The Government are taking a series of steps to reduce air pollution. We are tackling pollution particularly from transport on a number of fronts. For example, we are transforming public transport and private vehicles by supporting the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles and encouraging sustainable transport by investing in cycling. We are also tackling pollution from industry.
I thank the Minister for his reply. The common good matters nowhere more than in respect of the air we breathe. Will he commit today to drop all objections to European standards on air pollution—unless they are on the basis that the standards are too lenient?
I look forward to discussing in more detail with the hon. Lady exactly which European standards she is talking about—concentration levels or total emission levels, for example. If she is talking specifically about nitrogen dioxide, this Government are absolutely committed to meeting the EU targets as soon as possible.
Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to Johnson Matthey, the world’s leading manufacturer of autocatalysts, which is internationally recognised for its diesel trap technology. Will he do all he can to ensure that the tax regime in this country and emissions regulations that apply here allow for the deployment of the latest technology in this field?
My hon. and learned Friend will not expect me to comment on a Treasury issue in relation to taxation, but I would like to pay tribute to the work of Johnson Matthey. My hon. and learned Friend has suggested that we meet, and I look forward to meeting this company with its innovative technology as soon as possible.
Fifty-nine years ago, the former Denton urban district council was one of the first local authorities in the land to sign up to the Clean Air Act 1956. Back then, we had thick pea souper smogs that could be seen; today, air pollution is an invisible killer. Is it not time that this Government adopted a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st century?
I am glad the hon. Gentleman has acknowledged the work done over the last 60 years by parties on both sides of the House to address air pollution. It is very striking that sulphur dioxide is down by 88%, while we have halved emissions in particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide. More is to be done, particularly on nitrogen dioxide, and I look forward to working very closely with the hon. Gentleman on that subject.