Debate on the Address — [1st day]

Part of Outlawries Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:32 pm on 4th June 2014.

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Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Chair, Committee of Selection 7:32 pm, 4th June 2014

The hon. Gentleman rightly gives a plug to his university. That was a fantastic invention and I do not think the world has yet truly seen the transformative effects it will bring, but what is slightly worrying is that the Chancellor announced that we were going to put £50 million into developing the product, yet the South Koreans put £190 million in and the Europeans are putting in £1 billion. This invention will transform most electrical products and most people have never even heard of it. We must concentrate on where we are going in the future and I hope we will make the best of that transformative product.

Not just China is expanding at a huge rate in south-east Asia. Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and others are all experiencing very high levels of growth. Brazil, too, offers us a particular opportunity to help British exporters as a result of its hosting the World cup and the Olympics—we benefitted, too, from our own Olympics.

However, to be able to expand into the world’s growing markets, we need to be able physically to get to them first. Businesses are calling out for increased airport capacity. I recently hosted a delegation from Hubei province in China. The only way to get to that province from this country is via a stop-over in Paris. We need to encourage our airlines to fly to more secondary destinations in China and elsewhere. The Germans, the French and the Dutch are all doing that, and we must do so too if we want to get our business men there—and, even more importantly, if we want to get their business men here. By pure chance I happened to sit next to a Chinese banker who wants to invest between £100 million and £1 billion in the banking sector in the City of London, yet he does not have a direct flight connection to London to get his people here to discuss that investment.

If we do not pull our socks up in tackling these sorts of things, we will lose out in the world race. I say to the House that when the Sir Howard Davies commission makes a decision after the next election, whichever party is elected—I hope it will be mine—let us implement that decision quickly, whatever it is and however controversial, and let us hope that the Opposition support that decision.

The UK needs to tap into high-growth markets and diversify away from stagnant EU economies. In the last decade the UK has exported more to Ireland than Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. There are already signs that that situation is improving, however. Since 2010 exports to China have increased by 91% and to Russia by 118%, admittedly from a very low base, whereas in the three months to December 2013 the UK export of goods to the EU fell by 6.1%. Although it is easier to export to the EU market, we need to encourage our British companies to look out and go to the rest of the world.

I cannot finish my speech without a word on Europe and the recent elections. At least one quarter of the peoples around Europe voted for reform of the EU. Even the French President is now saying we should have a reform of the EU, and that should signal to the Eurocrats in the Commission that we need reform. I thought that it was breathtaking hypocrisy on the part of the Eurocrats in the Commission to start telling us that we should increase our taxes. They have clearly learned nothing from those elections, and we have to persuade them that we must reform the EU.

The British people will take note of what is happening in Europe and if there is no reform and we do not get a renegotiation on some of the key matters, it is possible that the British people, in a referendum, will vote to leave. Regardless of whether we get an in/out referendum in 2017—I hope we do and I hope we get a Conservative Government to achieve that, as only a Conservative Government will achieve it—we will have a referendum on Europe sooner or later, because in the previous Parliament we all enshrined in law an Act that gives a referendum when we transfer major powers in a treaty. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Eurocrats in the Commission will come up with a major treaty within the next five to 10 years and so there will be a referendum on Europe. Unless Europe amends its ways and unless we see that renegotiation, the British people will vote in a way that may well be anti-Europe in that referendum.

Like others, I knocked on a lot of doors in the European election campaign and I found that one major issue was migration into this country. Somebody made a powerful intervention on Keith Vaz suggesting to him that it is not about who comes to this country, whatever race or creed they are, but about the pace of change—it is not racist to say that. A lot of constituents fear too many people coming at once, which puts pressure on our services—our schools, health service and social services. That is why we need a renegotiation, so that we can repatriate some of the migration powers to this Parliament and start to control the pace of change.

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kevin lister
Posted on 8 Jun 2014 5:45 pm (Report this annotation)

It is extraordinary that you want the next government to unequivocally implement the recommendations of Sir Howard Davies when the world is facing runaway climate change and the proposals that he is developing will result in massive and unsustainable increases in aviation greenhouse gases. In fact Sir Howard was so arrogant in his conclusions, that he suggested that the onus was on environmentalists "to knock down his arguments." So do as you are suggesting, is an affront to democracy, this decision should be managed by our elected representatives however grubby this is.

See blogs on the response to to Sir Howard's radio 4 interview at http://kevsclimatecolumn.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/further-lett...

and notes to Sir Howard from Airport Commission's public consultation at Manchester on climate change and demand management.

http://kevsclimatecolumn.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/thanks-for-s...