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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:04 am on 19th April 2017.

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Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley 10:04 am, 19th April 2017

If that is the case, I have to ask the hon. Gentleman how much that would cost and who would pay for it. One of the problems we have—I know this as a former Transport Minister—is that those who create policy, whether they are in the Department for Transport, Westminster City Council, London City Hall or even Birmingham Council House, overwhelmingly have clerical jobs by definition and travel in on public transport. Certainly in the London region, they travel overwhelmingly on rail. That is their mindset, and the mindset of many of the press lobby as well. Look how fascinated they are every time there are any problems on the railway, as compared with the situation on the roads.

If we go outside London—when I say London, I mean central London, because this applies very much to the London suburbs and the peripheral towns around London—and look at all the Government data, although there is a marginal shift at the moment, people overwhelmingly travel to work by road transport, whether by bus or in cars, which make up a significant proportion. That is how people get to work. People may fancifully say that people can get on their bike to do that, but if they are going 10 miles away to do shift work at a factory or a hospital, or if they are going to a building site carrying their tools, that is not a realistic option.

The problem is that the interests of London and the policies that affect London start to impact on the rest of the country. Even within London, there are all those builders coming in—that steady stream of vehicles travelling in on the motorways bringing in those who are constructing the city—and we are looking at significantly penalising them. That is why I asked the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton what actual assessment there has been of the problem, breaking it down. In his contribution, he said that there is no doubt that private vehicles contribute the bulk of the pollution. My council, Sandwell Council, did a study of the Bearwood Road only a couple of years ago. It found that buses formed 8% of the vehicles on Bearwood Road and contributed 57% of the pollutants being emitted there. It may be very sensible for him to say that we should target the problem by providing a subsidy to the bus companies—rather than taking away the subsidies from bus companies, as this Government have been doing, threatening them—and actually having a bus scrappage scheme to take the older buses out of the system. That would be a perfectly realistic way of looking at it.