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Mopeds, Motorcycles and Powered Light Vehicle Industry

Volume 834: debated on Thursday 23 November 2023

Question for Short Debate

Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support a safe and sustainable future for mopeds, motorcycles and the powered light vehicle industry.

My Lords, I am pleased to have secured this debate. I hasten to add that I am not a petrolhead, and if anybody asks me to go on one of these vehicles I might run a mile. Notwithstanding that, there are certain issues that require debate.

There is a need for increased government promotion of powered light vehicles. The primary challenge for the sector, in the shape of the Motor Cycle Industry Association, is transitioning to zero emissions at the tailpipe. The powered light vehicle sector calls for granting large motorcycles more time to transition due to architectural, technical and consumer challenges—and I emphasise that I support the journey to zero. The sector also stresses the importance of technology neutrality, supporting clean and synthetic fuels alongside electric options. It outlines steps for a safer and more sustainable PLV future, urging collaboration between government and industry.

The industry faces several challenges. The first, as I have referred to, is to phase out new non-zero-emission L-category options. In July 2021 the Government proposed phasing out all new non-zero-emission PLVs by 2035, subject to consultation. The Motor Cycle Industry Association engaged selectively with the consultation and officials and submitted a response in September 2022, to which the Government have not yet responded. Maybe the Minister can enlighten us about a possible response today.

It is important to note that, while the industry fully supports the net-zero agenda, any government agenda must not negatively impact this £7 billion-a-year industry and should recognise the diversity of PLV usage and energy capacity. The industry association asserts that focusing on a single-technology approach of zero emissions at the tailpipe does not reflect the complexity of the sector.

PLVs make a contribution to the economy, as we know, and the industry suggests that they contribute less than 0.5% of UK domestic transport emissions. In this respect, government action should be pragmatic, realistic and proportionate to emissions, minimal miles travelled annually and urban mobility benefits, such as reduced congestion and increased air quality.

PLVs face technical, architectural and safety challenges in transitioning to zero emissions. It is also suggested by the industry that all technologies should be supported with equal measure. Electric has proved a workable solution for lower-powered L-category vehicles, but that is not the case for high-powered ones. There is therefore a suggestion that a technology-neutral approach is needed.

The second challenge is having the ability to deliver on joint government and industry powered light vehicle action. Once the Government finalise the phase-out dates, it is crucial to establish the necessary policies and regulations to ensure the feasibility of these timelines.

To fully realise the potential of PLVs by harnessing opportunities and overcoming barriers, the Government should implement a series of recommendations. There should be a review of the existing L-category vehicle regulation to ensure that it remains fit for purpose and caters for the evolution of future PLVs, including assessing the potential for a new vehicle category. There should also be a review of the current grant and incentivisation structure in the PLV sector, including adopting learning from other vehicle categories, where the rollout of zero-emission tailpipe vehicles has proven successful. A public awareness campaign should be jointly led by government and industry to promote the existence, availability and benefits of zero-emission PLVs to consumers and businesses.

Central to all this is simplifying the existing licensing regime across all L-category segments to improve access to zero-emission PLVs for a wider section of the community, increasing access, uptake and adoption. This view is supported by the industry association. Motor drivers might take a slightly different position, but I am inclined to agree that there needs to be a simplified licensing system. The present licensing process has failed to improve safety. A Licence to Net Zero will improve safety by removing provisions that disincentivise riders from receiving more training and becoming safe road users. Road safety is a main issue in all this.

I also recommend engaging with local authorities through the local authority transport decarbonisation toolkit to ensure that zero-emission PLVs form part of an integrated transport solution for the UK, and engaging with industry to ensure that zero-emission PLVs are considered and incorporated into the development of the EV charging infrastructure.

As a result of this, I would like the Minister to answer several questions; if he cannot do so today, perhaps he will write at a later date. What plans do the Government have to consider the whole life-cycle analysis of L-category vehicles in helping to get to net zero? The Prime Minister recently extended the phase-out for vans and cars as part of a

“pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach”

to reducing emissions. Will this be extended to the L-category sector? Will the Government conduct readiness checks ahead of phasing out L-category vehicles to ensure that infrastructure, technology and demand-side policies are all in place before deciding on the final phase-out dates?

Given the joint nature of the government and industry action plan, what assessment does the Minister make of the industry’s A Licence to Net Zero campaign? Will he commit to a full-scale review of the existing licensing regime? What plans do the Government have to progress the additional actions in the action plan for the rest of this year, next year and, perhaps, the future?

This is obviously a very important issue for the industry, which is seeking to do the right thing and progress to net zero, but it needs the necessary infrastructure and technology to enable it to do so. I look forward to the Minister’s answers, outlining what steps the Government will take to support a safe and sustainable future for mopeds, motorcycles and the powered light vehicle industry.

My Lords, I find it very difficult to follow the acute and comprehensive speech just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, in which she covered a wide range of detailed issues relevant to this topic. I shall say only that the questions that she raises are extremely important, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give comprehensive answers to them, if not today then appropriately in writing in due course.

I find myself, a little bit like the noble Baroness, slightly a fish out of water in this particular debate. Although, unlike her, I would very much like to ride pillion on a motorcycle, my one experience of doing so when I was a teenager was so terrifying that I have never actually repeated it. That has been my sole exposure to riding a motorcycle ever since then. Maybe, as I move into my dotage, I shall take up riding pillion, but I do not bring that particular experience.

What I do have experience of is working with people who are transport policy professionals. When I started working in the field of transport and was involved as a local councillor and later with Transport for London, I was surprised at the comprehensive hostility of transport policy professionals towards the motorcycle sector, which they dignified with the name “powered two-wheelers”, a bizarre distortion of the English language, or even “category L vehicles”. In my few minutes I shall refer to them as motorcycles generally because that is a word that more people understand. Transport policy professionals are very hostile to them and to any suggestion that there should be a privilege for them or special provision. Special provision for push-bikes is absolutely all right, but nothing at all to do with motorcycles. Any suggestion like that is pushed back.

Part of the reason is to do with their safety record. It is true that, if you are riding on a motorcycle and travelling at speed and you come off, you more likely to injure yourself than in other circumstances. That is part of the reason: it contributes to poorer road safety figures. However, it is also worth bearing in mind that motorcycles probably do less harm to other road users in collisions than cars do. When we look at the road safety figures, we do not always sufficiently take account of the fact that making it safer for motorists to drive a car often transfers risk to people who are not in the car—that is, to pedestrians and others who are using the road—because it encourages slightly riskier behaviour on the part of the motor car driver. That does not happen with motorcyclists as one sees them dashing through the traffic.

There is also a sense in which the market is getting ahead of the definitions that the department uses. It used to be clear what was a car, what was a motorcycle and what was a push bike, but we now have all sorts of intermediate vehicles, which are creating a sort of merger between different modes of transport that are increasingly hard to distinguish. We have e-scooters, which are encouraged by the department, at least to the extent that trials have been authorised in certain places to allow e-scooters to be looked at, although no final decision has been taken. We have electric-assisted push bikes, which help you up the hill, and so on, so we are getting this merger of typologies. Indeed, even in the motor car sector, you now see tiny cars that are basically little more than tricycles with a vacuum cleaner engine attached to them going through the streets. The department sticks to very old typologies, which are being set to one side.

In pursuit of that, the Government have their target of non-zero motorcycles by 2035, subject to consultation. I often wonder whether the Conservative Party, the heir to the Cavaliers, has adopted a puritan agenda. Even if one actually accepts that the large-scale destruction of much of our economic capacity is justified by the very serious threats of climate change, it is a net-zero target, not an absolute zero target—that is, it is accepted that there will be some carbon emissions going ahead. Given the very small contribution that this sector makes to our overall emissions, could my noble friend perhaps say when he answers that he is willing to cut this sector some slack?

My Lords, I am pleased to be able to contribute to this short debate and congratulate the noble Baroness on achieving it. We seem to spend a lot of time talking about this subject in the round at the moment. The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, also expanded on the complexity and the different types. There is the generic type, which is probably “a wheeled vehicle”, although I am not sure about that. However, there are more and more of them; we had a very interesting debate on pedicabs last night, and some of us thought that that legislation should be extended to scooters for various reasons that I will not get into now.

The important thing is that the Government, when looking at all these different types of transport and the regulations that inevitably go with them, do so on a consistent basis. As the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, said, some of that is to do with net zero, but some of it is also to do with things such as safety, which is in the title of the debate, and sustainability. You could add things such as parking, the electric power, regulation and what these vehicles are used for. We have talked about different types of motorbike today: there are big ones and small ones, and some noble Lords will say that some of them are hated by people and others are loved. However, they may also be hauling trailers taking kids to school. They may be doing all kinds of different things. The legislation must somehow cover all that.

One issue has not come up so far, which is the question of lithium-ion battery fires. I have been studying quite a lot of them in relation to fires on ships, which are a much bigger problem because obviously the vehicles are bigger. They have a habit of setting themselves on fire. That can apply to motorbikes or whatever we are going to call them, and to electric bikes, cars and everything else. All that needs looking at because it is a terribly important safety element.

The other issue which the noble Baroness mentioned was the consultation that has been going on for these L-category vehicles. I hope that when the Minister responds he will be able to tell us when we are likely to get some answers on that because we need them. I was, frankly, surprised at the Prime Minister’s statement on the delay in phasing out petrol and diesel cars. It is interesting that the Financial Times reports today that the Office for Budget Responsibility says that the take-up of EV cars has slowed, which it appears is the result of that delay, although we know that they are expensive. Clearly, the Prime Minister does not really mind too much about where they are manufactured and how many are manufactured, but he cares about people who want to go around in 4x4s emitting a maximum amount of pollution. We need to look at all these things in the round.

I remember, probably before most noble Lords were even in this House, moving an amendment to some Bill suggesting that 4x4s were the most unsafe vehicle if you were to hit a child outside. They are very safe inside for little Johnny but if you are going to hit somebody outside, they are very unsafe. Therefore I suggested that 4x4s should be banned for one mile around schools during the school-run period. Of course, the Government did not like that. Is that surprising? We love the cars and nothing else.

It is important to take into consideration the special circumstances of the motorcycle industry—it is a very wide industry; my electric bike could well have been built within it—and for the Government to get the staging of net zero and any other regulation that goes along with it into a proper sequence. We will talk about automatic vehicles next week, and there is the same problem there. Given the whole-life effect, as the noble Baroness said, and the involvement of cars, vans, trailers and everything, there needs to be a consistent and comprehensive policy. Does the Minister agree? If so, when will the Government produce one?

My Lords, I welcome the Minister to his new role and congratulate the noble Baroness on securing this debate. Like her, I am certainly not a petrolhead but should declare that I own a moped. I apologise that my contribution will be narrowly focused on the safety of powered light vehicles, echoing a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley.

Electrically powered micromobility, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, is increasingly popular as a greener, healthier and more economic form of transport. However, I entirely accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, that the categorisation system we now use is way out of date for what is happening in modern society. Last year, the e-bike market alone was worth £300 million and it is growing rapidly, but as demand for them increases, so too does the risk of battery fires.

Lithium-ion batteries store more energy than any other battery type, allowing longer use. Yet most people are totally unaware that a fully charged e-bike battery contains a similar amount of energy to six hand grenades and that they can be putting their lives at risk when charging them. If overheated, through damage, flawed design or using a substandard charger, lithium-ion batteries can create fierce fires—with temperatures over 600 degrees centigrade—that are not only difficult to extinguish but release toxic gas.

Helped by the charity Electrical Safety First, I entered this year’s Private Members’ Bill ballot with my “Safety of Electric Powered Micromobility Vehicles and Lithium Batteries” Bill. Sadly, I was unsuccessful, but I hope it will be taken up in the other place or perhaps by the Government, because fires from lithium-ion batteries in e-scooters and e-bikes have surged since 2020, with an estimated average of one every day this year. They have caused millions of pounds-worth of property damage and 48% of fires in waste facilities are from these batteries, also costing millions. They have caused more than 190 reported injuries and, tragically, 12 lives have been lost. I know the Government plan to consult on battery regulations—it would help if the Minister could update us on that—but, to save lives and property, a wider range of actions is urgently needed.

E-scooters, e-bikes and their batteries can currently be sold without independent safety checks, unlike other high-risk products such as fireworks. There are inadequate standards for charging systems and conversion kits for turning an ordinary bike into an e-bike, and no regulations on safe disposal of these batteries. The Bill I mentioned would rectify all these omissions. It includes requirements for pre-sale independent safety checks, regulations for safety standards for conversion kits and charging systems and regulations for the safe disposal of lithium batteries.

The Bill is ready to go. It offers a pragmatic, life-saving solution, first outlined in Electrical Safety First’s report Battery Breakdown. It is supported by fire and ambulance chiefs, insurance companies from AXA to Zurich, consumer groups, RoSPA and many others. To prevent further tragedies, we need the political will to tackle this issue head on. I hope the Minister will respond by saying that the Government will seriously consider taking up the proposed legislation and, if not, tell us what they will do about it.

My Lords, I am grateful to take part in this debate encouraging motorcycling in its regulation. I have been a motorcyclist for some years, largely in London, and have always felt that, with a few judicious pushes—or perhaps more than a few—motorcycling could become much more central to our whole transport system. I hope that if we, as well as the industry and the Government, get this right, we could now lay down markers for the future as to how all this develops, particularly in how we deal with decarbonisation and the fluctuating net-zero targets.

This a useful debate, but what we have before us are slightly more technical aspects than can be readily resolved by a debate such as this one. Still, I am largely happy to support the direction of the briefing from the Motor Cycle Industry Association, for which I am grateful. The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, kindly outlined a lot of what it is putting forward, and she put to the Minister the questions that arise from that.

I am fully aware of the need for transitional processes to mesh in with what is possible in this important and significant industry, and I hope the department can carefully play its part in helping all interests, both short-term and long-term, to zero emissions in due course. I am also aware of the need to come up with standards that do not isolate us from international and continental practices and manufacturers. We have seen what the announcements about cars’ net-zero timescales have made possible and achieved, but there is no direct read-across to the very different circumstances for motorcycles.

It is good to see that the promotion of low or zero-emission powered light vehicles—PLVs—could be the occasion to stimulate or drive demand in the market, and that there could be more public awareness of what would be achieved by lowering emissions. I would very much support a concentration on low-cost PLVs, with which the apparent move to rationalise the whole process of simplifying the licence acquisition for individuals goes well.

Those using the roads and pavements are aware of the profusion of personal and commercial battery-assisted cycles and step scooters, which should not be any substitute for traditional low-powered motorcycles. I declare my interest as a London owner of a succession of Piaggio 125s. I hope I am not being out of order to suggest that, although I have a full motorcycle licence, their twist-and-go operation, not needing gears, should make life much more accessible to encourage novices into the motorcycle habit. Also, slightly beyond the scope of this debate, I believe that our more general access to use marked bus lanes might be becoming more possible.

Another aspect, also currently influenced by local government, would be a more sympathetic attitude to being able to park motorcycles more readily. Given the space that parked motorcycles take up compared to a car, that is another area that we, with the help of the department and local government, could try to change.

I believe there are many more ways in which we can make motorcycling more user-friendly. However, before us in this debate are more serious issues and changes that we should be supporting, and I hope that the Minister and the department can treat some of those with the urgency and importance that they deserve.

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, on calling this debate at such a timely moment. I also congratulate my noble friend Lord Davies of Gower on his new position and the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, on his position on the Opposition Benches.

I will focus on safety and a possibly tenuous connection to e-scooters and e-bikes. Like the noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, I too have a little Bill prepared on which I hope my noble friend and the Government will look favourably. It proposes to

“amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 to create criminal offences relating to dangerous, careless or inconsiderate cycling, in particular applying to a pedal cycle, an electrically assisted pedal cycle, and an electric scooter”.

I associate myself with all the previous remarks on batteries, but time does not permit me to explore that here.

I recognise that the majority of cyclists are responsible. However, they must have regard to other road users. I am appalled at the flagrant abuse of legislation by e-bikes, e-scooters and regular scooters from Deliveroo and others, particularly in mounting pavements. How long are these delivery scooters allowed to ride with an L-plate without passing a test to show that they are legally competent to drive? Not stopping for pedestrians at pedestrian crossings is an increasing problem. What fines have been issued in the last six months or year and what prosecutions have been made for the illegal use of such e-bikes and e-scooters?

Why have the Government extended trials of e-scooters to 2026? If the evidence already exists that there are issues regarding their safety, why are these not being addressed now and regulated? For what reason are e-cyclists and those on e-scooters allowed to ride without any insurance or a driving test as a prerequisite? Is it still the case that e-scooters, other than rented ones, cannot legally be used on public roads?

I took great heart from the fact that, in connection with the tragic case of Kim Briggs, who died from injuries caused when she was knocked over by a cyclist travelling at speed on a bicycle with no legal brakes at all, my noble friend’s predecessor, my noble friend Lady Vere of Norbiton, wrote to her husband Matt Briggs on 23 March 2022:

“As the Secretary of State has already announced, we are considering bringing forward legislation to introduce new offences around dangerous cycling; we will do this as part of a suite of measures to improve the safety of all road and pavement users”.

What has happened to that legislation?

The ABI is deeply concerned about the implications for the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of a corresponding insurance requirement being levied on e-scooters in particular. Its key point is that legalising the use of e-scooters on UK roads should ensure that no additional liabilities are placed on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau without such a corresponding insurance requirement. By what date does my noble friend intend that the Government will introduce that? The ABI also argues that enforcement against illegal use of e-scooters on UK roads should be increased; is it my noble friend’s intention to do so? It also argues that the Government should share data on the outputs and results from trials to date to inform the public about ongoing discussions in this regard.

In conclusion, there should be space for cyclists, e-scooters and e-bikes, but only in so far as they are driven responsibly and with regard to the law. Are noble Lords aware of the superhighway to be built along Millbank, and that the iconic palm tree on the roundabout will be removed, enabling cyclists and e-scooters to travel at even faster speeds? That will put your Lordships at even greater risk when we try to cross the pedestrian crossing at Millbank. I regret that it may lead to more deaths and casualties of pedestrians and other road users.

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, on bringing this debate forward and I welcome my noble friend Lord Davies and the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, to their roles.

It is a privilege to be able to speak, as I was not going to do so. I speak from a personal perspective as much as a professional one. I held the role of the mayor’s transport adviser from 2008 to 2011 in this city. During that time, I had much chance to consider and look at the policies for different modes of transport as they applied in the city. One mode I was not part of then and did not use was motorcycling. I fixed that by learning how to ride a motorbike when I took on the role. I thought that, if we were judging policy on them, it was important to have the experience. I had to learn how to ride and not fall off, but it also taught me heightened awareness of the safety and security of not just me as a rider but all other users of the road network—pedestrians, cyclists, HGVs and everything else. It was a revolutionary experience, because you have a completely different perspective on what is happening and how you feel about your personal safety and usage.

It also took me into a very deep conversation about the benefits and the challenges. The benefits became ever clearer when asking the motorcycling and powered two-wheeler community, as it was then—there were no electric mopeds at that point—about their usage. I must acknowledge the warmth of the community. It is very strong. Anyone who is a biker will know that it is a very good community to be part of. They see journey time reliability, flexibility and safety as vital parts of using this mode of transport. It brings benefits not just to them but to broader society and to the city.

London lags behind similar cities in the world that rely on powered two-wheelers as part of the extensive social mix. Cities in a number of European countries demonstrate that. There is something cultural that we have not quite got right there. I ask the Minister to consider in his deliberations the need to recognise the personal ability to use bikes and the benefits it brings for commuting, logistics and minimal impact on the environment. Enforcement must be considered with greater usage of motorbikes and powered two-wheelers in the logistics industry, but it is a growing industry that will only provide benefit to dense urban areas rather than be a hindrance.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, for securing this debate, which is badly needed. As everyone is giving their bona fides on transport, all I can offer is that I spent my youth perilously on the pillion of the back of a 1952 Excelsior Talisman Twin motorbike—an antique even then.

This debate is badly needed because the Government consulted 14 months ago and we have still had no response from them on their decisions. Given the pace of technological change, this is a ridiculous delay. The Department for Transport seems to have been in hibernation while a technological revolution has taken place. Anyone who ventures outside their front door knows that electric bikes, motorbikes, mopeds, scooters and cargo bikes have proliferated in the past couple of years. I must congratulate the Motor Cycle Industry Association on the very effective campaign and detailed briefing putting its point of view and raising some very valid points on these issues. In particular, it emphasises the need for certainty and swift government decision-making if the UK is to retain its motorcycle manufacturing investors in future. When the Minister responds, I hope he will be able to give us some of that certainty.

It is also important to point out to that, inspired by their narrow victory in the Uxbridge by-election, the Government have changed their plans in the meantime on net zero for cars and changed their rhetoric in relation to cars versus alternative methods of transport: cycling, walking and so on. That was illustrated yesterday by the Minister in his answer to an Oral Question from the noble Lord, Lord Berkeley. In the light of that, the Government’s original plans on PLVs on which they consulted are now somewhat out of kilter with the rest of the hierarchy—if I can put it that way—of vehicles. My own discussions with members of the automotive industry indicate that the industry is desperate for certainty. They were knocked sideways by the Government’s change of heart, and they really need certainty in future.

I am an enthusiast about the benefits from electric bikes—the bikes that the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, referred to as a push bike—because they encourage people to extend the length of their journey or to extend their cycling career into older age. However, as other noble Lords have pointed out, there is an urgent need for clarity on the different categories. There is a great deal of confusion out there, and there is need for enforcement of the regulation for the larger categories of L-category vehicles. The noble Lord, Lord Moylan, also mentioned the concept of intermediate vehicles.

The police need resources to implement the regulations. I live in Cardiff, where noble Lords will recall that, tragically, two young boys were killed on an electric bike earlier this year. Following that, the police took action in the centre of the city, where they seized dozens of bikes that were being illegally ridden without the appropriate registration or licences. But it is not just the police. As my noble friend has said, the fire brigade needs additional resources because of the considerable fire hazard, trading standards needs additional resources, and we need to improve training and awareness in the supply chain and the repair sector of the industry.

Lastly, it is coming up to Christmas. Thousands of these vehicles are going to be sold as presents, some of them from very dubious sources of supply. We need a public information campaign to raise awareness of the dangers involved.

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, for her intelligent introduction to this brief debate. I agree with many of the points that have been made by other members. The key points made by the noble Lord, Lord Moylan, about the merger of typologies and the diversity of what technical change is bringing are things that we have to take into account.

While the net zero dimension of all this is important, it is not the whole story. It is a net zero policy, as someone said, but we have to consider the whole issue in the context of the problems that emissions from these vehicles pose compared with those from cars. Is it proportionate to apply the same tests to them?

A dimension of this that not many noble Lords have referred to is that of industrial policy, which I am personally very interested in. We used to have a thriving motorcycle industry in Britain; it has declined, but there are still some firms that are now growing. What are the Government doing to promote that industry? Do they have a forum of regular consultation with the industry to see what can be done to help it to compete? Of course, that industry needs a clear regulatory framework for the future. That regulatory framework also has to align with what is happening globally, particularly in Europe, because people are not just producing for the domestic market. What is happening on the industrial policy dimension?

I have a couple of other questions for the Minister. Given that emissions from these vehicles, especially when viewed on an all-life basis, are often less than from cars, has the Minister considered taking steps in order to encourage drivers to switch? Have the Government thought about that question? On another point, it has been reported that, increasingly, vehicles in this category are being used for food delivery services. What assessment have the Government made of this? Would promoting electric light vehicles be a good way of reducing emissions from vans that traditionally do this job?

Above all, I think that the simple point is that the Government are dithering on their policy. They have had lots of consultations, but they are not offering the sector any clarity. It is time that they did so. My direct question to the Minister is: are the Government planning to do anything that will give clarity to the industry between now and the general election?

My Lords, I am pleased to respond to this Question for Short Debate and thank all noble Lords for their thoughtful contributions to the debate before the Grand Committee today. Whether I will be able to answer all noble Lords’ questions in the 12 minutes allocated, I do not know, but I will attempt to respond to as many questions and concerns as possible and, when I am not able to, I will certainly follow up with a letter.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick, my noble friend Lord Moylan and the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, talked about decarbonisation, net zero and the Government’s commitment. We have a legal obligation to meet net zero, and the Government are committed to phasing out the sale of all new non-zero emission road vehicles by 2040. This includes ending the sale of polluting motorcycles and mopeds. The Government are committed to our net-zero ambitions and will continue to drive forward our work to cut emissions. The broad approach is one that is fair, affordable and pragmatic, easing the burdens on the British public.

Following a consultation last year, we are now analysing the responses to our consultation on when to end the sale of new non-zero emission L-category vehicles, including views from the industry, with which we have been engaging. We will respond in due course. Our approach will continue to account for technical and commercial feasibility and ensure that transition is affordable for consumers. The Prime Minister’s announcement pushed back the end-of-sales date for new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 by requiring 80% of new cars to be fully ZEV by 2030. The mandate will continue to require the most ambitious regulatory trajectory to 2030 of any country.

The noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, talked about the end-of-sale dates for non-zero-emission motorbikes and mopeds. We consulted between July and September last year on when to end the sale of new non-zero-emission L-category vehicles, which was supported by a thorough programme of stakeholder engagement with manufacturers and the wider industry. The Government are analysing the responses and taking into consideration the wide range of views expressed. The consultation proposed two separate dates for the end of sale of new non-zero-emission L-category vehicles: 2035 for all L-category vehicles at the latest, and 2030 for L-category vehicles in the L1 L2, L3, L6 and L7 subcategories.

The Government recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach to regulating emissions from road vehicles is not appropriate, as the technology pathway is not as clear for certain segments of the market. However, they will continue to engage with industry and the public to ensure that the final confirmed end-of-sale dates for new non-zero-emission L-category vehicles are feasible from both a technological and a commercial perspective. That includes ensuring that adequate infrastructure for the sector is in place and that the transition is affordable for consumers.

We are now analysing the responses to the consultation on ending the sale of new non-zero-emission L-category vehicles, including evidence provided on this issue, and we will bring forward the government response in due course. Analysis of lifecycle emissions is an important consideration as we accelerate the transition to a zero-emission fleet of road vehicles. While there is no internationally recognised method of measuring lifecycle emissions in any transport sector, the Department for Transport’s energy model, published in 2018, and the externally commissioned lifecycle analysis of UK road vehicles, published in 2021, provide clear assessments of the relative environmental impacts of different road vehicle technologies and fuels in the UK.

The Government will consult on any future regulatory framework to deliver and enforce the end-of-sale dates for non-zero-emission L-category vehicles as appropriate. The Government keep all their regulations under review to ensure that they are fit for purpose and future-proofed. Policies are already in place to support the transition, such as plug-in motorcycle grants, and the Government recently made up to £350,000 of funding available for research and development projects to grow the zero-emission motorcycle supply chain in the UK. However, we appreciate that there are technology and infrastructure considerations for these vehicles as we transition, and we will continue to work with the sector to support and consider how best to overcome demand-side challenges, including the infrastructure needs of zero-emission L-category vehicles.

On the Motor Cycle Industry Association action plan, mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie, the Government are committed to continuing to work with the industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the sector is ready, ahead of decarbonisation. In February 2022, the Motor Cycle Industry Association published Realising the Full Potential of Zero Emission Powered Light Vehicles: A Joint Action Plan for Government and Industry. That was commissioned by the Government as a transport decarbonisation plan commitment and was delivered in partnership with the Motorcycle Industry Association. The document aimed to set out the 10 key actions that the industry believes are needed to support the L-category sector ahead of decarbonisation.

The Government are engaged with the industry to deliver the action plan where appropriate. Zero-emission vehicles offer an opportunity to create jobs, strengthen British industry, cut emissions and keep Britain moving. Phasing out new non-zero-emission L-category vehicles positions the UK as a world leader in L-category decarbonisation, driving innovation and creating a market for zero-emission vehicles.

The noble Lord, Lord Liddle, spoke about a plan for the future, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie. The Government are pleased with the progress made so far on the action plan and will continue to engage with the sector on it. For example, to address actions 2 and 3 on growing and developing the supply chain, as I said earlier, the Government made up to £350,000 of funding available for research and development projects to grow the zero-emission motorcycle supply chain in the UK.

The department is also working with the recently established powered light vehicle community to address action 9 on creating a formal L-category community. Additionally, the department is currently engaged with the MCIA’s recent licensing review proposals to address action 6, to review minimum testing and licence entitlements for all battery, electric L-category vehicles. We continue to engage with industry to deliver the action plan where appropriate and will continue to do so.

The noble Lords, Lord Berkeley and Lord Foster of Bath, referred to the plan for drivers in as much as it applies to motorcyclists. Like drivers, motorcyclists will benefit from many of the measures in the plan, including around fixing roads faster, better traffic lights, and the right speed limits in the right place. Specifically, in seeking to make better use of bus lanes, we will refresh the technical advice for local authorities to make it clear that they should use their powers to ensure that bus lanes are open to motorcycles, and we will launch a consultation on allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes by default. The plan confirms that, to help riders make the transition to zero-emission vehicles, plug-in vehicle grants continue to be available for motorcycles.

The noble Lord, Lord Foster of Bath, asked a question about lithium batteries. There is no real evidence that electric vehicle fires are more likely to occur than petrol or diesel vehicle fires, and it remains safe to have them in covered car parks. The safety of electric vehicles and their charging is of course of paramount importance to the Government and is kept under regular review. Multiple safety systems are designed into electric vehicles to protect passengers, emergency services personnel and other users from harm. However, the risks are different and need to be understood and controlled. Fire prevention, fire detection and firefighting in electric vehicles is a developing area, and the Government review their guidance and regulations in step with the development of best practice. We continue to work with the fire services, industry and experts from across the UK on this, and before vehicles can be sold or registered in the UK, the manufacturer must supply evidence that the vehicle complies with international approval requirements. For hybrid and electric vehicles, fire and electrical safety is included in this assessment. The department is therefore working with the Office for Product Safety and Standards and other government departments to develop guidance on the safe use of batteries in e-cycles and e-scooters and will publish this at a later date.

The noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, asked about cycle offences and dangerous cycling. Of course, dangerous cycling puts lives at risk and is completely unacceptable. Like all road users, cyclists are required to comply with road traffic law in the interests of their own safety and that of other road users—that is of course reflected in the Highway Code. If they do not adopt a responsible attitude and if their use of the highway creates an unsafe environment, they may well of course be committing offences, which is a matter for the police to prosecute.

I think I have covered most of the questions that have been asked.

Perhaps the noble Lord might say something about the simplification of the licensing scheme—and I welcome him and the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, to the Front Benches.

I will go back to the department and see exactly where we are on that, and I will certainly write to the noble Baroness on it.

Perhaps we might pursue very briefly the issue of fires, as raised by my noble friend Lord Foster. There are lots of statistics on this, and there is a very big difference between the record of electric cars and vans and so on, which have an extremely good record on fires—they are much less likely to burst into flames than, for example, petrol and diesel cars. However, my noble friend was referring to the issue of bikes and mopeds, and so on.

I take the noble Baroness’s point and I will write on that issue in respect of motorcycles.

To conclude, the steps that the Government are taking, which I have set out today, provide a package of support for the motorcycle and powered light vehicle industry that will help this sector to contribute to a safe and environmentally sustainable future for road user transport in this country.