All 1 Baroness Deech contributions to the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018

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Tue 20th Feb 2018
Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Transport

Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

Baroness Deech Excerpts
2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 20th February 2018

(6 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: Report Stage Proceedings as at 29 January 2018 - (30 Jan 2018)
Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I am the happy owner of a new all-electric car, so I have a strong personal interest in this. Although I am proud to be a green driver, and delighted with the quiet ride and freedom from queuing at petrol stations, at the same time I have two considerable problems, one of which is addressed by this valuable Bill.

The unaddressed one is being a pioneer. Every year, the battery life of electric cars is increased by technology, and new cars are selling with longer mile ranges than mine. So the 2017 model I have will not only suffer the usual depreciation, but will frankly be valueless: not in a year or so—I gather the selling price is quite good for about a year—but quite soon, because no one will want a short-range car when they can have a longer-range battery. We pioneers deserve all the subsidies we can get as we lead the way in persuading all, or many, drivers to go electric.

The second problem, which the Bill begins to address, is the range. My car’s is 120 miles maximum. The distance from my home to Westminster and back is a 126-mile round trip. Therefore, I dare not make it without being assured of being able to recharge, let alone allowing for any unexpected diversions on the way. I am like a goat tethered to a stake, going 50 miles this way, 50 miles that way, or round in circles—as tethered goats tend to go—but always going back to the centre and the comfort of the electric socket in my garage.

I echo the noble Lord, Lord Borwick: the Palace of Westminster should be leading the way. However, there are no charging sockets in the House of Lords car park. I have been agitating over this for nearly a year. I was told that it was impossible because this is a heritage site, not to be despoiled. However, all it takes is an ordinary three-prong socket, perhaps in the lamp posts dotted around our parking area, to allow charging during debates; indeed, they provide the most convenient length for this exercise. Those spaces, if we can get them set up, would have to be reserved for electric car owners. Nothing is more off-putting than to arrive at a charging point in a car park, only to find a petrol car parked there so that there is no hope of charging.

I support as urgent Clauses 8 to 16, which give the Government power to support the charging point infrastructure. Indeed, it needs to go further. Right now, the Government should mandate operators to provide uniform charging points and one method only of information about them and about payment and access. We have multiple confusing memberships, information packages and payment options now, which only add to concerns on a long trip. We need public charge points right now at every large garage, car park, motorway service area, supermarket, station car park, park and ride, in new buildings, offices and in residential areas, not to mention the House of Lords. It is not good enough to wait until this place is refurbished. There are lots of reasons to refurbish it but we should not have to wait to get simple, three-point plugs installed in our car park. The information about charging needs to be consistent and transparent right now. It is not good enough to wait for the market to do this itself.

I say that because it is no surprise that, as I have read, the Petrol Retailers Association does not agree with pushing ahead, and there is a risk that progress will be delayed indefinitely. The Government must send a positive message. Potential buyers will not buy until they are assured of charging convenience, and charging points will not come about in sufficient quantities until the purchases take off. The same was true as we moved from horse-drawn transport. The horses were always ready to go, despite the heavy maintenance, the mess and the smell, but we moved to petrol even though there were so few petrol stations at the start. Let us embrace this new progress.