The Government’S Productivity Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:11 pm on 28th February 2017.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Industrial Strategy) 4:11 pm, 28th February 2017

It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman likes to concentrate on the record of the last Labour Government, which was more than seven years ago, instead of looking at the record of this Government, of the institutions that they have or have not put in place and of their success or absolute lack of success either in addressing regional imbalances or in addressing the debt. They have succeeded in increasing national debt, while also not generating any smart, long-term growth. I would be reluctant to get up to praise that record.

Despite the Prime Minister’s rhetoric about a “new, active role” for the state in the economy, the average level of public investment in this Parliament is set to be 1.9% of GDP, which is lower than the level during the coalition’s austerity agenda and barely half of what it was under Labour. This Government are, in effect, reducing private sector investment and public sector investment at the same time, taking away the lifeblood that our economy needs. Austerity did not deliver smart growth, and austerity in all but name will not do so either. The Labour party has committed to investing £250 billion in capital expenditure over 10 years, as well as committing to a national investment bank and regional development banks. I ask the Minister to say how he will be able to change our productivity and deliver on smart growth without those things.

In conclusion, our country’s productivity problem will not solve itself. We need sustained, long-term investment in skills and technology. That will not be forthcoming unless the Government have a clear, strategic vision for the future. We need to mobilise both public and private actors, crowding in investment to boost skills and innovation, and tackle the root causes of our productivity crisis. Only by doing that can we create the high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy that this Government say they want, that the British people deserve and that only a Labour Government can deliver.