Clause 12: Duty to consider making regulations under section 11 on request by elected mayor
1: Clause 12, page 7, line 22, leave out from “making” to “relevant” in line 23 and insert “section 11(1)(a) regulations in relation to the whole or part of a”
My Lords, this group of amendments follows the debate on Report considering the role of metro mayors in enabling the installation of charging infrastructure. In line with commitments I made on Report, I have tabled government amendments to provide clarity around this clause. I have removed reference to the “key route network” so that metro mayors can take a strategic view of large fuel retailers across their areas. As I mentioned on Report, this is limited to “large fuel retailers” and not “service area operators”, as these areas, which are situated primarily on motorways, are best dealt with on a national level.
I have made it clear that regulations can be proposed only once “large fuel retailers” has been defined. In any instance where the Secretary of State of State chooses not to introduce regulations, he will be required to inform the applicant mayor of the reasoning and there will be a requirement to ensure that relevant local authorities are consulted. I beg to move.
I thank the Minister for that explanation. For the information of those listening, the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, and I attempted to lay an amendment to clarify the issue of service areas, or car parks as they might be called. However, according to the rules of the House that was not possible at Third Reading, so there is no amendment from us. But there is still a question in my mind: how do the Government envisage the strategy and policy, going forward? As I mentioned the last time we discussed this, if you go to a service area on a motorway you get your electric charging near the café—very often hundreds of feet from the fuel station—but that does not appear to be what is in the Government’s mind in relation to other service areas. I would like to know what the Government’s strategy is on this. I am sorry to be raising such a detail at Third Reading but we really only talked about this on Report. I still do not have a real understanding of why the Government are not considering having regulations in relation to the car parks associated with service areas, rather than just the fuel stations.
My Lords, I too thank the Minister for her introduction of these amendments. They are very helpful; they clarify the position and make the Bill much more useful. In Committee we debated the fact that this is a very narrow power being taken in relation to the infrastructure necessary to facilitate a greater uptake of electric and zero-emission vehicles. It is important that we look carefully at what more can be done to encourage everybody, at all levels of government—whether national, metro mayor or indeed at borough level—to take stock and introduce an effective network of chargers, which can help people to be confident that they will be able to use electric vehicles in a way that matches their current vehicle use.
I echo the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, in asking: can we hear a little more from the Government, specifically about car parks but about destination charging in general? I feel that it is a little too laissez-faire to think that this will all happen through market forces. There are going to be times when we will need to take a strategic look at this in a specific geographical region. We need to have sufficient powers to enable us to make this infrastructure happen; we will otherwise not see the uptake that we need to hit our air-quality and climate-change targets.
My Lords, at the risk of causing a bit of trouble at this stage of the Bill, I cannot see why it matters particularly where the charging points are in a motorway service station. If you are going to park your car and go off to have a drink, you might as well plug it in while having it. If you do not want to do that but have a high-powered, high-speed charger you can probably do that as if you are filling up with petrol. The general principle in the Bill is all right but I suspect that the commercial pressures on the operators will persuade them to put the charging points where they are most convenient.
I thank the Minister for bringing forward these amendments, which seem to have produced a consensus on all the issues which were brought up on Report. I must agree with other speakers that the Bill is narrow and, to be fair, it is generally our role to scrutinise Bills. While we have done that, there has to be much wider consideration given by government to this whole area. That consideration has to work with other parts of government and local government, so that we do not trip into the area of sovereignty conflict. Fortunately, that seems to have been effectively solved by the amendments and the consultation. It is an important area to get straight if we are to achieve the spread of charging points that will be necessary, particularly to achieve our air-quality targets.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions on this last group in the Bill. On the location of charging points within service areas, I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, and the location of the charge points will be consulted on for the regulations.
On car parks and destination charging in general, I entirely agree that destinations such as car parks should install charging infrastructure to support the overall transition to electric vehicles. While in relation to the provision of public charge points the Bill focused on enabling long-term strategic journeys, following the debate on Report my noble friends and I are well aware of noble Lords’ strength of feeling about the provision of charge points in private car parks, and we have followed this up with the department. I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, for her persistence on this matter, and I am today able to commit to taking forward more action in this area. We will engage further with the private car parking industry to encourage best practice and will consider whether voluntary commitments can be made by the main private car park operators. We will also work with the Institution of Civil Engineers with a view to ensuring that industry guidance on the design and maintenance of car parks includes information and advice on charging provision. We will consider addressing requirements for charging infrastructure for car parks through the Private Member’s Bill on a parking code of practice, which has cross-party support.
I take this opportunity to update noble Lords on an issue which has come up at various stages of the Bill: the provision of electric charge points in our car park. I spoke to the parliamentary estate office this morning, and I am pleased to say that despite there being many other pressures on its time, we are making good progress on this. The feasibility study has produced some positive results and we are expecting the installation of some charge points in Royal Court soon.
This Bill provides a stepping stone in the development and deployment of automated vehicles on UK roads, and for zero-emissions vehicles, both electric battery and hydrogen refuelling, it will address access, standards and connection for public charging or refuelling points. It will address some of the issues of range anxiety, ensure adequate information for users and ensure that future charge points are smart. I acknowledge noble Lords’ feelings on the narrowness of the Bill, and I entirely agree that the Government must look at the bigger picture. The Bill is just one part of the work the Government are doing to ensure that we have a successful transition to zero-emissions vehicles. The upcoming strategy on electric vehicles will set out in more detail a suite of other measures which will enable us to reach a zero-emissions future.
I also take this opportunity to thank the Bill team, who have worked on this Bill for many months, and my noble friends Lord Lucas and Lord Borwick, the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Worthington, and all other noble Lords who have helped to ensure rigorous scrutiny throughout the passage of the Bill. The constructive engagement, conversations and debates have led to significant improvements.
Before the Minister sits down—because it seems to me that I have to use that ridiculous device—I reciprocate the thanks to the noble Baroness, her co-pilot the noble Lord, Lord Young, and the team. They have set a very high standard of involvement with the Opposition and the political parties and, I believe, with individuals. It is a standard which I hope the Government will copy in all areas. We have made great improvements to the Bill, and I do not think there has been a Division on anything. We are there, and I thank the Minister for that. I also thank my massive team of one-fifth of a person, Molly Critchley, for all her support.
My Lords, before the Minister sits down, we have concentrated very much on charging points, but the Bill was amended on Report to cover hydrogen refuelling points. They may not need exactly the same thing, so I would like an assurance that the way they are treated will take account purely of what they are for rather than making the broad assumption that they are charging points and therefore electric only.
I am happy to confirm that. Many amendments changed the Bill to ensure that we were dealing with hydrogen refuelling points as well. That was always the intent of the Bill but I agree that that was not clear enough, which is why we moved government amendments following interventions by the noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, and others on that issue. The technology around hydrogen is not yet as advanced as it is around electric battery but we will be addressing our hydrogen strategy in the upcoming Road to Zero document.
Amendment 1 agreed.
Amendments 2 to 11
2: Clause 12, page 7, line 26, leave out “and 2” and insert “to 3”
3: Clause 12, page 7, line 28, at end insert—
“( ) “Section 11(1)(a) regulations” means regulations under section 11(1) that impose requirements on large fuel retailers within section 11(1)(a).”
4: Clause 12, page 7, line 31, leave out from “for” to “, and” in line 32 and insert “section 11(1)(a) regulations to be made in relation to the whole or part of the relevant area”
5: Clause 12, page 7, line 33, at end insert—
“( ) each local authority any part of whose area falls within the relevant area or, if the request relates to part of the relevant area, within that part,”
6: Clause 12, page 7, line 39, at end insert—
“( ) Condition 3 is that regulations have been made under section 11(3) in relation to the meaning of “large fuel retailer”.”
7: Clause 12, page 7, line 40, leave out subsection (4)
8: Clause 12, page 7, line 41, at end insert—
“( ) If the Secretary of State decides not to make section 11(1)(a) regulations in response to the mayor’s request, the Secretary of State must notify the mayor of the decision and the reasons for it.”
9: Clause 12, page 8, line 1, leave out paragraph (b)
10: Clause 12, page 8, line 16, at end insert—
““local authority” means—(a) a district council,(b) a county council, or(c) a London borough council.”
11: Clause 12, page 8, line 16, at end insert—
““large fuel retailer” has the same meaning as in section 11.”
Amendments 2 to 11 agreed.
Clause 18: Regulations
12: Clause 18, page 11, line 16, at end insert—
“(8) If a draft of a statutory instrument containing relevant section 11(1) regulations would, apart from this subsection, be treated for the purposes of the standing orders of either House of Parliament as a hybrid instrument, it is to proceed in that House as if it were not such an instrument.(9) In subsection (8) “relevant section 11(1) regulations” means regulations under section 11(1) that are made pursuant to section 12 (duty to consider making regulations on request by elected mayor).”
Amendment 12 agreed.
Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.