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Electric Vehicles

Volume 690: debated on Thursday 11 March 2021

Pentraeth Automotive on my island constituency of Ynys Môn is at the forefront of electric vehicle provision locally. Will the Minister consider providing support so that businesses like Pentraeth Automotive can retrain their skilled mechanics to ensure that electric vehicles can be maintained safely?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that the UK is at the forefront of the electric-vehicle industry, and I want her constituency to play its part. We are working with the Institute of the Motor Industry to ensure that the UK’s mechanics workforce is well-trained and has the skills needed to safely repair electric vehicles. Through consultation with the automotive sector, the IMI has developed Techsafe, a register and professional standard for electric vehicle technicians that the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles has endorsed.

To be able to truly embrace the EV revolution, does my hon. Friend agree that there needs to be a comprehensive network of on-street residential charging points close to where people live, especially where they have no dedicated parking space? Will she work with local authorities to start this work now, so that that is one less barrier to EV adoption?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right and we are already working closely with local authorities. Our on-street residential charge point scheme has so far supported more than 105 different local authorities to fund more than 3,800 charge points. We have recently announced that £20 million will be made available under this scheme for the year 2021-22. We are working so closely with local authorities to ensure the maximum take-up of the scheme, because we do not want a lack of charging infrastructure to be a barrier to anyone wanting to transition to an EV.

Following on from the previous question, that charging infrastructure concern can be a barrier to purchase. We know that most owners of electric cars charge their vehicles at home. That often relies on their having a garage or drive, which is not always appropriate or possible in a block of flats or in a very urban area.

Will my hon. Friend keep the House updated on progress on charging facilities in the more built-up urban areas, because that is absolutely critical if we are to see significant take-up of these vehicles?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is absolutely right that we need to tackle all these barriers, which is why we have recently announced that we are changing the criteria for our EV charging schemes to include small businesses, leaseholders and those in rented accommodation, especially flats, to accelerate uptake. Worth up to £50 million, the updated schemes will complement a further £20 million that we are providing for our on-street charging scheme.

I am pleased to hear the Minister talk about electric vehicles, but the reality is that we have seen little in the way of concrete measures from this Government. We were promised 4,000 zero-emission buses by 2025, but we have heard little more about that—or, indeed, about the national bus strategy, which was expected months ago and has still yet to materialise.

It has now been a year since the Government published their transport decarbonisation plan. The Secretary of State himself said that

“Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge of our time”,

yet all we have had is dither and delay. Although last week’s Budget saw the Chancellor freeze fuel duty for the 11th year running, costing the taxpayer about £1 billion and flying in the face of the commitment to tackle carbon emissions, this Government have a legal obligation, lest we forget, to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. When will they start delivering?

Let me politely disagree strongly with the hon. Gentleman on the Labour Front Bench. I would need longer than this one simple question to answer the allegations that he has put to me. Shall we start with the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan? Shall we also refer to the transport decarbonisation plan, which, as I have now said three times, we will publish in the spring. The national bus strategy, as my colleagues have reminded me, will be brought forward very shortly. Not only that, but we are installing charge points up and down the country. We have already committed to phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2030. We are leading the world in this fight against climate change, and we will continue to do so.