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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:24 am on 19th April 2017.

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Photo of Charlie Elphicke Charlie Elphicke Conservative, Dover 10:24 am, 19th April 2017

The hon. Gentleman always looks on the positive side of things. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs figures show that there has been a levelling off, but they are still hugely down. The hon. Gentleman should try to be more of a glass half full sort of person and look at the progress that has been made. He has promoted the Clean Air Bill, which, from the way he talks about it, will attack motorists, diesels and cars. However, let us look at the scale of the problem in the round. Let us look at the science rather than the rhetoric. Let us look at the numbers. What percentage of nitrogen oxide pollution in London comes from diesel cars? The Labour Mayor of London proposes to try to fleece motorists of £20 every time they visit the city. According to the London Assembly Environment Committee’s report, the percentage is 11%. Separate figures from Transport for London indicate 12% from the diesel car. Some 750,000 diesel cars in London produce that amount.

Why has there not been any focus on the other 90% of the problem? The risk is that we only attack the motorists who thought they were doing the right thing when they bought the cars, because they were advised to do so. They were advised that it was a clean, environment-friendly thing to do. We are at risk of unfairly targeting and demonising those people, and of ignoring the other 90% of the problem. If we focus on 10% of the problem, we risk not looking at the other 90%. So what is in that 90% that needs to be in the air quality plans? I hope the hon. Gentleman will talk about that when he discusses his Bill and will look at the science and statistics and not just go after the poor motorists, many of whom live in his constituency. Let us look at where the problem comes from.

The answer is that 8% comes from rail: ageing trains chuffing up fumes at Paddington. Some 14% comes from non-road mobile machinery: generators on building sites. The system does not seem to allow plugging them into the main grid, which would be the obvious thing to do, so we have to have diesel generators. Why has action not been taken on that? Why have we not heard about that from the medical and the green lobby who want to target the motorist? We ought to hear about that. We ought to look at the diggers that do not have the filters that they should have, that do not have the same quality. We ought to clean up our building sites. We ought to look to do that, because if it is important, it is important across the board.

We need to look at non-domestic and domestic gas—gas central heating systems produce nitrogen oxide. So do Transport for London’s buses—10% of nitrogen oxide in London comes from buses, which the right hon. Member for Warley mentioned.

It is very important that we do not demonise diesel drivers and that this is not seen as an opportunity for Labour Mayors and Labour councils up and down the land to fleece motorists with more taxes—many have set out such plans. As the right hon. Member for Warley pointed out, in many cases that would hurt the poorest, who have been priced out of cities, and would be unfair. We should make sure that we have an across-the-board plan to deal with a problem that affects everyone; we should focus not on the 10% but on the 100%. It is my plea that we treat motorists fairly—that we treat ourselves fairly. We should treat the whole problem and all of the pollution. That is how we will have the best chance of making sure we have cleaner air, a cleaner country, cleaner cities and a cleaner nation, for our sake, and the sake of our children.