Does the hon. Gentleman have any thoughts on how the Government should go about replacing all the lost petrol and diesel taxes if electric vehicles take off?
I am not sure I heard the right hon. Gentleman’s question correctly. Would he mind repeating it?
My point is that if we achieve a big switch to electric cars, the United Kingdom will lose a huge amount of petrol and diesel tax. How should we replace that lost tax revenue?
That is a very astute intervention. I did not pick up that he said the word “tax”, so apologies for asking him to repeat the question. It is a fair point. I am a member of the Transport Committee and we worked on a report about that a while back. The elephant in the room is that we will have to look at something to replace the current form of taxation. The SNP does not have a policy on whether that is road pricing or whatever, but we have to have that conversation and we have to have it now. We all know that revenue at the Treasury is already an issue, and will become an ever-increasing issue every year, so we have to have that debate sooner rather than later. I rather suspect we will not hear much about it before the election, but after the election that debate will have to begin in earnest.
Of course, in an independent Scotland we would have control of the same fiscal and tax incentives that have encouraged those huge levels of electric vehicle uptake in countries such as Norway. The Department for Transport’s poor record on EV charging is a glaring obstacle on our path to decarbonisation. When compared to some of our European counterparts, the deficiencies in our charging network are stark. We must acknowledge that reliable and widespread EV charging infrastructure is essential to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and reduce carbon emissions from the transport sector.
Scotland’s approach to rapid EV charging infrastructure is an example of what can be achieved. The SNP Scottish Government have made huge strides in expanding the EV charging infrastructure, with one hand tied behind their back. The network has grown from 55 charge points in 2013 to over 2,500 charge points in 2023. In fact, the latest figures, published in July by the DFT, show Scotland has 72.7 chargers per 100,000 people, which is around 40% more per head than English regions outside London, and 19.2 rapid chargers per head, which is nearly double London’s figure of 10.7.
The lack of rapid charging infrastructure in many English regions, and much of Northern Ireland, makes charging a postcode lottery and hampers the transition to EVs, leaving residents without reliable options for charging their cars That imbalance is not only detrimental to our environmental goals, but exacerbates regional disparities. One would think addressing those imbalances would be a priority for a Government who have been talking about levelling up for quite some time.
The challenges facing the industry are multifaceted and require immediate attention and action. Brexit’s disruptive influence, unresponsive Government policy and the internal strife within the Tory party are hindering our efforts to tackle climate change and transition to a sustainable future
The Scottish Government have led the way on transport decarbonisation, from the EV incentives and charging infrastructure I have talked about and decarbonising our railways at twice the pace of the UK Government, to many times more electric buses per head, funded, bought and actually on the road, those 21 and under travelling free on those same buses, and the gulf—the chasm—in investment in active travel. We have shown what we can do despite the dead hand of Westminster, so just imagine what we can do when that hand is removed by independence.