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

In that case, I will speed up, Mr Chope. A considerable number die as a result of air quality because of cooking with solid fuel in enclosed spaces, particularly in Africa, which is certainly something we should look at and is certainly something to do with photovoltaic and storage. Also, on the assessments and the figure of 40,000, Roger Harrabin of the BBC has said that it could be anything between a fifth or five times as much as that. It is not about cardiac arrests or even lung cancer, but about the average reduced periods of life. A real study of the data is needed, accepting that there is a problem, but that this is about scoping it.

There is also the issue of sources of generation. In coastal areas, particularly in ports, what is the contribution of shipping to the numbers of particulates? What is the contribution of diesel trains? Perhaps the Minister will explain why the Government are cutting back on some of the electrification, which will mean more diesel trains going into urban areas. What is the contribution of power stations, central heating boilers and the burning of solid fuel? Interestingly, what is the contribution, as I mentioned earlier, of urban incinerators, of which we have a large number to deal with the problems of waste? Also, what is the contribution of tar, which is believed to be considerable, particularly in terms of small particulates?

As for the scrappage question, it is all very well to say we will give somebody £1,000, but £1,000 towards what? Towards buying a new vehicle? What does that say to someone who needs his car to get to work and who has probably already seen a drop in its value of about £2,000? What does it say to people who are asset poor and who need their vehicle to get to work? If we give them £1,000, who will lend them the money to buy new vehicles? Will they buy vehicles from further up the chain? There may be answers, but figures came there none during this debate.

What about taxi drivers? Birmingham City Council is proposing a purge of diesel taxis. Taxi driving is entry-level employment for many in this country in all communities. Are we telling them we will take them off the road and put them on the dole? That is certainly not an attractive proposition for many constituents who are active in the taxi trade.

I have already mentioned the question of where people will charge their cars. Even if we have fast chargers, how many can we put through the average service station on the motorway compared with how many can fill up there? How many can we have at any other service station? What about city centre areas? I accept there is probably a lower percentage of car ownership in some of those areas, but there are still a hell of a lot of cars. How will we have a charging system on the congested urban streetscape of Britain? And what will we do in isolated and rural areas?

Mr Chope, I am aware that we want to hear from the Front-Bench spokespeople, and, as you rightly drew to my attention, one other speaker wishes to participate, so I shall end now. This is a big debate. I do not think we should move forward with disconnected local schemes or without a well-thought-out, well-costed Treasury-backed scheme. We should not rush into this. The matters are serious. They are about international competitiveness, people’s financial welfare, and, as people have rightly said, about people’s health and welfare. This is a big issue. We should not go ahead on prime ministerial whim or just on what local government decides. We need a proper national debate and proper national answers.