Industrial Strategy Consultation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:46 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Callum McCaig Callum McCaig Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Energy and Climate Change) 4:46 pm, 23rd January 2017

I give this proposal a cautious welcome. It is honest in some ways in its reflection of the state of the economy. In many ways it is brutally honest about some problems, including regional disparity and productivity. Likewise, it recognises some successes, such as the automotive and aviation sectors and, on page 90, Aberdeen as an oil and gas hub. The problems are not new, so how will the Secretary of State ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated? How will he ensure that existing industries are not sacrificed in the quest to support new ones?

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the allocation of new research and development money will be in addition to anything that would have come from the European Union and that he will provide long-term commitments to match EU funding? How much of that R and D spend will be outwith London and south-east England? Imagine how much worse regional disparities would have been without EU structural funds? Will he commit to long-term replacements for those funds?

On renewables and carbon capture and storage, the right hon. Gentleman will be unsurprised that I am a little disappointed by the lack of ambition in an industry that will be worth hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of dollars in the near future. Will he consider a sectoral deal for renewables? If so, will he work with the Scottish Government on how that could be done in Scotland? Access to finance is identified as a problem, and I share the concerns about the green investment bank. It is short-sighted to sell it off when this key sector needs access to funding and when the bank is the perfect vehicle for that.

How will the consultation process work with the devolved Governments? However good this industrial strategy may be, we must accept that the biggest threat to the economies of both Scotland and the UK is lack of access to the single market and to skilled people that comes through our EU membership. Will the right hon. Gentleman seriously consider the Scottish Government’s plan that would see Scotland maintain its membership of the European single market?