Committee (2nd Day)(Continued)
Amendment 51 not moved.
52: Clause 9, page 6, line 22, at end insert—
“( ) Before making regulations under subsection (1)(b), the Secretary of State must consult charge point operators and vehicle manufacturers on the prescribed requirements for connecting components.”
My Lords, in moving Amendment 52 I shall speak also to three other amendments in this group. The Bill as currently drafted gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations in relation to the components of charging points. What the Bill does not do is define what criteria will be used or who the Government will consult when making this decision.
The Bill presents a significant opportunity for the United Kingdom to lead globally on encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles. Making the most of that opportunity will require action in a number of areas, one of which is availability and interoperability of charging points. There is some concern about differing design standards for charging points. It is important to avoid a situation in which vehicles have a wide range of different connecting components, because they will have to be reflected on forecourts; such a range will be impractical and create confusion on forecourts. The amendment would require the Government to consult charge operators and vehicle manufacturers on these vital infrastructure decisions. The amendment’s purpose is to ensure that the Government consult properly and widely, specifically with recharge point operators, on the final form and implementation of those connecting components.
Amendment 67 would require the Secretary of State to consult on and publish the criteria to be used for the definition of “large fuel retailers” and “service area operators”. This will make clear to the industry which companies are covered by the regulations.
Amendment 87 focuses on the collection and use of data from electric charging points. As with the data collected by automated vehicles, charging points and electric vehicles will also hold important and useful information which, if it were to fall into the wrong hands, could be damaging. It is important that we get this side of the legislation right because, as the technology advances, it is likely that more information will be held. Some of this information will be personal and sensitive, which is why it is important that the Government ensure that the gathered data is secure and private. It is important that the legislation addresses who is responsible for collecting this data, how the data is then shared between different parties and any limitations on such data. In the amendment, we ask Ministers to properly consult with the relevant stakeholders in this area and make sure that the correct safeguards are put in place.
Finally, Amendment 102 would require the Government to consult widely before regulations were implemented. One significant area that our proposals would deal with is the impact that the expansion of charging points may have on the national grid, which the Bill barely addresses. There is a fear that sudden huge spikes in demand could easily damage the network and, in extreme cases, lead to power outages. For it to work, this policy requires serious planning and consultation between the Government, the grid and charge point operators. I appreciate that the Government are trying to address some of that with smart charging, but the risk is still there, particularly if rapid charging is used at charge points during peak rush hour times. Those concerns need to be considered carefully and the impact must be monitored in the rollout of the infrastructure changes. The Government will have to consider a great many things that they do not know yet, such as what regulations they want to bring in, who they will affect and how they will be affected. That underlines why it is important that the Government consult stakeholders, as this amendment asks them to do.
I am not opposed to the use of secondary legislation because it will be necessary to future-proof the Bill, but it is important that the Minister comes back to Parliament with more detail and specific proposals for regulations—particularly for something that, as it stands, is not included in much detail. I beg to move.
My Lords, I rise to speak to the amendments in this group in my name. I cannot see much of a theme between them so I will deal with them separately.
Amendment 95 addresses the issue of smart meters. We all know that smart meters are in the Bill because the Government believe, or have reason to believe, that there could be issues with pressure on the national grid. They are dealing with, or planning to deal with, that pressure through the use of smart meters. My amendment intends to ensure that smart meters really are smart, and very sophisticated. When we have talked about them before, people have said, “It’s really important to charge at night when there is not great pressure on the grid”. In fact—my amendment deals with this—specific groups of people have very good reasons for not charging at night. Some people cannot charge then because they are out at work and have taken their car with them, and some people, such as people with solar panels—I declare an interest because I have them on my house—have a good reason to charge during the day. I am keen to charge my car during the day, whenever possible, because that is when my panels are generating electricity.
I am probing the Minister to find out the Government’s view on this and whether the concept of smart meters can now take that kind of thing into account. It would be frightfully unfair if night shift workers, such as NHS workers, had to pay a higher price for their electricity just because they have to charge their cars during the day. I would hope that we had moved on a long way, technologically, from the days when night storage heaters imposed a blanket situation where you charged at night, dispelled your heat during the day—whether you were there or not—and had no control.
The national grid has assured us that there is enough overall capacity, but I fear that it is similar to the mobile phone companies saying that 95% of the population has a good signal. We all know that 5% of the population lives in a large geographical area known as the countryside, so there are great swathes of the country where mobile phone signal is very poor. Already, the national grid is overreaching full capacity in some areas such as south-east England and many rural areas because there are no links with the grid.
Amendment 103 is intended simply to make sure that the regulations that spring from the Bill are dealt with in the appropriate manner. I have tried to reflect the views of the DPRRC that there should be some affirmative resolutions.
Amendment 68 refers to the need for consultation with fuel retailers. Here, I am probing the issue of the definition, and how the Government will reach a definition, of “large fuel retailers”. The Association of Convenience Stores was rather worried that it would be forced to have electric charge points in inappropriate places. My view is that fuel retailers need to look 10 years ahead. If this revolution has taken place, they will not be selling loads of diesel in even five years’ time, nor loads of petrol. They need to think about how they will diversify. Consultation would help not just to produce good regulations, but to raise awareness among fuel retailers that they will need to consider the future.
When the consultation takes place it will also be important to consider the capacity of the grid. We have talked a lot about motorway service stations. They generally have an electric charging point. In the great and glorious future we hope they will have several electric charging points, but they are usually in the countryside. It might be that the grid does not have the capacity for that in that area. Things such as consultation would help to unravel that spectrum of things and make it clearer for the Government, as well as for those who have to supply the electricity.
Very briefly, Amendment 87, which I have added my name to, relates to data. I will leave the issue of data largely to the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, as the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, has spoken already, but I am seriously concerned that this is yet another gaping hole in the Bill. We dealt with it in Part 1 on automated vehicles, but electric vehicles have the same data-collection capacity. There are serious issues that the Government need to grapple with to reassure the public that the data being collected about their movements is dealt with responsibly and not used just as an easy marketing gambit.
My Lords, I will briefly speak to the amendments in my name in this group. Consulting the sector, particularly the charge point providers and operators, is essential to ensure that the regulations we pass are fit for purpose. I am sure that that will be a component of the Government’s strategy, which we wait to see published. I look forward to hearing more about that from the Minister.
Amendment 87, which the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned, concerns a huge topic on data from electric vehicles. It is correct that we touched on it under the part of the Bill on automatic vehicles, but it is not present in this part. It would be good if the Government took this away and had a think about it. As a driver of an electric vehicle I often override the question at the start that says, “Do you want to send your data to the company that owns the car?”, simply because I think, “Why should I share it?”. However, there might be very good reasons why you want to share anonymised data to facilitate completely different ways of taxing people’s use of the vehicles.
In the Bill and certainly in the Government’s strategy we have to think about what will happen to the public purse when we move away from a transport system fed by fossil fuels, which generate huge amounts of revenue to the Treasury. As we come off that and go on to electricity we will not see the same revenues at all. Yet there might well be embedded into these technologies a new data source that would enable a different form of taxation based on road use. If we can come up with a taxation system that uses this data, perhaps on an annualised basis rather than the Government tracking your every move, we would be able to use it to inform a new form of taxation similar to the way we do an MoT at the end of the year, so you can pay taxes on that basis. There is an enabling aspect of the data as much as there is concern about privacy and use of data for purposes we were not aware of when we signed on the dotted line for different services.
This is a big topic. We probably cannot do it justice with just this amendment, but I will genuinely listen to and be very interested to hear from the Government about this topic and what they plan to do about it in the protective sense, but also in the use of it in creative ways to ensure we still collect revenue to fund our public services.
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, just referred to the issue that I wanted to raise and which I raised earlier in Committee. There will potentially be a substantial drop in revenue. It is important that the Bill goes a little bit further than it does in Clause 12, which refers to a,
“prescribed person or to persons of a prescribed description”.
Why can the Government not be a little more frank? We basically mean the excise authorities—they are the people who want this information. Ultimately, that is the way the tax will be raised, unless we go down the route of satellite observation of your vehicle running along the motorway counting up how many miles you have done and where you went, which might worry a lot of people in a world of arguments over privacy.
I hope the noble Baroness’s comments will be followed up by the Minister. The Government might be prepared to go a little further on Report than the wording in Clause 12 and be absolutely frank. This is how it is being read outside: “This is the way we intend to raise taxes”, against the argument, when it starts, of whether to use something like satellites. Could Ministers be a little more frank and give us an undertaking that they might reconsider that position and the wording in Clause 12(1) on Report?
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords for raising the importance of consultation prior to regulations being made using the powers covered by the Bill. It would of course be sensible, and indeed essential, for us to engage with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that any regulations brought forward under the Bill are fair and proportionate while delivering the changes that will meet the needs of users and greatly improve the charging experience. It will be particularly important to consult those stakeholders that will be directly impacted by any of these regulations.
The Government have a set of good consultation principles—for example, that consultations should be targeted, clear and concise. They were published in 2016 and a copy was placed in the parliamentary Library. These principles were followed when consulting on primary legislation for the Bill and we will continue to follow them. They were updated in 2018 and can be accessed on the government website, GOV.UK.
Prior to introducing any regulations in this part of the Bill, we will engage with all appropriate stakeholders. This is already a requirement under Clause 16(3). Amendment 52, moved by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, calls for consultation specifically with charge point operators and vehicle manufacturers. As we explained in the policy scoping notes, under Clause 9 the Government would consult widely with stakeholders on the issue of connection before introducing regulations. This consultation would of course include charge point manufacturers and operators, and vehicle manufacturers.
Amendment 67 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, also seeks to require the Secretary of State to publish draft criteria and definitions of large fuel retailers and service area operators at least six months before making the regulation. Any regulations brought forward under Clause 10 would be informed by consultation with industry, including fuel retailers, motorway service area operators, EV infrastructure providers and operators, and EV manufacturers and drivers, a point insisted on by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. She made a valid point that those currently in the petrol retailing business will want to ensure that they have a future. Their business is basically supplying energy to motorists. They will need to react if motorists start using a different form of energy. It would be in their interests to move in this direction.
The noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, raised the point that this might have implications for the Treasury. I will not go there. She also mentioned the possibility of road pricing—another sensitive political issue. I am not going to go there either, but they were valid points.
As explained in the policy scoping notes, the purpose of the consultation would be to seek industry’s views on the definitions of large fuel retailers and service area operators and any criteria for the locations at which fuel retailers will have to make specified provision.
Will that consultation include not just regulation but facilitation? Many providers collect their fuel by road and then dispense it. They have a serious problem connecting with the grid and fitting in with the electricity supply. I do not understand why the Government do not apply here the same arrangements as they applied in respect of telephonic connections, which did something about the problems of wayleaves.
My noble friend is absolutely right. Some fuel retailers may be in remote locations where the necessary electricity supply is not immediately available. Therefore, it would not make sense to oblige them to have charge points if they could not get the power. We have taken that on board. When we consult, we will look specifically at the availability of power supply before deciding whether to make progress.
Clause 16(4) would require the Secretary of State to lay the draft regulations in Parliament and their approval by each House before they are made. I understand the intent of the amendment: to ensure there is enough time for stakeholders to consider and comment, and make their views known to parliamentarians, before the regulations are discussed in the House. However we believe that, given the commitment to full consultation and the use of the affirmative procedure, it is not necessary or proportionate to publish the regulations six months before they are made. There will be many opportunities to comment on what should be included in the regulations throughout the consultation, and a delay of six months from the final draft to a vote in Parliament could adversely affect the delivery of the policy. Regarding Amendment 68, I hope this also reassures the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, of our commitment to consult fuel retailers about the appropriateness of regulations before they are introduced.
I turn to Amendment 87 and the important issue of data. The collection and use of data from charge points is increasingly important to those who help manage the electricity system. We will need carefully to consider how that data is used and how to ensure data privacy. We are already statutorily obliged to consult on the regulations through Clause 16(3). The consultation will cover the issues referred to in the amendments: who is responsible for collecting the data, how the data is shared, and any limitations on the use of such data. Therefore, we do not believe that a specific amendment on data is necessary. Data security and privacy are essential. Data would be anonymised and aggregated and it could be handled in a similar way to how smart meter data is treated. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, suggested that one of the prescribed persons might be the Treasury, so that it could get this information in order to charge motorists. I do not think that is the intention, but I will take advice before I commit myself on it. It is an ingenious thought, which the Treasury may follow up now that the noble Lord has mentioned it.
Amendment 95 is proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. She must have a very small carbon footprint if she generates through solar panels the power for her car. The amendment would require night-shift workers and households with solar panels to be taken into account for regulations under Clause 13, about smart charge points. I would hope that night-shift workers might be able to charge at work and therefore benefit from the lower rates, but off-peak is not only at night; lowest demand can now be in the afternoon because of solar power, so it could be the new off-peak—I understand that this happened for the first time in the UK in 2017. We will of course look to ensure that the introduction of smart charge points does not have adverse effects on any groups of consumers. However, we do not believe it is appropriate to specify, and implicitly prioritise, a small selection of people, however important, as the noble Baroness’s amendment seeks. I understand that it is important to take into account different groups of consumers, but as the clause is about the requirements for smart charge points rather than the pricing structures, I am not sure that it is the right place.
On smart charging pricing structures, I hope noble Lords will be reassured that the regulator for the electricity system, Ofgem, has an explicit responsibility to make the system fair for all energy consumers. Amendment 102 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, would extend the consulting requirement for this part of the Bill to ensure that the Secretary of State included the National Grid, large fuel retailers and service area operators. I agree that it is important to consult widely and of course that includes such stakeholders, but we do not think it appropriate to specify in the Bill a small proportion of the organisations that should be consulted.
Amendment 103 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, is about requiring draft regulations in this part to be approved in both Houses of Parliament every time they provide or amend a definition in this Act. Clause 16(4) already requires the Secretary of State to do this for the first time regulations are laid, with exceptions for technical regulations under Clause 9(3) and Clause 13. This is a rapidly evolving market and may require the Government to act quickly. The initial regulations will be subject, quite rightly, to the affirmative procedure, but it may not be appropriate to extend this to every provision or amendment of a definition.
I am grateful to noble Lords for raising important issues. I hope they are reassured that we intend to fulfil existing duties in respect of secondary legislation, that we will consult widely and thoroughly before any regulations are brought forward, and that the statutory obligation to consultation in Clause 16(3) will ensure that we do so. I recognise the importance of proper parliamentary scrutiny when defining terms used in the Bill, as the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee noted in its report. My noble friend is considering its recommendations and will respond to the committee before Report and copy this response to all noble Lords who have taken part in today’s debate. On that basis, I hope that the noble Lord might withdraw his amendment at this stage.
My Lords, I shall not delay the Committee unnecessarily. I will study the response with some care. I suspect that we will bring forward an amendment on Report unless the Minister does so for us, because there is something rather special about the timescales. The standard consultation is 12 weeks. The six months that we propose recognises the considerable work that will be required if a fuel retailer or service operator is caught unawares. Either such a provision is needed or the regulations have to be sensitive about time. I hope for a perhaps more in-depth response—I do not want to be rude—which recognises these timescales. Perhaps we can put that on record on Report, even if the Minister is unable to suggest some useful words to add to the Bill.
Before I withdraw the amendment, can I assume that when Amendment 53 is called, we will commence discussion on the original group without Amendment 51? I see nodding from the Whips; therefore, we are all on the same page. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 52 withdrawn.
53: Clause 9, page 6, line 22, at end insert—
“( ) Regulations may prohibit the removal of public charging or refuelling points unless the appropriate permission is obtained from the relevant local authority.”
This group of amendments relates once again to the provision of charging points. Amendment 53 relates specifically to a situation I came across in my local area. A developer had built a car park associated with a shopping centre and had probably received a grant to put in a charging point. About two years later, they decided that, to reconfigure the car park, they would take out the charging point. There will always be a group of people who find a way round these things. Amendment 53 is designed to ensure that we look ahead and work to alleviate the problems that such people might cause us.
Amendment 71 is a further attempt to future-proof. That means that buildings built in the future will either need charging points to be built in or, as suggested by the similar Amendment 76, ducting should be put in even if you do not go the whole hog and put charging points there from the start. Nowadays, we expect all our houses—all our buildings, whatever they are—to have electricity and mains drainage. Very frequently, planning authorities require a property, whether it is for employment purposes or residential—to have car parking spaces. My amendment suggests that we should simply take that one step further and use the planning regulations to ensure that, in future, houses and any other kind of buildings are built with an anticipation that electric car drivers will live there, or use the building, and therefore need to be provided for. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall put Amendment 54 into context by mentioning the reasons for this Bill. The first half is to get Great Britain into the front row of one of the most exciting brand-new industries in the world, although the department seems determined to make sure that the Bill addresses insurance only. However, this half, on charging points, is trying to help solve one of the serious problems of our cities: air pollution. People are dying out there. People are suffering with every breath of air they take, their damaged lungs strangling them.
I should declare that for 12 years, ending some time ago, I was a trustee of the British Lung Foundation, and I am presently a trustee of the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital charity. The hospital is doing great work treating patients crippled by air pollution. These patients are predominantly poor people—people who live beside roads and in dense cities—and their under-researched diseases need more attention. We know some of the causes, including the PM2.5 particles that go right into the lungs and probably even into the brains of sufferers. The consumers know the situation, as is shown in the graph distributed by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. I would have preferred to see the graph separate hybrids from electric vehicles, as there are a host of mild hybrids that are certainly better than nothing but not nearly as good as a pure electric vehicle.
The message is clear: in the last year consumers have stopped buying diesels and increased their purchase of petrol cars. Why not electric? Because of the absence of rapid charging points. We do not even have a rapid charging point on the Parliamentary Estate. We should be ashamed of that fact. I know we are working hard to correct it, but the complexity of the rules of heritage and the planning permission for the yellow lines all have to be dealt with. I would rather install it first and sort out the problems later, which is why I would be a rotten choice to be put in charge of it.
The distinction between rapid and fast may be in the eye of the tortoise but is terribly important. There is a lot of difference between charging points and rapid charging points. The table distributed by that doughty fighter for clean air, Stephanie Jarvis of TfL, shows that the number of rapid chargers installed on borough highways in London, “as part of TfL network”—whatever that means—is nil: absolutely none at all. To tease and adapt the witty words and tortured French accent of my excellent and noble friend Lord Young, I think that the score for the department is “nul points”.
Since we are dealing with a crisis in which people are in pain, suffering every day, we should grab any help at all that is available. The Mayor of London and the other metro mayors are eager to help. If the London councils can do the work, great; but if they cannot, and if the department is still not happy with the situation in two years’ time, it should have the power to let others do the work. We should not despair that some grand panjandrum will not permit changes to the Bill, but help these patients get clean air. The Royal Brompton Hospital spends some charity money on encouraging patients with severe, crippling lung disease to sing. Singing is very good for them: it is called “Singing for breathing”. I am going to a trustee meeting of the charity this afternoon in a demonstrator electric London taxi, the loan of which for the weekend might be considered a declarable interest. I would be delighted to ask the charity to invite my noble friend the Minister to hear a song of praise by lung patients for the change that the department will be making. Wouldn’t that be fun?
My Lords, the amendments in my name in this group include Amendments 57—a rather lengthy amendment, I apologise for that— 74 and 76. Amendment 57 is an attempt to introduce some permitted development and infrastructure rights for the rolling out of charging infrastructure.
Subsections (1) to (3) deal with amendments to the town and country planning order to expand the permitted development rights that apply to charging points being installed off-street. They would remove the restrictions in the order that require that upstanding charging points must not exceed 1.6 metres in height and must be within 2 metres of a highway, and that wall-mounted electrical outlets must be within 2 metres of a highway. Obviously, these regulations were brought in to try to set parameters for the development of the sector. However, we feel that they are unnecessarily restrictive. In the spirit of the Government’s intent that we should not be regulating because it is a fast-moving environment, we should deregulate where we are actively holding back innovation. So we think that subsections (1) and (3) are essential and we would like to work with the Government on addressing them.
Subsections (3) to (10) relate to powers that the London mayor is seeking to address the fact that, as the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, mentioned, the installation of fast—sorry, rapid—chargers on borough-controlled land is falling well behind that on TfL-run land and highways. The table is very interesting. Not only does it show that out of 103 rapid chargers installed, merely four are on borough-controlled land, it gives a fantastic insight into who is moving forward on rapid chargers. I note that the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Newham, Lambeth, Bromley and Barking have installed precisely zero, on either TfL or borough land. There is obviously some patchy deployment here in London.
The reason we have taken the GLA and TfL briefings on this issue very seriously is that cities are really significant. Not only are they having to deal with the air-quality impacts of the current use of combustion engines, they do and should have oversight of how this can be rolled out in a strategically planned way. But at the moment, although they are working relatively well with boroughs on the slow and fast chargers, on the rapid chargers they tell us that there is up to 10 weeks of delay before they can get permission to install. Looking at the table, they are simply not succeeding in some places.
The reason I think cities are so significant—I just saw this today on Twitter—is that 21% of global sales of EVs can be accounted for by six Chinese cities. If we think we are in any way leading this, we have to take a long, hard look and be honest about the fact that we are not in the lead. We are trailing well behind China on this issue. Of course, it was air quality and climate change that spurred China into action. It has, through a series of very successful policies—layers of policies—managed to clean up the air of its major cities. There is a lot we can learn from there.
Proposed new Subsections (11) to (14) of this rather lengthy amendment seek to introduce a concept of charging infrastructure rights—wayleaves, essentially—that is intended to mirror those granted under the Digital Economy Act 2017 for telecommunications. This is a significant issue for the country. We need to get this right. As we recognised when we granted these wayleaves for telecoms, this is the sort of thing the Government should be doing to ease this new investment in infra- structure. We look forward to hearing from the Minister on that concept. We have drafted these subsections drawing on the example of the Digital Economy Act, so they are probably not perfectly drafted. I would very much welcome sitting down with the Minister and officials to discuss this further.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, is unable to attend so I have agreed to speak to Amendment 74 on his behalf. This is an interesting and important issue. I have read somewhere that on average a car spends about 80% of its time parked at home. If you happen to be lucky enough to have a garage or off-street parking, you can move to an electric vehicle relatively straightforwardly, but not all of us live in that situation. Certainly in urban environments it is less common. You may well be in a leased environment or a block of flats and wish to have infrastructure installed to enable you to move to an electric vehicle, but it is very difficult. Even if leaseholders say that they will pay for the full cost of installing a charge point, and even if it is a simple plug, they often find that their landlords are unwilling to do it—why would they? It is an extra hassle and they are not required to meet that need.
In Amsterdam, I think, they have found that a demand-led rollout of this infrastructure has really helped speed it along. That means that if a customer has a car on order, they write to request that the charging infrastructure be fitted and it is then a requirement that that demand be met. That ensures a linking up of infrastructure with cars to use that infrastructure. This is a really important issue, and I would certainly welcome more thoughts and further consultation on how this can be made to work.
Similarly, Amendment 76 is about making the Bill future-proof, enabling us to take powers to require future residential and non-residential buildings with a defined number of parking spaces to have the necessary charge points or pre-cabling to allow for the installation of charge points. This is anticipating that we will get to the numbers the Government say they wish to get to. The Committee on Climate Change says that 60% of all car sales in 2030 need to be electric or plug-in hybrid, so it will not be too long before we get there, and we need to be planning for this now. We hope this will ensure that new and refurbished buildings are EV-ready. If a car spends 80% of its time parked at home, as has been said, it really is important that we do this. A car spends a further 16% of the time parked at another destination, so having the ability to put this into non-residential buildings is equally important. I hope that that covers everything.
My Lords, I wonder if I might take the Committee back to some elementary aspects here. Under my apartment in London, there is a garage and in the bay next to me there is a plug in the wall, with a wire leading into a motor car. It is an electric car being charged. On the previous amendment, I argued the need for the Government to be far more open about the question of taxation in future, in substitute for the revenue loss arising from less reliance on the fuels of today. We cannot raise revenue in conditions where people simply stick a plug in the wall. There has to be a meter.
Amendment 76 goes on to refer to regulations. I presume it is implied that these are building regulations. I am not sure but I think that is the suggestion. Perhaps in placing this requirement in the building regulations, we should set a requirement to fit a meter even though it will not be raising revenue in the early years. The reason I say that is only because of my experience over smart meters. Are we not changing the rules in some ways on those, because we have learned? We are almost in a period of regret, as we have been discussing in Committee in recent weeks. We think, “If only we’d known that a few years ago, we might have done it in a different way”.
All I am suggesting is that in the event that we were to introduce regulations—building regulations, I presume—we should be thinking at that stage in terms of a meter. You would not just have your plug and socket; you would have a plug, a meter and a socket, but in the early stages the meter would be registering only for your information. The other advantage of it is this. In the event that you have a meter of that nature, with a particular socket, you can be sure that you can raise the revenue by charging a higher rate for the metered electricity than the rate charged for electricity going generally into the residence. There would have to be a differential rate to ensure that you could raise the revenue and you would have to have the equipment. I say: let us go from our experience with smart meters in another context.
Perhaps I may move on to Amendment 74, which has just been spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. Can I express a reservation, since she asked for comments, on subsection (2) of that proposed new clause? It says:
“Any leaseholder who pays for a charge point to be installed as in subsection (1) retains ownership of the charge point”—
they retain ownership of it—
“and all the associated works that the leaseholder has paid for when the lease ends, but the landlord may acquire ownership of them by paying the leaseholder one sixtieth of their cost for each month that remains of the five years since they were installed”.
What happens if you are in a small block with a shared freehold, and someone puts in a meter? Are we saying that the balance of the freeholders have to pay to the person who installed a meter money to compensate them for the fact that they have left the lease at an earlier stage? That would be an unfair imposition on the balance of the leaseholders—if they have a share of the freehold, they are basically leaseholders. They might have 99-year leases but they are leaseholders. If I might say so, that provision is wrong. I think that if you have put in the equipment, you do so at your risk and if you leave, you lose.
I have a suspicion about what would happen. In the flat that I own near to the property of the noble Lord, Lord Young, we have a committee arrangement and I can imagine circumstances in which some members of that committee might say, “I’m sorry but we don’t want to pay to compensate you when you leave for equipment you’ve put in”. I do not know whether it might cost hundreds or thousands of pounds. All I am saying is: let us be a little careful about that provision. I do not want to rubbish the noble Baroness’s amendment because the rest of it is excellent but I would enter that minor concern.
My Lords, as this is my first contribution to the Bill, I should say that my knowledge of, and interest in, electric vehicles is more limited than most of the Committee here. However, I suspect that I might have been the first to drive an electric vehicle when I drove from this House back to the London Borough of Sutton, at least 20 or 25 years ago, and came last in a race with our two MPs. One was riding a bicycle and the other was travelling by public transport. The reason for that was nothing to do with electric vehicles; it was to do with traffic on a Friday, which affects electric vehicles as much as every other car. Nevertheless I caused great amusement by arriving some time after our two Members of Parliament.
I am here to speak, in particular, to Amendments 54 and 57. I agree with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Borwick, said about his amendment, and very much with the sentiments behind the amendment spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. My interest in this—and, indeed, the reason why I was driving the electric car—is that for the 13 years that London was without a strategic authority I was leader of a London borough council, and therefore actively involved in trying to run Greater London without a strategic authority. After 13 years I stepped down as leader—voluntarily, I might add—to stand for election to the Greater London Authority, then about to come into being, and spent eight years as a member of that authority.
I therefore have some experience not only of strategic government—I have always been a strong supporter of the need for strategic government in London—but of local government, and of London borough government in particular. Probably my most important qualification for speaking on these amendments is my 40 years as a town centre councillor in a London borough. Most of the residential properties in my ward were, in many cases, built before the motor car was invented, and for people who would never ever have dreamed of owning a motor car, but whose successors now own not only one, but in too many cases two, three or even four motor cars, all of which they have to park on streets that were not designed for it.
I wholly and strongly support the mayor’s strategy in this, but I am concerned about its implementation. Every London-wide strategy needs effective local implementation: that is the intention of all the amendments, and of all of us in this Chamber. It is certainly my intention. I was therefore concerned to hear about the proposal to give Transport for London permitted development rights. I do not doubt the good intentions behind that; it is understandable. But—I speak with a lot of experience here—trying to implement such things sometimes requires quite detailed local knowledge, which a strategic authority, or an operational authority such as Transport for London, simply cannot have in respect of every borough.
I was more concerned when I read that, surprisingly—very surprisingly, to me—London Councils, which represents all 32 London boroughs, had not been consulted about this proposal and these amendments. Not surprisingly, it is strongly opposed to them; I do not know, but that may be why it was not consulted.
Transport for London and the GLA have been actively trying to consult the boroughs on this issue over a six-month period. I emphasise the fact that we are talking about rapid chargers here, not slow and fast charging. That needs a strategic overview, because those are what enable people to travel long distances and recharge on their journeys, so they are more akin to motorway infrastructure than to charging at home, or at destinations where cars are parked for long periods. This requires a citywide strategy, which is why TfL is so interested in getting one for that particular class of charger.
I well understand the difference here, and the fact that we are talking about rapid charging. If I misspoke, I am sorry: I am referring to the amendment and the proposal to give TfL permitted development rights. I think that the noble Baroness is referring to the mayor’s draft transport strategy, which was indeed widely consulted on and widely welcomed, in work with the boroughs.
Be that as it may, the fact is that the 32 London boroughs and London Councils are strongly opposed to giving TFL permitted development rights. This is a very bad way to start on what we all want to achieve, which is the rapid implementation of rapid charging points. If it is to work effectively, it has to be a co-operative partnership between the GLA, TFL and the London boroughs.
I quote from what I believe is a public letter dated 29 March from the chair of London Councils’ transport and environment committee to the Mayor of London. He begins:
“London boroughs share your enthusiasm and urgency to tackle the poor air quality experienced by Londoners and therefore look to ensure that there is an efficient and effective network electric vehicle charging infrastructure to aid this”.
No, not they are not opposing rapid charging points at all. Quite the opposite—they are very enthusiastic supporters of them. This is my view, not one that has been expressed to me, but one reason that there has been so little installation is that most of the resources that come to boroughs for this comes through what is known as LIP funding which, if I remember rightly, stands for “local implementation strategy”. All the funding comes from the Mayor of London and there has been no provision in my borough and, I think, many others, for the installation of rapid charging points. But we are getting into more detail than I wanted to at this stage, because I know we are moving quickly, and I want us to move on.
I go back to the letter that I was quoting from London Councils. The chair goes on to say:
“We recognise that engagement between TFL and the boroughs on rapid chargers has not been as effective as it could be and are eager to address this issue collaboratively to enable better delivery”.
He goes on to speak about one measure taken, which was to establish,
“a cross party sub-committee solely focused on rapid charging infrastructure. Its task is to enhance the provision of rapid charging points in London across boroughs”,
and to work together with TfL, the GLA and other interested parties. He concludes:
“Collaboration between boroughs, TfL and the GLA is what will deliver an effective and efficient network of charging infrastructure in London”.
I wholly endorse that sentiment, and I hope that all of us on all sides who wish for success here will also endorse it.
I think we all have the same objective in mind, but does the noble Lord concede that 10 weeks to get permission for installation of charging, working with boroughs, is not exactly the swiftest of processes? The amendment that the GLA and TfL seek is merely to take a power to enable that collaboration to be given a bit of a supercharge, because different boroughs will have different speeds and different priorities and it seems sensible to be able to have a citywide strategy. It could help out boroughs which are insufficiently staffed to do this quickly. Ten weeks seems like a long time, no?
My Lords, we must recognise, first, that there is a resource problem for TfL, boroughs and everyone in the public sector. That is possibly the greatest inhibition to rapid implementation. I must say that, in my experience, giving permitted development rights to TfL, while it would be intended to speed things up, would in practice have exactly the opposite effect, because it simply cannot have—this is not a criticism but a statement—detailed local knowledge. I could cite the example of proposing to put a charging point in a parking bay reserved for hearses for the local church—but we can get into too much detail here.
My key point is that the way in which to make rapid progress with rapid charging and all the rest of the infrastructure is not to set up something strongly opposed by the London boroughs, which is going to lead inevitably, sadly, to more conflict and disagreement, more objections and less public support—because that is where the objections will come from. That is not the way to go: the way to go is to give a kick-start, or whatever word the noble Baroness used, and say that we want to see greater active co-operation between TfL and the London boroughs. What we would like to see in particular is not an agreement to pursue permitted development rights for TfL but a requirement—or not a requirement, because we cannot require, but a request—that TfL and the London boroughs and councils, if possible, come back to us for Report, which I know is only a few weeks away, with an agreed amendment, if that is necessary, to achieve the objective that we all share. I think that that is a much more positive approach, and one that is far more likely to succeed in achieving the objective, which I think that I share with the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, and everyone else, than the one now, which is being opposed by the people who will actually have to do most of the implementation.
My Lords, as a generality I support the thrust of these amendments, but I worry about whether this is the right place for them. Clearly, there is a case for some overall strategic planning, and there is a need for it to happen everywhere. There is also a possibility that that may require some powers to be provided for TfL. But we are trespassing into dangerous waters, because we are getting into sovereignty—and there is no more delicate area in a sovereignty debate than between an area or regional authority and constituent members. I worry whether this Bill is the place to make such a profound move.
I am genuinely open-minded about whether we should press in this direction, but I join the noble Lord, Lord Tope, in urging the department to do all that it can between now and Report to get a negotiated settlement between the boroughs and TfL that, if necessary, we can put into the Bill.
My Lords, this is a wide-ranging group of amendments and I shall aim to address all the points raised, so I am afraid that I shall have quite a bit to say.
On permitted development rights and expansion, as the noble Baroness noted, it is already allowed through town and country planning, which allows permitted development rights for one electric vehicle charging point per parking space, public or private. The noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, mentioned specific restrictions on that, which were introduced into the permitted development right to protect the environmental amenity of an area—hence the planning permission is needed. However, there is no height limit for charge points installed by or on behalf of local authorities, which are able to consider the impact of a charge point at a particular location, as well as on the safety of road users and pedestrians, and any other local considerations. That is what we want to bear in mind.
In general, the intention of these amendments is an important consideration. Given the change in technologies, it is important that the Government ensure the existing flexibilities and terms of permitted development rights and that they remain fit for purpose—and certainly deregulate where we should. So I shall take the issue away and consider it further with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government before Report.
On permitted development rights in London and TfL, my noble friend Lord Borwick raised the proposal to give TfL or the Mayor of London permitted development rights to install rapid charge points. Again, we agree with the intention behind aspects of this amendment; the installation of charging provision in London is crucial to help to ensure that air quality and climate change targets are met and, despite some excellent progress by local boroughs, many more charge points will be needed. While we recognise TfL’s frustration at not being able to make quick improvements to a road network that it may be responsible for, it is right and proper that it works collaboratively with local boroughs to consider the local democratic process.
My Lords, I think we all agree that insufficient progress has been seen; we absolutely need to take action on that, but we need to consider the local democratic process. The noble Lord, Lord Tope, spelled out very clearly the opinion of London Councils on this, and we want to see TfL and London Councils working in partnership to deliver what we need, ideally without the need for legislative intervention. We are working with TfL, MHCLG and GLA colleagues on this collaborative approach. A new governance framework has been set up, and there is a cross-party subgroup tasked with addressing these specific issues. The mayor is also creating a new electric vehicle infrastructure task force for London, in which the Government have been invited to participate as a member.
These non-legislative solutions have recently been introduced and are designed to ensure that this collaboration happens. I appreciate, however, that my noble friend’s amendment has a time clause in it, which is an interesting consideration. As the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, says, these are slightly dangerous waters, but we will certainly go away ahead of Report to see if there is more we can do to reach an agreement, or to broker a deal, between the local councils and TfL on this important issue. As I say, I think we have good bodies in place now to work on this, but it will require them to work together. We will come back to this after we have taken it further with them. I thank my noble friend for his invitation; it sounds a lovely idea. Perhaps we could do that after we get this Bill through to celebrate.
My noble friend and others raised the issue of rapid chargers on the Parliamentary Estate. As I mentioned at Second Reading, the authorities are currently carrying out a project to fit the underground car park in the Commons with 80 charge points, although, at the moment, they are not planned for our own Lords car park. Though I can reassure noble Lords that I am pushing on this issue and—hot off the press—I hear that the House authorities are still making a decision on whether to take forward the charge points. They are working with the planning and design authority that is installing the charge points in the House of Commons. I hope to come back with some positive progress, along with a timetable, on Report. If we do not see that positive progress, I will be meeting with the Parliamentary Estate authorities to understand why.
On the removal of charge points, the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, raised an interesting proposal. On local highways, the authorities obviously have the ability to require the installation of charge points or prohibit their removal. For other public locations, it is an interesting point. I understand the issue she raises: after installation, we do not want to see them rapidly uninstalled. This consideration is best left to the market and the host sites that have installed the infrastructure. In the same way that a supermarket, for example, should not need planning permission to install a charge point, it might be tricky if it then needs planning permission to take it out again. I also have some concerns that it could have an unintended consequence for businesses or host sites, which may be put off installing infrastructure if they would be unable to remove it in the future. But I understand the point that the noble Baroness makes, especially when grants are involved, so I will take that away and consider it further.
I turn to wayleaves and charging infrastructure rights. Wayleaves are sometimes required for rapid charge point installations that require a new connection to the grid or a grid upgrade, where cables need to be laid across third-party land. Currently, the wayleave agreement is voluntary for the third party who owns the land and there is no obligation to accept the wayleave. In cases where an agreement for a wayleave cannot be reached, the Electricity Act 1989 provides the installer with statutory powers on which it can call if no alternative solution, such as changing the cable route, can be found, so a statutory application can be lodged to the BEIS Secretary of State to award the installer a necessary wayleave. These amendments raise an interesting point, which we have not consulted on yet. We have concerns that the amendments as drafted do not allow for the private rights of the owner of any third-party land to be taken into account, or to allow for any potential environmental effects to be considered. Because this involves private land access rights, we think that we need to seek more evidence and consult a wide range of stakeholders. However, I will take the issue away and discuss it further with ministerial colleagues in advance of Report.
On housing issues and the future-proofing of new homes and developments, the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Worthington, are right to highlight the importance of ensuring that new developments include provision for the necessary charging infrastructure. I am pleased that the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework that has recently been consulted on considers the same policy. When developing local plans, it sets out that local authorities must fully consider the inclusion of charge point infrastructure in new developments. The proposed NPPF envisages that applications for developments should be designed to enable charging of plug-in and other ultra low emission vehicles in safe, accessible and convenient locations. It also sets out that, when setting local parking standards for residential and non-residential development, policies should take into account the need to ensure an adequate provision of spaces for charging plug-in and other ultra low emission vehicles. We think that the NPPF is the right place for such changes to be introduced, so that local considerations can be taken into account by local authorities, and therefore we do not think that we should include such provision in the Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, raised an interesting point about smart meters, which I shall take back and consider.
The noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, suggested the introduction of regulation to ensure that leaseholders are not denied the ability to install charging infrastructure. Of course, where agreement can be reached between leaseholders and the landlord, the charger will be installed, but there may well be scenarios where one or the other will not agree for whatever reason—as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, highlighted—such as on who owns the charger, who is responsible for its maintenance and the cost of the electricity where a communal supply is involved. The amendment raises an interesting point, but we need to ensure that, while leaseholders are not denied the ability to install a charge point, we consider those other issues fully, such as the rights of freeholders and landlords.
In the spirt of this Bill being entirely about enabling powers, would it not be sensible for the Government to consider taking an enabling power that can then be used if necessary, given that we are really at the start of rollout, which must rapidly increase if we are to hit our targets? It seems highly likely that we already have evidence of leaseholder-lessee disagreements holding us back—I could go out and gather it all for you. We are simply talking about taking a power to enable the Government to regulate. Otherwise, we will be back here in a year’s time having to go back over this ground again. Surely this is an opportunity to use the Bill to try to future-proof the situation.
The noble Baroness makes a fair point. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is doing a review of the relationship between leaseholders and freeholders, so I shall ask whether that might be an appropriate place to consider this issue. I have heard what the noble Baroness said, and I will take that back.
I certainly will. I will need to go back and discuss whether we can include this suggestion. I am not sure that we will go as far as the noble Baroness would like us to on that, but I will certainly get a conclusion on that and come back to noble Lords.
Finally, on the amendment that would ensure the provision of ducting and precabling infrastructure for new residential and non-residential buildings, in the industrial strategy, published last November, we committed to update building regulations to mandate that all new residential developments must contain the enabling cabling for charge points in homes. That will be an important step in future-proofing new homes and avoiding more costly retrofitting. For non-residential buildings, the NPPF will ensure that local authorities consider the need for adequate charging provision in developing their local plans. Before Report we will consider whether that is sufficient or whether we can go further.
Given these reassurances, I hope that the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw her amendment.
Before the noble Baroness responds, I want to check that I am clear about that last point about the NPPF. With residential buildings, the expectation is that there might be a shift. However, why would there be a difference as regards leaving it with local authorities for non-residential buildings?
It is purely because in the NPPF we have already committed to the residential side of things and have made that clear in the industrial strategy, while we have not yet gone so far on the non-residential side of things, which I will go back and have a look at. As I said, the consultation on the NPPF recently closed, so we are doing this work at the same time as MHCLG is considering its response to that consultation. I believe it is due to publish that in the summer, but obviously we will have Report before that, so I will take that back.
I thank the Minister for her response. Once again, it is a very detailed issue, and I will read the record carefully.
I will respond on one point. The Minister said that it was not reasonable to complain if a parking space with a recharging point were taken out when it had never had to be put in in the first place—whoever did so did it willingly. That is what I understood her to say. My vision of how this would work is rather akin to the issue of parking spaces. There are planning permissions in certain areas where maybe for a certain size of house you need one parking space. If you choose to put in five, that is up to you; it is not illegal—you can do it. If you then want to take out those extra four spaces, no one can complain, but if you want to take out the fifth, they can. It is an issue of dealing with your minimums and ensuring, once again, that this is always at the top of consideration.
To be honest, I was not frightfully impressed by the concept that local authorities “need to consider” something; they need to address it, not just consider it. I listened with interest to the discussion about the mayor’s plans versus the local authorities in London. There needs to be a solution here which is not heavy-handed in taking away local initiative but which ensures that those local initiatives are empowered and encouraged and run rather more smoothly than they have done up to now. I understand the point that there has not been enough action up to now. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 53 withdrawn.
Amendment 54 not moved.
Clause 9 agreed.
55: After Clause 9, insert the following new Clause—
“Report on the installation and use of public charging or refuelling points and the effectiveness of current incentive schemes
(1) The Secretary of State must commission a review of the current schemes available to local authorities, individuals and any other relevant parties to encourage the installation and use of public charging or refuelling points.(2) The review must determine whether further steps are necessary to encourage the installation and use of public charging or refuelling points, and if so what those steps could be.(3) The Secretary of State must lay the report of the review under subsection (1) before each House of Parliament within six months of this Act coming into force.”
My Lords, the amendments in this group relate to attempts to get a more strategic approach. Amendment 55, for instance, proposes the well-tried and tested concept of a report. It is a frequently used device but, in this case, it is a serious attempt to get the Government to take a strategic view on this issue by looking at the effectiveness of current schemes—looking at how, for example, the various grant schemes are working together, and perhaps analysing the situation which was revealed in London and which probably exists elsewhere, where there are two levels of authority, and quite possibly confusion and certainly a lack of action between the two. That is the sort of thing that is addressed when you look at the hard figures in a report.
All sorts of well-intentioned measures are introduced but they are not effective. Earlier today, the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, referred to a graph which shows that the concern about diesel cars has led to a sharp drop in their number but not to a sharp increase in the sales of electric vehicles. Petrol vehicles are going up in number and that will pose a major problem for the Government in a year or two, when CO2 emissions go up again and undermine any efforts that the Government might eventually make to tackle that problem. That is when you need to produce a report and look at the issue as a whole to see what is working and what is not.
Amendment 70 cites specific schemes that might be used to encourage the development of charging points. The original Bill has a fairly random selection of good ideas, as I am sure the Minister would agree, and I am just adding a few more. I cite the use of lamp posts in the amendment for two reasons. First, such a scheme has worked well in Canada, so we are not talking about something that is untried. Secondly, a key strategic point in encouraging the sale of electric vehicles is that many people do not have a drive where they can recharge them. If wide ownership is to be encouraged, there has to be a way in which people can charge their cars on the street—not half a mile away; they want to be able to do it near their house. That is why I have suggested the use of lamp posts.
Amendment 99 involves the Government reporting to Parliament on the impact on air quality. Once again, this is strategic. Why are we doing all this? We are doing it because of major concerns about air quality—about emissions of CO2 and nitrogen oxide. Therefore, the Government need to look at this from the perspective of improved health and whether, for example, the rollout of charging points is happening in the right places. Is it happening in areas where we have a really serious air quality problem or is it happening in leafy areas which do not have a particular problem? If it is not happening in—I was going to say “the right areas”, but all areas are the right areas—areas with the most acute problem, the Government need to look again at what they are planning. I beg to move.
I shall speak to the amendments in this group which stand in my name. I fully support the points that the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, has made. We have had to crowbar in amendments to enable us to discuss the more strategic need for the Bill. We have probably all sat down with a clerk and argued quite forcefully that the Bill is too narrow and that we need to expand it, but we have singularly failed. Despite its Short Title, it is a very narrow Bill. It seems that electric vehicles are not the purpose—it is all about charging infrastructure—and as we discussed at the start of the debate, zero-emissions vehicles are certainly not what it is about.
My Amendment 98 requires a reporting clause that tries to draw out the reasons behind the Bill, which must relate back to an increase in the use of zero-emissions vehicles. It cannot be a goal in itself to have a lot of charge points dotted around the country—that would be completely ridiculous. We must learn how we have done transition in other sectors. We should take a leaf out of the power sector book, where the Government took the reverse approach to this. We had lots of incentives for new generators of different types of power, but what lagged was the infrastructure of the grid. Here, we have the exact opposite: we are pushing out the infrastructure but have no incentives for the actual vehicles that would make use of it. We felt that the very least we needed to do was have a debate on that other aspect of this. We have to see these things moving in tandem. You need infrastructure and you need cars: infrastructure without cars equals a lot of fine kit but loss-leading, not profit-making enterprises, and companies would come in and there would be a boom and then a bust. That is not what we want or need in this sector. Therefore, a report is needed to require the Government to look back at what they have achieved and at what is happening as a result of this Bill. I suspect we could probably predict the answers, but we would like to require a report on the effectiveness of the Act and its regulations.
The report should include the number of electric vehicles on the road and that have been sold. Essentially, that is an integral part of why you want a charging infrastructure in the first place. There is a great need to ensure that we have the right ratio of charge points to drivers, so the Government’s reporting back on that seems perfectly reasonable.
In proposed new subsection (2)(b), we have asked for a report on the effectiveness of the Act in ensuring that 90% of electric vehicle drivers are within 50 miles of a rapid charger. This comes back to the point that rapid charging needs to be looked at as a strategic infrastructure question. I know that National Grid has published a plan—I suspect we will have to debate how it is paid for—to show that by using the transmission network, which nicely marries up to the motorway network, you can get to the target with strategic investment in transmission-connected chargers. That would be a class of chargers well beyond rapid chargers—super-rapid charging—and would put us at the forefront of this technology, not simply limping along following in China’s wake. A much wider approach must be taken by the Government.
You just have to look at other countries to see examples. We have mentioned China a lot but we should also look to California. It has introduced a successive series of policies to support the shift to zero-emissions vehicles. In October 2017, 340,000 zero-emissions vehicles were sold with a 4.5% market share, compared to the 0.5% market share in the UK at the moment. When California started its policy of a zero-emissions mandate, only one model was on sale; now, there are 25 models, offered by 14 manufacturers. These vehicles are actively available and on the market, not simply seen once in a showroom and then never sold. There are examples out there of how countries and regions have delivered this transition, kicked the car manufacturing sector into action and ensured that the latent demand and support from citizens for this type of vehicle is met by available and affordable vehicles.
So much more needs to be done and there is so little in this Bill. We feel that there should at least be some reporting requirements included that can flag the paucity of the Bill in its attempts to reach the goals that it says it has. I hope that something along these lines will be included.
My Lords, our Amendment 104 is in this group. This group is about reporting, and different ways been suggested. I hope that when she responds after my speech the Minister will offer to bring them together in the best possible mix and agree to a reporting procedure.
The proposed new clause would require the Government to lay a report before Parliament each year to consider how the regulations are working, and, specifically, the impact they are having on charge point operators, fuel retailers, the National Grid and the overall uptake of electric vehicles. The Government are intending the Bill to enable and encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, and they are right to do so. It would therefore make sense for them to review regularly whether it is actually happening and whether things need to be changed down the line. Involving Parliament in this issue would not only be beneficial for the Government but would enable them to regularly reassess their work. I am sure that the Minister would be saying that to us if our seating arrangements were reversed. We must keep the matter constantly under review and be prepared to revisit it if the circumstances require.
My Lords, I very much agree that it is important that the Government take a strategic approach to encouraging and supporting the uptake of electric vehicles and the infrastructure that they rely on, that we monitor our progress against our air quality and carbon targets and that we review the effectiveness of any regulations brought forward under this Bill. I know that there is frustration about the narrow scope of the Bill, but I am afraid that it is just about electric vehicle infrastructure. It is not the extent of the Government’s work in this area.
In 2013, the Government published a strategy entitled Driving the Future Today, which set out the path towards achieving our zero-emission vehicle aims. Of course, much has changed since then—10 times as many ultra-low emission vehicles were registered in the UK last year as in 2013. While the aims of that strategy remain relevant, we are rightly considering how our approach needs to change in light of developments in the automotive sector and beyond.
As noble Lords are already aware, the Government will shortly publish a new strategy for promoting the uptake, manufacture and use of zero-emission vehicles, which will set out the Government’s vision and support for the provision of charging infrastructure for both battery electric and hydrogen cell electric vehicles to help facilitate this transition.
The strategy will go wider than just zero-emission vehicles. We recognise that it is also important to drive down emissions from the conventional vehicles that currently dominate our roads if we are to meet our ambitious climate change and air quality commitments. That includes considering air quality and carbon impacts in parallel and setting out the Government’s view on the role of different fuels in the coming decades.
With regard to Amendment 55, moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, to review the effectiveness and uptake of the Government’s incentive schemes, the department already keeps under review its existing schemes supporting the rollout of infrastructure and will take the necessary steps to encourage the installation of charge points where they are needed. Further steps will be identified on that in the forthcoming strategy.
I thank the noble Baroness for her suggestions in Amendment 70. We are also looking at the potential of lamp posts. She is quite right to say that not all of us have driveways or garages and so we need to make sure that we get on-street parking right, too. We have an on-street residential charging scheme and we are funding several local authorities to help them to install lamp-post charge points—450 this year. That is something that we are looking to develop.
On the important point of reporting against our air quality and carbon targets, which noble Lords have addressed in Amendments 98 and 99, there are already legal obligations to report and make public data on ambient air quality and emissions of a range of damaging air quality pollutants. In some cases, these obligations implement international level commitments. Of course, the national air quality plan and the clean growth strategy also set out how the Government plan to meet the UK’s air quality and climate change obligations. In addition, we are also already required to report to Parliament on progress against our obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008, of which of course the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, was a lead author. Our ambitions to achieve a greater uptake of zero-emission vehicles is central to delivering the transport sector’s contribution to those obligations and will therefore form part of the reporting requirement.
As I have explained, the introduction of regulations will depend on the precise circumstances at the relevant time, so we are concerned that we may not be in a position to report on the impact of these regulations within the 12-month reporting period set out. The policy scoping notes set out the approximate timings for when we expect the regulations to be brought forward. I will probably follow that up in writing rather than go through the different clauses in detail now because the question of when we envisage the regulations coming in has been raised a number of times in today’s debate.
Our wider strategy for electric vehicles as well as the infrastructure to which the Bill specifically relates will be published shortly. I have mentioned the existing requirements to report against our air quality and carbon targets. We want to ensure that a requirement for reporting on this quickly moving area of technology is not disproportionate and unnecessary, but following the debate today, I will reflect on the points made ahead of Report and consider an amendment on this point. Given that assurance, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
Amendment 55 withdrawn.
Amendments 56 and 57 not moved.
Clause 10: Large fuel retailers etc: provision of public charging points
Amendment 58 not moved.
59: Clause 10, page 6, line 26, at end insert—
“( ) any provider of off-road parking that is available to the public, whether freely or on payment or in connection with the supply of goods or services,”
In the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, I shall speak to Amendment 59 and the associated amendments in this group. Here we turn to Clause 10 concerning large fuel retailers and the desire of the Government to take powers that may require them to install certain forms of charging infrastructure. We have debated whether they may be electric or hydrogen, and I do not think I feel 100% confident that this clause is sufficiently clear for retailers to know what we mean by charging, and we will need to come back to that issue before Report.
The amendments seek to take the principle of taking an enabling power to require charging and fuelling facilities to be installed and broadens it to include other destination facilities. As we have discussed, for 16% of the time cars are parked in destinations where they could be charging. Those destinations include supermarkets, public car parks, airports, train stations and so on. When we met the Minister and her officials, there was a sense that there is a clear market failure in the category of large fuel retailers which they feel they need to address. If that is the case, it should not be just an enabling power but a power, but perhaps there was a feeling that there is not sufficient evidence of similar market failure in these other areas. However, there may be in the future. If we are proceeding on the basis of enabling powers and not taking powers, I see no reason why we should not include in the Bill a wider power that would allow us to broaden this.
We have to think seriously about the scale on which we are trying to effect change here. This is not about a couple of charging points dotted around the country; this would be a wholesale shift and we want to be at the forefront of it. I feel that wider powers ought to be taken in this area. It is quite unusual for the Lords to say that, but we should look at this again before Report.
I am perfectly happy to concede that should we broaden the powers in Clause 10 and apply the powers set out in Amendment 75 to designated premises for metropolitan mayors, that might be too broad. This is definitely not perfect drafting and perhaps Amendment 75 should not have been included in this group, but it makes quite an important point.
I want to spend a moment reflecting on the role of cities. Chinese cities are driving the revolution in transport and forcing European car manufacturers to change their investment strategies. But people in Europe will not change their strategies unless we ask them to. OEMs treat the world as three separate markets: the US, Europe and Asia. In Asia, they will sell the cleanest cars because they are required to, by policy. Who knows what they will do in the US, because they are currently lobbying to get rid of all the car sellers. In Europe, they may well stay with their strategy, which is to sell everyone diesel and use cheating devices. Let us be honest, they have more or less got away with murder in taking a standard that was passed to try to clean up tailpipe emissions and cheating. Yet here we are, politely asking them if they would mind moving to a zero-emission vehicle manufacturing model. Some of them will try to move but they will certainly follow policy, which is in place in Asia—where they are responding to it—but not in Europe. As we think about our life beyond Europe, it is essential that we put some clarity into this market so that people in Britain can invest and be confident that there is a market here to sell to.
Cities are integral to this. Enabling cities and metro mayors to play a bigger part in this would help to match what China is currently doing so successfully. I want to give the example of Shenzhen, which has just passed new regulations stating that, by 1 May, all new light-duty trucks will be electric vehicles, by 1 July, only EVs will be allowed to be registered as ride-hailing vehicles and, by 31 December, all remaining taxis will be EVs. That is the luxury of a slightly non-democratically planned economy, so I am not suggesting that we go there, but as we take back sovereignty, we ought to put it to good use. This is an attempt to look at the role that metro mayors can play. Urban areas are specifically well suited to this. They suffer the most from air pollution and they have the densest urban geography, which enables electric vehicles to work very well for residents.
Amendment 75 is intended to ensure that metro mayors are given the power they need to enable this transition. I know that this has been led by TfL and the Mayor of London, but other metro mayors fully support these powers, as they all face similar challenges. With that, I beg to move.
My Lords, I want to take us back to Clause 10(2)(a), which states:
“Regulations under subsection (1) may, for example—(a) require large fuel retailers or service area operators to provide public charging points”.
In the real world, can we imagine a motorway service station that would follow this? A stream of cars would come in and get to the forecourt—where there is an existing garage with petrol pumps—and, somewhere in that area, we have to facilitate perhaps hundreds of cars charging at the same time. Some of them might be on rapid charging units for as much as 20 minutes, which is why I say that there will be a lot of vehicles there. There may well not be enough space, so we would be looking at adjacent land. We know that the public interest is served when that adjacent land is made available.
How will we acquire that land? If we want a reservoir, an airport or a railway track, we have compulsory purchase powers; however, some people might argue that using them to aid the financial arrangements of a private operator running a service station is unreasonable. So what will we do to ensure that the additional land, adjacent to these facilities on motorways, is made available for the substantial number of rapid charging units required? I see no requirement to do that in the legislation. We know that it must be introduced by regulations. Departmental officials should be thinking through the consequences of this, to see to what extent the state can intervene to ensure that adjacent land is available. I have referred to service stations, but this could happen for land adjacent to other facilities, such as railway stations—although that is probably different because such land is probably used otherwise for housing development.
It would carry a far higher price than agricultural land surrounding a service station on a motorway, which might be worth only £10,000 of £15,000 an acre. Might Ministers consider asking officials to consider the implications of that provision in this legislation?
My Lords, in response to that, I hope that people who run petrol stations and service stations will have redundant space where the diesel pumps were. We all know that if you own a petrol station and you close it down, that land has to lie vacant for many years because of pollution concerns. Therefore, it is of great interest to those who currently run service stations to make them continually financially viable. That means they will have to adapt. That is my logic on that.
Service stations also have car parks. That is where the charging points are at the moment. There is a possibility there.
That leads very neatly to Amendment 72 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, which I have signed. It seeks to specify once again some general ideas on the sort of facilities that would usefully be used to accommodate charging points. It is important to bear in mind that there is an acknowledgement in proposed new subsection (2)(b) of local authorities’ important co-ordinating role. They have a key part in the chain of strategic provision here.
Proposed new subsection (3) lists a selection of places where we might find charge points. Just to illustrate how subtle this art is, proposed new paragraphs (a) and (b)—“supermarket car parks” and “public car parks”—would be suitable for the provision of only rapid charge points, because no one wants to spend three and a half hours in a supermarket while your car charges, whereas airport or train station car parks could usefully use fast chargers. The Government have to look at this strategically and in detail to make sense of the provision. It needs to be worked out in co-ordination with the industry to make sure the proposals are practical. I am particularly keen on the concept of using supermarket car parks; I have seen this frequently in France. I do not often shop at Waitrose but I do on one particular journey because it has a charger. It is a very useful opportunity.
I will briefly respond to what the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, said and put a different point of view on Amendment 75. I am not opposed to the idea of giving additional powers. What concerns me is that the vast majority of people in Britain do not live in mayoral authorities. I come from Wales, where there are no elected mayors as a matter of policy. Therefore, it strikes me that there is a danger of creating second-class citizens in cities, towns and rural areas that do not have elected mayors. They will limp along behind with less provision for people who want to buy electric cars. We should have solutions that benefit everyone and not just people who live in one sort of authority.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, spoke about space at major fuel retailers. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, is right that they often have hundreds of car parking spaces, and that is where we envisage that the charging will happen. The department has no plans to look at purchasing land around such locations. We think that the regulations would need to exclude locations where it is not possible or sensible to provide electric vehicle infrastructure, as we have set out in the policy scoping notes. Of course, space is an important consideration, which is partly why we have identified major fuel retailers as the right place to start.
I am sorry to go back to car parks, but when I travel on motorways I often find the car parks are full. They cannot be used for both parking and for people to put their vehicles on them to charge. In certain conditions, there may simply be insufficient spaces on the motorways because the car parks are heavily used.
This is where the speed of the charger is important. I routinely use a rapid charger at motorway stations, because it is a 25-minute thing where you go and get a cup of coffee, come back out and move on. There can be a rapid turnover in those slots, and it fits very well with the service station model used on motorways.
My Lords, I think that space will be limited at some of these destinations, but they have been identified as the ideal place to start putting in this infrastructure, which is what we are doing. This is the start of the process. We will look at how effective it is, how many charge points are put in and whether they are rapid charge points.
On whether it may be appropriate to require the installation of charging facilities in future at other locations such as supermarkets, railway stations and private and public parking facilities, the vast majority of electric vehicle drivers choose to charge their cars at home at night, but we need appropriate and adequate provision of public charging if we are to see as many electric vehicles as we want in the coming years. However, we do not believe that regulating for provision will always be the right approach. It is a powerful tool, but other levers can be used. We have many grant schemes and policy measures to support the installation of charge points at a range of locations, including many of those listed in the amendment. For example, we have already committed to providing greater emphasis on electric charging at rail stations in our franchising process. Through a train station scheme, Plugged-in Places and the public sector estate scheme, more than 7,000 charge points have been funded in a wide range of locations. Planning policy—in particular, the NPPF— is proving to be an important tool in leveraging infrastructure, future-proofing new developments and ensuring that local authorities consider charge points in their plans.
Proposed changes to the NPPF would require that when local parking standards are set policies should always consider the need for adequate provision for charging EVs. The London Plan is a good example of where there has been a big impact and where the NPPF has encouraged local authorities to take an ambitious approach. In the London Plan, the GLA mandates that developments in all parts of London ensure that for every five spaces one must have an active charge point and one must have enabling cabling for future use to encourage the uptake of EVs.
We have also introduced enhanced capital allowances, a tax relief for companies to support the development and installation of recharging equipment. The first-year allowance of 100% allows businesses to deduct charge point investments from their pre-tax profits.
Specifically on Amendment 73, we have also already announced that we will update building regulations to require enabling cabling in all new residential housing developments, as we discussed earlier. In addition, we offer grant funding for private facilities, through our workplace charging scheme, to support installation; it is working particularly well for electric fleets. As a result of these measures, and because of the opportunities in this new market, we are seeing the private sector taking the lead and chargers are going in at destinations including car parks and supermarkets. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, gave the excellent example of going to Waitrose because it has a charge point. We are seeing growing numbers of EV drivers using such shops in order to use the charge point.
So we are making good progress on electric vehicle charging points; we have seen 500 charge point connectors installed in the country in just the last 30 days. A lot of companies and destinations throughout the country have ambitious plans to install charging infrastructure. Chargemaster is investing heavily in providing EV charge points at key strategic locations, such as hotels, sports clubs and shopping centres and is planning an additional 2,000 units. Asda has charging facilities at more than 100 of its stores. Even the National Trust is installing charge points at places such as Hadrian’s Wall and the Giant’s Causeway. Health clubs and all sorts of other places are doing it too. So we think that the market is working here. My ministerial colleagues meet regularly with the charge point industry—although not at last night’s dinner—and they are confident that we are making progress in that space.
One of the main reasons for the decisions of major fuel retailers is range anxiety, as we have discussed previously. Of course, we need sufficient charging infrastructure on our motorways and major roads so that people will travel longer distances. When we consulted on the Bill, we determined that it was most appropriate to mandate provision at those sites that are crucial in reducing range anxiety. We believe that the Government should regulate only where there is a specific need and not where we are confident that market forces will deliver the necessary infrastructure to meet the needs of EV drivers. Again, I heard what the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, said on that.
Amendment 75 is an interesting amendment to enable metro mayors to designate premises under Clause 10, which would allow them to use powers in their local area at a timetable of their choosing. In our conversations with metro mayors it was a priority ask of theirs. As the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, said, cities and regions play a hugely important role in local environmental strategies and dealing with the air quality challenges they face. Of course, charging infrastructure will need to be part of these strategies. There are some considerations around such an amendment and we need to give it due care and attention. We want to ensure that any regulations or requirements that are introduced receive the proper scrutiny of Parliament. We will be defining large fuel retailers and setting out appropriate circumstances for charge point installation in future regulations. Of course, those regulations will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny; we want to ensure that any powers afforded to mayors or combined authorities in this area can only be exercised within those clear definitions and a defined remit.
Given that these powers are not UK-wide but region-specific there is a possibility that imposing this requirement could encourage the relocation of petrol stations outside of the mayoral area should the requirement be disproportionate. As the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, said, we also need to make sure that it will not mean that areas that do not have metro mayors lose out. As noble Lords will be aware, metro mayors have different devolution deals—that is also something we will need to consider further. We will also need to consider others in the area with transport responsibilities, such as boroughs and local highways authorities, but we think there is merit in considering aspects of this approach. We would not want it to be wider in scope than the locations as currently defined in Clause 10— I was pleased to hear the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, mention that. Local authorities have voiced concern about powers being widened to include locations managed by them, but I commit to taking this issue away and considering it before Report. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw her amendment.
I thank the Minister for her response. Obviously, as discussed, there are some sequencing issues about when and how you expand scope and for whom. In response to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, about different cities having different tiers, we felt this was appropriate for the mayoral cities because with democratic election comes accountability. You would naturally expect there to be powers that come with that. To the extent that we have already accepted that we are allowing cities to change status by having elected mayors, we are tacitly saying that we are okay with that level of devolution and I do not really see that this is any different. It is about accountability: you have the ability to elect that mayor and they should have powers as a result.
I listened to the Minister’s response and will read it again carefully. There is quite a high reliance here on planning and changes to the NPPF to get us where we want to get to. We will probably come to this in the final group of amendments. My overriding concern is that if you were to look at the market today and see the numbers of electric vehicles being sold, why would you do anything? Why would you require that anything be done? The levels are so low. When it comes to hydrogen, they are almost non-existent. This is going to need some kind of kick-start. The latent demand is there among consumers, I am convinced of that. We have the skills and the money wanting to invest in the infrastructure. I fear that we will just not have the cars.
We will have to come back to that. I hope that in the Road to Zero strategy the Government think hard about how we marry all these infrastructure questions with the market restructuring that is already needed. On the basis that the Minister has agreed to take away some aspects of this, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 59 withdrawn.
Amendments 60 to 62 not moved.
63: Clause 10, page 6, line 34, at end insert—
“( ) require charging points to be of a particular specification, or mix of specifications, so that the needs of all users are catered for.”
In the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, I will speak to Amendment 63 and the other amendments in this group, which all relate to the specification of public charging points.
We need to set standards and provide some clarity for the sector in thinking about how charging points are going to be standardised; otherwise, I fear we will have the same situation we had with phone chargers, where we all had about 16 different chargers in our drawer and none of them seemed to be the right one at the right time. There is already a degree of complexity in the market which is unhelpful, in that there are two types of rapid charger plugs and every charge point has to accommodate those. The amendments aim to elicit from the Government statements on when and how we will see these regulations that set standards come forward.
There is a question about the power ratings. Amendment 64 requires minimum power ratings at public charge points. There are a lot of different descriptors of chargers. There is the slow charger, which is around 2 kilowatts to 5 kilowatts and takes around 12 hours to charge a car. These are usually used at home to plug into overnight. I am told that a fast charger is 7 kilowatts to 22 kilowatts and takes over three hours, and is suitable for some destinations but it would have to be a train station, airport or workplace car park, where your car is expected to be for a period of time. There is the rapid charger, from 50 kilowatts to 120 kilowatts, which is where you get your 25-minute charge. Then there is this other class of superfast charger up to 350 kilowatts, which can charge quite a powerful, long-range vehicle in a very short time—just tens of minutes.
This is an area where—the Government are right—the technology is moving quickly. But we believe that the more the Government can do to provide some standardisation, clarity and regulations that can really help shape the industry’s investment so that we do not get a huge, confusing mass of plugs and chargers of different scales and sizes, the better. Range anxiety normally occurs when you are travelling from your home or place of work a relatively long distance and you have to dock into the rapid or super-rapid charge networks. It is really important that in those instances we set some minimum standards of what we are expecting in the use of those charge points.
There is an opportunity cost. Whenever a charger is plugged in, it occupies a parking space. As we have discussed, the spaces are limited. So we have to get this right and ensure that we have a network that is fit for purpose and is going to endure. I hope that these probing amendments elicit some statements from the Government about the standardisation efforts they are going to undertake. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. I will bring in another issue, which we have hardly referred to. We have talked a lot about fast and rapid charging, and so on, but until now we have not talked about the key issue of interoperability. I take this opportunity, using the excuse of this group of amendments, to make the point to the Minister that the reason why the Committee has not mentioned it is that the Government did, and we agree with them. It may feel as if we have ignored it but it is a really key issue.
At the beginning of today’s debate, I talked about the frustration of getting to a charging point that was not working, as did other noble Lords. However, the same frustration is felt when you get there and it does not fit your make of car. This has also been a major own-goal by the motor industry. I hope that the industry will read the proceedings of this place in Hansard because it is undermining its own efforts with electric vehicles by hanging on to different and distinct forms of charging. There really needs to be a cross-industry meeting to reach an agreement on where it is going. We will otherwise end up with something rather like the VHS versus Betamax situation, which wasted an awful lot of consumers’ and manufacturers’ money. It always amazes me when manufacturers do not realise this pretty early on. It has taken Apple an awfully long time to realise that it just irritates us if every phone or computer we buy needs a different form of charging lead.
I hope that the Government will keep interoperability at the top of their requirements in these regulations. I simply want to underline the key message in these amendments, which is that we have to have sufficiently speedy and robust charging points for them to be useful in many circumstances.
My Lords, I think I heard everything that the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, said when she set out the various levels of equipment and the capacity of each level to charge. I am sure she will know the answer to this but I do not, and I am sure that the public outside who might follow our debate do not know the answer. When commercial operators apply to fit this equipment, who is to determine the capacity of the equipment that they are going to fit? If it is left to the market, those in the market might say, “I’m not going to pay £40,000 for a rapid charger. I’m going to put in a slower charger that might take three hours. I can still make as much profit as I want out of that facility”. However, that might not serve the public interest. It might be that the public interest is served only when a rapid charger, or a series of rapid chargers, is put into a location. What is the framework within which these decisions will be taken? I wonder that because they cannot be taken by the market, and there must be some intervention by a public authority in taking them.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendment 65. It was painfully obvious when dedicated spaces were introduced for disabled drivers that those spaces should be nearest to the supermarket. Yet, unfortunately, this had to be spelt out in regulation. Sometimes, things that are blindingly obvious to noble Lords escape the attention of other people.
I fear that the same may be true of electric rapid charging points, which is why I proposed my amendment. If the Minister can assure me that the department already has this power I will be happy to withdraw it, but if, as I fear, it does not, the Minister should accept the amendment. It is always possible that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is entirely correct and we shall see entire fields full of rapid charging spots, so the location does not matter so much. But until that stage—and particularly at the beginning—the location of rapid charging points relative to other amenities could be important.
Listening to the debate I find it really interesting, but I certainly would not claim to be an expert. I can easily imagine circumstances in which we end up with many diverse charging points across the country, and not enough people buying cars to use them. I have seen many examples in other areas of government doing things and pushing forward proposals, but with disconnects on the ground.
Having a 17 year-old, one thing that I have discovered recently is the cost of insurance for that age group. We need some joined-up thinking in that respect. We live in a rural area and my son has quite an old petrol car, but the insurance for him is £1,857—a great deal of money. If we are to get the next generation of young people buying electric cars and helping us to move this agenda forward, we may need some joined-up thinking between that amount of money being invested in insurance companies and the need to trigger more purchases of electric cars, with incentives to that generation to own a better, cleaner car, which would work for them and also begin to trigger the economy. I suspect that there are opportunities in all this, amid the problems that the younger generation face—but we need more joined-up thinking to ensure that we do not have lots of power points that are not used.
My Lords, I shall speak briefly to Amendment 66, in my name. It would provide exemptions for operators with limited forecourt space who could not accommodate public charging points without an expansion of land, and ensure that retailers and operators did not incur disproportionate costs for complying with regulations. The general thrust of the Bill is to make more charging points available, but we must ensure that there are no unreasonable unintended consequences. I do not think the wording of the amendment is particularly good, but I would like the Minister to consider that general approach. There are a lot of powers in the Bill, and if we are not careful we may find some pockets of unreasonableness.
My Lords, I acknowledge this as a particularly excellent group of amendments. These points are all key priorities that will need to be consulted on before any regulations are brought forward. As proposed in Amendments 63 and 64, it is important that the Government can specify the type of charge points being installed in large fuel retailers or service areas. It is already the Government’s intention, as is made clear in the policy scoping notes, that any regulations under Clause 10 would include details of what provision of electric vehicle infrastructure will be required to ensure that the needs of users are met, and to deliver a quick and hassle-free charging experience, similar to refuelling conventional cars today.
This would include: specifying the level of charging infrastructure, most likely to be measured by number of charge points or hydrogen refuelling points; the specification for that infrastructure, such as the minimum power outputs and the connectors of charge points—I entirely agree that we want to avoid multiple chargers, and another VHS/Betamax situation—and any other operational requirements, such as the opening hours of the charge point. Decisions on those will not be taken by the market; they will be set by regulations—but they will be informed by consultation both with the market and with users of vehicles, to ensure that we get it right.
Chargers will normally be based on the power they deliver rather than the time but yes, absolutely, the regulations will set the minimum power output required of the petrol stations installing them, otherwise we could run the risk of a much cheaper, slower charging point being installed which would not do the job we require.
Any regulations would also include the details of the circumstances in which the provision of infrastructure would be required, as proposed in Amendments 65 and 66. As my noble friend Lord Borwick suggested, we must ensure that charge points are easily accessible and not at an unacceptable distance from amenities. That is something that we will absolutely include in regulations.
I turn to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe: whether regulations will entail a list or definition of service area operators to which the requirements will apply and the criteria for the locations at which fuel retailers will have to make specified provision. Clause 15 gives the Secretary of State power to create exceptions from any requirement imposed by regulations, and that will be used where an expansion of land or other disproportionate cost would be required.
As stated in Clause 16 and detailed in the policy note, all the regulations will of course be informed by consultation with industry, fuel retailers, the motor service area operators, the electrical vehicle infrastructure providers and operators, electricity providers and electric vehicle manufacturers and drivers. The regulations will need to take account of an assessment of the current and planned provision at the locations in question, an understanding of the underlying fuel retail and motorway service businesses and the needs of the users, and the factors which will make particular sites more or less suited to the installation and operation of electric vehicle infrastructure.
The noble Lord, Lord Mawson, raised the interesting question of linking insurance with promoting electric vehicles, particularly to young people, and the worry that we will have infrastructure charge points but not the vehicles to plug into them. I reiterate that the Bill is narrow: it is specifically about the infrastructure of charge points and hydrogen refuelling. It is not the only thing that the Government are doing: we will shortly publish our strategy on the Road to Zero, which will look at the targets we set and exactly how we will use the levers we have to encourage the use of electric vehicles.
I reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, that interoperability and the ability to charge quickly will be a high priority in the regulations. All the issues raised on the amendments will be important, but they will all be addressed in the regulations. Therefore, the amendments are not needed. On that basis, I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw the amendment.
I thank the Minister for her response. I am encouraged that there will be some good news on the Road to Zero strategy—we look forward to that—and that Clause 10 will be elucidated in regulations. We have talked about this before, but this is one aspect of the Bill that it would be good to attach a timeline to. Perhaps we can talk about that between Committee and Report. On the basis that these issues will be addressed, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 63 withdrawn.
Amendments 64 to 68 not moved.
Clause 10 agreed.
Amendments 69 to 76 not moved.
Clause 11: Information for users of public charging points
Amendments 77 to 81 not moved.
Clause 11 agreed.
Clause 12: Transmission of data relating to charge points
Amendments 82 to 86 not moved.
Clause 12 agreed.
Amendment 87 not moved.
Clause 13: Smart charge points
Amendment 88 not moved.
89: Clause 13, page 7, line 32, at end insert—
“( ) Regulations under subsection (1) must prescribe a requirement, if technically feasible and if not prohibited by financial constraints that are reasonable, to make use of smart charging systems.( ) Regulations under subsection (1) must prescribe a requirement, if technically feasible and if not prohibited by financial constraints that are reasonable, to make use of intelligent metering systems.( ) For the purposes of this Part “intelligent metering systems” means an electronic system that can measure energy consumption, can provide more information than a conventional meter and can transmit and receive data using a form of electronic communication.”
In moving Amendment 89, I shall speak to other amendments in this group. I should perhaps comment that we have seen Clause 11 stand part of the Bill, which we have touched on but not properly mentioned; it is a very important part of the Bill, and I am glad that it is in there. Like Clause 13, it feels like an essential part of what makes this Bill worth doing. The provision of information to consumers is hugely important and is currently very fractured and frustrating.
I am encouraged by the scoping note showing that the Government’s thinking on Clause 13 is fairly well advanced, so we can expect regulations quite soon. The amendments in my name make a simple point; as drafted, the clause appears to provide powers to make regulations about the sale and installation of charge points, but we simply wanted to ensure that they were also used and that the smart capabilities were used. There is no point in requiring them to be made available if there is no similar requirement that they are switched on, working and useful for consumers. I am not entirely sure that our wording is exactly right, and I would very much welcome discussing this further.
The intent of the amendments is to say that we know that the advent of electrification in transport provides a potentially great way to balance our supply and demand on the grid. The Environmental Defense Fund in Europe and WWF have had a great collaboration with the National Grid around making more visible what is happening on our grid at any given point. We helped to launch a carbon intensity tool with them, which shows you in real time how clean the grid is. On a sunny, windy day like the one that we have just had, you will find that the carbon per kilowatt hour generated is now below 100 grams. That is an extraordinary testimony to the amount of hard work and effort that has gone into encouraging investment into clean-air forms of electricity. There will be times in the day and month when it is extraordinarily clean to charge your infrastructure, your vehicles and indeed heat needs from the grid. That will unlock a huge potential for batteries in vehicles and, indeed, homes, to be used as part of the grid’s balancing of supply and demand, soaking up the excess when there is excess and then providing back to the grid at times of need.
It is great that this provision is in the Bill. We would just like to have reassurances that there will be regulations to cover the use as well as the installation and sale of the smart components of this hugely important part of the charging infrastructure. I beg to move.
My Lords, as the co-pilot again, I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss smart charging, which helps electric vehicles benefit both their owners and the energy system.
In broad terms, smart charging helps to shift, where possible, the times when EVs recharge their batteries to off-peak periods, when electricity is cheaper and cleaner and the network has more capacity. I was interested in the information given by the noble Baroness about the cleanliness of the power from the grid at any particular point in time—and the incentive that might give environmentally conscious consumers to use that information to decide when to charge their vehicle—and let me reassure the noble Baroness that we want this capacity to be used. In practice, this could be done, for example, by a signal being transmitted to a smart charge point, which then responds to the signal by increasing or decreasing the rate of charge. The charge point could have its own metering system, or it could potentially be integrated with a smart meter in domestic cases.
Clause 13 helps create the right environment for smart charging by ensuring that all new charge points have the smart functionality that the noble Baroness spoke about. The clause is technical in nature and is not about specifying how customer behaviour is influenced. This is likely to be done by price signals, and we are working with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, which regulates this market, and with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to facilitate such an approach.
Amendment 89, from the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, seeks to do two things: first, to require, with caveats, the use of smart charging systems; and secondly, to require, with caveats, the use of intelligent metering systems. As the noble Baroness has set out, the rationale for the amendment is to enable smart charging to reduce costs and carbon emissions for consumers as well as helping the energy system to balance the peaks and troughs of electricity supply and demand. I wholeheartedly agree with these goals, and that is what Clause 13 does—it enables smart charging by requiring all charge points to have this functionality. The current version of the clause seeks to allow this to be done by incentives, such as price. If that is the intention of the amendment, we do not think it is needed.
However, another interpretation of the amendment—possibly unintended by the noble Baroness—goes further than that and, subject to caveats, creates a requirement for smart charging rather than allowing incentives. The problem with this approach is simply one of unintended consequences. First, if smart charging was a requirement, the relevant energy companies would not need to pass on any benefits to the consumer. They would not need to give a discounted price for charging at certain times of the day because the consumer would already be required to do this by law. Secondly, the amendment would mean a significant level of government interference in domestic consumer behaviour if it essentially meant dictating when a consumer could and could not charge. That may not have been the intention of the noble Baroness, but I am advised by those who know more about the legislation than I do that that would be a potential impact.
On the second part of the amendment, on intelligent metering, I hope that the noble Baroness is reassured that Clause 13 can already prescribe such a system. The example given in Clause 13(2)(d) is to require the charge point,
“to monitor and record energy consumption”.
The effect of this part of the amendment would therefore be to make such metering mandatory and to use the specific definition in the amendment rather than the current approach of allowing consultation to help decide whether smart metering is necessary, and if so what precise definition to use. For example, by 2020 every household in the UK should be offered a smart meter, which may make additional intelligent metering in the smart charge point unnecessary.
Amendment 92 seeks to require the smart charge point to react to information in a “prescribed fashion”. We do not think that Amendment 92 is needed. Clause 13(2)(b) is an example of the requirements under Clause 13, and regulations under Clause 13 can already prescribe how the charge point reacts to information.
Amendment 94 seeks to require that information relating to the use of charge points, such as availability and price of charging, is made available in a prescribed format. It also seeks to ensure that charge points have the ability to reserve time slots for drivers to charge their vehicles. That is precisely the intention of Clause 11, which would require operators of public charge points to make available prescribed information. The policy scoping notes provide a list, which is not exhaustive, of all of the types of information that operators may be required to make available to users, including: location; operating hours; cost of accessing and using the charge point; method of payment or access; means of connection; whether the point is in working order; and whether it is in use.
Regulations brought forward under this clause would also give the Government the ability to ensure the provision of open source data on public charging points in a standardised format. This would mean that the data would be available to anyone wanting to use it, enabling service providers such as app developers and satnav companies to utilise the information to create services, such as apps, for drivers. The provision of open source “live” data could also support the provision of services that would enable drivers to reserve charge points.
Amendment 97 in this group was not spoken to or moved, so if the Committee will forgive me, I will not address it.
I thank noble Lords for raising the importance of smart charge points. I hope I have given some reassurance that this clause and the other measures I have outlined will help to create the right environment for smart charging while avoiding onerous requirements on consumers. On that basis, I hope the noble Baroness might withdraw this amendment.
I thank the Minister for his response. I am not fully reassured. This seems to come down to whether we put in regulations or allow the market to set incentives as regards whether this smart capability will be part of our future charging infrastructure. I can see that to rely on market incentives might mean that the consumer is much more vulnerable than if we were to regulate. The reason for that is because of my experience in America, where all electricity bills are set, state-by-state, by different regulations. Where there are few protections and regulations, the market prices the marginal excess use very highly. If there are no protections, you find that if you tip over a certain volume of electricity use, your charge per unit spikes enormously, which means that people are vulnerable to failing to realise that they have gone over that threshold. So in this instance the market cannot necessarily be relied on to provide the right incentives, and it may lead to a considerable exposure to risk for consumers who are not perhaps fully informed. Therefore I do not fully believe that we should just leave this to the market.
I take the point that regulating to insist that, for example, time of use tariffs are in place everywhere may also not be the answer. However, we definitely need to do something here to ensure this. We may not put this on to the super-rapid chargers or the rapid chargers in the motorway infrastructure, because there you may well need to charge at 5 pm when you are en route somewhere, and you do not want to be exposed to differential prices. However, the vast majority of charging—the backbone of this—will be done at home, or as at-destination charging, and there is a need to set some standards and regulatory requirements there on the use of the smart capability. I come back to the fact that while Clause 13 is welcome, it just covers the sale and installation and does not do enough to reassure me that we will also talk about the usage of that smart capability. I would like to come back to this, but I recognise that the wording we have may not be perfect, and it would be good to talk about it further. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 89 withdrawn.
Amendments 90 to 97 not moved.
Clause 13 agreed.
Amendments 98 and 99 not moved.
Clause 14: Enforcement
Amendment 100 not moved.
Clause 14 agreed.
Clause 15 agreed.
Clause 16: Regulations
Amendments 101 to 103 not moved.
Clause 16 agreed.
Amendment 104 not moved.
Clause 17 agreed.
Clause 18: Commencement
105: Clause 18, leave out Clause 18 and insert the following new Clause—
This Act comes into force on the day on which it is passed.”
It is good to reach the final group. With this amendment I seek further information about the Government’s intentions for commencement. It feels as though there could be further delays and that this already not very powerful Bill could become even less powerful if it does not reach commencement until we pass regulations that we might not need to pass. The fact is that nothing in the Bill requires anybody to do anything at any time ever, and commencement seems to be required to wait for that non-event. I am not sufficiently versed in the legal details of Bills, so I have tabled the amendment to find out what it means. Why can it not be commenced immediately upon the passing of the legislation?
I turn to Amendment 107 and the proposed change to the Short Title. This will be probably be my final speech on this legislation until Report. I feel very strongly, as perhaps has been picked up on, that it should never be thought that the Bill has somehow unlocked the future of modern transport in the UK—far from it. It covers a very small and narrow set of issues. Despite the length of its gestation, the time that has been spent on this aspect and the fact that there is an imminent strategy, the Bill contains very little. The fact that we have had such a detailed and varied debate this afternoon shows that the Bill does not even do particularly thoroughly the things that it purports to do in relation to the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells. I am sorry to say this again but it is a missed opportunity.
We have spent money and time on getting to this point. I suggest changing the Short Title so as not to leave anybody under any illusion that somehow the Government have introduced a fantastically modern Bill about automated and electric vehicles. If the Bill passes, it will provide insurance for automated vehicles and the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. That is all it will do, and I am afraid that it has not done that particularly thoroughly.
The sequencing is very unfortunate. Within a matter of days or weeks we will get the Road to Zero strategy, which will necessarily require the Government to take more power and make more interventions. This is a huge challenge. We have left transport alone for far too long. We have allowed the car manufacturers and fuel providers to simply carry on with business as usual, selling us the vehicles they have had on the market for decades, when their greatest innovation in recent times has been a better cup holder. That is trivialising it but essentially the ICE remains unchanged.
We have seen cars being launched and brought to market but they sit at the back of a showroom. No one actively markets them in Europe or actively sells them to people. Car manufacturers are not even actively engaging in this Bill to try to ensure that the infrastructure is suitable. We have managed to engage with only a couple of car manufacturers in seeking stakeholder engagement. It is not good enough—they have to change. They have let us all down in their cheating of EU standards, and it is time that they took this issue seriously. I am convinced that the Government have to take the powers to force that to happen.
The laissez-faire, “let the market provide” attitude will not work. China is showing us that that is the case and California has done so previously. This Bill is not something that the Government should be particularly proud of. I regret that it is too narrow and I believe that the Short Title should be changed to be more honest about its contents. I beg to move.
My Lords, we have just heard a very earnest plea from the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. I noticed during our proceedings today that the Ministers at the Dispatch Box, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg, indicated that they might be prepared to take things back to the department for further consideration. I express the hope that, when we get to Report, there will be some government amendments that reflect the concerns expressed in the debate today.
My Lords, in speaking to my Amendment 106, I want to agree with what has been said by the noble Lord and the noble Baroness. This is a missed opportunity in that, until the last six months or so, transport Bills have been few and far between. I realise that they are falling like confetti now, but each one is so tiny that, between each Bill, there are great gaps in the strategic action that needs to be taken. Ironically, we have been concentrating a lot on the cutting edge of technology—we have looked at space travel in the Space Industry Bill and at lasers. The pace of technology in those areas is very fast, and this is the same. There is a need for strategic thinking, because the detailed stuff is in danger of becoming out of date. The result is that the Government, being aware of that, have written not just narrow Bills but very vague Bills, giving them lots of power to dream up regulations but no guarantee on the direction in which they are going.
The noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, addresses in her amendment the need to be accurate about what the Bill is. Turning that on its head, in various speeches in our proceedings I have referred to the fact that the part of the Bill dealing with automated vehicles ignores the street scene changes and the changes to the structure of road safety law that will be needed. In Amendment 106, I have drawn attention to hydrogen. That is another specific example of other sorts of developing technology that are lower emission and deserve to be part of an overall strategy.
My final thought on this is that the Government need to do a great deal of connected thinking on all these little bits of effort. We are in danger of leading people to think that we have a strategy fit for the future. I do not believe that we have.
My Lords, throughout the proceedings today we have considered the scope and timings of this legislation, and those two points are captured by the amendments in this final group.
Amendment 105 suggests that the legislation comes into force on the day on which it is passed. Under the current text, the Secretary of State will appoint by regulation the day on which the Act comes into force. The commencement timings that are currently contained in Clause 18 follow standard conventions for commencement, whereby the substantive provisions of an Act come into force on dates specified in regulations. I understand the desire of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, to make sure that the important measures in the Bill are implemented as soon as possible to ensure that we have the tools available to install the infrastructure necessary to support the uptake of electric vehicles in this country, and to enable insurers to start developing products for automated vehicles. I assure the noble Baroness that we do not intend to delay bringing forward this important legislation once it has passed.
As I mentioned earlier in the debate, we will start to bring forward regulations on smart charge points soon after Royal Assent. As outlined in the policy scoping notes, we think that the regulations under Clause 10 will be needed in the early 2020s for battery electric charge points, and not until the mid-2020s in the case of hydrogen refuelling—although that may not be quick enough for the noble Baroness.
As outlined earlier, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles will continue to monitor the market, working closely with stakeholders, to determine when it is appropriate and right to bring forward the regulations. But it is important that the affected sectors are not disadvantaged by having little or no notice of the coming into force of the Act, and that the Government have the flexibility to bring the provisions of the Act into effect at a time when they are ready to use them.
Amendments 106 and 107 would change the Short Title of the Bill. I recognise that there is room for the Bill’s scope to be reflected in greater detail in the Short Title by making more explicit the range of powers included in the Bill, and as we mentioned at the start of this debate, it is clear that hydrogen refuelling is also very much a part of the Bill. It certainly was not designed to get false credit or to be dishonest, so I will certainly look at that issue again before Report.
I should like to take this opportunity, in the final group of the day, to reiterate that this piece of legislation is not the limit of the Government’s activities in the field of electric vehicles and automated vehicles, nor are we standing still while we wait for this legislation to come through. We have narrowly selected the provisions in this Bill to bring forward those that we think are ready and necessary to legislate for at this point in time. We are using a number of other tools to increase the deployment of electric vehicles. Our forthcoming strategy on how we will get to zero emissions from road transport will set out how we will continue to support the transition to zero-emission vehicles, ensure that the UK is well placed to capitalise on new economic opportunities and drive down emissions from conventional vehicles.
I have heard the frustrations of noble Lords today on the level of ambition in the Bill. I am afraid we will not be able to widen its scope. That will be for future legislation after the Road to Zero document, which will be full of connected thinking. But I certainly commit to taking away points raised by noble Lords and to seek to strengthen the provisions where I can. I thank noble Lords for their contributions today, and look forward to returning to the Bill on Report. I hope the noble Baroness is able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response. We are caught with this. It is a narrow Bill and therefore I think that it should have a narrow title, although I would prefer it to have a broader title and to contain a broader set of powers. As I said at the start, given the scarcity of time and the importance of spending public money wisely, it is a bit of a waste of everyone’s time to pursue this narrow Bill. We know that a strategy which requires far greater powers is imminent, so that is regrettable. I value the fact that the noble Baroness has said that there will not be any desire to try to claim more than what is being brought forward in this Bill, which does not even address the things that the Government think need to be addressed; it just takes powers for things that they might address. However, we have had the debate.
The Explanatory Notes state:
“The Bill also sets out the regulatory framework to enable new transport technology to be invented, designed, made and used in the United Kingdom”.
That is simply not a reflection of this Bill and perhaps in the future we should refrain from using phrases of that kind and be clearer about what it does and does not do. I think that there is still time to ensure that the things it is seeking to do are actually done well. I look forward to working with the Minister and her officials between now and Report. On that basis, I am happy to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 105 withdrawn.
Clause 18 agreed.
Clause 19 agreed.
Clause 20: Short title
Amendments 106 and 107 not moved.
In the Title
Amendment 108 not moved.
Bill reported without amendment.
House adjourned at 5.59 pm.