HC Deb 31 March 1994 vol 240 cc1031-2W
Mr. Peter Shore

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department is undertaking into how the effectiveness of catalytic converters can be improved to deal with the problem of cold-start emissions; and what plans he has to encourage the retrofitting of catalytic converters on cars.

Mr. Key

A new EC directive adopted on 25 March 1994—number yet to be advised—is the latest in a series amending directive 70/220/EEC on vehicle emissions, and sets more stringent emission standards for all new cars from 1 January 1997. The Department is already in discussions with the EU on even lower standards for 2000, which will be complemented by an additional low temperature emission test. The engineering solutions necessary to meet these standards are a matter for the vehicle manufacturers. On the encouragement of retrofitting catalysts, I refer the hon. Member to the answer the latest year for which figures are available; what were the proportions 10, 20 and 30 years ago; and what are the proportions in (a) the United States of America, (b) Germany, (c) France and (d) Japan.

Mr. Freeman

In 1992, the most recent year for which statistics are available for Great Britain, the percentage of road and rail freight carried by road was 89 per cent. For other countries, the most recent data available are shown in the following table which also gives the figures for the earlier years requested. Reliable comparisons are not available for years prior to 1970. Freight transport by inland waterway, coastal shipping and pipeline will affect the proportions carried by road and rail—these figures are published in "Transport Statistics Great Britain 1993", tables 8.5 and 9.3, a copy of which is in the Library.

I gave to the hon. Member for North Devon (Mr. Harvey), Official Report, column 144. Further measures requiring substantial engineering effort to develop costly retrofit packages for declining numbers of suitable vehicles would not be cost-effective.