Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Oral Answers to Questions — Transport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th October 2018.

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Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire 12:00 am, 11th October 2018

What steps his Department is taking to improve the availability of electric vehicle infrastructure.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

As Members will be aware, earlier this summer we published our Road to Zero strategy, setting out plans for our £400 million charging infrastructure investment fund. We now have more than 14,000 public charge points, and the fund will lead to the installation of thousands more. Importantly, we are also planning to consult on introducing a requirement for charge points in new homes in England, and we want all new lampposts to include charge points, where appropriate.

Photo of Luke Graham Luke Graham Conservative, Ochil and South Perthshire

In my constituency, we are getting to the end of the signing of the Tay cities deal, part of which includes a proposal for an innovation highway. Will my right hon. Friend meet me to discuss that highway, which will form part of Perth West development?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

I am happy to do that. I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government is actively engaged in preparing the deal. I am pleased at the way my hon. Friend is championing the future of technology in transport in his constituency, and I would be delighted to meet him to discuss it.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

Has the Secretary of State had any discussions with Jaguar Land Rover, which is concerned about Brexit at the moment, meaning that there could be a hold-up in investment in electric vehicles?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

I have indeed discussed, on more than occasion, both Brexit and new generation automotive technology with the chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover. I am very excited about what it is doing on electric vehicles, and I assure the hon. Gentleman that I know of no reason why it would pull back on that investment. Indeed, I am looking forward to the Government Car Service taking delivery of its first five electric vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover in the next few days.

Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby

Does the Secretary of State agree that in areas where inadequate power is available in the grid for large commercial installations wishing to switch over to electric power, a battery solution, provided by companies such as Off Grid Energy Ltd in my constituency, may be the answer?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

We are on the threshold of exciting developments in battery technology—I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. We are working with National Grid to look at ways in which we can increase the capacity to key locations such as motorway service areas, but I say to him that battery technology is going to deliver some solutions we do not have at present. It is great to see businesses in the UK at the forefront of developing those technologies.

Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

Does the Secretary of State see any contradiction between the policy of trying to move motorists away from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles, and freezing fuel duty while cutting grants for electric vehicles?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

We are focusing our support on electric vehicles, which are the part of the market we want to see grow the fastest. We provide substantial incentives to buyers of electric vehicles. It was great to see that, in August, 12% of the new car market was low-emission vehicles, which is a big step forward for this country.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy)

Carbon emissions in Scotland have been halved since 1990, but the next part of the low-carbon transition is the electrification of Scotland’s roads. The Scottish National party Government has committed to 1,500 new charge points. Does the Secretary of State agree that Scotland needs to get its fair share of the £400 million charge fund, based on our rural nature and unique geography?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

As the hon. Gentleman knows, public spending in England is always matched by a Barnett-based element of public spending in Scotland, and that will continue to be the case.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Energy)

That answer is completely inadequate. We should not be getting such funding based on Barnett. Scotland has two thirds of the land mass of England but got only a fifth of the broadband funding. Will the Secretary of State make sure this iniquitous position does not happen in respect of the £400 million charging fund?

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport

This is a bit of a groundhog day, because every time we hear SNP Members talking about the finances of Scotland, if Barnett works in their favour, they are happy to say that they insist on having Barnett, but if they want more than that, they say Barnett is not good enough. They cannot have it both ways.