UK MPs decry government apathy over holding Volkswagen to account for diesel emissions scandal

A lack of determination by the UK government to hold Volkswagen to account might see the car manufacturer get away with cheating emissions tests in Europe, MPs have warned.

The transport select committed in a damning report said the Department for Transport (DfT) had been much too slow and ambivalent over taking any action following diesel emissions scandal, while industry regulators had ''shown little interest'' in whether the law had been broken.

The committee called on the DfT to still consider prosecuting Volkswagen, which it said had given evidence that was ''not credible'' and largely ''an exercise in damage limitation''. The report added that the company, which denied having done anything wrong after initially apologising for its conduct, ''acted with a cynical disregard for emissions limits which exist solely to protect human health''.

US customers would be compensated after the company admitted last September that 482,000 of its diesel vehicles in the US were fitted with ''defeat devices'' to pass emission tests, reaching a $15 billion settlement last month with federal authorities.

However, no redress of the kind had been afforded to UK customers, a position that the committee described as ''deeply unfair''. Although Volkswagen said 1.2 million UK cars were affected, it had disputed whether the same software was illegal in the EU.

MPs on the committee had also criticised the UK government of ''trying to pass the buck'' to the EU over the scandal, saying that challenging German auto giant was a national responsibility, rather than one to be passed on to the European community.

The MPs on the committee said, ''VW has failed UK customers, but the Government has failed consumers''.

VW could face unlimited fines if it was found to have recklessly or knowingly given false information on its cars for getting them licensed by the UK vehicle regulators, according to the report committee's report.