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Electric Vehicles

Volume 733: debated on Thursday 8 June 2023

8. What steps he is taking to help improve the (a) market share and (b) availability of electric vehicles. (905165)

The Government are committed to accelerating the transition to zero-emission vehicles. To support this transition, we will introduce a world-leading zero-emission vehicle mandate. That will support the future supply of zero emission vehicles by setting a minimum percentage of manufacturers’ new car and van sales to be zero emission each year from 2024.

It is great news that Jaguar Land Rover will manufacture its first UK-made electric car in the west midlands, continuing our long history of attracting manufacturing investment from across the world. Will the Minister join me in welcoming JLR’s £15 billion investment, and does he agree that it shows that we are emerging, thanks to this Government, as a world leader in clean technology, which is good for jobs, good for the economy and good for the environment?

Of course, I was delighted to see JLR’s commitment to investing in UK manufacturing and confirming its plans to bring electric vehicle production to the west midlands. Through our policies and investments, the Government are accelerating electrification and unlocking industry investment to meet our net zero ambitions. The automotive industry is a vital part of that process. This is a vote of confidence from the UK’s largest carmaker.

May I say how pleased I am that, thanks to the wonderful people at Guy’s and St Thomas’s, I am back in operation?

May I ask the Minister not to get totally fixated on electric vehicles? There are a few companies establishing hydrogen-powered service stations for trucks up and down the country. With less impact on the environment, hydrogen has real possibility in this country.

I welcome the hon. Gentleman back to his seat. He will be aware that the Government are very interested in the potential of hydrogen, not just in heavier vehicles but also in maritime and, through hydrogen fuel cells, in aerospace. We take a technology-neutral approach, so I have been looking at all those things. I had the great pleasure of visiting JCB, which has pioneered a hydrogen-based off-road digger, and what a splendid machine that is.

Although electric cars are important, the EU, under pressure from the German car industry, has put back the date when petrol combustion engines will be banned. What discussions have we had with our industry about whether it might be appropriate to do that here, given that that may give some of our industry difficulty in continuing to manufacture in the future?

The third round of consultations on the zero-emission vehicle mandate has just closed. We work closely with all the relevant parties, in particular the car manufacturers. My hon. Friend should be aware that not deflecting from our path, as has been done elsewhere, will not just put the UK further ahead in this area but will trigger a substantial amount of private sector investment in charging infrastructure. ChargeUK has announced that some £6 billion will be invested by private means in the charging network over the next few years, which is to be welcomed.

The different application of VAT between domestic and public charging points is clearly a disincentive to those who are considering adopting electric vehicles. Some 38% of households do not have access to private parking and would rely on public charge points. Will the Minister speak to his colleagues in the Treasury to ensure that the Chancellor takes account of that in the next Budget and ensures that this unfair VAT charge is scrapped?

It is worth saying that the tax system does support the take-up of electric vehicles already. As a former Financial Secretary, I can tell the hon. Lady that I would be skinned if I made Treasury policy from the Dispatch Box. I am not going to do that, but I have no doubt that my colleagues in the Treasury will have noted her concern.