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The Earl of Balfour: Subsection (4) contains the words "or any other time scale". In the fields of navigation and tide tables, for example, our standard time has been the old GMT. I am perfectly happy that in future it should be coordinated universal time. However, the user of European timetables is expected to know that one hour must be added during summer time to whatever reading is given in the tables. Some countries add just half an hour. I sincerely hope that "or any other time scale" will never mean a few minutes, because that could, for argument's sake create great complications for planes landing at Heathrow. Will the Minister consider the wording, "or any other time fixed by statutory instrument", or be a little more definite on that point?

In other respects the Minister has covered this point. I am also happy to accept the proposal to leave out Clause 2.

Lord Tanlaw: I also accept the clause.

Lord Haskel: In response to the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, the purpose of including the phrase "or any other time scale" is to give flexibility. In a document giving tide tables the time used is specified, and to insert "by statutory instrument" would destroy the flexibility of the clause as drafted.

The Earl of Balfour: I accept that.

Lord Haskel: Having satisfied the noble Earl, I commend the amendment to the Committee.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 2 [Use of Universal Time for other purposes]:

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 2 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Haskel: Clause 2 is unnecessary. It bears some resemblance to the provision in the Summer Time Act 1972 to which I alluded earlier. In the context of that Act, the provision reflects the fact that in certain specialised fields it is usual not to make a change in the way time is

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stated during the summer months. However, such a provision is not needed in this Bill. There is nothing in other clauses which affects the use of Universal Time for the purposes of astronomy, meteorology or navigation since Section 9 of the Interpretation Act applies,

    "unless it is otherwise specifically stated".

Making a specific provision for these purposes would imply that Universal Time could be used only for those purposes and not for other purposes. It could also imply that timescales other than Universal Time could not be used for those purposes. I ask that Clause 2 should not stand part of the Bill in order to avoid that confusion. I beg to move.

Lord Tanlaw: I included the clause simply to ensure that scientists, astronomers and other people who use Universal Time would not be affected by the Bill. I have been given reassurance by the noble Lord that that will be the case. My Bill may not move the earth, but at least it recognises that the earth moves. Unfortunately for GMT, its movement has been too irregular and too unpredictable to remain as a timescale for electronic timekeeping in this country for greater accuracy to the nearest second.

Nevertheless, I say to those Members of the Committee who bemoan the departure of GMT--that is the only criticism I have heard of the Bill, both inside and outside the Chamber, since 1975--although it might be inaccessible or invisible, the departure of GMT or UTO will still rule if my Bill becomes law. UTC--that is atomic time--will still have to adjust to the inconsistencies of the earth's movement in space and not the other way around.

Perhaps I may reassure the noble Earl, Lord Balfour, that in 1996 the Nautical Almanac stated that it would no longer use GMT because of its ambiguity. That was the basis of my Question on 27th November. I suggested that we had to do something about facing the facts of how navigators, scientists and ordinary citizens would be able to get accurate time. I am happy to agree to the removal of Clause 2.

Clause 2 negatived.

Clause 3 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Lord Haskel moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 1, line 14, leave out ("one month") and insert ("two months").

The noble Lord said: The amendment ensures that the Bill follows the usual convention of coming into force two months after the Royal Assent. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Haskel moved Amendment No. 7:

Page 1, line 17, leave out subsection (4) and insert--
("(4) The reference in section 5(1) of the Summer Time Act 1972 (application of Summer Time Act 1972 to Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man) to that Act shall be construed as a reference to that Act as amended by section (Summer Time) above.").

The noble Lord said: Since the Interpretation Act does not apply to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, there is no reason to provide that for those territories generally. However, the Summer Time Act 1972 does apply to those

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territories and this amendment ensures that the amendments to that Act which we have discussed also extend to the islands. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

In the Title:

Lord Haskel moved Amendment No. 8:

Line 1, after ("1978") insert (", the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 and the Summer Time Act 1972").

The noble Lord said: The amendment is necessary since as well as amendments to the Interpretation Act 1978 there will be amendments to the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 and the Summer Time Act 1972. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Title, as amended, agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Road Transport Emission Levels: Science and Technology Committee Report

5.16 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith rose to move, That this House take note of the report of the Science and Technology Committee, Towards Zero Emissions for Road Transport (1st Report, Session 1996-97, HL Paper 13).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I wish to thank our committee Clerk, Jake Vaughan and Professor Bell of Imperial College, our specialist adviser. They bore much of the brunt of the drafting of this complex report. We had many witness, both written and oral. Their information made this report possible and I thank them all. I thank in particular the Ford Motor Company, Johnson Matthey and all those associated with our visit to Germany.

Rather more than a century ago the internal combustion engine was invented. Its continuous development since that time has made it the prime power source for most modern transport. Matching that technical development, we have seen a great expansion in the road system to cope with increasing demand for transport speed and flexibility as well as personal mobility. Modern society in developed economies is transport dependent. We all enjoy benefits, whether we own cars or not.

This technological blessing is now in danger of becoming a curse. We have 22 million cars on the road in the United Kingdom and the number continues to rise. Emissions of toxic exhaust have become a problem more often than is acceptable. The whole transport sector uses about one-third of society's total energy consumption. Globally, there are around 500 million vehicles on the road and it is not just the toxic emissions which are a problem. CO 2 emissions have also been rising, although in this country we have enjoyed some success in limiting them.

The technology of the internal combustion engine has brought great benefits. If it is now creating problems we must look for further technological development to

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provide solutions to those problems. We cannot turn the clock back. This report sets out to examine what is being done to relieve the atmospheric difficulties caused by exhaust fumes. It even dares to look to see whether technologies are developing which will enable us to escape totally from what is in danger of becoming the tyranny of the internal combustion engine.

I undertook some peripheral reading to help my understanding of the issues in this report. One subject is worth noting since it emphasises a particular point. About 17 years ago, the noble Lord, Lord Gregson, moved the acceptance in this House of a report from the Select Committee about electric vehicles. That was in the aftermath of the oil crisis and crude oil was priced at about 45 dollars per barrel. Alternative technologies appeared to have a chance. Who then would have predicted that crude oil prices would drop by two-thirds? It is now about 17 dollars per barrel. New technology was stopped by market forces.

That point was emphasised to us by the Ford Motor Company. Motor manufacturers produce to meet market demand and for profit, not to fulfil technological ambition, nor for philanthropy. National markets may give a lead but success depends on that lead being proved correct so that it is adopted internationally. The international market is all.

I must spend some time on the various aspects of the report: first, the issue of toxic emissions and what is being done about them. Toxic emissions include oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, ozone, carbon monoxide, lead, sulphur dioxide and, particularly from diesel engines, particulates.

There are three points I wish to make. First, knowledge of the problems caused by those substances is not new and the motor industry, with some help from regulation, is well down the road to reducing that problem to acceptable levels in new vehicles. The serious question is whether total elimination is desirable, even if it were possible. The law of diminishing returns applies. Using 1976 as a base point, it cost £152 per vehicle to remove the first 90 per cent. of toxic emissions. It then costs another £152 to remove the next 5 per cent. of toxic emissions, and a further £218 to remove the next 2.5 per cent. That is what the current and approved regulation achieves. At that point, I note that that is a matter decided by the European Union.

I turn now to how those improvements are brought about. Pressure for environmental improvement has accelerated engine development over recent years. I pay full tribute to the motor manufacturers for their diligence in tackling the problem. Reducing the toxicity of exhausts is not a straightforward science. Action to improve one element of the problem can all to often make a different aspect worse. In addition, cleaner exhausts are frequently achieved at the cost of increased fuel consumption.

As in so many walks of life, compromise and balance are the secrets of success. While there is still progress to make, Ford expressed the view that the new lean-running engines which are currently under development throughout the world use the ultimate combustion systems for internal combustion. We are moving towards the limit of what is possible.

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It is perhaps worth inserting two other points which I heard from Ford engineers when we visited its research centre at Dunton. First, I heard the comment, "You know, on a bad day in Los Angeles, the exhaust fumes coming from our latest engines are less polluted than the air entering them". And then, "Everything we do to reduce the problem of emissions--and we are pretty good--is negated by our manufacturing and sales expansion". We are back in the marketplace again.

We considered the question of fuels for internal combustion. We are all familiar with the way that the problem of lead has been reduced greatly by adjusting the rate of fuel excise duty to create a price incentive for the use of unleaded petrol. Clean technology is not simply a question of mechanical development. The chemical make-up of the fuel is also important because that affects the combustion characteristics and, therefore, the contents of the exhaust stream. That matters because of the effect that the mechanical make-up can have on the catalysts which are essential to clean up emissions.

We received evidence from Johnson Matthey plc, which is among the leaders in that field, concerning the significance of sulphur in fuels because it can shorten the life of the catalyst and reduce its efficiency. We heard also from MAN in Germany which specialises in heavy transport manufacture. Cleaning the exhaust stream carried a much higher fuel consumption penalty where the fuel had a high sulphur content. We regarded that as a matter of great importance and it is worth noting that, since our report was published, the European Parliament, in debating the proposals of the European Commission following the auto-oil study, has recommended 30 parts per million sulphur in diesel oil and 100 parts per million sulphur in petrol as the standards for introduction in the year 2000. Negotiations continue.

We examined also the question of bio-fuels and alternative fuels. Bio-fuels could be important because their impact on CO 2 in the atmosphere is neutral. We received evidence about the production of bio-diesel from rape. It appears that if all the UK land set-aside from food production at 15 per cent. were used to source bio-diesel, it would produce about 6 per cent. of the present diesel demand in the UK transport sector. It follows that much research and development will be required for the sector to provide major benefits. But, of course, every contribution helps.

Are there alternative fuels? The answer is yes. Liquid petroleum gas and compressed natural gas are both cleaner products from the oil industry which are beginning to make their mark. Natural gas exists in very large quantities. When compressed and used through the internal combustion engine, the exhaust emissions are much cleaner than with oil fuels. The committee would like to see the use of that fuel encouraged. In urban fleet vehicles, such as buses and taxis, which are too often exhaust-stream offenders and where introduction might be more simple, the use of compressed natural gas could bring rapid improvement to the metropolitan atmospheres. However, additional costs are involved for new engines and fuel handling. Rapid adoption will not occur unless there is a greater price incentive in the fuel; and we have recommended accordingly.

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I turn now to the existing vehicle fleet. Euro I regulations limiting noxious exhaust emissions for new vehicles came into force in 1993 and Euro II regulations requiring a higher standard are adopted this year. We can have less concern about recent additions to the vehicle fleet.

The problem is that most vehicles last about 12 years and proper maintenance over the whole of that time is essential. We had evidence from the Automobile Association that probably only 10 per cent. of the vehicles are responsible for something like 50 per cent. of toxic emissions, poor maintenance being a potent factor in causing that state of affairs. The committee takes the view that the MoT testing system should be used, through a requirement for much higher emission standards in older vehicles, to reduce the number of offensively polluting vehicles on our roads.

Behind everything that I have discussed so far lurks the hidden problem of carbon dioxide. It is a hidden problem because carbon dioxide is non-toxic and therefore raises less immediate concern. However, it is now generally accepted that increasing CO 2 levels in the atmosphere is a major cause of global warming. The good record of the UK in this matter is because of improvements in the industrial and domestic sectors; transport has yet to make a major contribution. Our financial recommendations, in particular, are designed to encourage better environmental practice, particularly greater economy, by moving the tax burden around within the sector without increasing that burden across the sector as a whole. The validity of these arguments was accepted by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget last November.

I come finally to the question of alternative technologies. We have heard nothing in evidence to convince us that battery technology is making sufficient advances to enable it to overcome the inherent limitations and problems that occur with this technology. We considered hybrid systems with batteries for town driving and internal combustion engines for power elsewhere. These systems are always likely to be heavy in weight, mechanically complex and therefore expensive. We wondered about the gyroscopic problems of a flywheel used for energy storage.

Possibly the most promising new system for propulsion that we heard about is the fuel cell--a system based on a phenomenon first observed 50 years before the internal combustion engine was invented. Fuel cells are at present powering prototype buses in Chicago and Vancouver. Mercedes Benz has one to power a prototype car, which those of us who visited Germany both saw and rode in. These particular fuel cells use hydrogen as a fuel in a totally non-polluting way by combining it with oxygen to produce water and electricity which powers electric motors. If this system is to succeed, crucial to its success will be the development of a method of producing hydrogen from renewable resources. Again, much research and development will still be needed to make such a system competitive. Some of this work is already going on in this country funded by the Engineering and Physical

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Sciences Research Council and we know that work continues in Germany, Canada, the United States and Japan.

It was a pleasure and a privilege to lead this study. I have tried to highlight some of the salient points. In our recommendations we seek to induce action that is consistent with what we have learnt. We do not say that we have the answer. Time and technological development may supersede what we have heard. However, I hope that the broad drift of what we have proposed will be accepted.

Moved, That this House take note of the report of the Science and Technology Committee, Towards Zero Emissions for Road Transport (1st Report, Session 1996-97, HL Paper 13).--(Lord Dixon-Smith.)

5.33 p.m.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I declare an interest as chairman of the Rail Freight Group although I shall not talk about rail freight today. I congratulate the Select Committee on what I consider is a fascinating report. I am no scientist, but I am an engineer and I shall leave others to discuss the technical findings. However, I believe the House will welcome this report as a major contribution to the debate on transport generally.

In its introduction the report rightly tries to put the question of zero emissions into the environmental and transport contexts adding a few comments about accidents, congestion, noise pollution and air pollution. I shall give an example of each. As regards accidents, a German study indicated that the number of injuries per billion tonne-kilometre was 248 for road freight compared with 10 for rail freight. That is quite a difference.

As regards congestion, we have already heard the Department of Transport's forecast that there will be severe congestion on all our motorways in about 15 years, stretching from Preston to Maidstone and all routes in between. That will pose a challenge. As regards noise pollution, all kinds of transport seem to be fairly noisy. The best one can say is that the further one is away from the source of the noise, the less is the noise. Combating that noise poses a challenge for all modes of transport. As regards air pollution, I must refer to the transport report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. I believe that report is nearly three years old. I did a calculation of noxious emissions. If rail freight increased by 20 per cent., noxious emissions would decrease by 20 per cent. overall. Those are a few examples to show that all these matters must be put into context. They also show that if one alleviates one environmental problem, one often exacerbates another problem, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, pointed out with regard to the United States. I am sure he is quite right.

I continue to support public transport and rail freight but road transport is an essential element of modern life and we must accept that. I see that as part of an integrated transport policy. I do not see any prescriptive solutions to the problem. As the report indicates, there are different problems in the town and in the countryside and there are different needs. Of course there are also

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different causes of pollution. I consider the drive towards achieving zero emissions as being extremely important as regards many different aspects of this matter.

The report examines many different solutions, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, has said. Some of those solutions are medium term and others are long term and some are appropriate to different locations. I believe we should encourage the development of many of these solutions; some will work in mass production terms whereas some may not, but they all have great potential. I was struck by similarities between three potential solutions. In the case of all three doubts were expressed in the report with regard to safety.

Liquified petroleum gas was considered to be particularly beneficial but there were concerns about the parking of LPG vehicles in basements. However, boats have had LPG cookers for many years. They do not often blow up. I do not have a clue whether they blow up more frequently than cars catch fire on motorways, but there are instruments available to detect the gas. I hope that the committee has not rejected LPG because it considers there may be a safety problem as I am sure that there is a solution. Natural gas must be stored under pressure, but we have had gas bottles around the country for many years. I do not believe that they often blow up.

As regards gyroscopic transport, of course the flywheel could fly off and hit someone, but again gyroscopes have been around for a few years now. There is already a small tramway called a Parry people mover which I believe is being developed in Weymouth which works on a gyroscopic principle; that is, when it stops at a tramstop, it picks up electric power which speeds up the gyroscope which drives the tram to the next tramstop. I should think that is extremely environmentally friendly. I am sure it is quite safe.

I emphasise again that I am no scientist, but if the petrol engine was in the same state of development now as some of these other schemes, would we be wondering about the safety of petrol? I refer to half empty tanks and leakages around carburettors, which one sees in certain cars developed in the 1930s. I speak as the owner of one of those cars. One does not want to have too much petrol in a closed garage. However, that is the way that these cars have been developed. Has a real risk assessment been done on all these different processes? I hope that such safety considerations will not preclude the development of what I see as particularly exciting ways of reducing environmental pollution. How will those new ideas be encouraged? Many have already received development funding. In paragraphs 4.1 and 4.7, the report recommends fiscal encouragement as the only real answer.

I am sure that it is a coincidence, but today in an Answer to a Written Question in another place about low sulphur diesel Glenda Jackson states that the Government plan to reduce by 1p a litre the tax on low sulphur diesel as soon as the EU derogation procedures have been completed. That is a great start. I am not sure that 1p a litre will make much difference. There has been worldwide development of petrol and diesel engines for many years; they are extremely efficient and

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cheap. If we are to introduce new, more environmentally friendly fuels and equipment there has to be significantly greater fiscal encouragement. That needs to be balanced by a fiscal disincentive on fuels which pollute.

I welcome the report. I hope that the Government will consider it carefully and take action to encourage those developments. I regard the needs for cleaner fuels as totally fitting in with the Government's transport policy about which we have heard much in the past month.

5.42 p.m.

Lord Porter of Luddenham: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for his able leadership of the committee and the excellent summary which he has presented to your Lordships today.

There are many less polluting alternatives than the fossil hydrocarbon fuels which dominate the energy scene at present. The committee considered a wide range of them, as has been described by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. We may be forced to turn to some of those in about 40 years' time when world resources of oil and gas begin to decline.

But authoritative statements by such bodies as the World Energy Council suggest that until then fossil fuels will continue to provide energy for most purposes, including in particular transport. On that rather short timescale, it is difficult to see where else the energy is to come from, especially as the population will double in that 40 years and the 8 billion people in the developing world will no more accept shank's pony as a vehicle than do those in the developed countries today.

It is possible in principle, and increasingly in practice, to reduce emissions of pollutants which are injurious to health such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and particulates of carbon. Our committee received some quite good news, some encouraging evidence, on the progress that is being made with the internal combustion engine. For example, the Automobile Association told us that,

    "A car built and fitted with a catalytic converter in 1996 produces less than 10 per cent. of the toxic emissions of a car built in 1990".
That is just six years earlier. So in time we can look forward towards, if not zero, smaller toxic emissions from new vehicles.

But outstanding culprits at present, as the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, pointed out, are the vehicles built years ago, some of which, especially the large old diesel engines, seem to go on for ever. In paragraph 4.11 one of our committee's more important recommendations is that emissions standards for the existing fleet should be progressively tightened. Such legislation would have to cover vehicles coming here from overseas and some sort of international co-operation would be advisable to prevent the selling on of those cheap and nasty offenders to poorer countries. I hope that the Government will be able to take all those factors into account when they introduce new legislation, as the committee recommends.

But those pollutants are only half the problem set us under the title Towards Zero Emissions for Road Transport. The second half--it has been referred to

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several times--is the greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, which are not toxic at all but are part of the committee's remit because of their probable involvement in global warming.

Carbon dioxide is an unavoidable consequence of burning carbon or hydrocarbons and the amount of carbon dioxide put into the atmosphere is stoichiometrically equal to the amount of carbon in the fuel which is burnt. We can do nothing to get round that. None of the alternatives in the report is able to suggest a solution to the problem.

Electric cars are run on electricity which has to be generated elsewhere. Hydrogen has to be made by processes such as electrolysis, with possible minor exceptions to which I shall refer in a moment. These merely move the site of emissions from the roads to the generating stations. This would be beneficial with polluting emissions of the kind to which I referred first, which are so troublesome in cities, but the greenhouse effect is global and the place, or even the country where these long-lived gases are emitted, is irrelevant--even to the "nimbies".

The pollutants in the first category of gases--those harmful to health--are there for everyone to see or smell. The problem is with us now. It is acute and needs urgent action. The effects of carbon dioxide on climate change are less noticeable and longer term.

Nevertheless Britain is obliged under the Rio Agreement, and its own subsequent United Kingdom climate change programme, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. How can we do that? There are only two ways. First, we could reduce the amount of energy we consume. But our contribution will have little relative effect, except by example--which seems to be ignored anyway by the United States and Japan. We are a small player on the global scale and will become progressively smaller compared with the developing countries.

The other way is to use energy sources which are not derived from the burning of fossil fuels, especially in the developing countries. There are two such sources large enough to make significant contributions: nuclear energy and solar energy in all its forms. The former has its own pollution problems, and the committee had little to say about it except that,

    "the use of nuclear energy to produce hydrogen may have to be considered if the problem of global warming continues to be intractable".
We shall have to have energy from somewhere.

With solar energy, the research effort and expenditure on development have been negligible compared with nuclear energy. The reason is not far to seek. It has been said that,

    "if sunbeams were weapons of war we would have developed solar energy decades ago".
Even so the present contribution of solar energy in comparison with nuclear is considerable in the developing countries, where 12 per cent. of the energy is from biomass and only 5 per cent. is nuclear.

The report states in paragraph 4.31 that,

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    "A truly sustainable form of hydrogen production would be from solar energy. Research into cheap and efficient photovoltaic cells would assist the large-scale production of hydrogen through electrolysis".
This is true, and a great deal of research is in progress, as will be evidenced, for example, at the international conference on future directions in photovoltaics to be held at Imperial College early next month (on 7th July).

But in conclusion I should particularly like to draw your Lordships' attention to a new and potentially important avenue of solar energy research which is referred to briefly in paragraph 4.26 of the report. This says:

    "one area which may be important ... is research into plants, possibly using genetic engineering, to increase the amount of fuel which can be produced and to reduce its cost".
The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, pointed out what a very large area would be necessary to produce a significant amount of such fuels in this country. However, diesel fuels from oil bearing plants such as rape seed are already in use in small quantities in Germany, Italy and France. Unfortunately, at present the efficiency of conversion of solar energy incident on the leaf-to-oil fuel energy is miserable. It is less than 1 per cent. in most plants (and less than 0.1 per cent. for the oil bearing seeds), though possibly thermodynamic efficiencies exceed 25 per cent. Efficiencies of that kind are already achieved in photovoltaic cells. Research and development aimed at increasing yield and lowering the costs of production is the key to progress.

Genetic engineering is one of the most rapidly developing of the sciences at present. Methods of gene transfer via recombinant DNA techniques into the nuclei of plants are becoming common and many of these techniques are now within the capabilities of third year undergraduates. Some of these have been developed, in the United States for example, to produce a variety of designer oils by transgenic gene transfer. The possibilities in engineering new plant species specifically designed to increase the efficiency of photosynthesis and the storage of solar energy can hardly be exaggerated. I hope the Government will play their part in encouraging these developments, by reducing, for example, the duty paid on biofuels, as already happens in other European countries and as is recommended in paragraph 4.20 of the report.

5.53 p.m.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, I warmly thank my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith for so clearly introducing this most valuable report. I must declare an interest as a committee member of the Automobile Association, which gave evidence to the committee. The AA has over 9 million members. With their families, they represent a sizeable proportion of the population and the electorate. They are pretty representative citizens. I suspect that most of them are deeply concerned about environmental matters.

The car is here to stay. It is not a luxury but an absolute necessity for many, particularly the elderly, the handicapped, and mothers--the proportion of car users who are women is rising very rapidly.

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The report covers scientific issues in great detail and is most valuable. If I have a criticism, it is that its analysis of economic matters and taxation issues is insubstantial. The tax recommendations that it makes are almost casual. But if we are to make progress in reducing pollution, they are of central importance.

Car drivers pay £19 billion a year to the Treasury. Table 7 in the report shows that road vehicle users as a whole contribute £26 billion; the car users' contribution in fuel tax alone is £19 billion.

The previous Government argued that the regular 5 per cent. increases in fuel tax were imposed for environmental reasons. I suspect that the new Chancellor will produce exactly the same arguments. However, while differential taxes may be very effective instruments, we need to be a little cautious about the view that a general increase in fuel taxes has a substantial impact on car users' habits. The evidence is rather different. My noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith gave the remarkable figures for the reduction in the price of a barrel of oil. However, what he did not say was that governments have taken full advantage of the situation by very substantially increasing the price paid by the road user at the petrol pump. Road users have consistently gone on using their cars and have indicated in every survey conducted by the AA that they will make other sacrifices before cutting down on the use of the car and the mileage that they cover. In addition, indiscriminate use of fuel tax is an inefficient form of taxation.

Interestingly, in paragraphs 3.11 and 3.16 of the report there are quotations from the Government, who, we are told, have restated the position that,

    "they were unconvinced that the transport sector should be targeted specifically, and that it was necessary to reduce CO 2 emissions cost-effectively across all sectors".
I entirely agree with that verdict, and it is borne out by the information in the table in the report which shows that road transport produces 22 per cent. of total CO 2 ; 28 per cent comes from domestic uses; and 28 per cent. from industrial uses. We therefore need to approach the problem on a rather wider scale than simply thinking it can be solved by an increase in fuel tax. The present policy is not very efficient; it is regressive, disproportionately hitting the retired and those on low pay.

It helps to make a point repeatedly made by the AA that there needs to be a fundamental reform of motor taxation. The work undertaken for the AA by David Newbury, professor of applied economics at Cambridge University, points the way.

We need to separate taxation on the one hand and charging for the use of roads on the other. Alongside an integrated approach to transport policy, which we certainly need, we need a clearer structure and purpose for motoring taxation. If we have a clearer structure and purpose, understood by users, then we have some real hope that tax incentives and penalties will have the impact that we want them to have.

To look beyond financial matters, people talk as though pollution caused by the car is getting worse. I have heard Members of this House indicate on a

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number of occasions in debates on the environment that they believed that to be the case. The report confirms that, despite the increase in traffic volume, the situation is getting better. The AA has commissioned research tracking emissions from vehicles. The results are to be announced on 30th June at a presentation in the Palace of Westminster. They indicate a dramatic reduction in toxic emissions since the introduction of catalysts, and that the emissions of CO 2 have at least stabilised. We have also seen great advances in diesel engine technology.

The fact is that the combination of European Union legislation and financial incentives has proved remarkably effective. The European motor industry's research prediction is that between 1992, when catalytic converters were introduced, and 2010 the amount of toxic pollutants in terms of tonnes per year due to traffic will decrease by about 75 per cent. across Europe as a whole. It is good to know that we are making progress, and the report indicates that we are likely to make more progress.

Certainly there are no grounds for complacency. As a former chairman of the National Rivers Authority, I am particularly concerned about something mentioned in passing in the report--namely, the environmental damage caused by spillage, accidents to fuel-carrying vehicles and poor storage, which is a very significant problem.

As far as emissions are concerned, as we have heard, the big problem lies with older cars, buses, taxi fleets and delivery vehicles. There is a clear need for targeted fiscal incentives and tighter regulation here. The committee rightly emphasises the importance of higher regulatory standards for existing vehicles. Reference has been made to the MOT test, to spot checks and to use of the new local authority powers of enforcement. The committee, perhaps rather too easily, dismisses the possibility of a scrappage scheme, but tighter enforcement might have the same effect. If people fail their test, they will simply have to get rid of the older, heavily polluting vehicles.

While it is clearly very important to improve the public transport system, it is an awkward fact that some of the worst polluters are buses and taxis. Sixty per cent. of trucks and buses in the United Kingdom, most of which have diesel engines, are more than 10 years old. A very high priority must be the kind of incentives referred to by my noble friend to change the fuel use of these vehicles. If there is an area where tightening of standards is required, surely it is this one?

I should like to conclude by suggesting that as regards the motorist we need to point to the good things as well as the bad. We need to encourage rather than simply scare people about what is going on. The motorist is not an enemy; motorists rarely use their vehicles selfishly, as a luxury. Properly treated, I believe the motorist is an ally and a partner. We all use motor vehicles. I was amused that, as I got into a taxi yesterday at the entrance to the House, out of it stepped one of the most well known environmental campaigners--coming, no doubt, to some important meeting about the environment. We were both using a polluting form of transport, a London

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taxi. Whatever our interests, however much we may be involved in campaigning, the truth is that we need the motor car or its public transport equivalent. We must therefore encourage progress and the kinds of measures that the report suggests.

The report is most valuable. It shows that progress is being made and the enormous potential which exists if we stimulate the right kind of technological advance in the future.

6.4 p.m.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, it will not have escaped your Lordships' attention that, following the recent G7--or should it be G8?--summit in Denver and the subsequent meeting in New York, the question of vehicle emissions, toxic emissions in particular, and C0 2 emissions is the flavour of the month.

It was a great privilege to serve on your Lordships' Select Committee on Science and Technology. I found it very rewarding to be a member on the Sub-Committee which produced the report, under the able and judicious leadership of Lord Dixon-Smith. I should like to echo his tributes to Professor Bell and to Jake Vaughan, the clerk to the committee.

A question that the Sub-Committee asked itself in the beginning was why it was necessary to reduce emissions. It is clear from the report that one very good reason is because of the adverse effects of toxic emissions. Particulates are, unfortunately, an effective cause of respiratory disease, including asthma. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and its derivatives, sulphur and lead, all have adverse effects on human health; and vaporised hydrocarbons play an important role in causing lung cancer and other significant illnesses, although the hydrocarbons in vehicle emissions pale into insignificance, so far as the individual is concerned, when compared to the adverse effects of tobacco smoke.

There is also an important environmental effect, as my noble friend Lord Porter of Luddenham, made clear, relating to carbon dioxide, the ozone layer and global warming. I shall not elaborate further on that.

The report makes a number of clear conclusions and recommendations. I trust that it will be possible for the Minister to indicate what the Government's response to the recommendations will be. For instance, are the Government committed to moving towards stages III and IV relating to laying down strict emission limits? Will they apply pressure on the European Union to amend its testing cycle? What efforts will they make towards further reduction of sulphur, petrol and diesel? How can they impose tighter standards for vehicle emissions, relating not so much to new vehicles as to the existing fleet?

Much work has already been done, as several noble Lords have said this afternoon: for example, in increased fuel efficiency, lean-burn engines, electronic management systems for both petrol and diesel vehicles and the introduction of biofuel, biodiesel in particular, even though the resultant use of biodiesel can only make a relatively minor contribution because of the cost and problems related to producing more such fuels.

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I should like to echo strongly the points made by my noble friend Lord Porter about the crucial importance for the future of genetically engineered fuel from different crops. This is something which will have a very striking effect in future because DNA recombinant technology is daily teaching us new lessons.

Much is said in the report about the use of alternative fuels. Electricity is a problem. It has to be produced, often by fossil fuels. We know that the efficiency and range of existing vehicles leave a lot to be desired. Is enough work being done on the production of more effective batteries, lithium batteries in particular? I am personally much attracted by the prospect of hybrid vehicles, which already exist, the idea being that a reasonably efficient vehicle can run on an electric engine in an urban environment, but once it leaves that urban environment it can switch over to an engine fuelled by petrol or diesel, which has the effect of recharging the electric batteries. Admittedly the cost is not insubstantial, but I believe that, as the report makes clear, the potential use of such hybrid vehicles has not been as fully exploited as it might have been.

When I learnt about natural gas vehicles, I expressed some concern in a meeting of the sub-committee about whether the storage tank necessary in the boot of a vehicle would make it difficult for the vehicle to carry my golf clubs. But when I went to the centre in Slough and saw a vehicle--and drove it--I was greatly impressed by its efficiency and its performance and that the part of the boot occupied by the storage tank for the natural gas was relatively small.

Admittedly, there are problems in producing a sufficient number of outlets for natural gas. It is not something which can be done without substantial cost. I believe that it would be a great help if the Government could be persuaded to arrange for more of their own fleet of cars to be fuelled by natural gas. Perhaps they could also see what action could be taken to introduce natural gas powered buses in cities such as London. Without question the resultant reduction in vehicle emissions would be substantial.

As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, said in his splendid opening remarks, the fuel cell carries considerable hope for the future. The company Ballard of Vancouver has demonstrated in buses already being driven by fuel cells, which are in turn powered by hydrogen, that this is a very substantial prospect for the future. I should like to ask the Government, as I do not know sufficient of the science, whether the possibility of the alternative fuel for fuel cells--namely, alcohol, which has been used in a number of experiments in the past--has been sufficiently explored and exploited. There is always a concern about the storage of hydrogen in vehicles to drive such fuel cells. Alcohol may perhaps have been proved to be less efficient than hydrogen but I still believe that it deserves further exploration.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, I must declare an interest as a member of the council of the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research. Like him, I have been greatly impressed by the fact that the AA has commissioned the National Environmental Technology Centre to produce a quarterly index for emissions of

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nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, benzene, volatile organic compounds and fine particles. It is also tracking emissions of CO 2 . That work has demonstrated, as will be said in another place on 30th June, that toxic emissions from road transport have fallen by at least a quarter since 1992. As the noble Lord said, the work on CO 2 has shown that, despite continued traffic growth, the CO 2 emissions from vehicles have not risen, which must reflect the increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles and voluntary agreements by manufacturers.

That demonstrates substantial progress. But as the report of the sub-committee and your Lordships' Select Committee on Science and Technology so clearly shows, much more needs to be done. But if, for instance, the Government felt able to accept the recommendation to reduce the duty on natural gas used for vehicle propulsion to the EU recommended limit and if many of the other recommendations in the report were to be implemented, we should be taking major steps towards reducing toxic emissions and CO 2 emissions for the future.

6.14 p.m.

Lord Vinson: My Lords, it was a great honour to serve on the committee under the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith. I believe that both this House and the country in general over the years will become increasingly indebted to his leadership in this matter.

The committee's report is an honest attempt to come up with workable solutions. But, in recommending them, we were all conscious that very few prognostications, particularly on scientific matters, work out in the way we think they will and that judgment is fallible. Within its remit, however, the committee has come up with proposals that could undoubtedly in both the short term and the long term have a useful impact on lowering urban atmospheric pollution.

The committee worked under a very limited remit and I too would like to use this opportunity to take a slightly wider look at the overall problem of which vehicle emissions are a part. In doing so, I must declare an interest in that I was for some time the chairman of an American company at the forefront of pollution control both for utility power stations and increasingly for mobile and stationary diesel engines. I still have links with that company.

That background makes me believe that any pollution control measures introduced at national level are best done with regard to the wider global scene. We should be careful about tokenism--introducing measures that look good politically but bring little real benefit. We should be particularly careful not to introduce solutions that could handicap our national economy but bring negligible global benefit. Tokenism is a real danger and there are signs of it appearing on the political scene already.

I turn to CO 2 pollution. As has been mentioned, it is likely but still unproven that CO 2 is responsible for the current climatic changes. After this week, one could believe anything! But if we assume that it is at least contributory, then the problem is obviously an international one, as was said so well by the noble Lord,

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Lord Porter. Control measures introduced in a country the size of Britain, frankly, will not affect the global atmosphere to any measurable degree. However, it is important that we lead by example. Again, that was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Porter. I believe that our own modest measures could have a far wider global impact if, by practising what we preach, we encourage others who can affect the global position and can do something about serious global pollution. We can do our bit by offering leadership to achieve world level co-operation over pollution control implementation and world level co-operation over scientific analysis of the problem.

As has been said, to meet their obligations under the Rio Convention, the Government encouraged in this country a switch from coal to gas. But other countries that are far bigger polluters than ourselves are not necessarily in so fortunate a position. China, I believe, has over 400 coal-fired power stations. It is, indeed, a world polluter, both by CO 2 and NOx. But necessity is the mother of invention. Fortunately, it is now possible at least substantially to clean up NOx and other toxic emissions, which are so damaging, from coal-fired power stations, old and new, for a cost that only raises the price of electrical generation by a factor of some 5 to 7 per cent. A major problem in those countries is cost of the huge scale of the problem.

Major emissions from utilities and heating furnaces are obviously the first point at which pollution should be tackled. Countries like the United Kingdom should both instigate and play their part in developing the appropriate funding to help the western world clean up the under-developed world, helping those who have a serious pollution problem as we tackle our problems of much less degree. But, self-evidently, the conversion from oil to gas does not in the long term solve the problems of potential heating by carbon dioxide. Frankly, every attempt should be made to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. The switch from coal or oil to gas helps to ease, but does not solve, the problem; neither, of course, will fossil fuels last for ever.

But there is one long-term source of inexhaustible CO 2 -free power; namely, nuclear power. The Chernobyl disaster was at least valuable in alerting the world to the dangers of nuclear power. But it also did much harm by changing the political perception of energy generated in that way. However, new nuclear plants continue to be built worldwide and nuclear power is already a major contributor to worldwide CO 2 -free energy production. I believe that statesmen at all levels should begin to stress that, ultimately, nuclear power and probably new forms of yet undiscovered fusion are the only long-term route to substantial CO 2 reductions. Frankly, the green movement cannot have it both ways. If we are concerned about CO 2 we have to be realistic about the practical alternatives.

Meanwhile, the problem of the disposal of nuclear waste is a complete red herring. It is already being disposed of. The problem is a political rather than a scientific one. I raise this matter because those advocating a national policy for CO 2 reduction should

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have in their minds long-term solutions. Nuclear energy is the solution that dare not speak its name. But I believe it is a solution to which the world will have to return.

I turn now to the heart of this debate: vehicle emissions and the problem of pollution, particularly in cities. Our report was constrained within its brief, and its recommendations within that context are wholly practicable. But the enforcement of measures designed to reduce vehicle emissions should, I believe, be coupled with the control of the other major source of urban atmospheric pollution--namely, the burning of oil for domestic and commercial purposes. In cities, the flue gases from many a block of flats are as potentially polluting as many vehicle emissions and should be tackled simultaneously, as recommended by other learned commissions.

Inescapably, the car is with us, as so clearly enunciated by my noble friend Lord Crickhowell. As the report also shows, the car is not going to go away. Every teenager dreams of owning one. The national transport system wholly relies on the internal combustion engine; meanwhile we have no alternative but to learn to live with it. Every forecast indicates that we shall have another million cars on the road in this country over the next 10 years or so. To throw up our hands and to stop road building is to run away from the whole problem. Road congestion in particular is a major source of pollution, quite apart from the great economic cost to the country. To maintain that our motorway programme is finished, when on the A.1 we still have roundabouts in the Cambridge area and single carriageways north of Newcastle, is quite unrealistic. The improvement of roads, such as in the examples just quoted, can relieve congestion, relieve three-mile tailbacks at roundabouts and materially reduce pollution.

The cut in the road building programme by the previous government was done as much as anything to help to knock a penny off income tax but was, in my view, a wholly false economy. The country needs to proceed with traffic calming, traffic rationing and traffic improvement measures designed to reduce congestion and the attendant pollution that comes from it. As the report so clearly states, we have to live with individual transport. It is a freedom that people want and, although we may try to ration it, I do not believe that we shall seriously reduce the use of it.

Meanwhile, existing forms of the internal combustion engine can be improved, cleaned up and made more efficient. As the report says, tax and revenue concessions should be introduced to encourage these cleaner and better developments. In the long term the answer could well be fuel cells, but it may not be exclusively so. Probably two or three solutions for zero emission from road vehicles will occur in parallel--let a thousand hybrids bloom.

Who knows what developments of the electric battery have yet to be discovered? I am not pessimistic. An all-electric vehicle is already with us. Battery life may not in the future be the problem we consider it to be now. One can visualise a pack of batteries, suitably designed, which could be exchanged at the equivalent of petrol stations. Clink, clunk, as one assembly is

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pulled out from a pre-designed compartment and replaced at one stroke with new. One could visualise changing batteries as people used to change horses. It would be a totally zero pollution solution, as indeed is the fuel cell, particularly when in both cases the basic source of electricity has been generated by clean power in the first place.

Putting more money into public transport systems will help, but it will not replace the individual car or truck. Railways are not in themselves the answer. It is easy to forget that a railway journey is a three-point journey. Even if a rail infrastructure existed, where commercial transport is concerned it would be far more wasteful and would create more traffic than direct door-to-door deliveries, except, untypically, on very long hauls.

In conclusion, I hope that governments of all persuasions will recognise the huge importance of cheap transport and the fact that the demand for the car is not going to go away. None of us can wholly foresee the future. Above all, I hope that the Government, when introducing measures, will resist tokenism. I hope that they will resist sneaking in tax rises under the cloak of environmental benefit and will remember that higher taxes on transport and fuel hurt the poor rather than the rich and hurt the rural dweller who has no public transport alternative. I hope they will remember that inner-city pollution, indeed, global pollution, are worldwide problems, so we should aim to encourage international research and international co-operation to find long-lasting, sensible solutions. I am sure that this report will encourage that process. I was honoured to be a member of its working committee.

6.25 p.m.

Viscount Simon: My Lords, this excellent report, as we have all heard, underlines various aspects concerning vehicle exhaust emissions and we must acknowledge and thank the committee for producing it, based upon the immense amount of evidence presented to it.

Page 8 of the report states that the Government have predicted that global temperature will rise by 2oC towards the end of the next century. There are numerous learned bodies who agree with that statement, but there are some who say that they think the rise in global warming is being reduced by volcanic gases. Who is right? I do not know; I am not a scientist.

However, it is estimated that road traffic accounts for about 10 per cent. out of a total of 26 billion tonnes per annum of man-made emissions and that natural emissions total 770 billion tonnes per annum. So, is a reduction in CO 2 and other vehicular emissions to be encouraged? Of course it is.

We have heard noble Lords today asking, "Where is the energy to come from?" A cyclist only pedals and uses energy when it is actually needed. One rarely sees a cyclist pedalling downhill and almost never when stationary. Some years ago, Volkswagen manufactured a catalysed diesel engined vehicle embracing this very principle. The Golf ecomatic's engine stopped when no energy was required and could be restarted by pressing the accelerator. The electronic wizardry achieving this

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mode of operation resulted in a 50 per cent. reduction in urban fuel consumption; exhaust gases, particulates and noise in urban areas were also greatly reduced.

This vehicle was not successful because it was too advanced for people to appreciate the environmental and financial benefits at the time. Such a pity. This form of propulsion should perhaps be investigated again. If this car were to be sold again, encompassing further technological advances, it might now encounter a better informed market. Presumably, this principle could also be applied to commercial vehicles, thereby providing benefit to us all, and it must be appreciated that large engines produce large amounts of pollution, so the benefit would be that much greater than with cars.

At the moment, the size of particulates is measured down to PM 10s. However, as much smaller particulates emitted by diesel engines and, to a lesser extent, by petrol engines cause health problems, should not measurements of PM 2.5 be introduced? I am not aware of what, if any, difficulties might be encountered by this, but surely it would be of relevance because smaller particulates get deeper into the lungs and spread more widely from the emission source.

The stop-start VW ecomatic had much reduced emissions due to its very innovative mode of operation. It is, however, encouraging to learn that it is thought that within five years diesel engines will be emitting virtually no particulates. But, as the report correctly acknowledges, diesel engines have a long life and consequently any improvement will be slow in coming.

Technological advances are being made all the time. Mitsubishi has a production vehicle powered by a direct injection petrol engine which increases miles per gallon consumption and reduces exhaust gases. Other manufacturers have engines which will enable vehicles to achieve 100 miles per gallon--advancement is the nature of enforced evolution.

These are but two examples of recent advances, and others will be forthcoming, as mentioned earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, resulting in new types of vehicles producing only small, if any, amounts of exhaust gases whilst, maybe, using new types of fuel. This report explores various ways in which this can be achieved and will undoubtedly be referred to for a long time to come.

6.30 p.m.

Viscount Chelmsford: My Lords, the Select Committee has undoubtedly given us a very detailed summary of fuels and types of propulsion. I have learnt a great deal from it. I was fascinated to find that efficiency has so improved that the new passenger car in 1996, when compared with the new passenger car in 1976, 20 years earlier, emitted only 5 per cent. of the hydrocarbons, the NOx and the carbon monoxide of that earlier model. The Select Committee's report shows us the problem. If you have 20 times the number of cars that you had in 1976 travelling the same mileage, you have not made any change in emissions; alternatively, if you have the same number of cars but they travel 20 times as far, again you have not changed the emissions. On top of that, you have all the cars that are

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not new. So there are problems--big problems. One big problem is that you cannot cut the amount of pollutants significantly without increasing CO 2 or vice versa.

The Select Committee reviewed alternative fuels for use in the internal combustion engine. There I found some fascinating details. I was amazed to learn that Italian hotels, having used their cooking oils, pass them out to be regenerated as fuel for cars and that Brazilians drive on fuel which is made from alcohol in sugar cane. But, sadly, neither of those innovative approaches seemed to score very well with the Select Committee. Nor, in fact, did other types of fuel.

I put it to the House that the recommendations of the Select Committee reduce to: carry on trying, especially on fuel cells; let us do more to motivate research by tax breaks; and--this was mentioned only once but is perhaps rather important--enhanced MoT tests in order to get rid of the badly polluting older vehicles. However, I do not think that adds up to the 20 per cent. further reduction in CO 2 which was recently promised by the Prime Minister.

Perhaps I may refer to the terms of reference of the Select Committee. Those were: to examine whether technology will be able to maintain the benefits of road vehicles while reducing their adverse effects, particularly pollution and CO 2 emissions.

They went on to say:

    "Issues such as improving traffic flows (through telematics or road building) ... may be important elements of an overall transport strategy, but they lay outside the scope of the enquiry".
It was a very detailed inquiry and it had to have boundaries--so I am sympathetic to that--but it is unfortunate that this was the third time that telematics have been omitted from debates in your Lordships' House in the recent past. They were omitted from the Road Traffic Reduction Act, which invited local authorities to reduce traffic but did not tell them how, and they were omitted from the report on sustainable development, which we debated on 12th March. With your Lordships' permission, I intend that they shall not be omitted today.

Intelligent transport systems are now sufficiently developed to play a significant part in reducing emissions, in making public transport more acceptable and in achieving an integrated transport policy. I declare an interest. I am president of ITS Focus, which is a public sector/private sector partnership, a not-for-profit association, trying to improve general traffic conditions through the use of intelligent transport systems. It is my job as president to try to get that message across.

Happily, the Government have just announced a fundamental review of transport policy which, it is to be hoped, will offer us an opportunity to try to see what we can do to help in that context. The Minister for Roads very kindly wrote to me the other day saying that a national/local government working group is looking at congestion charging, which is an important part of what we hope to be involved in. Congestion is a major source of unnecessary emissions, as other noble Lords have said today. If we can reduce congestion, we can reduce emissions without necessarily having to take the traffic off the road.

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I shall set out some of the things ITS can do. It can act as the congestion "stick" by helping road pricing; that is to say, the message that explains that the pre-paid card on your car as you enter a zone of high charging has been debited or the alternative message that says that there is nothing to authorise you to go through so your registration plate has been recorded. Those communication messages are all part of ITS. It also helps with the "carrot" of trying to improve congestion by inviting motorists to go for alternative routes, either by road signs or by messages into their cars. Either way, it helps to improve the traffic flows. However, I would suggest that the Select Committee was wrong on one point--when it tried to equate telematics with road building only. Telematics is far wider.

What can we do to help the public to move towards public transport? We know already that buses are moving down red routes and that they are due to have traffic light priorities. As they approach a traffic light, it will automatically go green. We hope to fit cameras on buses so that cars getting in the way on red routes will have their number plates recorded. There is Prestige, which is an important ticketing system to allow people through barriers faster. It will be used on London Underground. From the point of view of congestion, it will be used to get people on to buses more quickly. They will just wave their cards at the reader as they go past. They do not have to put them in the machine. All these things are making buses better to use. In this connection it is great that the Minister for Transport yesterday apparently called for more bus lines, better information on buses, more partnerships and measures to keep buses moving. ITS can help in all those areas.

We are trying to do other things to help the integrated transport policy. We have trip planners and touch screens, such as the Southampton Romanse project, which will give information to travellers not just on how to get from A to B but also on how to get from A to B by alternative or several different means--combinations of bus, car, coach, rail and so on. There is already on the Internet through British Telecom a mass of travel information for those who can reach it. These things are helping to set up the integrated transport for which we are all looking.

No one claims that ITS will cure the world's transport ills. We simply claim that it will help to cure them. ITS products are already coming on the market--in the USA and Japan. In Europe, Germany and Holland are major competitors. It is important that the UK is not left behind. One existing result of ITS which may be of interest to the House concerns the Traffic Master application, which is a small screen in one's car. It displays a map of motorways and major roads and shows where the congestion is. That is based on 2,500 road sensors on those motorways and major roads. Traffic Master was able to record that last year traffic on those roads grew by 5.8 per cent. It also recorded that the average M.25 motorist wasted the equivalent of half a day in a year due to congestion. We are beginning to get some rather modest and fairly crude statistics but we need more of those statistics.

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Such devices allows one to use alternative routes. For example, I regularly come up the A.3 to London. I know it is quite possible that there will be congestion at the beginning of the Kingston bypass. When the little arrow shows me that traffic has slowed down to five or ten miles an hour, I nip around via Esher and avoid it. A lot of people could do the same. I hope the Minister can confirm that transport telematics has a part to play in our efforts to strive for zero emissions.

6.39 p.m.

The Earl of Selborne: My Lords, I too served on the sub-committee and I have reason therefore to be grateful to my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith for the way in which he introduced this debate and indeed for the way he chaired the committee. I also had another go at this whole subject as a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Three years ago we produced a report which dealt at some length with the wider issues, many of which we have debated today and which, quite frankly, were not in our report. Telematics is one such issue. I am grateful that our chairman took a very strong line and prevented us from straying into so many of these areas which clearly a full report on integrated transport has to address. There are 112 recommendations in the Royal Commission report. Noble Lords may or may not be pleased to know that the Royal Commission, of which I am still a member, is returning to the subject once more. We shall be producing a discussion document updating our previous report because so much has happened.

One of the things which has happened has been the sub-committee report. I am very relieved to say, having been a party to both, that they are compatible. The sub-committee report tries to limit itself very firmly to accepting that the internal combustion engine is here to stay for a very long time. It gives great benefit to the quality of life, the economy and to mobility. I do not think that we have to apologise. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Crickhowell does not seriously expect the most fervent environmental protester to walk everywhere. He should surely be allowed public transport and a taxi. I suggest that he should certainly be allowed a car as well. Let us not apologise for the fact that we all need cars and that we enjoy using them. What we are simply trying to do is to reduce the adverse impacts. If 10 years ago we had accepted the adverse impacts, which we now know have been greatly reduced thanks to the catalytic converter, then we would have been misguiding ourselves into believing that such consequences were inevitable. Is it inevitable that the impacts that are made on society at the moment should continue?

I do not have to reiterate the impacts that we have heard about in this debate, but they can be divided in three categories--that is to say, noise, greenhouse gases and emissions which are toxic. Noise is beyond the very narrow remit which we set ourselves. All that one can say on that is that while we continue to build roads--and my noble friend Lord Vinson knows that we are still building them although apparently not as many as he would wish--why not make it standard practice, at least in urban areas, to use whispering cement surfaces, which

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are very much kinder from the point of view of noise? We do not do that as standard practice. If one were to cost out the aggravation and pollution caused to those people who are unfortunate enough to live near these roads, it would be clear that not to do so is a very poor economy.

Greenhouse gases were part of our remit. As the noble Lord, Lord Porter, reminded us, there is a very direct correlation between the amount of energy expended and the emission of greenhouse gases. There is nothing that one can do about it. If one is going to burn energy, then inevitably one is going to cause the emission of a greenhouse gas. However, there are incentives that society can introduce in order to change the culture which insists on ever larger cars and cars which consume ever more energy. Our modest recommendation for a cut-off of the vehicle excise duty attempted in a perhaps rather naive way to suggest the kind of direction in which people might change their expectations of what the car should do. We all now tend to drive larger cars than we did 20 or 30 years ago. Most of us now believe it to be inevitable that we should have power steering and air conditioning, both of which increase energy consumption.

What can we do to reverse this ethos and make it rather more socially acceptable to drive a smaller car? We can put in economic instruments to achieve that. One can perhaps have priority parking slots for the small car. One can certainly do something about the company car. It still seems to be the expectation that the grander one becomes the larger one's car. That is still very much a part of our society although I believe that many companies greatly regret that they got on to that treadmill. Certainly, central and local government could do more to demonstrate that they really are trying to achieve mobility with lower energy consumption--in other words, they could put into their fleets cars which use less energy.

There are drawbacks to some of the alternative fuels, although in an urban situation liquid petroleum gas is in many ways more desirable. The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, hoped that the committee would not reject that fuel too quickly because of its safety limitations. The report gives it qualified approval in certain circumstances. But it has to be recognised that the constraints of weight, cost and storage space--despite the fact that the golf clubs of the noble Lord, Lord Walton, fit into the trunk of his car--represent something of an obstacle to wider use. Natural gas is another alternative but again methane emissions have to be noted as a rather more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

My noble friend Lord Crickhowell reminded us that only 22 per cent. of carbon dioxide emissions come from transport. To put it the other way round, as much as 22 per cent. of carbon dioxide emissions come from transport. If the targets which the Prime Minister bravely and correctly set us in New York are to be achieved, there is no escaping the fact that transport will simply have to take its share of responsibility. It is no good saying that there are other sources which can more easily be hit. If transport is responsible for over one-fifth of carbon dioxide emissions, then we have to recognise

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that we have a real problem on our hands. We recognise that we are going to have more cars. We have to reduce their fuel consumption. There are already cars which can travel 70 miles to the gallon, although I suspect that very few of us drive them. I believe that there are many ways in which we can make the car more attractive to the consumer.

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