Industrial Strategy

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th January 2017.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet 12:00 am, 25th January 2017

What discussions his Department has had with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on ensuring that the Government’s industrial strategy benefits the whole of the UK.

Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

This Government have put in place an industrial strategy that will work for all people in every corner of the UK. Wales is home to world-leading sectors, be it compound semi-conductors in Cardiff, agri-tech in Aberystwyth or advanced manufacturing in Deeside. We are committed to building on our strengths to create an economy where everyone can share the benefits of our economic success.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet

One of the most important themes of the Government’s industrial strategy is the determination to ensure that all nations and regions of the UK can benefit from economic prosperity. An important aspect of that is science and research, which I hope the Minister will agree offers real potential for businesses in Wales to prosper and create jobs.

Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend about the importance of investing in skills and high-tech industries in a Welsh context. I know that our university sector stands ready to support the Welsh economy to ensure that we have such skills.

Photo of Christina Rees Christina Rees Shadow Minister (Justice)

What representations has the Minister made to his Government about placing steel at the heart of their industrial strategy, and how will the UK Government support the innovative products and projects coming out of Swansea University that will future-proof steel making for many generations?

Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has stated, he recently met the trade unions in relation to the steel sector, and one of my first visits as a Minister was to the Tata plant in Deeside, so we understand the importance of steel to Wales. This Government have been unyielding in our support for the steel industry in Wales, and that will continue.

Photo of Margaret Ferrier Margaret Ferrier Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland Office)

The UK has lacked a strategic approach to industrial policy for many years, and Wales has suffered as a result. What specific measures in the Government’s industrial strategy will be brought in to help Wales?

Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

It is very important to state that the industrial strategy in a Welsh context must be a partnership between the two Governments that Wales has—we have the UK Government and the Welsh Government—and Wales will succeed and prosper if those two Governments work together. I am glad to be able to say to the hon. Lady that in relation to skills for the energy sector, support for the car manufacturing sector and support for the steel sector, the two Governments are working together to ensure the best for Wales in terms of industrial strategy and developing new opportunities for the people of Wales.

Photo of Mark Tami Mark Tami Opposition Pairing Whip (Commons)

As the Minister has said, we have many important employers on Deeside—Airbus, Tata, Toyota—but we also have many companies in the supply chain that are very important. We must not only keep those companies post-Brexit, but encourage more to come in.

Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman. Deeside is a great success story for the UK economy, not just for the Welsh economy. He is absolutely right that we need to build on that success by drawing in more investment, and that is why the Secretary of State and I will be holding a summit with the Department for International Trade in Wales in the very near future.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda

One of the biggest infrastructure projects we are about to engage in is the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster. Will the Minister make sure that this is part of an industrial strategy for Wales? We do not have enough people in this country to complete the work, and we need academies in every constituency in the land to give young people the skills they need to work in this building.

Photo of Guto Bebb Guto Bebb Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales

I will obviously not comment on the issue of the refurbishment of the Palace, but I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman about the importance of getting skills that are relevant to the fabric of buildings in Wales, historic buildings especially. I pay tribute to Coleg Llandrillo Menai, which is doing exactly that—training young people not just in building skills, but in traditional building skills as well.