John Spellar

Labour candidate for Warley

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Spellar tells Minister to stop demonising diesel drivers

This morning, Black Country MP John Spellar urged the Environment Minister not to demonise diesel drivers and called on the Government to develop a proper national scheme on pollution.

Speaking in Parliament today, Mr Spellar said:Can I echo the call for a national framework rather than ad hoc local solutions and in drawing that up, can I urge the Minister to look at all causes of air pollution, to properly cost alternatives, especially the cost to drivers and the taxpayer and urge the government to stop demonising diesel drivers.”

Mr Spellar was also in action yesterday in a Westminster Hall debate where he lamented the Transport Minister over the Government’s lack of strategy on pollution:

Birmingham City Council is proposing a purge of diesel taxis. Taxi driving is entry-level employment for many in this country in all communities. Are we telling them we will take them off the road and put them on the dole? That is certainly not an attractive proposition for many constituents who are active in the taxi trade.

I have already mentioned the question of where people will charge their cars. Even if we have fast chargers, how many can we put through the average service station on the motorway compared with how many can fill up there? How many can we have at any other service station? What about city centre areas? I accept there is probably a lower percentage of car ownership in some of those areas, but there are still a hell of a lot of cars. How will we have a charging system on the congested urban streetscape of Britain? And what will we do in isolated and rural areas?

Mr Chope, I am aware that we want to hear from the Front-Bench spokespeople, and, as you rightly drew to my attention, one other speaker wishes to participate, so I shall end now. This is a big debate. I do not think we should move forward with disconnected local schemes or without a well-thought-out, well-costed Treasury-backed scheme. We should not rush into this. The matters are serious. They are about international competitiveness, people’s financial welfare, and, as people have rightly said, about people’s health and welfare. This is a big issue. We should not go ahead on prime ministerial whim or just on what local government decides. We need a proper national debate and proper national answers.

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