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Industry (Government Support)

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 1:05 pm on 16th June 2010.

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Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 1:05 pm, 16th June 2010

My hon. Friend makes a good point. Sometimes a bit of investment from the public sector can lever in significant extra investment from the private sector.

I want to turn to the criticisms of the approach that I have set out that have been made by the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister in recent weeks. They have made specific accusations, saying that the projects were agreed in a hurry and were politically motivated. Indeed, the Prime Minister repeated that allegation a short time ago at Prime Minister's questions, when he spoke of fiddled grants for political reasons. Last week, he alleged that we had spent tens of billions of pounds on industrial support. I have to say that it is no wonder that he is sharpening his public spending axe if that is his grasp of the amount of money that we were spending on industrial support.

Let me deal head-on with the accusation about rushed and politically motivated largesse. These projects were not agreed in a hurry. We negotiated for months with the car companies, with the wind turbine suppliers and with Sheffield Forgemasters. All those projects were subject to careful scrutiny by officials and to the usual value-for-money criteria used in decisions of this kind. In the last Parliament, time after time, I stood at the Dispatch Box opposite and was criticised by some of those who are now Ministers sitting in front of me-not for going too quickly on industrial aid or for being rash about it, but for dragging my feet.

In a report published as long ago as July 2009, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, which was chaired at the time by Peter Luff, who is now an Under-Secretary of State for Defence and a ministerial colleague of the Business Secretary, said that it was

"profoundly disappointed that to date not one single penny has been advanced through the scheme"- the automotive assistance scheme-and added:

"We hope that this will change rapidly."

That is the same scheme that has funded Ford and General Motors, so let us have fewer accusations that there was a huge rush in the run-up to the election to spend money profligately.

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