Air Quality

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – in the House of Commons on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Transport)

People with lung conditions find it really difficult to breathe on days like today. Poor air quality contributes to poor lung health, and the World Health Organisation calls this a public health emergency. So will the Secretary of State, as her first act in post, introduce a clean air Act as a priority and a matter of urgency?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to talk about the importance of tackling air pollution with regard to lung health and other medical conditions. That is why we have been consistently working on this ever since I have been an Environment Minister, and air quality continues to improve. We are very conscious that the clean air strategy was welcomed by the World Health Organisation as being world-leading and something that it wanted other countries to pursue. The hon. Lady will well know that measures are being planned on air quality that will be in the forthcoming environment Bill.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch

Many parents, including those in Redditch, are worried about the impact of air pollution on their children’s lungs, especially when they are going to and from school. Will the new Secretary of State, who I warmly welcome to her place, ensure that local authorities’ funding under the clean air strategy is adequate to help them to tackle this problem?

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I hope that my hon. Friend is aware that councils already have many powers to improve issues relating to cars and other vehicles, especially around schools. I would encourage her to work with Redditch Borough Council and Worcestershire County Council on taking advantage of those powers. She will also be aware that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport has indicated that we are going to increase the fines for idling.