In recent years emissions have been a problem in particular areas—I acknowledge that clearly—and the Government are particularly keen to deal with the effects on those areas. The air quality plan will of course have a national footprint, as it is a national plan. The particularity I described was about Government setting out an appropriate and deliverable framework, and then working with localities to ensure that in the implementation of that framework all those local circumstances are put in place. That is the point that I was making about urban and rural areas and the different circumstances that apply there.
Clean air zones cover a designated area and involve a range of immediate local actions to support cities to grow while delivering sustained improvements in air quality and transition to a low-emission economy. Measures that could be implemented include the promotion of ultra-low emission vehicles; upgrading buses and taxis; promoting cycling schemes; and, in the worst cases, charging for the most polluting vehicles. In 2015 we named five cities, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, that are required to introduce a clean air zone. The Government are engaging with the relevant local authorities on the schemes’ detailed design.
Clean air zones will support the transition to a low-emission economy, but the Government are considering how to mitigate the zones’ impacts on those worst affected. I am not in the business of disadvantaging those who are already disadvantaged and in exaggerating the circumstances of those who already face tough choices and have a struggle to make their way in the world. That is not we are about and would not be the kind of fair politics that I believe in and to which this Government are committed. A fairer Britain is one that takes account of such disadvantages and we will do so in the construction and delivery of this policy.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton suggested that a means-tested scrappage scheme could address some of those issues. He emphasised the fact that his scheme would be means-tested, and he did so with a fair amount of passion. Hegel said:
“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion”,
and my hon. Friend has displayed that very passion today. Let me be clear: I note his points and I will ensure that they are considered as part of our consultation and as part of our work. I do not think you get much better than that typically in Westminster Hall.
It is absolutely right that the Government’s clean air zone policy recognises all the challenges that have been set out by various contributors to the debate and it tackles the problems of the most polluted places by acknowledging that low-cost transport is vital to people’s opportunities and wellbeing.