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Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:19 pm, 18th April 2018

I will make some progress, if I may, then the hon. Lady can make further interventions.

In relation to skills, we were promised about £500 million of investment. That is frankly pitiful and does not even begin to repair the damage done to the adult skills budget between 2010 and 2015, when over £1.15 billion was cut. With research by PWC finding that 77% of CEOs worry that skills shortages could impair their company’s growth, and with the CBI stating that 69% of businesses are not confident about filling their high-skilled jobs, the Government’s actions have done little to show that they are creating a workforce truly ready for our industrial renaissance.

On infrastructure investment, we were promised £31 billion of investment through the national productivity investment fund. Again, that is below the levels seen in other leading industrial nations. As TUC analysis shows, the sums promised will simply increase investment to just 2.9% of GDP, whereas the average spend on investment by the leading industrial nations in the OECD is 3.5%. It is also clear that the Government have made no attempt to halt the skewing of infrastructure spending towards London, which is due to get more transport spending over the next five years than the rest of England put together.

That brings me to local industrial policy. Labour has been clear on the need for a national industrial strategy, but we are also clear about the need to be regionally powerful and distinctive, with the resources to match, and to build on the already world-class universities and businesses in our regions and nations. Since last November, the Labour party has been convening round-tables in every region and nation of the UK to discuss what businesses in those regions need from an industrial strategy. Alarmingly, in one region I heard that the responsibility for formulating a local industrial strategy had simply landed on the desk of the local enterprise partnership’s chief executive, with no additional resources. Could the Minster confirm whether there is a team in his Department working on local industrial strategy or whether that is simply now the responsibility of LEPs? Last month, the Local Government Chronicle argued that the Government should put more resources into agreeing a local industrial strategy if they did not want to risk concentrating their efforts on improving the economy in just a handful of areas.