state, did he consider that perhaps we have started the whole basis of the electrification of cars and batteries at the wrong point? The trouble is we are beyond this point already, as we have a Tesla-style battery, a Lexus-style battery and batteries by other manufacturers. Would it not have been more sensible and better if the current network of petrol stations had been places where we could simply change the battery? That could have been done in an instant, or within a minute or two, rather than waiting for this long charge system. I am concerned that the manufacturers have started us off on the wrong basis. Perhaps it is not too late to get us back on track.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

Innovation and change often initially result in a multiplicity of systems. One thinks of the industry that I was once in—the IT industry. It took some while before MS-DOS, and subsequently Windows, emerged. Of course, there are still Apple computers with a different system altogether, but at the birth of the personal computer, all kinds of technologies co-existed. It was a while before standards became certain, adapted and adopted, widely recognised and used. I suspect that the same applies in this area of innovation and change. As the technology beds down, I expect that there will be greater consistency, but the Government must play their part too.

Although I am sure that the market will normalise around a set of standards, the Government can—by what they do both legislatively and in terms of the kind of incentives I mentioned earlier that might be provided to those who are developing charge points such as local authorities—help that process along the way and that will build consumer confidence. Recognisability, affordability and accessibility are critical if people are going to buy electric cars without the uncertainty that the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland described to us. She was a bold early adopter who entered the marketplace with a degree of optimism and hope. I hope that her hope has not been too tarnished by subsequent experience because the trailblazing spirit that she personifies is important if we are to get the momentum we want for this change in the way we drive and what we drive.

I welcome these amendments. As I said at the outset, they reflect sensible scrutiny of important legislation, although of course there is more to be done. In establishing this national infrastructure, I am confident that the same spirit of conciliation, collaboration and co-operation that has characterised our considerations so far will continue.

I begin the end of my remarks where I started—with Ruskin. Ruskin said:

“The training which makes men happiest in themselves also makes them most serviceable to others.”

Further to the comments of my hon. Friend Michelle Donelan, the change that I recommend will not work unless we have people ready to make it work. That requires skills and training that is serviceable to others. It requires building a human infrastructure fit to do the job to make the physical infrastructure as effective as it can be. I know that there will be more consideration of that during the rest of this debate.

In the short time that I have been on the Back Benches, I have learned that one of the virtues is that one does not have to stay for the whole of a debate. To stay longer, in any case, might attract more plaudits, and even I would begin to become embarrassed. In the interests of the whole House, not just my own, I am now going to end this brief contribution, sit a moment longer and then proceed to my dinner, safe in the knowledge that I pass the baton to others still more capable of continuing the debate in the spirit in which it began.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I beg the hon. Gentleman’s pardon. In being carried away by listening to Mr Hayes, I called him by the wrong name. Mr Western.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It was not an issue.

I start by thanking Mr Hayes, the former Minister, for conducting what was my first Bill Committee. I found his style particularly remarkable, welcoming and friendly, and very constructive.

I wish to speak to new clause 3, which is in my name, but also to reference new clauses 1, 2 and 4. When I spoke on Second Reading and in Committee, I highlighted what I thought was perhaps an omission—the Minister picked up on this earlier—with regard to making sure that the Bill is viewed by the public, but particularly by consumers, manufacturers and authorities, as setting the right framework, or groundwork, to bring about a change in our mobility. Critical to all this is why we are looking to make this move and why it is happening not just here in this country but globally. Part of that is looking to address the targets for reducing carbon dioxide that are set out in the Paris accord. Transport is of course an important contributor to CO2 emissions, particularly with regard to petrol vehicles.

There is also the issue of air quality. In my constituency of Warwick and Leamington, we suffer from poor air quality, particularly as a result of the topography of the towns, but also by virtue of our medieval streets. This is brought about by old vehicles—old buses, old lorries, old vans and old cars. It is not an issue with new vehicles. We have some terrific vehicle manufacturers, as has been mentioned. We have highlighted the investment of Nissan, but we should also consider the likes of Mini and Jaguar Land Rover, which is in my constituency. Jaguar Land Rover is making a move to hybrid vehicles, but its current diesel vehicles are very clean, with such things as particulate filters. The responsible manufacturers have moved very quickly on this already.

I want to highlight the opportunity that exists. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and KPMG have forecast that the overall economic and social benefit of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51 billion per year and 320,000 additional jobs. There is therefore a fantastic opportunity for all of us and for our economy. However, as we have heard, the matter of charging points is something of a postcode lottery. The Bill attempts to reduce that risk. It is clearly a problem that a place such as Orkney has more chargers than Grimsby, Hull and Blackpool combined. I pick up on the point that was made earlier about the Government’s initiative. Clearly, cash-strapped authorities are not even finding the 25% of money to start investing.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 8:15 pm, 29th January 2018

Is there not a danger that the lack of these charging points and their lack of visibility in our landscape will drive earlier adopters such as Helen Goodman out of the market? It is therefore very important that this Bill and all that comes from it are set in motion, because if we are not careful, we will miss the tide.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. This is always the issue when an early adopter picks up on a product in any sector. I remember the first smart products such as the mini-computers of yesterday—PalmPilots and all those things. If one was not careful, one bought the wrong product and got caught out. The crucial part of this is ensuring that Governments take the lead, but there is also an international drive about pushing the agenda and making sure that there is commonality and the upfront investment that pulls manufacturers and consumers along with it.

Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education)

I would like to correct slightly what the hon. Gentleman said. I hope that he will be gracious in accepting this. The problem is not that Orkney has more charging points; it is that Grimsby does not have enough. Rural locations, particularly around Scotland, will, by their nature, need more charging points.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington

I accept the hon. Lady’s point. What I said was factually correct; I was just trying to point out the disparity between areas. Good for Orkney, but this is about getting other areas to come along and invest to set up these infrastructures as well.

At present, there are multiple charging point operators across the UK, each with their own plugs, software, customer charges, billing systems and payment methods. That is clearly one of the issues that we are trying to address in the Bill and new clause 1. Critical to that is that the Government need to standardise charging infrastructure to make the network far more accessible. To draw a parallel, it is rather like the old mobile phones of the early days that some of us will remember. Mobile companies started moving into the sector and establishing their networks, with the investment that had to go with that. We realised that without a Government lead or a national infrastructure, pylons were starting to cluster in certain areas when in fact one pylon would have done, but with a different antenna fixed to it. We must try to avoid that sort of thing so that we do not have little clusters on our streets or in our town centres when one will do.

It is crucial to ensure not only that we have charging points, but their interoperability for all types of vehicle. By way of parallel, I cite the fantastic thing that is the USB. We all know what it is like when we forget the charging cable for our mobile phones and find we have no means of recharging our phone, because we happen to have a product of a particular brand and a plug does not fit that phone. It is crucial that we not only legislate but work with other countries to ensure there is interoperability. Often when we have these debates, we are thinking about cars, but we also need to think about all the other sectors. That is why it is vital that we have a comprehensive approach to the electrification of all sectors relevant to mobility.

Those of us in London recognise just how much the bus network has improved over recent years. I was amazed to discover that a third of our famous red buses are now hybrid. Something like 73 are electric and about 10 are hydrogen buses. Those hybrid buses are super-quiet and relatively clean, with 30% or 40% less emissions. That has made a noticeable difference to air quality, as I remember how poor that was 30 years ago when I lived in London.

One of the businesses in my constituency is Volvo Buses, which has done a lot of work on electric vehicles and has had all sorts of issues. For example, it has invested heavily in trying to establish a network in Harrogate. The costs of getting the DNO connection have varied considerably, and the project has been extremely difficult. We have to recognise that these businesses are the first adopters. They are the ones trying to get new technologies established, so we need to make the process as easy as possible.

One issue with commercial vehicles and buses is the need for pantograph-type systems to charge vehicles from above. European manufacturers, including Mercedes, Fiat, Renault and Volvo, are looking at how to recharge those vehicles when they are at a bus stand or in a garage. We need to ensure that such infrastructure is generic and standardised across all manufacturers.

Photo of Iain Stewart Iain Stewart Conservative, Milton Keynes South

I absolutely agree that we need to look at the technology for charging buses and other vehicles en route. May I invite the hon. Gentleman to look at the pilot scheme that has been running in Milton Keynes with an induction charging system for a bus route that is wholly electric? That could represent the technology for recharging, rather than expensive overhead line equipment.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his invitation, and I would certainly be delighted to take him up on it. That is one for the future.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Conservative, South Holland and The Deepings

I have no desire to prolong the hon. Gentleman’s speech unduly, as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is waiting for his dinner. However, on the hon. Gentleman’s point about buses and local support for electric vehicles, he will know that the Government have done a great deal to support the provision of low emission vehicles by bus companies. Indeed, workplace charging has also been supported strongly by the Government. Does he agree that perhaps we need just to broadcast that more so that more people know they can benefit from the support that is available? The Government have done their bit, and I am extremely grateful for the great work that my officials did on that in my time. Does he think it is about more publicity?

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington

It is. It is about motivating and encouraging change through consumers.

I would like to move on finally to electric bikes and mobility vehicles. That might seem like a less glamorous or glossy sector of the market, but we have some terrific bike manufacturers in this country. We have Pashley and Moulton, and Brompton here in London. Brompton’s first e-bike is about to roll off the production line. However, our sales of electric bikes are way behind those of other countries. We are something like seventh in Europe, with 5% of its total sales, way behind Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Germany has 36% of the total sales for Europe.

In 2016, the city of Munich started a subsidy scheme for electro-mobility that includes electric bikes. The subsidy for the purchase price is granted to private companies and non-profit organisations, with a contribution of, say, €500 for electric bikes or €1,000 for electric cargo bikes. In Sweden, there is a 25% Government subsidy for all e-bikes until 2020, which has led to a 50% surge in electric bike adoption in the country. It has been hugely successful in the past 12 months, and that shows what leadership can do to change consumer behaviour, which the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings referred to. The same thing applies to commercial vehicle fleets, whether they be for haulage or local delivery.

I urge the Government to adopt new clause 3, which is simple and straightforward. It puts forward a framework to identify all the vehicle sectors that need to be considered so that we ensure that they are very much in the front of our minds.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I shall speak to new clause 2, which I tabled. We have already had a good discussion about making it as easy and quick as possible for consumers who are considering buying electric vehicles to do so. That is why I very much encourage the Minister to reconsider whether new clause 2 should be included in the Bill.

Let me set the scene for this urgency. Air pollution in the UK is a big killer, contributing up to 40,000 deaths a year and costing the NHS £15 billion. As a country, we have been slow for a long time to comply with EU limits on pollution. We have been very slow at tackling high levels of pollution in the past.

These issues are incredibly relevant to my constituency. Bath is officially one of the most polluted areas in the country. Bath and North East Somerset was named among 29 local authority areas with high levels of nitrogen dioxide. According to the council’s own data, 92% of air pollution in Bath is caused by traffic. The swift take-up of electric vehicles is therefore very important.

I welcome the Government’s proposal to create universal charging points, which was also a Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment. However, as we have said several times, the Government should be more ambitious. The Bill must go further to ensure that it is as convenient as possible for people to own electric cars and to help consumers to make decisions that will benefit the environment and, particularly, public health.

New clause 2 would give the Secretary of State the power to make regulations requiring owners and operators of certain public facilities to work with local authorities to provide public charging points, and to ensure that public charging points are maintained and easily accessible to the public. Again, a number of points have already been made about why local authorities have not picked up voluntary schemes. I believe that the carrot and the stick is the right approach, and I again say that the Government must consider using a little bit of stick.

The Bill allows the Government to regulate petrol stations and motorway service stations to provide electric charging points. The new clause would ensure that people with electric cars could easily charge their cars on shorter journeys as well as when travelling longer distances. I am considering whether I should buy an electric vehicle, but I do not fancy sitting around for eight hours in a service station on the motorway to charge my car.

Local authorities should have powers to require new commercial and industrial developments to provide electric charging points and, for example, to pilot the use of lamp posts as charging points in residential areas where homes do not have driveways. All this is about encouraging creative ways of making sure that charging our vehicles is as convenient as possible and increasing take-up among people who want to acquire electric cars.

If the Government are serious about reducing transport emissions, far more radical measures will be needed, but this Bill is a step in the right direction. I believe that new clause 2 would improve the Bill even further.

Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Public Health) 8:30 pm, 29th January 2018

I am last, but by no means least, I hope. We still have the Minister’s closing remarks to come, so I am not altogether last.

As colleagues will know—if they do not, I am going to tell them now—the Nissan plant is in my constituency of Washington and Sunderland West. [Interruption.] Yes, it is. Many will also know that the Nissan Leaf is manufactured there. If I know Nissan, I am confident that it will have been following this debate closely, and I have no doubt it will get in touch with my hon. Friend Helen Goodman to discuss her Leaf experiences further. As she said, it is very important that consumers who make the leap to a Leaf—do you like what I did there?

Photo of Sharon Hodgson Sharon Hodgson Shadow Minister (Public Health)

No, I am just trying to lighten the mood. It is very important that such consumers have a good experience if society is ever to make the transition to electric vehicles that we all hope to see.

I rise to raise briefly some points about three areas of part 2 of the Bill—clause 10, clause 9, and clauses 11 and 12—each of which I will address quickly. From speaking with Nissan, I know it is welcome that the Bill intends to impose requirements on large fuel retailers and service area operators “within a prescribed description” to provide public charging points. However, it is important, for all the reasons we have heard expressed so eloquently tonight, that this prescribed description is as ambitious as possible and is used in such a way as to deploy the electric vehicle charging infrastructure to its maximum potential. I therefore hope the Minister will elaborate further on how the Government plan to make sure that the expansion of this infrastructure is done in a sustainable, sensible and joined-up manner that does not hinder future growth.

Another aspect of ensuring that this important infrastructure works in the right way is ensuring that electric vehicle charging is open access and not restricted to members of charging schemes only or, as we have heard, to people with certain types of plugs. It is important as this infrastructure rolls out that it does not become a patchwork of varying payment methods, membership schemes and plug points, but instead is accessible to all to help encourage more people to make the move or the leap to electric vehicles. Will the Minister assure me that this will be considered as the Bill progresses to the other place?

The last point I want to touch on is smart charging as it is considered in the Bill. Smart charging is a new and exciting innovation and, as the Minister will be aware, Nissan has been pioneering work on vehicle-to-grid technology, where an electric vehicle’s battery can support the grid network at peak times when it is not charging. The Bill makes positive commitments in this area, but it would be welcome if the Minister committed throughout the Bill’s progress to ensuring that the continued development of these new technologies is supported.

Overall, this is a very welcome Bill that I know will have significant effects on Nissan in my constituency and on the wider electric vehicle industry. I hope that as the Bill progresses we will see further strengthening to make sure that, as we go into the future, electric vehicles become more and more accessible to drivers and, as we so desperately need to be doing right now, that this helps to reduce pollution. With those few remarks, I will end, and I look forward to the Minister’s response.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Let me thank all Members present in the Chamber and those who have spoken for their very helpful contributions to this debate on Report. This is another stage in the extremely constructive process of putting the Bill together. It is pretty clear that the House is united in its ambition to ensure that the UK has world-leading infrastructure to support the roll-out of electric vehicles. Many great points have been raised, and I will try to respond to as many of them as I can in the time available.

Karl Turner, who is not in his place, mentioned security and the importance not just of data security, but of prescribed persons in the Bill. I share the concern he raises, and as my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin said, there are provisions in the Bill for anonymised and aggregated data on the model of smart data used elsewhere. It is also worth saying that the Bill has tightened the security for prescribed persons. Such investigations must be done in accordance with the regulations. Those are defined and will be further defined in secondary legislation.

On interoperability, let me reassure the House that there is scope in the Bill to require all new charge points to offer pay-as-you-go services. My right hon. Friend Mr Hayes, who is no longer in his place, raised the question of the design competition—and rightly so, in this, the Year of Engineering. Let me confirm that it will cover the whole of the UK, as he and colleagues mentioned.

My right hon. Friend Sir Hugo Swire pointed out the importance of rural infrastructure. As the Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire, I entirely share that view. He will know that we have made significant investments—in the electric vehicle home-charge scheme, the workplace charging scheme and, as I have mentioned, the charging infrastructure investment fund—in order to support roll-out, but this is an important issue, and the Government will remain vigilant in ensuring that there is no discrimination against rural owners or potential owners of electric cars.

Helen Goodman told us a horrifying story about her own experience. All I can say is that she raises some issues that are related to the particular product she purchased, the Nissan Leaf. I have no doubt that that is being followed very closely in Sunderland as we speak. Whether it is correct or fair to describe the car as having “conked out”, I cannot comment, but as no one would believe the hon. Lady to be a speed demon, there may be a question as to whether there was proper and adequate disclosure. We have seen companies take measures to disclose range, but there may well be scope for greater transparency, of the kind we have seen in other areas. I can also reassure her that the head of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles drives a Nissan Leaf herself.

To answer Matt Western, the updated strategy to promote electric cars, which I have mentioned, will come in March. That strategy will, I hope, do much if not all of everything he described and more, and it will of course do so on a considerably faster timetable than the ones contemplated in his new clause.

Let me pick up another couple of points. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings characteristically foreswore his natural shyness to give us a tour d’horizon of his time in office once again. He was absolutely right to say that, although we have done quite a lot already, local authorities can go further and also to emphasise the importance of human infrastructure. I would simply mention the work of the Institute of the Motor Industry in formatting and creating level 1 to 3 qualifications in electric vehicle maintenance and repair.

Finally, Mrs Hodgson asked me whether the Government would consider charging for open access. The answer is absolutely, and that is already being discussed, as I have described. She also asked whether the Government recognise the importance of vehicle-to-grid. Yes, that is absolutely at the centre of what the Bill is trying to achieve.

We have given due consideration to the proposed new clauses in this debate. Although I understand the importance of the issues raised, for the reasons outlined, I do not believe that the new clauses proposed by Opposition Members should be included in the Bill, which I commend to the House as it stands.

Question put and agreed to.

New clause 1 read a Second time and added to the Bill.

Clause 13