Benefits in kind: diesel cars

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 9 Ionawr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Anneliese Dodds Anneliese Dodds Shadow Minister (Treasury) 10:30, 9 Ionawr 2018

I am grateful to the Minister for his comments. However, Labour Members will continue to be concerned about the measure and will continue to ask for a review of its effectiveness. There is obviously a clear rationale for this kind of measure: it follows widespread public and scientific concern about emissions from diesel cars that do not use emission capturing technology to the extent that they might.

There are many examples of this kind of technology-forcing regulation being effective. However, we believe that a review is required—first, because we need to be clear that new technologies will indeed be incentivised through this measure. We do not feel that we have effective evidence to prove that at the moment. The Institute of Chartered Accountants suggests that it is unlikely that any diesel cars will meet the standard required to avoid the supplement until at least 2020, so there is a question about whether distorting decisions could be made that would prioritise petrol vehicles over diesel vehicles in the meantime—especially if appropriate technologies are not introduced as quickly as they should be. I know from discussing this issue with motor manufacturers that they are confident about the roll-out of the new technology, but a review would none the less be appropriate, given the extent of use of diesel technology.

Secondly, it is important that we review the measure’s contribution to emissions reductions targets because of the lack of other environmental commitments in the Bill. Sadly, the Bill lacks measures to reduce carbon emissions in order to halt the climate crisis, despite many of us hoping that it would include, for example, more tax breaks for solar technologies, which have sadly been scaled back.

From what I can see, this is also the only measure to promote better air quality, when we know that there are many other sources of pollutants in the air that we breathe. Yes, of course NOx is important, but small particulates and other emissions are important as well. It is absolutely right to mention that NOx pollution from diesel emissions is significant at roadside sites, but petrol emissions are also significant away from direct roadside sites or at particular roadside sites, and industrial sites are also important, in terms of emissions.

Domestic stoves also have an impact. Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan is trying to deal with that in London. It is unfortunate that this is the only flagship measure to try to deal with air quality coming from the Government at the moment. The Minister referred to this as a core element of the Government’s air quality strategy. However, the Government have been taken to court repeatedly for not having a strong enough air quality strategy. I was astonished to hear that my city of Oxford was told that even under the latest strategy—which should, in theory, be a tighter one—if it did nothing, its emissions and pollution levels would be the same in future decades. How can I put this kindly? I was surprised by that claim and question the methodology used. We are asking for this review, first, because of concerns about the extent of technological readiness and, secondly, because we feel it needs to be taken in the overall context of the lack of other measures to reduce emissions. The issue needs to be looked at holistically.