Transport Secretary must come clean about UK’s role in allowing cars to pollute above legal limit


Following the recent VW scandal, EU Member State representatives agreed on 28th October at Technical Committee to tighten EU emissions testing rules – and then appeared to give open-ended permission for cars to breach the EU’s own limits by 50% in real live driving conditions.

During Transport Questions in Parliament on 29 October, I asked the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, to confirm whether the UK had indeed voted to open this loophole at the EU meeting. You can read Hansard here and see that sadly the Secretary refused to answer the specifics – simply saying he welcomed the agreement that had been reached.

From the beginning of the scandal the Government has failed to grasp the severity of the air quality problems facing our towns and cities and the impact of the VW scandal on motorists who have been deceived.

Having a realistic timetable for introducing better tests that reflect real life driving conditions is one thing. It is quite another to write in an open-ended permission for car manufacturers to breach even the existing legal limit for harmful emissions.

It is just not good enough for Ministers to duck direct questions about this. The Secretary of State must come clean on what this agreement at the EU will mean for motorists and air quality in practice rather than in theory, because Ministers urgently need to clarify whether they have voted to allow all cars – even after 2021 – to still exceed the legal limit by 50%.

Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.