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

That is absolutely right, and I thank my hon. Friend for that. I suspect that the transmission capacity, particularly locally, will be affected in the same way. Equally, we have to look at the availability of petrol if we remove a great chunk of the diesel market, which may or may not also happen in the rest of Europe. What discussions has the Minister had with his European counterparts? The duty levied on diesel there is considerably lower, which is why they have much lower diesel prices in the EU. Reference was made to the European Commission putting the UK Government on notice and our Supreme Court responding to that, but it is interesting to note that the European Commission also mentioned a whole number of other countries, including Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Is there any common factor among those countries, apart from them being the major industrial countries of the EU? I therefore find it rather strange that we are looking at a major upheaval that does not seem to be mirrored by our European counterparts without getting proper figures in an impact assessment, and at a time when we are considering the uncertainties of Brexit. Apart from one or two towns and cities in one or two countries, there seems to be no similar reaction from other countries.

Equally, there seems to be no consideration as to whether, as was rightly said earlier, we could actually have alternative fuels for many heavy goods vehicles. There is a reason why, across the whole world, goods vehicles are overwhelmingly diesel. It has to do with torque, traction and so on, and that applies to many builders’ vehicles, which are for lifting and generate power to do that. That would not be possible with an electric vehicle—certainly not with the current state of technology.

Electric vehicles may have some minor advantage when sitting in traffic, but many of those arguing for this proposal should perhaps be looking at better traffic management. With a number of cities, and particularly London, quite a bit of the congestion has been aided and abetted by the construction of cycle lanes. Boris Johnson’s cycle lanes have generated congestion in central London, as taxi drivers and others will all attest, so we need to be looking at how we can deal with the problem in its various segments. With petroleum, it is true that we can keep cracking the oil in different stages and get more petroleum out, but that adds considerably to the cost—I will come to the cost to the individual in one second, after I give way to the Chairman of the Select Committee.