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Low-emission Vehicles

Volume 523: debated on Thursday 17 February 2011

Our aim is to make the United Kingdom a leader in the research, development and manufacture of low and ultra-low carbon vehicles. To this end, we have a comprehensive plan supporting major investment by companies, funding for research and development, consumer incentives and investment in infrastructure.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware of the Glasgow company, Allied Vehicles, which is leading the way in the production of electric cars in Scotland? I am sure that he is aware of Nissan’s role in the field and its comments that the Labour Government’s grant for business investment had ensured the manufacture of the Leaf car in the UK, creating 100 jobs and producing 600 vehicles. Will he tell the House precisely how much investment the Government have set aside for the manufacture of electric cars throughout the United Kingdom?

We are putting in more than £300 million to make sure that hybrid and electric vehicles are progressing, both with Ford and with Nissan. That is important both as grant and as a form of finance guarantee. As the hon. Lady knows, Glasgow is a new beneficiary of our new investment in the plug-in places programme, which is important. I look forward to its progressing.

Lotus Cars, based just south of Norwich, has a worldwide reputation for innovation in low-emission vehicle technology. Lotus has submitted a bid to the regional growth fund, which if successful will enable the company significantly to increase its operations in the UK, providing hundreds of new jobs. Does the Minister share my enthusiasm for the ambition behind Lotus’s bid, which so clearly demonstrates how the regional growth fund is encouraging manufacturing companies to think boldly?

The hon. Gentleman is right. Lotus is one of several excellent premier brands in motor engineering in this country. I shall not comment on the specific bid, because there are several to hand at the moment, but the hon. Gentleman is right to say that we have real opportunities in the sector. The Government are an effective partner in making sure that the sector grows.

The Minister made mention of the need to invest in the sector and he is right; we need investment in all the greener technologies. That is why the establishment of the green investment bank is so important. It is almost a year since the election, so may I urge the Government to get a move on with the establishment of the green investment bank? Can the Minister give us an update on when he expects it to be operating and investing in those important technologies?

Clearly, the bank needs to work on a commercial basis. We are making very good progress with the proposals on it and we shall set them out in May.