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Pollution: Covid-19

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 17 September 2020

What steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to prevent an increase in air pollution from transport and a potential related increase in levels of covid-19 mortality. (906206)

We are making active travel and public transport the natural first choice for journeys. We are providing £2.5 billion of support to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

And a Welsh flag, Mr Speaker!

The Minister will know that congestion levels in outer London have now grown to 150% of what they were before the lockdown and that pollution causes both covid infection and death, so why is she not encouraging the Prime Minister to continue to get people to work from home and to encourage investment from the Chancellor in public transport, when instead we are told to travel to work by car and not to work from home?

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not attempting to travel to Wales via New York because that would definitely encourage congestion. I can assure him that we are investing strongly in public transport. We will continue to support the bus sector. We have provided £218.4 million of funding on a rolling basis from 4 August. We have provided over £700 million-worth of funding for public transport throughout the pandemic.

I am pleased that the Government have listened to Labour and are considering bringing forward the date for the phase-out of the sale of new diesel, petrol and hybrid vehicles, but how is the Minister actually going to get us there? All we have had from the Government lately is gimmicks like green number plates and the suggestion that they will paint electric vehicle parking spaces green. The charging infrastructure is woefully inadequate. Other than painting everything green, what is her actual strategy?

This was a Conservative Government pledge in our latest manifesto. We are accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles with £2.5 billion of support. We already have one of the most extensive charging networks in Europe, and we are ramping it up all the time.