Diesel Vehicle Scrappage Scheme — [Mr Christopher Chope in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:58 am on 19th April 2017.

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Photo of Geraint Davies Geraint Davies Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Substitute Member) 9:58 am, 19th April 2017

Obviously, we can influence the market. More than 50% of new cars are now diesel. Margaret Thatcher knew about the problems of particulates and there was a judgment call on public health versus carbon. Since then, the problems with NOx have grown. The fact is that the amount of particulates and NOx being produced is much, much greater than people previously thought, partly because of the deception of Volkswagen and others. This is a public health catastrophe.

I will present the case for my Bill this afternoon with support from the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners and UNICEF. People will know that last year’s report by the Royal College of Physicians found that 40,000 premature deaths were due to these emissions, as well as presenting emerging evidence about foetuses suffering long-term damage and about the damage to the neurology, and general physical and mental health, of young children in urban spaces, particularly in poor areas. Those children are being poisoned, which has a disastrous impact on the rest of their lives. I am not prepared, as my right hon. Friend Mr Spellar appears to be, just to go on with business as normal, backing the poison of the current industry, which seeks to maximise profits.

It is the function of the Government to regulate markets in the interests of the public and it is an outrage that parents are unable to protect their own children, and that—as we speak—hundreds of thousands of children are in playgrounds enjoying themselves but inadvertently inhaling poisonous fumes. We need to take action and I am glad that we are moving forward with this first step; I hope that the Government agree.