Clause 99 - Vehicle CO2 emissions certificates

Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 11th January 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

That schedule 16 be the Sixteenth schedule to the Bill.

New clause 8—Emissions certificates—

“The Government must publish within 12 months of this Act coming into effect an assessment of the impact of sections 99 and Schedule 16 of this Act on the goal of tackling climate change and the UK‘s plans to reach net zero by 2050.”—

I think we might try to see whether we can let SNP Members speak to new clause 8 before the retaliation from the Government Benches, because I think that will make it easier to follow the debate.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Exchequer Secretary

I thank you, Sir Christopher—and the hon. Member for Gordon, who duly flagged the order of proceedings. Clause 99 and schedule 16 make technical amendments to capital allowances, company car tax and vehicle excise duty legislation so that the tax system continues to function as intended when vehicles are certified through the new domestic comprehensive vehicle type approval scheme due to be introduced this year.

A vehicle manufacturer is able to apply for a type approval to allow specific types of vehicles to be used on the road and can then certify that each vehicle manufactured within that type conforms with the specifications of the approval obtained. Since the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, European type approvals have no longer been automatically recognised for vehicles for use on roads in Great Britain.

Since 1 January 2021, a provisional domestic type approval scheme has been in operation. Manufacturers with an EU type approval have been required to apply for a provisional domestic type approval, which is valid for a maximum of two years. During 2022, the provisional domestic type approval scheme will be gradually replaced with a new comprehensive domestic type approval scheme, which will introduce new certificates of conformity. This will be implemented through separate legislation in 2022 by the Department for Transport.

Clause 99 and schedule 16 make technical amendments to relevant legislation to update the types of official vehicle approval certification recognised for determining the level of a vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions for the purposes of capital allowances, company car tax and vehicle excise duty, including new certificates of conformity that will be introduced through the domestic type approval scheme, allowing manufactures to continue to report their CO2 emissions. This will ensure that vehicle owners and keepers continue to pay the tax for their vehicles as intended from 2022 following the introduction of the new scheme.

For the purpose of capital allowances, the clause and schedule will also confirm in legislation that the applicable CO2 emission figure from the official documentation will be that certified under the worldwide harmonised light vehicle test procedure. The technical changes in the clause and schedule will ensure that the tax system continues to function as intended when vehicles are certified through the new domestic comprehensive vehicle type approval scheme due to be introduced in 2022.

Photo of Abena Oppong-Asare Abena Oppong-Asare Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury)

I thank the Minister for her explanation of clause 99, which introduces schedule 16, which concerns emissions certificates for vehicles. When purchasing a car, capital allowances are in part determined by the level of CO2 emissions. A 100% first-year allowance is available for new cars that have zero CO2 emissions, including electric cars. Otherwise, writing down allowances are available at the main rate of 18% per annum for electric cars and those with low CO2 emissions—up to 50 grams per kilometre driven—or 6% per annum for those with emissions exceeding 50 grams per kilometre. The measures in the clause allow for greater CO2 emissions figures to be used for purposes of capital allowances, taxable benefits arising from provisions of cars and vehicle excise duty. For that reason, we will not oppose the clause.

Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Financial Secretary), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland)

Thank you, Sir Christopher, for your opening comments on this group. My party does not get too many advances or victories in this place, so it is important to savour them when we can. I will certainly savour this one. I have a sense of clairvoyance about what the Minister will say in response.

We fully support the intention behind schedule 16. It is important to have the certification regime in place. However, as I argued when discussing the SNP’s new clause 5 in the previous group, it is important not only that consumers have confidence in the figures that are published, but to understand the impact that their publication has on behaviour. When we discussed new clause 5, we talked about the very incremental changes to vehicle excise duty, and my party proposed that we should look at the impact of those on consumer behaviour. Similarly, we feel we must understand how emissions certification changes consumer and manufacturer behaviour.

As a fundamental point, when we are as engaged in trying to achieve net zero as all Governments in these islands say that they are, it is important that Government have clear oversight of how spending and taxation influence behaviour in driving movement towards net zero. This measure should be no exception, and that is what our new clause seeks to achieve. In the fairly safe assumption that it will not be accepted by the Government, I would like to know how they intend to monitor how the changes drive behaviour.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately The Exchequer Secretary

It is a pleasure to hear the hon. Member for Gordon argue for new clause 8. It would require the Government to publish, within 12 months of the Bill coming into effect, an assessment of the impact of clause 99 and schedule 16 on the goal of tackling climate change and the UK’s plans to reach net zero.

For the reasons we set out in detail during the Committee’s debate on new clause 5, this similar new clause is simply not necessary. Moreover, clause 99 and schedule 16 make only minor technical amendments to vehicle tax legislation to ensure that it continues to function as intended. The measure is not expected to have any significant climate change impacts. I therefore urge the Committee to reject new clause 8.

I thank the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead for expressing the Opposition’s support for clause 99 and the schedule. I commend the measures to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 99 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 16 agreed to.