Policy for Growth

Part of Bill Presented — European Union Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 11th November 2010.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Labour, Wirral South 5:29 pm, 11th November 2010

I never thought that I would stand in a Back-Bench debate on growth-the debate is most welcome-and quote Lord Lamont, but I am going to. Speaking of the 1992 exchange rate mechanism crisis, he said:

"I think it is worth emphasising that the ERM crisis was an international one...I am always surprised at the extent to which people see it as a purely British crisis. In that week in September 1992, eight countries either devalued or floated."

The lesson that I take from that quote is that we forget the global picture at our peril. I have been pleased to listen to other Members reference the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We are trying to drive forward growth at a time when the world faces very difficult circumstances. We are not alone in our pursuit of growth, and we all need to heed that important point.

I want to make three extremely swift points in response to that global challenge. I can make the first very swiftly, because it has already been made this afternoon. On regional development agencies and growth policy in the regions, the Government appear to have wiped the slate clean. We have seen success with the regional development agencies, but there is a lack of understanding of the good practice that went on in them. In developing local economic partnerships, the Government might ask, in areas such as mine in the north-west, where the regional development agencies had success, what needs to be carried forward into the local economic partnerships to make sure that the RDAs' practice of development-what one business I spoke to in the Wirral called their ability "to roll their sleeves up and help us out"-is not lost.

My second point, which has also been mentioned, relates to the importance of rebalancing. Like other hon. Members this afternoon, when I look at the global economy I wonder how we might provide and sell things that are needed around the world. I know from my constituency that science-led business is important in that. With the investment in superfast broadband and the other things that we hope to see in the Wirral, I hope that we will continue to be champions of science-led business, just as we have been historically, with Unilever at the heart of our borough. Through our expertise, we can lead the way.

Finally, we have real opportunities for export, given our historic links with India and China. I leave the Minister with one thought. The local economic partnerships need to be able to stand on the world stage and argue for those trade relationships. We all need to think what powers those local economic partnerships need so that they can stand on the global stage and argue for investment in Britain.