Electric Vehicles and Bicycles

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:38 pm on 9th May 2018.

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Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 5:38 pm, 9th May 2018

Yes, I would be delighted to. I have recently written to Volkswagen to draw attention to the continuing dissatisfaction that I and my colleagues have with its performance. I have raised the matter not merely with the operating personnel but with the supervisory board of that company, and I understand that my colleagues in other parts of the Government are in touch with their German counterparts, to make it clear that we remain exceedingly dissatisfied on behalf of consumers, Volkswagen customers and the general public in this country by the performance of the company and we expect it to continue the process of making amends through the scheme it has in place, extending it as and when that may be required.

Let me proceed. I have said that we want almost every car and van to have zero emissions by 2050. We have said that we will end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. My hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire asked whether that target was too far out. I say to him that it is not. If he reflects on the experience of the past 12 months, he will see that one of the results of the Volkswagen scandal has been that diesels—in many ways, diesel is a thoroughly excellent technology, which is rapidly improving and is useful especially for journeys of distance and between cities in particular—have taken the brunt of that. The result has been a worsening in performance on air quality or rather on emissions, and that is precisely the kind of counterintuitive response that would come from a failure to manage the process effectively. I draw his attention to that.