Relevant Documents: 16th and 28th Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee
Clause 1: Listing of automated vehicles by the Secretary of State
1: Clause 1, page 1, line 6, leave out paragraph (a)
My Lords, following the in-depth analysis of the Bill in this House, we have been looking to strengthen the definitions in Part 1 to more fully explain the purpose of its provisions. We also recognise that the measures in Part 1 relate to a complex and quickly moving technological field. As such, the specificity of language can go a long way to giving industry and consumers confidence in the Government’s approach.
To that end, I have tabled government amendments 1, 3, 5 and 6 related to the definition of the automated vehicle, to clarify exactly when and where the provisions of the Bill will relate to such vehicles. As I noted in the discussion on this issue in Committee, we do not believe it is necessary, or even possible, to provide a more detailed definition of an automated vehicle and its technical capabilities at this time. Therefore, the Bill does not specifically cover where and how automation will be defined and regulated. This is also why we are not referencing the SAE definitions of vehicle automation in the Bill, as proposed in Amendment 2 by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson. This part of the Bill simply amends the existing motor insurance framework to enable insurers to develop insurance policies that can appropriately cover for these types of vehicles. Historically, it was the driver’s use of the vehicle that had been insured rather than the vehicle itself.
During the earlier stages of the Bill, my noble friend Lord Borwick raised the important question of whether its provisions would apply, for example, to an agricultural vehicle on public roads which, while perfectly capable of autonomously running up and down a private field, could be driven on the road manually only by a human driver. This highlights an area where the definition, as currently constituted in the Bill, could be open to debate. Our proposed changes to Clause 1 and 2 resolve this issue by further clarifying that the measures in the Bill will apply only to vehicles which may lawfully be put in self-driving mode on roads or other places in Great Britain.
At this point, it is worth repeating that the purpose of the list of automated vehicles maintained by the Secretary of State is not to confer lawfulness to any vehicle. It is simply a list of vehicles that can lawfully be used in automated roads or in other public places in Great Britain. Our proposed amendment makes this clearer. I believe these changes provide greater clarity on where exactly the measures in the Bill apply to vehicles that are capable of lawfully and safely operating in automated mode.
Turning to Amendment 4 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, the purpose of Clause 1 is to ensure that the Secretary of State creates, maintains and publishes a list of automated vehicles, vehicles that are,
“designed or adapted to be capable, in at least some circumstances or situations”,
of safely and lawfully driving themselves, without having to be monitored by an individual. The list is to ensure that consumers and industry understand which vehicles are covered by the new insurance measures. In Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, rightly noted that it is crucial for manufacturers, vehicle owners and insurers to know whether they are making, buying, loaning or insuring an automated vehicle, and whether the scope of legislation applies to their vehicle. It for this reason, and no other, that the Bill includes the list.
In previous debates, I have outlined the Government’s view that the most appropriate place for setting safety standards for automated vehicles is the technical committee on vehicle safety that operates under UNECE, supplemented where necessary by appropriate domestic regulation. As a contracting party to UNECE’s 1958 agreement, which establishes these technical standards, the UK, along with 51 other countries, is bound by international law to recognise these standards and accept vehicles approved to these standards. They help not only to deliver high levels of vehicle safety, but to facilitate international trade.
It is these standards, rather than SAE levels, that form the basis of the type-approval process and vehicles that are approved against these standards can be sold in this country. This is what happens for conventional, non-automated vehicles currently and it is what we expect to happen for automated vehicles. This standard-setting process is well understood by the automotive and insurance sectors. Indeed, automotive manufacturers provide information to the technical committees that work on the standards.
The UK plays a leading role in the debates that create or amend those technical standards. I can reassure noble Lords that we work in a consultative manner with industry to influence those standards and ensure that they are fit for purpose. Therefore, automotive manufacturers are fully aware of which standards they must meet. The UNECE technical committee is, with the participation of the automotive sector, beginning to consider international technical standards for automated vehicles. The Government expect these standards to form the basis of the type-approval process that automated vehicles must pass to demonstrate that they are indeed capable, in at least some circumstances or situations, of safely driving themselves and thus be able to be sold in the UK.
In some instances, for some vehicle technology, there will be a need for domestic regulatory reform to ensure it can be used in the future. That will probably be when we have more certainty about how automated vehicles will be used. Where that is the case, I can reassure noble Lords that we will consult and lay legislation in Parliament to scrutinise with the same approach we use already once we have a better view of the landscape of the new technology and vehicle standards. Should we need to ensure the proper functioning of our vehicle-approval regime by supplementing the international technical standards with domestic regulations, we would do so in the usual way. Where existing traffic law is inconsistent with the use of the technology we would also amend this in the usual way, which is subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
As I made clear in previous debates, the automated vehicle measures in the Bill relate only to insurance, not to these detailed technical standards. This forms just one part of a wider regulatory programme to ensure that this country’s motorists and businesses benefit from the potential that automated vehicles have to offer.
Given the way these standards will be set, we do not believe we should add a consultation clause to the list. Introducing a novel and competing process of consultation for setting or changing criteria for the inclusion of a vehicle on the list would add unnecessary debate and an unnecessary administrative burden, and potentially delay vehicles being added to the list. Worse still, it could create an unhelpful degree of interpretation about whether a vehicle belongs on the list when we are working to create clarity.
Government Amendment 8 addresses another concern raised in Committee—a consistent definition of “road”. By specifically referencing the Road Traffic Act 1988 in Clause 7, this amendment ensures consistency with existing legislation and provides clarity to the public and industry on which vehicles the measures in the Bill apply to.
These government amendments aim to further clarify the Bill and I hope that they are supported by the House. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall speak to my Amendment 2. I submitted this amendment to give us the opportunity to clarify further exactly how the Government’s definitions would apply in practice. External organisations still voice concern that the Government are not using SAE International levels 4 and 5, which they regard as an accepted international standard. I accept entirely that it is slightly complicating matters that UNECE is still discussing this issue. I wonder whether, given that it will ultimately produce the precise definition, there could at some point be reference to the fact that these will be standards according to those laid down by UNECE. I assume it will get to the end of its discussions pretty soon, otherwise the roads will be full of automated vehicles without people understanding what they are.
I do not actually think there will be much confusion about level 5—I believe they will not have steering wheels, so it will be pretty obvious that they are automated vehicles—but I still cannot entirely get my head around the wording, at line 9, that they are,
“designed or adapted to be capable, in at least some circumstances or situations”,
of safely driving themselves. That does not suggest necessarily that these vehicles are going to be in a sustained mode of automatic driving. I think that the problem will arise with what are currently called level 4 vehicles, because that is almost a gradation further than level 3; there is no absolute cut-off point between level 3 and level 4. Level 3 cars can be driven on their own in some circumstances. I understand that using the word, “safely” is a very useful way of putting it, but it could be open to interpretation.
The Government have complicated things for themselves by using the phrase, “driving themselves”. The industry does not use that term—it does not say that the car “drives itself”. That is not the technical term that it uses; therefore the Government are using in legislation phrases that might be fairly obvious to the layman but are not used by those who deal with these issues every day.
I am extremely grateful to the Minister for the number of amendments she has brought forward. She has listened carefully to what we have had to say, and we have certainly made a great deal of progress, but I would be grateful if she would go away before Third Reading and consult a bit more with representatives of the industry to ensure that the categories are watertight. As I have said here before, probably at a much earlier stage, insurance companies are extremely good at arguing that particular situations do not apply to them and the Government are going to have to be watertight in their approach.
Amendment 4 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, is along very similar lines in that it seeks clarity. That is what concerns us. I welcome that amendment, as I do the amendments from the Minister which have added some elements of clarity in a potentially complex situation. It is complex simply because we are trying to imagine ourselves into the future.
My Lords, with the leave of the House, and with apologies for being a little late, I shall speak solely to my Amendment 4. As I understand it—and I would value a nod from the Minister—she did not refer to Amendment 4 until I arrived. Amendment 4 is exactly as we moved before and we got some response to it on the issue of consultation. We heard:
“That is something that we plan to do … we fully expect this to be subject to full consultation”.
We got something really absolute only when the Minister said that the Government,
“will absolutely consult on the detail”.
I thought, “Great, those are the sorts of absolute terms I like”, only to see that she also said,
“where we need to make further primary or secondary legislation”.—[Official Report, 9/5/18; cols. 196-197.]
Well, of course you will consult when you are trying to get legislation through.
I accept that the Minister has gone some way to reassure us but I am fearful that, given the order-making powers for conventional vehicles, Parliament may never see the safety criteria—ever. What I would like from the Minister, given the public concern about the conceptually new way of travelling, is an assurance that the safety criteria will come in front of us in one form or another before there is substantial automated vehicle activity on the roads.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their broad welcome of these amendments. As I said, standards will be set separately to the Bill, both internationally and domestically, using long-established procedures that are well understood by industry. I take the noble Lord’s point, given the public concern on this and the fact that standards are usually set in this way. I fully expect that when the standards are developed, there absolutely will be an opportunity for both the public and Parliament to be consulted on them. I cannot confirm today what mechanism would be used for that. But as the noble Lord pointed out, given the concern and given that this is such new technology, different from what we have seen before, I fully expect that to happen.
The SAE levels lack the precision needed for technical standards and are not currently recognised as a technical standard in either the technical committee or the forum looking at use within the UNECE, and that is why we do not believe they should be referenced in the Bill. We have worked closely with the industry—yes, the insurance industry but also the motor manufacturing industry—on these definitions. We will certainly get in touch with them again before Third Reading to check that they are content.
The noble Baroness asked about the reference to,
“in at least some circumstances or situations”.
That is in the Bill because we expect the first automated cars to be used only in specific areas, such as on motorways. There will be a procedure to safely hand back to the driver. On the point about “safely driving themselves”, this is where the line is between partly and fully automated vehicles, which will not need monitoring by the driver. That is the differentiation. At level 3 the driver needs to monitor and to be able to take control at any point, whereas at levels 4 and 5 they do not need to monitor in any way. But I take the noble Baroness’s point on the usefulness of the SAE levels and I will certainly take that back to our representatives on the UNECE. As I said, we play a leading role in that. I am sure they are discussed but I will make sure they are and will look at whether they can be referred to when the standards are set.
As I said, technical standards and future regulations will be developed with the appropriate level of scrutiny and consultation, just as current road traffic laws and vehicle standards are developed. We do not believe that a consultation clause is needed because we are confident that there will be appropriate scrutiny.
I understood the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, to say that the phrase used in the statute is not something the industry uses. I just wonder what the industry phrase is for this idea.
As I said, we have been working closely with industry on this. These things are not clearly defined—that is part of the problem of writing this Bill. But “driving themselves” is something on which we worked with industry and we think that it clarifies the difference between having driver monitoring and not having driver monitoring. As far as I am aware, the industry is content but perhaps I will find out from the noble Baroness where the concerns still lie, and I will commit to speaking to it before Third Reading.
Perhaps I may help the House by saying that that point was raised with me by representatives of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. As I understand it, it refers to automated driving or “driverless”, rather than driving itself.
I can certainly commit to speaking to that organisation and I will let the noble Baroness know how that conversation goes.
Amendment 1 agreed.
Amendment 2 not moved.
3: Clause 1, page 1, line 10, at end insert “, and
( ) may lawfully be used when driving themselves, in at least some circumstances or situations, on roads or other public places in Great Britain.”
Amendment 3 agreed.
Amendment 4 not moved.
Clause 2: Liability of insurers etc where accident caused by automated vehicle
Amendments 5 and 6
5: Clause 2, page 1, line 22, after “itself” insert “on a road or other public place in Great Britain”
6: Clause 2, page 2, line 6, after “itself” insert “on a road or other public place in Great Britain”
Amendments 5 and 6 agreed.
7: After Clause 6, insert the following new clause—
“Report by Secretary of State on operation of this Part
(1) The Secretary of State must prepare a report assessing—(a) the impact and effectiveness of section 1;(b) the extent to which the provisions of this Part ensure that appropriate insurance or other arrangements are made in respect of vehicles that are capable of safely driving themselves.(2) The report must be laid before Parliament no later than two years after the first publication of the list under section 1.”
My Lords, in Committee the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, proposed a reporting amendment to ensure that the Bill’s proposed insurance framework for automated vehicles is in place and working effectively. I committed to consider whether there was anything further we could do in this area. I absolutely agree that there is value in reporting on the impact and effectiveness of Part 1, so I have tabled Amendment 7 to determine whether this legislation is effective.
Given the uncertainty around the timing of the introduction of automated vehicles, rather than set a date in statute for issuing the report we have chosen to require the report to be laid before Parliament no later than two years after the list of automated vehicles is first published. We want the report to be as meaningful as possible. That will be possible only if the measures have been in operation for a period of time, with automated vehicles being added to the list and insurance policies being offered to drivers of those automated vehicles.
Subsection (1)(a) of this proposed new clause will require the Secretary of State to report on both the impact for consumers and industry and the effectiveness—whether or not the definitions and list work as intended—of the listing of automated vehicles. I hope that this provision will go some way to reassuring noble Lords, given the conversation we had on the previous group. Subsection (1)(b) of the proposed new clause addresses the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, in Committee: whether the obligations and duties required by the other clauses of this part of the Bill are working to deliver an effective framework for insuring the use of automated vehicles.
I can reassure noble Lords that the insurance industry supports our intended approach to reporting on the Bill’s impact and effectiveness, and that we will work closely with the industry when delivering the report on the operation of this part. I hope that the amendment provides reassurance that we will report on the effectiveness and impact of Part 1 of the AEV Bill, in order to ensure that it is functioning correctly, and that noble Lords will support it. I beg to move.
My Lords, I could spin this out but will the Minister settle for “Thank you”?
My Lords, I could spin this out too but I am pleased that the noble Lord welcomes the amendment. That is probably all I should say on this matter.
Amendment 7 agreed.
Clause 7: Interpretation
8: Clause 7, page 5, line 22, at end insert—
““road” has the same meaning as in the Road Traffic Act 1988 (see section 192(1) of that Act).”
Amendment 8 agreed.
Clause 8: Definitions
9: Clause 8, page 5, line 39, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
My Lords, the Government believe that hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles are an important technology alongside battery electric vehicles. That is the future we see for decarbonising road transport. Since 2014, we have provided £5 million to fund 12 new hydrogen refuelling stations and £2 million for public and private sector fleets to become early adopters of the vehicles. It is also why we announced in March an additional £23 million to leverage a ramp-up of investments from industry in refuelling infrastructure and vehicle deployment out to 2020.
It has always been the intent behind the Bill to include both hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles. However, I fully recognise the point made by the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Worthington, in Committee that this needs to be made clear in the Bill so that there can be no confusion as to its intent. I have tabled government amendments to add “or refuelling” throughout the Bill wherever “public charging point” is mentioned. We will continue to make this commitment clear to the consumer and to give the industry confidence to invest in both technologies to drive the uptake in zero-emission vehicles. I thank the Committee for raising the importance of highlighting hydrogen in the Bill, and I am pleased to move these amendments to improve it, by making it clear that all hydrogen fuel-cell technology is included. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall speak to Amendments 49 and 50, which are in this group. Before I do so, I reiterate my thanks to the Minister, who has taken on board the criticisms of the Bill that were made in Committee by me and the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, in relation to the slight reference to hydrogen in the Bill when it came from the other place. The Government have accepted most of the amendments and have therefore dealt with the confusion of referring to charging hydrogen vehicles when it is not a phrase anyone would use—one would say “refuelling hydrogen vehicles”.
The amendments may appear simple, but they are very significant because the terminology used sends signals to investors and markets about the Government’s wishes and what form of ultra low emission vehicles they are supporting in this legislation. As originally written, it looked as if the Government were backing battery electric vehicles over other technologies, and these amendments put things in a more balanced light and level the playing field considerably.
However, I invite the Minister to think again before Third Reading and change the title of the Bill. The Bill now refers to three specific categories of vehicles—automated vehicles, electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles—but its title refers to only two of those three categories, so to the less-than-expert observer it would appear that the Government have no legislation to encourage hydrogen vehicles. The Government could have chosen a much more general title, but they have chosen a relatively specific title because the Bill is limited and specific, so it would be sensible to flag up to the world that the Government have this legislation by putting the word “Hydrogen” in the title. I urge the Minister to reconsider this. I have no intention of pushing this to a vote today, but I think it would be useful if the title could be amended at Third Reading.
I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, that a change to the title would be helpful, and I accept her point that it is not something we are going to divide the House on.
“Shame,” somebody said. The hydrogen compatibility amendments that the Minister has brought forward are very welcome. She illustrated their value by talking about what the Government are doing in investment in hydrogen. I cannot reasonably expect an answer now, but I wonder whether the Government have a fuller programme than the one she describes because, as far as I could understand from what she was saying, she was talking about the vehicle end of that, whereas I feel that with such a new technology some knowledge of government investment in the total hydrogen picture—the means of production, what the economics look like and so on—would be extremely valuable. If she is able to put that together in an interesting letter for all of us who have been involved in this debate, I would be very grateful.
My Lords, on the subject of title change, I think the Minister is absolutely right. I have some previous experience of trying to change the title of a Bill: the department was quite determined that the title could not be changed but further advice from the clerks of this House assured me that it could be, and that was accepted. So I hope there will be no misunderstandings this time.
My Lords, I offer the suggestion that rather than making a long shopping list of particular types of vehicles we might introduce the concept of zero-emissions vehicles, which would be a very important category to report against. When we get statistics from the SMMT it talks about alternatively fuelled vehicles as a category but that includes hybrids, which of course have tailpipe emissions, and sometimes those emissions can be higher than those from a normal car. I encourage the Government to think about zero-emissions vehicles as a catch-all.
My Lords, it must have already been accepted that hydrogen vehicles are within the scope of the Bill, otherwise an amendment to deal with them would not have been accepted. I should have thought that having done that, it might add a bit of clarity to add it to the title of the Bill as a supplementary amendment with very little substance except form.
My Lords, whatever the difficulties, it must be right to alter the title to include the total market. After all, running a car on water is not a mean objective. That is a very important technology that has been left out of the Bill. I think those who have argued in favour of changing the title are right.
My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their comments on this. As I said, the Government recognise that hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles have the potential to play a significant role in supporting our ambitions for a zero-emission-vehicle future. The technology around hydrogen vehicles is less developed than around battery electric vehicles. I assure noble Lords that in our forthcoming “road to zero emission” document/strategy, which will be published soon, we will talk about hydrogen and set out more on the Government’s position on that. I absolutely take the noble Baroness’s point that it is important that we address zero-emission vehicles, and that is exactly what that strategy is designed to do.
I am afraid I am going to have to disappoint noble Lords on the question of changing the title. The title “Automated and Electric Vehicles” covers both battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles. Both are electric vehicles, so I think the title encompasses the vehicles that we are talking about in the Bill. Given the changes that the government amendments have brought about, it is now clear in the Bill that the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are also covered, so I am afraid I do not believe it is necessary to amend the title. I hope that on that basis the noble Baroness will feel able not to move her later amendments. I beg to move the government amendment.
Amendment 9 agreed.
10: Clause 8, page 5, line 42, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
Amendment 10 agreed.
Clause 9: Public charging points: access and connection
Amendments 11 and 12
11: Clause 9, page 6, line 5, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
12: Clause 9, page 6, line 8, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
Amendments 11 and 12 agreed.
13: Clause 9, page 6, line 8, at end insert—
“(aa) performance, maintenance and availability of public charging or refuelling points;”
My Lords, this group of amendments introduces a requirement on performance standards for public charge points. This is in response to an issue raised in Committee by the noble Lords, Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe and Lord Broers, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Worthington. The points raised during debate highlighted the need to take powers beyond those already in Clause 9 to set reliability, maintenance and performance standards for public charging infrastructure.
Public charge points will inevitably fall into disrepair when used in the public domain, particularly in the early stages as new technologies are developing. While we hope and expect that the market will respond to this, there is a risk that when charge points are installed and utilisation is low—hopefully, only in the early stages—then operators or host sites are less likely to repair them.
I agree that having a significant number of public charge points out of action will adversely impact on the user charging experience, inconveniencing and frustrating EV drivers. This would risk drivers running out of charge while trying to find the next available charge point and pose safety risks, as highlighted by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, if drivers are left stranded on public highways or in quieter rural locations. I accept the points made in Committee that greater protection is required for the consumer and that the Bill needs to go further in this regard. This group of amendments provides the Government with the necessary power to introduce regulations that would specify performance standards for publicly available EV charge points and ensure that operators take measures to ensure that faulty charge points are repaired.
I thank noble Lords for raising the issue and hope that the amendments are supported. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall speak briefly to this group of government amendments. I thank the Minister for listening to our interventions on the topic. At the moment, we do not have good oversight of how the market will develop; we have what I feel is a somewhat unnatural market in infrastructure, as the Government have chosen to focus on charging infrastructure without sufficient attention to whether there are enough cars for people to buy and use affordably to make use of that charging. As a result, we may have boom and bust in the charging infrastructure. We must keep those two important aspects in parallel: both the charging infrastructure and the cars. In the absence of a more natural market with more cars, it is very important that we have the regulations to ensure that where charge points are installed, they are maintained, so I am very grateful to the Minister for tabling the amendments, and fully support their intent.
My Lords, I just want to tell my noble friend how helpful I find the amendment and how useful it is. The climate change committee has drawn attention to the fact that one reason for the lack of uptake of such motor cars is people’s feeling that they cannot rely on a charging system to travel around the countryside. The amendment is an important addition to that provision.
However, I remind my noble friend that one issue here is that people are very suspicious of the correctness of the information given to them by the motor car industry generally. Therefore, this support will be invaluable. We are still being told things about motor cars which are not true. The figures being put out for the performance of motor cars—including electric motor cars—are very different from the reality. It is in that atmosphere that the amendment is important.
I hope that the Government will recognise that in other areas in this business, too, regulation is not an imposition but an encouragement. Good regulation is a good thing. We are against bad regulation. In this area, we need regulation that gives people confidence in what is for most of them a very new technology. I thank my noble friend but also urge her to recognise that we need similar support in other areas if we are to get the change which we will need. I remind her that the Government have set far too far a target for the eradication of new petrol and diesel-driven vehicles: 2030 is necessary if we are to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, so there is a real need to get on with things which will encourage people to buy these motor cars.
My Lords, I am grateful for noble Lords’ comments on this. This is a real improvement to the Bill, and the provision of this power will help to ensure that we have a working and reliable charge point infrastructure.
On the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, I agree that this is a slight chicken and egg situation, in that we are not going to get the cars produced if there is no demand for them, and we will not get the demand for them if we do not have the infrastructure for them. It is important that we look at the two aspects in parallel—the manufacturing of cars and the provision of infrastructure.
I thank my noble friend Lord Deben for his comments. There are many provisions in the Bill on information and transparency. I entirely agree that we need to give confidence to consumers in this new area. This Bill is just part of our work as a Government on encouraging the move to zero-emission vehicles. I am going to say it again, but we will soon be publishing the road to zero strategy, which will set out in more detail how we plan to move towards zero-emission vehicles.
Amendment 13 agreed.
Amendments 14 to 17
14: Clause 9, page 6, line 9, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
15: Clause 9, page 6, line 13, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
16: Clause 9, page 6, line 18, at end insert—
“(2A) Regulations under subsection (1)(aa) may, for example, require the operator of a public charging or refuelling point to ensure that the point complies with prescribed requirements (which may include technical specifications).”
17: Clause 9, page 6, line 20, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
Amendments 14 to 17 agreed.
18: Clause 9, page 6, line 22, at end insert—
“(3A) Regulations may prohibit the removal of public charging or refuelling points unless appropriate permission is obtained from the relevant local authority.(3B) Regulations under subsection (3A) may be limited to public charging or refuelling points whose installation was assisted by publicly funded grants.”
My Lords, this amendment follows on very neatly from a reference in government Amendment 13 about the,
“performance, maintenance and availability of public charging or refuelling points”.
The point was made several times in previous debates that having no charging point at all is possibly less frustrating than getting to one that does not work. I am moving on to an issue that I have raised before, which is that once you have installed a charging point it needs to stay there. Since the Government appear to have accepted the principle that planning legislation will be able to take into account the provision of charging points, we need reassurance that it will also take into account that permission will be needed to remove charging points.
I am not dreaming up an obstacle out of the blue, for the sake of it. I have already come across this issue locally to where I live, where a charging point was installed and then there were moves to remove it to change the configuration of a car park. Local residents raised the issue and ran a campaign to keep that charging point there. We cannot expect that always to work. I suggest that this is a good opportunity for the Minister to say publicly that the Government intend to deal with this issue in the regulations.
I should have made it absolutely clear that Amendment 18 looks at the provision of charging points in non-residential premises. Amendment 20 looks at the requirement for charging and refuelling points in new developments. Once again, I draw the analogy with parking spaces. It is quite normal for planning permission to say that you must provide a parking space; if you are building a block of flats, you have to provide at least six parking spaces, for instance. You also need permission if you wish to remove those parking spaces.
My amendment suggests that there should be a requirement in the regulations that new residential, commercial and industrial developments should include charging or refuelling points in the same way as they would require parking spaces. However, I have an eye to being reasonable. There will, of course, be situations where requiring this would be inappropriate, or make the development not viable. The suggestion made by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, of ducting as a possible preparation for this, deals with that issue. We clearly also need some kind of standard approach to such a requirement, in the same way as to the provision of parking spaces. It would be useful if the Government were able to clarify whether they intend to address these specific issues in the regulations. Only with the provision of charging points in a variety of situations, and refuelling points where appropriate, will we deal with the issue just raised by the noble Lord, Lord Deben. The public have to have confidence in a widespread supply of places to recharge or refuel their cars. I beg to move.
My Lords, I will speak to Amendments 19, 34 and 35 in my name. I am retabling amendments discussed in Committee relating to the changes to planning necessary to enable the huge change in our transport infrastructure which the Government have stated they wish to happen. The scale of this challenge is quite daunting. I fully support the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, who said that we need to embrace positive regulation in this instance. The natural pace of things is far too slow at the moment. If we look at what has happened in other sectors of the economy, the power sector in particular has a very good story to tell about changing our outdated structure to a modern one. That did not happen by accident: it came about through a succession of policy instruments which the Government tabled. The transport industry has been left largely alone in the last 20 to 25 years and it has delivered virtually no change, except perhaps for more diesel on the road. We have to see some interventions that will cause this industry to embrace the scale of the necessary changes. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response. I am sure that she has been consulting colleagues in the DCMS about what needs to be done in planning. I suspect the answer will be that there will be something in the zero-emission vehicles strategy—I hope so.
Amendment 19 introduces the equivalent of code rights for the installation of charging infrastructure, similar to that in the Digital Economy Act 2017. We have had a number of years of development in digital telecommunications that have justified that. I suspect that we will quite soon find ourselves in a similar position with this. We have looked for evidence that we need this now. I have to admit that it is thin on the ground, but I suspect that we will be back discussing this again before too long. I look forward to the Minister’s response on that. Amendment 34 is another big topic relating to the rights of leaseholders and what they can and cannot request of landlords. We discussed this in Committee, so I will not dwell on it for too long. I have heard that there is a Law Commission inquiry on leaseholds, but that will not report until 2021—rather a long time to wait to resolve this issue when there are people who want the power today to install and pay for charging infrastructure in their properties but whose landlords are obstacles. We need a resolution of this sooner than 2021.
Amendment 35 is similar to that in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, on the need to address the issue of non-residential buildings and to make them ready for charging infrastructure. It is crucial to say that non-residential is not covered in the National Planning Policy Framework, while residential buildings are covered. I hope to hear from the Minister what might be done to address that anomaly. It is clear that we will save ourselves money if we think about this earlier rather than later. It is always harder to retrofit rather than install at the time of build. I very much look forward to hearing from the Minister.
My Lords, again, these amendments are important, particularly when the industry is new, when it can be not just inconvenient but disastrous to turn up at a point which was on the map but which does not exist. As the industry gets older and more points are automatically there, a sunset clause could be built into this amendment. However, at a time when there are hardly any points around at all, it is important that there should be such.
My Lords, retrofitting can be very expensive, particularly in concrete structures and if you have not provided for the proper electricity supply or at least the potential for it. We are letting ourselves in for large bills in the future, and small bills in the present, if we agree with the idea that we should insist on new builds providing for charging points.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Worthington, for raising amendments for consideration around housing issues and future-proofing new homes and developments. I entirely agree that if we are to move to zero-emission vehicles, as we all wish to do, we need to make sure that we have the correct infrastructure in housing and non-residential developments.
On Amendment 18 and the removal of public charge points, I hope that I will be able to provide reassurance on this matter. Where charge points are installed on local highways or land owned by local authorities, obviously local authorities already have the ability to ensure the installation of charge points, or prohibit their removal in line with any contracts they have in place. Where charge points are installed with public-funded grants to local authorities, as all public-funded charge points currently are, local authorities will have contractual arrangements in place regarding the charge points.
On the issue of planning permission, where a charge point is installed as a condition of a grant of planning permission, which could be determined in accordance with a particular policy in a statutory plan, whether it can be removed will depend on the specific conditions of the grant of planning permission as set out by the local authority itself. The developer would therefore have to apply to the local planning authority to have that condition lifted if it wanted to remove the charge point. The planning authority has the opportunity to consider the merits of agreeing to lift the condition, but we expect that it would not, and it would be difficult for these charge points to be removed.
On Amendment 19 and the issue of charging infrastructure rights and wayleave agreements, I said in Committee that I would discuss this further with other relevant departments, which I have done. Wayleave agreements are sometimes required for rapid charge point installations if cables need to be laid across third-party land for a new connection to the grid or to upgrade the grid. Currently, the wayleave agreement is voluntary for the third party who own the land and they do not have an obligation to accept the wayleave.
As I mentioned in Committee, in cases where an agreement for a wayleave cannot be reached between the installer of electricity equipment and the landowner, we have powers under the Electricity Act 1989 which give the installer statutory powers upon which it can call if no alternative solution can be found, such as another route for the cable. This means that a statutory application can be lodged with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to award the installer a necessary wayleave as long as they can prove why it is necessary and expedient. This process also allows the landowner to show how the granting of a wayleave will impact on their use and enjoyment of the land. This is a different situation from that of telecom lines, which, as the noble Baroness said, following the Digital Economy Act 2017 are now considered to be critical national infrastructure. There was widespread evidence of problems there which did not have the same resolution mechanism.
Therefore, although I appreciate the noble Baroness’s intentions, as she acknowledges, there is little evidence at the moment that the existing statutory powers are insufficient. Since Committee, we have discussed this issue with the trade body for the distribution network operators, the Energy Networks Association, which is of the view that the existing legislation is well established and effective, especially given the resolution mechanism.
We continue to have concerns that the amendment does not allow for the private rights of the owner of any third-party land to be taken into account or for any potential environmental effects to be considered. Because private land access rights are involved, we want to seek more evidence and consult a wide range of stakeholders before taking that any further.
Can the Minister expand a little further on that? Are the Government positively taking action, or are they waiting for a groundswell of demand before they will take action?
Is the noble Lord referring to the granting of wayleaves? We do not think that there is a problem at the moment. After conversations that we have had, we think that wayleaves are granted. They are either resolved between the landowner and the installer or, as I said, there is a resolution mechanism. We have heard of one case that was not able to be sufficiently resolved. Obviously, in those circumstances there will be frustration on the part of one or more parties. However, such cases are invariably resolved using the existing regulations or alternative engineering options, so we do not think that there is a need to take a power on this at the moment.
Does my noble friend accept that it is a question not just of the granting of the wayleave but of the speed at which it is done? There are many such examples and in the end wayleaves are granted. I still do not understand why in these circumstances we have not applied the speed with which we deal with telecommunications because of the pressure for broadband. Why do we not do the same thing?
We have based the Bill on the evidence that we have seen and the problems that we have heard about. I acknowledge that the resolution process can be lengthy if it has to go through the Secretary of State for BEIS, but I appreciate that in the application of new technology there is an element of learning and improvement, particularly for new entrants to the market. We will keep the current statutory arrangements under review and, if further evidence becomes apparent, we will consider what further appropriate action we can take.
We have asked the Government’s new EV energy task force to look at the issue of wayleaves. As I said, we acknowledge that if there is a lengthy period before disputes can be resolved, that will put people off. The task force launches shortly and will work with government, the energy sector and the automotive sector to look at what further actions can be taken to ensure that the energy system is used more efficiently for the uptake of electric vehicles. We have specifically tasked the task force with that.
Amendments 20 and 35 in the names of the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Worthington, rightly highlight the importance of ensuring that new developments include provisions for necessary charging infrastructure. I entirely agree with my noble friend that it will be cheaper to get this right now than to try to do so retrospectively. The recent consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework considered the same policy. It sets out that, when developing local plans, local authorities must fully consider the inclusion of charge points in new developments.
The proposed NPPF envisages that applications for developments should be designed to enable the charging of plug-in and other ultra low emission vehicles in safe, accessible and convenient locations. It also sets out that, if setting local parking standards for residential and non-residential development, policies should take into account the need to ensure the adequate provision of spaces for such vehicles. We are considering many responses to the consultation, and the Government will respond in the summer.
In addition to the measures in the NPPF, building regulations have a big potential to play a role in the move to electric vehicles—in particular, regarding the provision of ducting and pre-cabling infrastructure for new buildings. In our industrial strategy we have committed to update building regulations for new residential developments, saying that they 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.
The NPPF addresses the specific point on non-residential buildings, but we already have the powers to introduce such changes through building regulations so we do not think that they need to be included in the Bill. However, we have carefully considered the issues discussed in Committee, and I am pleased to confirm that we will extend our planned consultation on amending the building regulations for new residential dwellings to include appropriate provision for non-domestic buildings. We will consult on the appropriate regulatory requirements for all new buildings—residential and non-residential—to prepare for charge-point provision. As suggested in the amendments, this work will include considering the options for pre-cabling, and options for specifying a certain level of charging or refuelling points.
Amendment 34 would introduce regulation to ensure leaseholders are not denied the ability to install charging infrastructure, and I have reflected on the discussions in Committee on this issue. Of course, where leaseholders and the landlord or freeholder agree, a charger can be installed very quickly, but this amendment seeks to address those scenarios where one or other interested party has not agreed for whatever reason—we discussed what they could be in Committee. We want to consider these issues carefully. They relate to safety, ownership and cost. Following discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, I can confirm that access to electric vehicle charge points will now be considered in the work that the Government are doing on leaseholding. A consultation will be published in the autumn.
I take the point made by the noble Baroness on timing. We certainly do not want to wait until 2021 on that and we will not have to. The project has already kicked off with a call for evidence and we will add this point into it. The Law Commission is already part way through examining the responses. The formal consultation is due to be published in the autumn and the final report will be in June next year—a little quicker. That consultation will provide a good opportunity to work through the issues around leasehold.
I hope that, given the confirmation that both leasehold properties and non-residential buildings will now be included in the forthcoming consultations, along with the assurance that the Government’s new electric vehicle energy task force has been specifically asked to review the issue of wayleaves, that the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw her amendment.
I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 18 withdrawn.
Amendments 19 and 20 not moved.
Clause 10: Large fuel retailers etc: provision of public charging points
21: Clause 10, page 6, line 26, at end insert “or
( ) large car park operators which are privately owned and managed and fall within a prescribed description,”
My Lords, in moving this amendment, I will speak also to Amendments 23 and 28 in my name. We are returning to the topic of Clause 10. I have perhaps been critical of the Government’s Bill in suggesting that it is a little lightweight and does not contain very much. However, it contains one interesting clause, Clause 10, which takes a power to require that private companies which occupy an important strategic position could be required, through regulation, to make provision for charging/refuelling. It is probably the most interesting part of the Bill. However, the clause is unnecessarily narrow.
In Committee, we discussed the issue of the narrowness of this definition. I know that currently the department’s thinking is that this measure is taken to address the specific issue of range anxiety while on the motorway. I have tabled this set of amendments to ask the Government to think again about why they have chosen to take all this parliamentary time and effort to focus on one element of the transition. It is an important element. All of us who drive electric vehicles and have been on a motorway know the feeling of the charge going down far faster than it does on an A road, and having to look for the next point on your journey where you can safely recharge. That will be better once this has been addressed.
However, this is just one of many instances where the infrastructure and the vehicles need to be in harmony. There are many other ways in which we could bring about an increase in the uptake of electric and zero-emission vehicles if we make sensible regulations to provide the infrastructure in a wider selection of places, the most obvious of which have to be car parks. We know that a large amount of charging will be done either overnight at home when the vehicle is not in use, or perhaps during the day, or it will be done in destinations where people are stopping already to spend time and money and can charge conveniently while doing something else. Given that, car parks would be great places to build out this strategic infrastructure. These amendments seek to amend Clause 10 so that it is not unnecessarily narrow and focused purely on fuel retailers and service stations.
I know that the Minister has been thinking about this issue since Committee, because we did talk about it, but I would put this question to her. Perhaps we can go back in time and ask why it was that the Government decided to embark on a whole Bill process to address just this one narrow question around motorway range anxiety. Would it not have been wiser to have taken a broader approach? I have even gone back to the original consultation document for the modern transport Bill. Five of the seven questions asked in relation to infrastructure related to fuel retailers and only one question at the end asked which other places might be useful. In fact, a large number of respondents suggested that lots of places such as car parks would be very useful. The consultation responses in the summary are quite hard to interpret and we cannot see the raw data, but my gut feeling is that this decision was taken a long time ago and the Government have possibly even forgotten both when and why they took it. We need to revisit the question of narrow scope and Clause 10 being so strangely focused on just one part of the transition. The knowledge is there, but it is simply not enough to put us on the right footing to embrace the transition properly.
I hope that I will hear some words of reassurance, because Clause 10 is so important to the subsequent parts of the Bill that we will come on to. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response and I beg to move.
My Lords, I rise to express my full support for the contribution just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. I regret that I was unable to be here for Committee last week, but I did speak at Second Reading and gave a list of locations which I believe would be suitable for consideration for introducing electric charging points. I understand that, interestingly, today the Cabinet is taking a decision about Heathrow. Would not life have been quite different if in 2009, when the then Labour Government took the decision to consider a third runway, a similar decision had been made that 25% of the parking at Heathrow would be for electric cars, with charging points? What clean air we would now have around the airport if people were required to use electric cars to go there rather than the diesel and petrol vehicles that they have been using over the past eight years. It would be an entirely different environment entirely, and we are still stuck with the problem of whether to go ahead with the expansion. We could also do this at Gatwick and indeed all over the place, in many locations with great big car parks.
I share the view that this is a very modest piece of legislation, and this is one area where we should see amendments from the Government in order to see some changes coming through around the country. So I am very pleased to speak strongly in support of this amendment.
My Lords, I also will add my support for this amendment, which is eminently sensible. Let us think about where we find electric charging points now. We find them at motorway services, in the car park adjacent to the refuelling area, and in the occasional car park. They are often found in big supermarket car parks.
The Government need to follow the lead taken so far by those far-sighted organisations that thought that charging points would be an asset to their business, as well as open the eyes of the car parking industry to encourage it to have charging points. The industry can easily integrate them into its general business model. I recall going to a car park in France that had a couple of charging points. The pricing structure made it extremely unattractive to linger on that charging spot for longer than was needed. Therefore, you were not using a space that other people might want to use; you were utilising it and attracting new customers. I strongly urge the Minister to look at this point. It is essential that the Government embrace every possible opportunity to lead people into a new mindset where charging points are an asset to a business, and do not leave it entirely up to the market. We will not overcome this issue unless the Government take a strong lead, and this is a simple way in which the Government can do that.
My Lords, we are bound to discuss this very narrow amendment to a very narrow agreement by the Government, but it strikes me that there is a problem in the Bill with the extent to which the Government will be able to insist on charging points in future. For example, many public authorities do not seem to be rising to the occasion. As I understand it—I stand open to correction—the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea does not have any of these charging points. It is a disgrace. Westminster has been much better. There are no party politics in this; it is just one of those things. People do not seem to have woken up to this. Does the Minister feel that the Government have enough power to insist that the public sector, not just the private sector, behaves itself and recognises that it has to rise to this challenge? Unless one can be assured of that, one is very sympathetic to the amendment—except that it does not go far enough.
My Lords, I wanted to concentrate my remarks on the final group of amendments, but I will intervene briefly on this one. We should be told—perhaps I could have the Minister’s attention—who is actually objecting. We have just been told that local authorities may have concerns, but are private companies, petrol companies or garages objecting? In this particular area, somewhere along the line, there is a blockage. Can we be told who officials are meeting? What is being said at these meetings? What is blocking this change? Clearly, there is a lot of support across the House for the amendment moved by the noble Baroness.
My Lords, Clause 10 seems a crucial part of the Bill. We absolutely need a widely available, dense network of charging points if we are to get people to move to electric vehicles. If the Government want to discourage diesel vehicles, making diesel available only at motorway service stations would be a pretty good way of doing it. It is clear that what is in the Bill at the moment is vastly inadequate. For large parts of the country, motorways are irrelevant. I include my home town of Eastbourne in that; I do not think that I use the motorway from one end of the year to another. By and large, petrol retailers are small and specialised.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, pointed out, these charging points are not in the petrol station parts of motorway service stations. They are in the parking bits associated with all the things you can do for 30 minutes while you wait for your car to re-charge. You do not want to sit next to a petrol pump for 30 minutes. You want to be doing something—at a sports club, or a nail bar, or whatever it is that you are going to fill the time with. It is at these big car parks, which are associated with something you can do for 30 minutes that we ought to insist on charge points. We should insist, not because it is in some way disadvantageous to these places to put them in, but, as my noble friend Lord Deben pointed out, some people are being remarkably slow—probably because there are not many electric vehicles around at the moment—to see the advantage of being at the front of the wave in putting in charging points. It is at these big car parks around the country—there are some of them near all of us—that we have to insist on charging points. That is what will make the different to the take-up of electric vehicles.
My Lords, Clause 10 involves the classic dilemma of taking rights over private property for the greater good. I commend the fact that the clause is there, but whenever such rights are debated, you debate both breadth and reasonableness. I will listen to the response of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, on that breadth with interest, because I think there is a case for an incremental improvement in the breadth and power of this clause.
My three amendments are about the other side of the coin: that the regulations should be reasonable. Amendment 27 seeks assurances on the whole matter of how the regulations shall be reasonably applied. Amendment 42 is about notice. We need to be assured that private owners will not be immediately required to do things, and there is appropriate and adequate notice. Amendment 43 relates to the consultation process being appropriate.
My Lords, the co-pilot is in charge of this group of amendments. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken to this group and made the case for seeking to expand the scope of Clause 10 beyond the destinations that are so far defined in it.
The amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington—Amendments 21, 23 and 28—seek to expand the scope of Clause 10, so that privately owned large car park operators would also be required to ensure provision of charge points at their premises. A number of noble Lords and Baronesses have spoken in support of that group of amendments. It is important that we carefully consider which location should be captured in Clause 10. As my noble friend highlighted in Committee, we believe that 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. I seek to reassure noble Lords by giving examples of what is now happening in the private sector.
First, perhaps I can deal with my noble friend’s comment about the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. I think it is providing a number of spaces and that the Government are taking the initiative in encouraging it to do better. Indeed, through the Government’s on-street residential scheme, we have just provided funding for 50 additional lamp post charge points to be installed. I hope that is of some reassurance to my noble friend. But we are already seeing the private sector taking the lead, with charge points going in at destinations, including car parks and supermarkets, as these locations begin to appreciate the advantages that offering charging facilities will ultimately have in attracting the growing number of EV drivers to their shops or to use their services. For example, NCP, one of the largest car park operators in the UK, already offers charge points at some of its car parks and is investing to grow the number of sites offering this facility.
Electrical vehicle charging points have been installed in car parks at Heathrow Airport and around 500 charge point connectors have been installed in the UK in the last 30 days. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles has also worked closely with the British Parking Association to develop guidance for its members on investing in and installing charging infrastructure.
As my noble friend mentioned in Committee, we are also aware of a number of supermarkets and shopping centres that have installed charge points, including Asda, which already has charging facilities at more than 100 of its stores. My noble friend’s ministerial colleagues meet regularly with the charge point industry and we are confident of the progress being made in the retail space.
My noble friend also highlighted in Committee that the Government already offer a variety of grant schemes and policy measures to support the installation of charge points in a range of locations. Through government grant schemes such as the 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, including leisure centres, libraries, park and rides, and train station car parks. We have also already committed to providing greater emphasis on the delivery of charge points at train stations as part of the rail franchising process. For private facilities, we also offer grant funding through our Workplace Charging Scheme to support the installation of charge points for employees and fleets. To date, more than 1,000 sockets have been installed in more than 300 companies since the scheme launched in November 2016. Then, there is the new £400 million electric vehicle charging infrastructure investment fund, which will support the installation of charge points across the UK, which could include privately owned car parks.
We heard while debating the previous group of amendments that the Government’s national policy planning framework has just been consulted on and will continue to be an important tool in leveraging infrastructure and future-proofing new developments. When developing local plans, it sets out that local authorities fully consider the inclusion of charge point infrastructure in new developments.
The powers we are seeking in Clause 10 would allow the Government to require more charge points at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers to meet the growing demand for them. In addition to these powers, the proposed NPPF envisages that applications for developments should be designed to enable charging of plug-in and other low-emission vehicles in safe, accessible and convenient locations.
As I read it, it says that the regulations “may” require. It does not say that they are required. Why, in this particular case, can the Government not simply concede to the amendment? It is not a requirement. It says “may”, so it is up to the Government to decide how they want to proceed.
The noble Lord is reverting to a discussion that I think we had in Committee, when we had a debate on “may” versus “must”.
With respect, no. The noble Lord’s point is correct. When the Minister started to discuss this amendment the statement was made that Clause 10 “will require”. It does not. Clause 10 is an enabling power that enables regulations to be made at the Government’s discretion subject to consultation and publication of the zero-emission vehicles strategy, which we are all waiting for and I am sure will contain lots of statements about the need to roll out charging infrastructure to places other than motorway service stations. It is wrong to represent this clause as requiring anything and wrong to miss the opportunity to take a wider enabling power now, otherwise we will have to be back here in six months taking it another time.
I can assure the noble Baroness that it is the Government’s intention to use the powers designated in Clause 10, but we want to consult first on exactly which destinations are included in the definitions. It is our intention to use the powers we seek to have in Clause 10. As I said, the powers we seek would allow the Government to—
I am sorry to interrupt again, but could the noble Lord clarify that? The powers will be used and a consultation will be undertaken about which destinations they will apply to, but the Bill is very specific and narrow and says that it will be only large petrol retailers and service station providers. That is the point we are making: it is too narrow. It is not even what is necessary. The Minister has given a long list of private sector movement. Most service stations already have charge points. That is one place where you can find them. We are talking about a much wider, countrywide need, specifically—when we come on to the next group of amendments—a city-led, demand-led process that Clause 10 could enable but does not as drafted.
The consultations I was referring to concern the definition of a large service station. We have not defined that and that is the consultation we want to embark on. Once that consultation has been completed, it is the Government’s intention to use the powers under Clause 10 to make progress and designate areas where we want more charge points.
On that point, if it is the Government’s intention to proceed, then the word “may” is not really required. Anyhow, why not leave “may” in and include the words in the amendment? I cannot see what the Government lose by accepting this amendment. It is totally at their discretion as to what happens.
The Government have made this clear right from the beginning—I shall come on to this in a moment. When we consulted on measures in the Bill we determined that it was most appropriate to mandate provision at sites, such as fuel retailers and service areas, which are already invested in providing services related to vehicle refuelling. That was the basis on which we consulted and the basis on which the Bill was brought forward. What the amendments seek to do, at a very late stage in the Bill, is to broaden the scope very widely, beyond the initial areas we identified, to include a whole lot of others. We do not think that necessary because, as I said a moment ago, the market is responding. These charge points are already being provided in supermarkets and private car parks and the Government want to take powers only where absolutely necessary.
The locations we have chosen, the motorway service areas and the large service stations, are crucial in reducing range anxiety so that drivers can be confident in undertaking long journeys that they will be able to recharge easily and quickly en route. This is an issue that will remain for the longest journey, even with developments in battery technology, so it makes the most sense to ensure that the infrastructure for those journeys is provided for now and in the Bill. We expect that for many journeys range anxiety will fall away as the battery ranges of new electric vehicles increase, reducing the need for recharging every time an EV driver arrives at their destination. For all these reasons, the Government do not believe they need additional powers to regulate in this area.
Does the Minister accept that the problem is not just about range anxiety on long journeys? We also have to cater for people who wish to own an electric car but do not have a drive of their own or space in their domestic circumstances to recharge their car. Such people will rely on possible innovative solutions—the idea of using lamp-posts as charging points may be feasible—but also on access to a charging point in the local car park while they are in work, while they are shopping or, indeed, when they go out to the cinema, for example. They will want alternative provision. We are not talking just about long journeys. To be honest, most of us do not spend our whole lives doing long journeys. Most of us are doing local missions, are we not? Therefore, we have to open this market up to people who do not have driveways or access to domestic, on-site recharging.
I am grateful to the noble Baroness. The Bill is focused on the longer journeys: that is why it is focused on motorway service areas and the major service area operators. As I said a moment ago, the market is now responding in the way I have outlined to meet the requirements of those motorists who need to recharge somewhere near their home. Progress is being made with providing charging stations at lamp-posts, for example. Following Committee, we have reflected on the debate, which highlighted the need for large fuel retailers and service area operators to be consulted in a way that enables them to fully prepare for future regulations.
I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, about the importance of clarity for those retailers in the sector covered by the regulations. We agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, that the consultation will help improve the regulations by understanding some of the limitations that these bodies could face in installing charging and refuelling infrastructure, such as grid capacity. We also agree that the consultation will assist in raising awareness among fuel retailers that they will need to consider the future.
The Minister refers to long journeys but I think that the biggest market for this product will actually be in the inner cities, where people make short journeys and will want lots of these charging points. That is the reverse of the position taken by the Government. I do not want to drive 100 miles up the M1 and call in at every service station to have a recharge. One wants to use these vehicles in the inner-city areas. The Government seem to have it the wrong way round.
Many people already charge at home. If one looks around the streets just a stone’s throw from the Palace of Westminster one can see an increasing number of charge points, where people who do not have access to home charging can recharge their vehicle. You can recharge your vehicle in the car park at the other end of the building.
Can the Minister say why the mayors are calling for the change in the amendment? They are on the spot in the cities around the country and know the difficulties; they are asking for the change. Why are we refusing it?
The next group of amendments is indeed about the powers that the mayors are seeking, but the Government’s proposal is that those powers should be constrained within the broad terms of the Bill and not extended. We will explain that when we reach the next set of amendments—if we ever get there.
I turn to Amendment 27 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe. As stated in Clause 16 and detailed in the policy scoping notes, any regulations brought forward would be informed by consultation with industry, including fuel retailers, motorway service area operators, EV infrastructure providers and operators, and EV manufacturers and drivers. Regulations would need to take into careful consideration the commercial and operational impacts on the organisations that would be directly impacted. For example, detailed regulations would need to take account of: an assessment of current and planned provision at the locations in question; an understanding of the underlying fuel retail and motorway service businesses and the needs of users; and an understanding of the factors which will make particular sites more or less suited to installation and operation of EV infrastructure. In addition, Clause 15 already provides the Secretary of State with powers to create exceptions from any requirement imposed by regulations, which could be used where an expansion of land was required or other disproportionate costs were transferred to retailers and operators.
In relation to the noble Lord’s Amendment 42, consultation would also help inform the Government of the time it would take industry to be compliant with any requirements, and dates for compliance can be written into regulations if necessary. It will be important to address the intention behind the noble Lord’s two amendments as we bring forward regulations. Although we do not believe these amendments are needed, we appreciate his concern that industry must have sufficient time to prepare for any requirements, and we can commit today that where proposals would impose substantial requirements on operators of public charge points, large fuel retailers or service operators, the Government will allow at least six months between the commencement of consultation on the proposals and the coming into force of the relevant provisions of any consequent regulations brought forward under Part 2 of the Bill.
Following Committee, and the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, we have considered whether there is anything further we can do to strengthen our commitment to ensuring that large fuel retailers and motorway service areas are aware of regulations in good time before they are brought forward. My noble friend has tabled government Amendments 44 to 46 to ensure that each time the definitions for “large fuel retailer” and “service area operator” are changed, they are subject to the affirmative procedure to ensure that extra parliamentary scrutiny is afforded to these changes.
Amendment 43, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, seeks to ensure that consultations,
“last for a proportionate length of time”.
We have discussed this in previous stages and the Government believe it is essential to consult before making regulations to ensure that the regulations are both effective and proportionate. That is why we have included a requirement to consult in Clause 16. I completely agree that it is always important to ensure that consultations last for a proportionate length of time. Consulting too quickly will not give enough time for consideration and will reduce the quality of responses. This is why the Government’s Consultation Principles 2018 include precisely this point as one of the principles. The amendment would change the relevant principle into a requirement in the Bill.
We do not believe it is necessary to do that. The Government are already held to account for conducting consultations in line with the consultation principles. There is heavy scrutiny of those responding and of course by Parliament. The Government are also subject to the requirements of public law, and therefore to oversight by the courts, when undertaking consultations of this nature. Therefore, while I fully agree with the importance of ensuring that consultations last a proportionate length of time, I do not think it necessary to turn one of the Government’s principles into a statutory requirement in the Bill.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, for raising the topic of ensuring that consultations last a proportionate length of time. I agree on the importance but, for the reasons I have set out, it is not necessary or appropriate to include them in the Bill. I hope that, with the commitments I have given and the government amendments, the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw her amendment.
My Lords, before my noble friend sits down, I am sure he will agree that the House has expressed widespread disquiet over the narrowness of this clause. Will the Government commit to continuing conversations between now and Third Reading?
I am possibly more aware than anyone else in the Chamber of the strength of feeling that we have had during debate on this issue. I understand where my noble friend is coming from but I would be misleading him if I said that I could give the commitment he asks for.
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his response. I am afraid that I cannot say I am any clearer or more reassured as to the logic behind the Government’s position on this issue. It feels to me as if, at some point in the distant past, a decision was made on behalf of all EV owners in the country that long-distance journeys were the problem. Where is the evidence that that is the case? What are the Government basing their policy on? Can we see the consultation document which asked, “What is your biggest fear about driving an electric vehicle?” The only consultation I have been able to find had five leading questions related to large fuel retailers and one open-ended question. The analysis of the responses indicates that there is almost no difference between those who supported mandatory provisions on fuel retailers and those who said, “We want them everywhere”. There is no evidence. I urge the Government, please, before Third Reading to come into dialogue to discuss this clause, so that we can get to the bottom of where the evidence is for it. If we can do that, although I reserve the right to bring back an amendment at Third Reading given the widespread support expressed today, then I will be happy to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment 21 withdrawn.
22: Clause 10, page 6, line 27, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
Amendment 22 agreed.
Amendment 23 not moved.
Amendments 24 to 26
24: Clause 10, page 6, line 30, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
25: Clause 10, page 6, line 31, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
26: Clause 10, page 6, line 34, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
Amendments 24 to 26 agreed.
Amendments 27 and 28 not moved.
29: After Clause 10, insert the following new Clause—
“Duty to consider making regulations under section 10 on request by elected mayor
(1) The Secretary of State must consider making regulations under section 10 in relation to roads forming part of the key route network in a relevant area if—(a) the mayor for the relevant area makes a request for such regulations to be made,(b) conditions 1 and 2 are met, and (c) the Secretary of State considers that the mayor has complied with any prescribed requirements before making the request.(2) Condition 1 is that the Secretary of State is satisfied that, before making the request, the mayor—(a) published proposals for regulations to be made under section 10 in relation to roads forming part of the key route network in the area, and(b) consulted—(i) persons who would be likely to be subject to requirements under the regulations (if made), and(ii) such other persons as the mayor considers appropriate,in relation to the published proposals.(3) Condition 2 is that the mayor has given the Secretary of State a summary of the responses to the consultation referred to in subsection (2)(b).(4) The Secretary of State may disregard a request to the extent that it relates to the definitions of “large fuel retailer” and “service area operator”.(5) For the purposes of this section—(a) “relevant area” means the area of a combined authority or Greater London;(b) a road forms part of the key route network in a relevant area if—(i) in the case of the area of a combined authority, the road is one in relation to which functions are exercisable by the combined authority as a result of an order under section 105A(1) of the 2009 Act;(ii) in the case of Greater London, the road is a GLA road (within the meaning of the Highways Act 1980);(c) the mayor for a relevant area is—(i) in the case of the area of a combined authority, the mayor for the area elected in accordance with section 107A(2) of the 2009 Act;(ii) in the case of Greater London, the Mayor of London.(6) In this section—“the 2009 Act” means the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009;“combined authority” means a combined authority established under section 103(1) of the 2009 Act.”
My Lords, this group of amendments considers an interesting and important point around the role of metro mayors in enabling the installation of charging infrastructure. I explained in Committee that we would reflect on the points made in that debate and my response has been to table Amendment 29. Cities, regions and counties play a hugely important role in local environmental strategies and dealing with air quality challenges. Charging infrastructure will need to be a part of these strategies and this provision would give them a lever to help deliver it locally. As discussed in Committee, it is important that the relevant highways authorities and combined authorities work together with industry to deliver local solutions, supported by government. We spoke on earlier groups about how local authorities and metro mayors are working together and I welcome the London EV infrastructure task force, launched by the Mayor of London last week, as a good example of this working in practice. We look forward to what it achieves.
Government Amendment 29 would enable metro mayors—the Mayor of London and mayors of combined authorities—to designate locations defined in Clause 10. As we have just discussed, this is limited to large fuel retailers and service area locations installing charging infrastructure within their defined key route networks. Mayors would be required to consult on such premises and notify the intent for regulations to be made to the Secretary of State, who must then decide whether to make regulations. Reasoning would be provided to applicant mayors should the Secretary of State choose not to introduce such regulations. It is intended that these powers could only be exercised once the definitions of large fuel retailers and the factors that would determine the suitability of a particular location have been adopted in regulations. We think this would provide clarity and ensure appropriate scrutiny prior to the power being exercised.
I shall speak also to Amendments 30A, 31, 32A and 33A in this group, as we can make some movement on them. Amendment 30A, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, as an amendment to Amendment 29, seeks to introduce requirements that when proposed by mayors the Secretary of State must either introduce requirements following a mayoral request or provide reasoning why not when notifying the applicant mayor. I assure the noble Baroness that the Secretary of State intends to bring forward the regulations on the basis that they are appropriate, but it is right and proper that the Secretary of State would have the ability not to introduce the regulations should, for any reason, he not be satisfied that the requirements have been complied with. Should that be the case for any reason, as I said in my opening remarks, it is certainly the intention that any reasoning would be fully explained to the relevant mayor.
Amendment 30A would also delete proposed new subsection 1(c) of Amendment 29, which we want to maintain. It is important to ensure that no unreasonable burden is placed on retailers, that any approach is in line with agreed definitions and that any appropriate consultations have been undertaken. I confirm that I will bring forward at Third Reading a government amendment similar to Amendment 30A but with that provision maintained.
Amendments 31 and 33A, also tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, seek to widen the scope of designation by metro mayors beyond large fuel retailers on the relevant key route networks or red routes in London. We have some concerns about widening the scope beyond the key route networks if motorway service areas were also included. We think it is most appropriate for DfT and Highways England to maintain a strategic national-level oversight of service areas, given their responsibilities for these motorway routes and the need to ensure sufficient infrastructure at these strategic locations. However, removing the limitation of the key route networks may be appropriate so metro mayors can take a strategic view of large fuel retailers across their areas. To be absolutely clear, this would be appropriate for charge points at large fuel retailers only, not on the roads themselves. I know local authorities have been concerned.
Amendment 32A seeks to clarify that metro mayors should consult the relevant local authority. This is something we would fully expect to happen. It is important that local authorities are involved in infrastructure provision, and I confirm that at Third Reading we will look to bring forward government amendments similar to Amendments 31, 32A and 33A, but removing the reference to service area operators for the reasons I have mentioned. I hope that will address the noble Baroness’s concern. I beg to move.
Amendment 30A (to Amendment 29)
30A: After Clause 10, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
“(1) If the mayor for a relevant area makes a request for regulations under section 10 to be made in relation to the relevant area and conditions 1 and 2 are met, then the Secretary of State must either—(a) make the regulations, or(b) notify the mayor of his or her decision not to make the regulations, and include reasons for that decision.”
My Lords, in the absence of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, I shall move the amendment she has tabled. I shall not speak at any great length on it. The change which has been tabled is welcome, but it falls considerably short of what we were hoping for and, in particular, what the mayors were hoping for. They do not feel that the Bill gives them the powers to tackle the fundamental problems they have with air pollution. They see it as an important part of several pieces of equipment they need to tackle air pollution. In particular, as I said in my earlier intervention, they have to be able to bring pressure to bear to ensure that there are more electric charging points in car parks. The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, made the point very clearly. Most people using electric cars are not concerned about long journeys. They have bought their electric cars for good green reasons and for other reasons, and they are using them principally in cities. They are looking for the infrastructure to back them and, in particular, they find that in many areas in which they park there is no facility.
The mayors recognise this. They know what their cities have and what their citizens want. I am sure they will feel that while they welcome this change, there are a lot of words but little change and little benefit for them. Others may speak on this but we hope that the Government might take this away, reflect on it and see if they can come back and do better on it next time around. I beg to move.
I am somewhat confused. I thought we were still debating the group starting with Amendment 29, and my understanding of the rules is that no other amendment is yet moved. Anyway, I will make the speech that I was going to make. I thank the Minister for her help in trying to get me to understand the amendment, those that preceded it and the amendments to the amendments that preceded the latest amendments to the amendment. I have to admit that I am now totally confused. Hence I am absolutely delighted that the Minister has assured us that this group of amendments will be translated into a single government amendment. I will reserve my views on that amendment until I have seen it, and I hope it turns up quite soon. Because that amendment will be tabled, we may choose to bring forward amendments to it at Third Reading, but I will refrain from using the time of the House any more at this point.
My Lords, I am totally confused as well because I thought we were still on group 7. I am going to confuse everyone even further by moving and speaking to Amendment 33.
My Lords, it might help the noble Baroness to know that she cannot move her amendment at this stage because it has not been called.
I shall speak to Amendment 33, which seeks to amend government Amendment 29. This would allow the Secretary of State the power to extend the provisions in Amendment 29 to other local transport authorities as well as to metro mayors. This is where I differ from the general view that has been expressed so far, and have differed from it in our past debates, because in our view it is unfair that this power should apply only to areas with metro mayors. Perhaps that is because I come from Wales, where it is the policy of the Government not to have metro mayors so, however large the city, you have no metro mayors.
However, I can think of other areas that might want to take a lead in encouraging modern transport—for example, Cornwall, which was granted special powers on bus franchising but clearly does not have a metro mayor. I remember reading recently that a list of the most congested towns in Britain was topped by Bournemouth, which has no metro mayor. Those are all areas that would quite likely wish to encourage the use of electric cars and ultra-low-emission vehicles which in some areas suffer from considerable congestion. As we all know, congestion means increased emissions, and that is why they would have a legitimate reason to want extra powers along the lines that the metro mayors are being allowed.
The new amendment was picked up by the DPRRC in its 28th report, to which I draw the attention of the House. In its previous report, the DPPRC highlighted the fact that the power to make regulations under Section 10 should be made by affirmative procedure, and was not convinced by the idea that only the first set of regulations should be affirmative. In its 28th report, it argued that the new clause further undermines the Government’s argument. It states:
“Allowing mayors to request different regimes for their own areas, in our view, must imply that provision which will be made in such area specific regulations will be significantly different from that made in relation to the UK generally. Accordingly, we consider that the affirmative procedure should apply to all exercises of the power where regulations under clause 10 are made in response to a request under the new clause”.
We are asking for the Secretary of State to have additional powers to devolve powers, no matter what local government structure is in place because, as others have said, in urban areas, there is a strong need to encourage the use of ultra-low-emission vehicles.
My Lords, I support the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, and others in this group. Local transport authorities ought to be able to deal with particular problems that arise.
We have a problem in Eastbourne, surprisingly enough, with high levels of particulates—seemingly related to the geography of the place. The local authority therefore wishes that we should be able to reduce them. We do not have a motorway. My noble friend Lord Young said that service centres had not yet been defined. I should be interested to know how the Government are thinking of defining service centres. In Eastbourne and, I should think, most metropolitan areas, we have a petrol station as part of a large, shared area where there is a lot of parking and a lot of other retail. Will this be defined as a service centre? It is as close as we get to a service centre. That would enable the benefits of Clause 10 to extend to an area such as ours and, if the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, is accepted, we might even get the full benefits of Clause 10. As that is clearly a direction in which our community wishes to move, I would very much like the Bill to give it the power to do so.
My Lords, I need to begin by declaring an interest that I did not have in Committee, because I think that this morning, I was elected co-president of London Councils. No one has confirmed that yet and, as a Liberal Democrat, I know only too well not to take things for granted but, just in case I was successful in an unopposed election, I declare an interest as co-president of London Councils.
When we debated this in Committee, there was considerable concern about the apparent slow progress of London boroughs in acting on rapid charging units. It is therefore only fair that I put on record a response, although I do not want to dwell on it. I am told:
“The TfL transformation has impacted heavily on their ability to engage efficiently and consistently with the London boroughs and other stakeholders. We have been told by a number of boroughs that they had identified and submitted numerous locations for rapid charging points to TfL, only for the engagement to end, in some cases for months, with little or no information provided to the borough on whether the plans are progressing. In many cases local authorities have done all that is necessary and are waiting for TfL to complete the installation”.
I thought it was fair to put that on record, but I really do not want to get into the blame game—none of us do; we want rapid progress to rapid charging points. To that end, now that the London borough elections are out of the way as well, I am pleased to know that discussions have taken place and continue to take place between the GLA, TfL and London Councils. I think that I mentioned in Committee that London Councils had already established a sub-group of members to deal rapidly with these issues, and I am pleased to say that that is now progressing. As a consequence, I understand, TfL has said that it will not pursue its wish for permitted development rights—and that is welcome to the boroughs and to me, having had some considerable experience as a member of the GLA and as a London borough councillor. So far, all that is good.
I turn to Amendment 29. I seek clarification; I think that I understood the Minister in moving the amendment to say that the government intention was that it would apply only to large fuel regulators and service area operators—and the Minister nods in agreement with that statement. That is not what the amendment actually says. It could certainly be interpreted—and indeed I think that it says this—as relating to all roads in the key route network. Anyone reading the Bill would take that as applying to all roads in the key route network—and, indeed, the other amendments apply it to all other roads. I understand that the Government intend to come back with a further amendment on that.
I think that the Minister has clarified this issue in moving the amendment and in nodding in assent to my interpretation of it. However, if the Government are bringing back further amendments in respect of what is before us—Amendments 30A, 31 and 33A—would it not be better also to take back Amendment 29 and rewrite it clarifying what the Government want it to mean: that it applies specifically to those two areas, to area operators and large fuel retailers, rather than to all roads on the route network? That seems to me a very sensible thing to do, given that we are going to come back to the issue anyway at Third Reading next week.
Those are my points. I went through in Committee at some stage as to why it is not a good idea to give metro mayors the power over things which, certainly in London’s case, are properly the matter for the borough councils as both parking authorities and highway authorities. I do not need to repeat that; I could give many instances of how that has not worked and does not work—but I hope that we are not going to go down that route and that TfL is not going to pursue that route, as I hope is nobody else. When we come back to Third Reading, I hope that the Government will bring before us amendments that make the situation absolutely clear, and we can progress to actually getting on and installing rapid charging points.
My Lords, we may not be in the blame game, but the noble Lord has actually made a strong statement there about the response of TfL to the boroughs. I reserve my comments until, perhaps, we have had a response from those who almost stand in the dock—and perhaps I can raise my comments on Third Reading.
My Lords, I apologise if there is any confusion on this issue. Obviously, having amendments to a government amendment can lead to confusion. As I said, we will bring forward a government amendment, taking on board other comments, and we will endeavour to do that as soon as possible.
On Amendment 33, on extending the power to local transport authorities, we have a number of combined authorities with a directly elected mayor which are designed to deliver their strategic transport priorities across their city regions. We support the devolution of powers to authorities when local decision-making will support improved delivery of transport outcomes. Mayoral combined authorities and the Mayor of London provide an appropriate level of democratic accountability and strategic oversight, which individual local authorities do not necessarily have. We have made the decision to devolve certain strategic powers to metro mayors and metro mayors only and, in this case, we do not think that we should extend them to other local transport authorities.
I will move on to the issues involved in Amendment 29. We discussed London councils, TfL and the mayor at length in Committee and I mentioned this in my opening remarks. We welcome the new taskforce which has been set up and is well represented by all these organisations. There is a real will to work together to deliver these rapid charge points. We are encouraged by that and look forward to seeing progress made.
My understanding from the Minister’s opening remarks is that Amendment 29 is in the pot to be brought together with the other amendments in a new amendment being brought forward at Third Reading.
Yes, the plan is to bring forward one amendment. We aim to combine Amendments 29, 30A, 31, 32A, 33 and 33A into one—we hope simplified—government amendment. On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tope, I make it clear that these are only regulation-making powers under Section 10, which is solely for large fuel retailers and service area operators. That is what these devolved powers refer to. I acknowledge that they do not go as far as the metro mayors want. I do not suggest that we get into another conversation about widening the scope of the Bill and the powers of the metro mayors. The Government’s amendment is related purely to those operators. We will come back to this ahead of Third Reading.
The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, referred to the DPRRC memo. We will go back to the committee with our response and I will copy in all noble Lords. Under Regulation 16(4), the first regulations made following a request by a metro mayor would be subject to the affirmative procedure so the first use of the powers would be debated by Parliament. However, any further exercise of the power is expected to raise similar issues to the first such exercise. Any such regulations would also have been subject to two periods of consultation: the metro mayor would be required to undertake local consultation before asking the Secretary of State to make regulations, and under Regulation 16(3) the Secretary of State would be required to undertake consultation before making the regulations. We think that is sufficient. I am afraid I only received the letter yesterday evening, but we will reply in the coming days and I will make sure that all noble Lords are copied in.
As I said, we will endeavour to come back as soon as possible with a revised government amendment which I hope will simplify matters.
Amendment 30A withdrawn.
Amendments 31 to 33A not moved.
Amendment 29 agreed.
Amendments 30 and 32 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.
Amendments 34 and 35 not moved.
Amendments 36 and 37
36: Clause 11, page 6, line 38, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
37: Clause 11, page 6, line 41, after “charging” insert “or refuelling”
Amendments 36 and 37 agreed.
Clause 12: Transmission of data relating to charge points
38: Clause 12, page 7, line 25, leave out “public charging points” and insert “provided for use by members of the general public”
My Lords, Amendment 38 clarifies that Clause 12 would not place regulations directly on domestic users.
Regulations under Clause 12 would ensure the ongoing transmission of data from smart charge points to specified persons: for example, this could be the national grid or distribution network operators. This data can be used to help predict future demands on the grid and local network “hotspots” so that infrastructure is planned as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. The obligation would fall to the operator of charge points, but it is not intended to directly apply to domestic users.
This amendment is in response to a recommendation from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which suggested that this intention should be made explicit in the Bill.
I want at this early stage to clarify something. Clause 12(1) refers to,
“a prescribed person or to persons of a prescribed description”.
Could that be HMRC?
I am not sure whether that derives precisely from the amendment that I am debating, but it is a legitimate question, and I will seek to ensure that before we finish the noble Lord has a response to whether Clause 12(1) applies to HMRC. I am not quite sure why it would, because I do not see how it is directly involved in the power generation business. However, that is an off-the-cuff remark, and an authoritative response will arrive, I hope, before we complete the next group of amendments.
The DPRRC said:
“It is very significant that the powers conferred by clause 12 will allow requirements to be imposed on domestic consumers, enforceable by financial penalties. If, as stated in the memorandum, it is not the Government’s policy for the powers to be used in this way, then we recommend that this limitation should be set out on the face of the Bill”.
These amendments represent no change to policy but provide clarification of the Government’s intent. The transmission of anonymised data from domestic charge points will still be useful to predict demands on the grid, so the obligation could still apply to domestic charge points. However, we expect that this would be done by placing the requirements on organisations which have control of the relevant data: for example, charge point or energy companies.
The amendment demonstrates the Government’s intention not to place obligations on domestic users of charge points under this clause, and I hope that noble Lords are able to support it. I beg to move.
My Lords, Clause 12(1) states:
“Regulations may make provision for the purpose of ensuring the ongoing transmission of charge point data to a prescribed person or to persons of a prescribed description”.
Amendment 41 would insert the following:
“Regulations under subsection (1) may not impose requirements on owners or occupiers of domestic premises”.
There is a big hole in the Bill. I want to know where the Government will raise their revenue from when fuel duty is reduced. At the moment we raise £28 billion per annum. Over a period of years, as the use of electric vehicles increases, there will be a revenue loss. At the moment, the duty on petrol is nearly 60p a litre, on LPG it is nearly 32p, on natural gas it is 25p, and on diesel it is roughly the same as petrol.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has expressed concern about this. Its view is that revenue will come through road pricing, which I think some people call “spy in the sky”. This whole question of road pricing has always worried me. However, there are other forms of raising the revenue. There is road fund licensing, which would be very expensive if it is substituting fuel duty, or a tax on the meter in the home. In the end, that is where they will have to raise the tax. However, I think that it would be based on the recorded usage on the meter at the residence. If it is based on tax according to the meter at the home, there will have to be two meters in every home—one for the domestic use of electricity and one for the raising of revenue to substitute for the loss of fuel duty—which means that there will be two separate rates. We are entitled to know the Government’s thinking on this. How do they intend to raise revenue in future to substitute for fuel duty losses? In the time that I have spoken, I am sure that the civil servants in the Box have provided the Minister with an answer to my question.
Is there some rule of law that implies at the end of Amendment 41 the words “in respect of those premises”? If there is, I would like to know what it is. If there is not, then all that a vast operator of charge points has to do is to buy one house. They will then be the owners of domestic premises and this clause will no longer apply to them.
I think that it would apply to them as an operator, although of course it would not apply to them as an owner of residential property. We have made it absolutely clear that it is the charge operator and not the consumer who has to supply the data. That is the thrust of these amendments. Perhaps I may reflect on what my noble friend has said and write to him, but we do not see this as a loophole whereby a charge operator can escape his obligation to notify the national grid or whoever of the volume of consumption at a particular charge point.
I commend the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, for his ingenuity in seeking to broaden a rather narrow debate about data from a charge point into one about the future taxation policy as the nation moves from petrol-consuming vehicles to electricity. I am sure that there are brains in the Treasury who are aware of the potential threat to their revenue, but it is essentially a matter for the Treasury and not for this Bill. The Bill is not about taxation. The policy scoping notes and the Explanatory Notes make it clear that it is not intended to use this clause for taxation purposes in any way. The noble Lord raises important issues but, with respect, they do not arise from this narrow group of amendments.
Why, then, have these regulations? As I understand it, it would not be possible to raise the revenue from the vehicular meter in the home in the event that Amendment 41 were in place.
It is important that the electricity grid is aware of hot points in the pattern of consumption in order to plan ahead. Therefore, it needs the data to find out in what parts of the country demand is coming from and at what times of the day. The amendment would simply place the obligation clearly on the operator of the charge points and not on the domestic consumer.
Perhaps the noble Lord can answer the original question that I asked. Will HMRC be one of these groups of prescribed persons?
No, I do not believe that it will be.
My Lords, I think that I should intervene at this particular moment to remind the House about the rules of Report. Paragraph 8.136 of the Companion states that no Peer should speak twice except, with the leave of the House, to ask a brief question.
Amendment 38 agreed.
Amendments 39 to 41
39: Clause 12, page 7, line 26, leave out “public charging points” and insert “provided as mentioned in paragraph (a)”
40: Clause 12, page 7, line 27, at end insert “(subject to subsection (3A)).”
41: Clause 12, page 7, line 27, at end insert—
“(3A) Regulations under subsection (1) may not impose requirements on owners or occupiers of domestic premises.”
Amendments 39 to 41 agreed.
Clause 14: Enforcement
Amendment 42 not moved.
Clause 16: Regulations
Amendment 43 not moved.
Amendments 44 to 47
44: Clause 16, page 9, line 17, at end insert—
“(4A) Where—(a) a statutory instrument contains regulations under section 10 (large fuel retailers etc), and(b) the regulations amend the definition of “large fuel retailer” or “service area operator”,the instrument containing the regulations may not be made unless a draft of it has been laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House.”
45: Clause 16, page 9, line 19, leave out “are the” and insert “are—
46: Clause 16, page 9, line 19, leave out “Part, is” and insert “Part, or
(b) regulations to which subsection (4A) applies,is”
47: Clause 16, page 9, line 22, leave out paragraph (a) and insert—
“( ) section 9(2A) or (3) (prescribed requirements for public charging or refuelling points or for connecting components), or”
Amendments 44 to 47 agreed.
Clause 16: Regulations
48: After Clause 16, insert the following new Clause—
“Report by Secretary of State on operation of this Part
(1) The Secretary of State must, in respect of each reporting period, prepare a report assessing—(a) the impact and effectiveness of regulations made under this Part;(b) the need for regulations to be made under this Part during subsequent reporting periods.(2) Each report must be laid before Parliament after the end of the reporting period to which it relates.(3) The first reporting period is the period of two years beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.(4) Each subsequent period of 12 months after the first reporting period is a reporting period.”
My Lords, following similar amendments in Committee, government Amendment 48 introduces a new clause on reporting for Part 2. This amendment would require the Secretary of State to produce a report laid before each House of Parliament every year, commencing two years after Royal Assent. This is a broad reporting clause and, for example, would allow the Government to: assess the effects of the regulations on electric vehicle uptake; assess the effects of regulations on industry and consumers; assess how regulations are benefiting the energy system and consumer electricity bills; look at the impact on the Government’s carbon and air quality targets; and consider other social and environmental impacts.
As well as this proposed new clause on reporting, the Government already have other reporting mechanisms and requirements. I explained some of these in Committee, such as the legal obligations to report, and make public, data on air quality and emissions of a range of damaging air quality pollutants, as well as the reporting duties that already exist under the Climate Change Act 2008.
In addition to those reporting requirements, the department publishes statistics on electric vehicle registrations on websites and provides data on the number and location of public charge points. The powers in the Bill will enhance this information and ensure that it is openly available.
As well as assessing the impact of the regulations made, I am also pleased to have included in the amendment a requirement for an assessment of the need for other regulations to be made under this part during subsequent reporting periods. This will help to ensure that further regulations are made in a timely and appropriate manner. I hope that noble Lords are able to support this new clause as one that will complement the Government’s other reporting mechanisms, I beg to move.
My Lords, I am pleased to see this amendment committing to a reporting procedure. It is highly sensible because of the way in which we are having to second-guess the future. The speed of response to change could well be quite rapid. I recall the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, quoting some statistics at our last sitting. She referred to a big spike in the sales of petrol cars that matched the rapid decline in the sale of diesel cars. I use that example to illustrate that changes in this market can be very rapid in response to public knowledge, concern and awareness of environmental issues.
I will use the opportunity of this reporting amendment to urge the Government to give some thought now to the possibility of including car parks in their proposals at Third Reading. Car parks were included as a possibility for further regulations, I suggest gently to the Government that they have the discretion not to implement anything about this in the near future, but they could look, after the first report comes forward, at car parks if their measures implemented in relation to service stations have not proved sufficiently effective. That would mean that they would have the weapon in their armoury, kept in the background. They would not have to go to further legislation and further amendment, which could be difficult and time-consuming. However, I welcome the idea of regular government reports on this rapidly changing situation.
My Lords, having been critical, I now extend a word of gratitude. In particular. I welcome subsection (1)(b) of the proposed new clause in the amendment to which the Minister drew attention, because that will definitely be needed in the future. It is a very helpful amendment indeed.
My Lords, I too am grateful to the Government for the amendment. I particularly congratulate them on subsection (2) of the proposed new clause which, for those who do not have the amendments with them, states:
“Each report must be laid before Parliament after the end of the reporting period to which it relates”.
A Government who could lay the report before the end of the reporting period would be some Government. This provision has no timescale, which could allow the report to be laid before Parliament 45 years after the end of the reporting period to which it relates. That is quite a commitment and again I congratulate the Government on their drafting.
My Lords, I believe that we asked for this provision in Committee, and if we did not, we meant to do so. Either way, we thank the Minister.
My Lords, I am grateful for the broad welcome expressed by noble Lords for the reporting amendment. I can reassure my noble friend that we will lay the report within two years of the Act being passed and further reports every 12 months after that. I did raise the issue of this wording and I have been assured that it has many precedents.
As this is the last group of the day, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions. I know that some believe that the Bill is too narrow in scope and does not go far enough in the provision of electric charging infrastructure. I would like to point out that infrastructure is just one element of Part 2. We have also made provisions on access, connection, information, data, smart charging and now reliability. While I acknowledge the views of noble Lords on infrastructure, we have sought to address any issues where we find them. Again, it is a part of the Bill, not its entirety. Indeed, the Bill forms only a small part of the work that the Government are doing to ensure that we have a successful transition to electric vehicles. I may as well say one last time that our upcoming “road to zero” strategy will set out our plans in more detail.
I have listened to the arguments put by noble Lords throughout the passage of the Bill and I have moved amendments to improve it. Again, I thank noble Lords for their constructive engagement.
Amendment 48 agreed.
Clause 20: Short title
Amendment 49 not moved.
In the Title
Amendment 50 not moved.