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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:40 pm on 5th February 2020.

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Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Conservative, East Hampshire 5:40 pm, 5th February 2020

My hon. Friend has made a good point about walking. Along with cycling, it is an important part of the picture, as are buses, which so many Members have mentioned today. I hope that the potential for “on demand” buses will benefit constituencies such as mine. We have also talked about rail electrification. As for heavy goods vehicles, there is a strong link with the development of autonomous vehicles. I am pleased that the UK continues to take a strong line internationally on aviation and shipping; it is important to remember that the targets for international aviation and shipping are set internationally.

We have heard more this week—encouragingly, I think —about alternative jet fuel technologies. As was mentioned by both my hon. Friend Huw Merriman and Ian Paisley, hydrogen remains potentially a very exciting technology for the future. However, the single most important element in transport is roads, and within that it is cars. In 2018, this country was the second largest European market for ultra low emission cars and the fourth largest for battery electric cars, and a fifth of the battery electric cars sold in Europe were made here. We now have far more charging points—over 22,000—and a penetration of rapid charging points relative to the extent of the road network that compares very favourably with the continent of Europe. Of course, there are many Government subsidies and support programmes that go with that.

We clearly need to do more, however. We had a debate in Westminster Hall the other day in which I talked a lot about how we can try to help consumers through questions about cost and help them to understand that it is important to look at the whole-life cost, particularly now that so many people are getting their vehicle through personal contract hire rather than buying it, even on finance. That comparison should be a lot easier. Clearly, we need to carry on working on the infrastructure network and do more on roaming, interoperability and the visibility of charging points. We also need to ensure that new homes have charging facilities. In my discussion with the Minister in Westminster Hall, I also mentioned that we need to do more on last-mile deliveries, given the huge growth in home shopping. Amazon lockers are great for Amazon, but that is a proprietary system. Can we start to use our post office network as a hub and spoke facility? That would be a good way of reducing the need for last-mile journeys as well as bringing useful footfall and business into post offices.

I will finish now because I know that others want to speak. It is possible to recognise that there is a huge amount to do while also recognising the progress that has been made. People need to know that we in this place understand the gravity of the problem, but also that we are committed, together, to doing what is necessary, and that we can and will do that. It would be so much better if we could return to doing that on the basis of the cross-party consensus that we have had in the past.