Improving the journeys that matter most to the British public

Outlining the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, the Plan for Drivers and Network North

The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP


Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you very much.

With your permission, I wish to make a statement on how this government is improving the journeys that matter most to the British public.

Our path to net zero remains ambitious, but we’re making that path more proportionate.

We’re backing Britain’s drivers and slamming the brakes on anti-car policies.

And, thanks to record government investment, everyday journeys for more people, in more places will improve more quickly.

So, Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to update the House on 3 long-term decisions we have made to secure a brighter future – starting with zero emission vehicles.

Zero emission vehicles

No one should doubt, nor play down, Britain’s progress on decarbonisation.

World leading isn’t an exaggeration….

We’ve cut emissions faster than any G7 country.

We’ve pledged a decarbonised transport sector by 2050 – the first major economy to do so.

And today (16 October 2023), we’re laying another world leading piece of legislation – the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate.

Manufacturers will now meet minimum targets of cleaner car production – starting with 22% next year and reaching 80% by 2030.

It stands to be one of the largest carbon saving policies across government – and manufacturers are on board.

They will deliver a mandate which they helped shape.

A product of partnership, between this government and industry – not months, but years in the making.

These targets are now embedded in their forecasts…

And that certainty has inspired investment, protected existing jobs, and paved the way for new jobs too.

Look at the past few months, Mr Deputy Speaker …. BMW, Stellantis and Tata are expanding their EV operations right across the UK – from Oxford to Merseyside.

However, targets can be missed if you fail to take people with you – and we won’t make that mistake.

So people will be able to buy new petrol and diesel cars until 2035…..

Aligning the UK with the likes of Canada, Australia and Germany.

It’s fairer on British consumers….

It allows us to grow the used EV market – lowering costs and increasing choice.  

And it ensures we raise confidence in our charging infrastructure.

In fact, public chargepoints are already up by 43% since last year…..

And set to grow even further thanks to investment from both the government and private sector.

Plan for Drivers

Now, for many, that’s the future.

But today, in some parts of the country, drivers are being punished, and cars vilified.

The Mayor of London’s expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone is forcing drivers to sell up or pay hefty daily fines.

Overzealous enforcement practices – from yellow box junctions to blanket 20 mile an hour zones – are turning drivers into cash cows for councils.

And measures to overly restrict where and when people travel are already being planned in places like Oxfordshire.

My message to councils is simple: this anti-motorist campaign has run out of road.

This government recognises that cars aren’t a luxury, they’re a lifeline.

They’re how most people in rural constituencies like mine access work, education and essential services.

Which is why, after listening to the concerns of motorists, I’ve announced a new long-term Plan for Drivers.

30 measures that will protect their rights to travel how they want, where they want, and when they want.

We’ll use AI technology to keep traffic flowing.

We’ll build a National Parking Platform to make it easier to find and pay for a space.

And we’ll inject some common sense into enforcement:

  • where 20 mile an hour zones are necessary exceptions with local support, not a blanket norm
  • where rules are enforced to keep our roads safe, not to line council coffers
  • where low traffic neighbourhoods rely on public support, not on outdated COVID guidance
  • and how many times drivers get from A to B will be their choice, not decided by councils

None of this undermines our investments in public transport, nor in active travel.

We are pro-public transport, but we’ll not be anti-car.

A sustainable transport network needs both – so people can choose to travel in the way that best suits them.

Network North

Now Mr Deputy Speaker, let me now turn to our decision on HS2.

With decades to wait before it arrived…

And benefits dwindling…

It risked crowding out investment in other transport areas….

And no longer reflected post-pandemic changes in travel.

Despite this, some argue that we should have carried on regardless.

That a single rail line between a handful of cities and London is more important than millions of everyday journeys around the country.

I disagree.

The facts have changed, and so we’re changing our approach.

With work well underway, we’ll finish HS2 between London Euston and the West Midlands…

And just last week, I spoke to Euston Partnership Board on the huge regeneration opportunity that can be unlocked with private investment.

But, by stopping HS2 in Birmingham, we will now reinvest every penny of the £36 billion saved in transport across the country.

In the roads, the local bus services, the regional train links – all those essential daily connections that people rely on.

No region will lose out…receiving either the same, or more, government investment than under HS2.

So, almost £20 billion will go to the North:

With Bradford, ignored under previous proposals, now getting a new station and faster rail connections to Manchester.

Northern Powerhouse Rail now extended to include Hull and Sheffield.

A separate £12 billion fund will better connect Liverpool and Manchester, and I have already spoken to the Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region to kick start the work on this.   

And West Yorkshire, thanks to £2.5 billion of funding, will finally get its mass transit system built in full.

Over 20 road schemes will be delivered.

And crucially, we’ll more than double the transport budgets of Northern Mayors, benefitting our largest cities and smallest towns.

Mr Speaker, we’re also investing in the Midlands, with almost £10 billion ensuring….

  • the Midlands Rail Hub is completed in full
  • increased mayoral budgets, including £1.5 billion for the new East Midlands City Region
  • and councils – from Stoke on Trent to Lincolnshire –seeing long term transport funding settlements for the first time

Finally, the remainder of this transformational investment will be spread across the UK, including….

The hugely popular £2 bus fare cap, which we’re extending, and people will see the benefit of this just next month.

Delivering the Ely Junction project and North Wales Mainline electrification – benefitting both passengers and freight…

And dealing with the menace of potholes, with £8.3 billion in new funding to resurface roads up and down the country.

All told, Network North is a new vision for transport.

One that creates more winners, in more places.

One that prioritises people’s everyday journeys.

And one that drives the growth and jobs this country needs.


So, Mr Deputy Speaker, I’ll finish with this….

We will never shirk the tough long-term decisions to secure this country’s future.

And we will always be guided by the needs of the British people.

So when the majority want a pragmatic route to net zero – we’ll back them.

When drivers feel unfairly targeted – we’ll back them.

And when the public want us to focus on the journeys that matter most to them – we’ll back them.

This government is delivering on the people’s priorities….

And I commend this statement to the House.

Department for Transport
The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP