On Tuesday I had the privilege of presenting a Ten-Minute Rule Bill to the House of Commons. A Ten-Minute Rule Bill is a way that MPs can argue for a certain law to be made or changed. It’s very rare that MPs get the opportunity to present such a Bill, which means the decision over what issue to focus on is very important. I put a lot of thought into it and decided to present a Bill that would update the MOT test for diesel cars, specifically in the testing of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs).
Why have I chosen this issue? Because I believe air pollution is one of the greatest public health crises of our time and that good policy can help to reverse some of its distressing implications. A DPF is a filter that captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. If the DPF is faulty, a single vehicle can produce the same amount of pollution as a three lane, 360-mile-long traffic jam. That is the distance from Huddersfield to Land’s End. Shocked? So was I.
Diesel exhaust is a class 1 carcinogen. This means it’s one of the most dangerous types of particulates emitted into the atmosphere. According to the World Health Organisation, it has a dangerous impact on the body, penetrating deep into the respiratory system, causing lung cancer in humans.
Cleaning up our countries air will require a long, focused, and well-resourced campaign with cooperation between central, local, and devolved Governments. Tackling air pollution is no easy fix but despite this, there are some quick wins to score that will have a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing. My Bill is one of those wins.
With high-tech testing equipment available at a reasonable cost, now is the time to update the MOT test. Its already being done in the Netherlands, where a DPF efficiency test is being introduced that will identify faulty filters that emit a high level of dangerous particulates. In the UK we’re moving in the right direction, but more must be done. In 2014 and 2018, regulations for DPFs have been updated as we’ve uncovered more about their impact on dangerous emissions. In 2022, its time we act again.
My Bill calls for the Government to update the MOT test to include an efficiency test for DPF filters with an emission limit set at 250,000 particles per cm3. This would identify dangerous filters and ensure that they are taken off the road and fixed. The policies and frameworks are there, all the Government needs to do is update the law.
Air pollution is a public health crisis that is causing thousands of lives to end early in the UK with millions more worldwide. It adds billions in costs to the health service and can severely impact people’s wellbeing. On Tuesday I presented my Bill to Parliament to call on MPs to get behind my campaign to clean up our air. I’ve also tabled the following Early Day Motion, calling on MPs to support my Bill. You can read it here. The costs are too great not to act. If my Bill becomes law, we will have made a significant step in protecting everybody’s inalienable right to breathe clean air.
If you would like to watch the full footage of my speech in the House of Commons, you can do so here.