It is a great honour to follow Roger Mullin; I always listen to him with great enthusiasm. It is also great to be here with fellow members of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. To add to the comments of my hon. Friend Richard Fuller, it is a great privilege to serve under the chairmanship of Mr Wright.
Productivity is an essential driving force for the country’s economy, with direct implications on our long-term growth, living standards and wages. Its importance was highlighted by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his autumn statement back in November, when he spoke about how the UK is trailing behind several countries in terms of productivity, including the US and Germany. In seeking to tackle that problem, he announced £23 billion of investments, designed to improve output, with particular emphasis on infrastructure and housing. Along with the productivity plan and industrial strategy, that illustrates the Government’s commitment and determination to making the UK the best place in the world—