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

That is a point well made. I mentioned in passing that Margaret Thatcher and subsequent Governments were aware all along of these public health issues. Ironically, it is also the case that, with VW and the like, lorries often produce less NOx than cars. The reason for that is that defeat devices were found in lorries in America, but for some reason the authorities there did not realise that they were being deceived on cars on such a colossal scale.

Of course, ClientEarth has taken the Government to court, as we do not even satisfy minimum EU standards, let alone World Health Organisation standards, and I very much hope that as and when Brexit happens we will ensure that air quality standards are legally enforceable and at least at the level of the minimum EU standard, while moving towards the WHO standards.

These are difficult issues. I appreciate that people have bought cars in good faith. They feel that the current Government, which has been in power for seven years, the previous Labour Government and even the Government before that should have alerted them to these problems, and there is a move, alongside what is being said, perhaps to index fuel duties differentially. In the case of diesel, the real cost of diesel may not go up because of upwards inflation and because the cost of other fuels do not go up. Basically, the signals should be given that people would be wise to move forward.

I will ask the Minister a couple of technical questions. I would like him to comment on displacement issues regarding the targeting of the scrappage scheme; obviously, there are various incentives, which will affect different groups. I think we all share the view that many poorer communities will suffer the worst impacts of air pollution on their children. In addition, many poorer people have the worst cars, which they cannot afford to replace. Therefore, I welcome the progressive thrust of this debate, and to allow others to speak I will conclude my remarks there.

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