The Economy and Work

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 3:01 pm on 26th May 2016.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Conservative, Tamworth 3:01 pm, 26th May 2016

I congratulate Yvonne Fovargue on her typically thoughtful speech. I particularly congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chancellor on continuing, in his speech, the march of the makers. That stood in stark contrast to the march of the Marxists that characterised the shadow Chancellor’s speech. We certainly make things in the midlands and in Tamworth. We make great cars at Jaguar Land Rover, great engines at BMW, world-class circuit boards at Invotec, and fine braking systems at Alcon. We are making the jobs that people want to do, and we need to make the homes that people want to live in in the west midlands.

I congratulate the Government on their work with the Help to Buy scheme, which Bovis tells me has been seminal in getting people on to the property ladder. However, we need to do more to get SMEs back into the supply chain—SMEs that left the industry owing to mergers and acquisitions in the 1980s and the housing market crash in 2008. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will use all his artistry, eloquence and influence to prevail on the Communities and Local Government Secretary to encourage big firms like Bovis to franchise out part of their land bank to SMEs. That de-risks Bovis and other big developers because it takes some of the costs away from them, but also helps SMEs to get into the industry again because it removes some of the up-front costs of planning. I hope that the Government will consider that thought. While they are at it, I hope that they will also look at the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. SME developers in my constituency tell me of the length of time that it takes for the inspectorate in Bristol to conclude its appeal decision process. Sometimes very straightforward decisions can take up to six months. If we can speed up that process, possibly by upskilling and up-staffing the resources there, then we can take some of the weight off those SMEs’ shoulders.

We need to build homes, and we also need to build the infrastructure around them. I welcome and congratulate the Government on the infrastructure plan and the work of Lord Adonis and the Infrastructure Commission. May I encourage the Government to look at one of the “Cinderella” infrastructure projects of the midlands—the A5 corridor, which runs through Leicestershire, through Warwickshire, and up into Staffordshire? I can assure the Chancellor that he will have a lot of support from me and my hon. Friends the Members for Cannock Chase (Amanda Milling) and for North Warwickshire (Craig Tracey), who is in his place, and my hon. Friends the Members for Bosworth (David Tredinnick) and for Nuneaton (Mr Jones), all of whom want the road to be upgraded and dualled so that we can build the homes near it for people to do the jobs that are being created in the midlands.

This was a Queen’s Speech for aspirational people who want to do the right thing and get on. That is why we made gains in the local elections in my constituency just a few weeks ago. In a town that had nearly 30 Labour councillors 16 years ago, there are now just seven. After the general election, Jon Cruddas was quite right to write in his, I hope, non-ironic document, “Labour’s Future”:

“Labour lost because voters didn’t believe it”.

They did not believe Labour in 2015, and I assure the House that they did not believe it last month either.