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Heavy Goods Vehicle Driver Shortages

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 4 November 2021

14. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the ongoing shortage of heavy goods vehicle drivers. (904035)

I regularly meet my ministerial colleagues, and together we have implemented 28 measures to alleviate the HGV driver shortage. So far, these measures are resulting in an extra 1,000 applications every week.

The Prime Minister was warned of this crisis way back in June, but it took until last month for there to be a paltry offer of 5,000 temporary visas, to fill 100,000 vacancies. The Government recently told the Select Committee on Transport that this crisis was going to last until the end of 2022—that is more than one whole year of empty shelves, port backlogs and rising prices. This is unacceptable incompetence. What is the Government’s plan to end this now?

First, it is important to set this in context. This is a global issue. I met my German counterpart here in Parliament just yesterday and it is estimated that by 2027 Germany will have a shortage of 185,000 HGV drivers. We have been taking action, and not just in the past few weeks, as the hon. Lady suggests; since I became Secretary of State, I have launched 28 measures, which are having a real impact. I mentioned that 1,000 more people are becoming lorry drivers each week—or, rather, are having their applications for a provisional signed through. We have actually got 1,000 a day applying for those forms, so we are starting to see those numbers come through. The Opposition leader tells us what his solution is, which is to issue 100,000 visas, which would completely undercut our own lorry drivers and take us back to square one.