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Electric Vehicles: Public Charging Points

Volume 639: debated on Thursday 19 April 2018

7. What steps he is taking to increase the number of public charging points for electric vehicles at commercial and industrial centres. (904816)

The UK is building one of the best global ChargePoint networks. Our new £400 million ChargePoint infrastructure investment fund will see thousands more charge points installed nationwide. We already provide grants to install charging stations in workplaces, homes and residential streets, and for buses and taxis. Through the Go Ultra Low city scheme, Bath—the hon. Lady’s constituency—and other cities are installing publicly accessible charging hubs. Also, the new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will encourage large fuel retailers to install charge points on their premises.

In Bath, the council is considering introducing a clean air zone, focusing particularly on older, more polluting vehicles, but that will disproportionately disadvantage the less well-off, who are more likely to own older vehicles. Will the Government consider a scrappage scheme for old vehicles to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles without disadvantaging the less well-off in our city?

As the hon. Lady will be aware, substantial scrappage schemes already exist in the market through the private sector, and those look to continue.

Expanding the charging infrastructure is a key part of encouraging people to switch to ultra-low emission vehicles, but does the Minister agree that the Government’s decision to cut the plug-in car grant and the home charging grant sends out contradictory signals? Will he commit to maintaining the current value of both grants in real terms, at least at their existing levels?

I am afraid I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman’s diagnosis of the situation. As I saw when I visited Nissan recently, electric cars are being taken up at higher rates than ever before, and the plug-in car grant has been an important part of that. As the industry becomes more mature—we are seeing greater signs of that; the new Nissan Leaf has started to have stable resale values, which is an important sign of maturity—we would naturally expect levels of Government subsidy to fall.

It is very welcome that the Government are looking at alternative fuels. Will the Minister agree to place in the House of Commons Library a summary of the grants, incentive payments and similar subsidies being paid out by his Department in respect of each of the different alternatives being explored?

As the hon. Lady will know, we have recently made a new £11 million investment in hydrogen charging, so she is absolutely right that we take a technology-neutral view and that we seek to encourage different forms of technology wherever available. I will certainly talk to officials about what information we can place in the Library, but I think much of it is already in the public domain.