Skip to main content

Electric Vehicles

Volume 710: debated on Thursday 17 March 2022

11. What steps he is taking to improve the (a) quantity and (b) reliability of public electric vehicle charging stations. (906119)

The Government have committed £2.5 billion to vehicle grants and infrastructure to support the transition to electric vehicles.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, based in Amersham in my constituency, has pointed out that the cost of charging is still prohibitive for many companies. If a company with a fleet of vehicles wants to install charging points onsite, it probably also needs to install a substation, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, which is prohibitive. The BVRLA is therefore calling for a depot grant to help with those set-up costs. Will the Secretary of State consider introducing a depot grant to help companies with fleets to convert them to electric vehicles?

We are always looking at what more we can do. We put in £1.9 billion in the 2020 spending review, and we have enhanced that with an extra £620 million for the transition. I will always look at what else can be done. Electric vehicles—I can attest to this because I have driven one for several years—are dramatically cheaper than equivalent fuel vehicles, albeit that the infrastructure needs to be got right to make sure that they are chargeable.

The UK needs 480,000 EV charging points if we are to transition to electric vehicles. So far there are 28,000 publicly available charging points, and only 1,000 on-street charging points outside London. Last year, just 7,600 new charging points were installed. At this rate, we will have to wait until 2080 for everyone to be able to use an electric car. These figures are from the National Infrastructure Commission. How does the Secretary of State expect motorists to be able to play their part in the move to net zero if the Government are not delivering the charging infrastructure?

The hon. Gentleman presents a partial picture because he forgets that there are 300,000 chargers installed at people’s homes, with Government support. In addition, the figures that he quoted are now out of date. There are 29,500 public installations, 4,500 of which are rapid chargers—a 37% increase in 2021 alone. We will be ready for everybody to go electric.

It has been more than two years since the Prime Minister promised 4,000 new zero-emission buses—representing only about a tenth of the English bus fleet—by the start of 2025. It took them a while, and it has been a year since the launch of the zero-emission bus regional areas scheme designed to deliver on that promise, but the Government said it would only deliver funding for up to 500 zero-emission buses in England. One year on, how many buses have been ordered through the standard ZEBRA process?

I very much appreciate that answer, but it is completely different to the one I received to a parliamentary question on Monday, which was that the Government have ordered zero buses through the standard ZEBRA process since it launched but that they expect to do so later this year. I hope the Secretary of State might correct the record. The truth is that six months after the Prime Minister made his 4,000 bus pledge, the Scottish Government got on with delivering, with their SULEB—Scottish ultra-low emission bus—schemes delivering 272 buses, while just a fortnight ago Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth announced the first phase of the zero-emission bus challenge fund of £62 million for a further 276 buses. The nearly 550 buses delivered or ordered in Scotland are the equivalent of 5,500 in England. The UK Government are fiddling while the planet burns. When will the 4,000 buses be delivered?

As we said in our manifesto, we will deliver the 4,000 buses during this Parliament, and we are on track to do so. I have just given the hon. Gentleman the up-to-date information on the number already funded. The SNP spokesman makes a big fuss of this, but—I do not think he mentioned this—the Scottish Government missed their own legal emission targets under the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019. They were supposed to reduce the emissions but they missed the targets.