Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Part of Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 4:58 pm, 10th July 2019

We need to do something, and I think we need to have a discussion about what that means, because I think the House has a part to play in that something that we need to do. I have become personally aware—much more than I have ever been—of the extent and volume of single-use plastic in my life. I know that during Lent some of my hon. Friends, and indeed some Opposition Members, engaged in a fast to clear their lives of single-use plastic. That was exemplary in setting the pace for all of us in the House and for the whole country, but we really need to apply some fresh thinking to the urgent need to deal with single-use plastic.

For instance, as I said earlier to the hon. Member for Dundee West, we need action on the proposed deposit return scheme. I know that it takes time for these things to be put together, and I know that it is important for there to be as much discussion as possible in Parliament, in Whitehall and, of course, with the business community, especially the retailers who will have to manage much of the scheme. I also appreciate that the Scottish Parliament, on an all-party basis, has done some pioneering work in this regard. I must say to the Minister, however, that it is surely not beyond the realms of possibility for all the Governments on these islands, at all levels, to work together to create a single UK-wide scheme for the return of plastic bottles in particular. That would remove any danger of geographical or cost anomalies. By working together, we could help to cement the idea of deposit return with the public. The sooner we do that, the better.

The second point that I want to make concerns transport. I do not want to repeat some of the things that have been said earlier, but it is important for us to understand that 15% of global man-made carbon emissions come from cars. We have a huge opportunity to move to lower emission vehicles, but we need many more electric charging points. The infrastructure is patchy to non-existent, and it does not give confidence to potential purchasers of low emission or electric vehicles. The planning laws throughout these islands should be changed to insist that car-charging points are installed in all new private houses and commercial properties as part of their initial construction. We also need a single system for using car chargers: expecting drivers to have several cards in their wallets and separate registrations for different charging points is absurd if we wish to make it easy for people to make the transition to electric vehicle use. Governments need to do what Governments, and only Governments, can do, and bring together every party so that a sense of co-ordination and working together is at the heart of this national infrastructure project.

Let me ask the Minister a question that I asked during a debate just a few days ago. Where is the promised competition for a standard charging point design—the so-called Hayes hook-ups? I think that that could capture the imagination of the wider public. [Interruption.] Yes —the Hayes hook-ups are named after our right hon. Friend Sir John Hayes.

With better infrastructure will come greater consumer confidence, but the Government should restore the incentives for buyers of electric vehicles that they reduced last year, because they have had some impact. We must be ambitious, and set new targets to eliminate the use of internal combustion engines from our cities by the middle of the next decade. I think that that is realistic. I also agree with something that was said by an Opposition Member earlier: it is important for the Government to give a clear signal to manufacturers, because investment decisions are made within the framework of public policy.