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Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 4:40 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng Conservative, Spelthorne 4:40 pm, 18th April 2018

I am grateful to be called in this important debate. I thought that I was coming here to speak about industrial strategy but, having listening to Rebecca Long Bailey, I realise we are having just another general debate on the economy in which we hear the same old Labour rants, gloom-filled prophecies and denunciations of Government policy.

Industrial strategy is one of the most interesting areas of policy and government, so it is frankly disappointing to see the Labour party using it purely as a political football, with its spokesman giving a ranting speech that, in my many years in this House, I have heard far too often—it was very dispiriting. I am sorry to have to introduce my short speech in this way, but her speech was a real missed opportunity.

It is exciting that, for the first time in a long while, we actually have an industrial strategy. The House will remember that there was no such thing under the previous Labour Administration. There was no coherent, focused strategy between 1997 and 2010, and it was exciting when the Government made their announcement last year.

On the reach of the industrial strategy, it is right to start with research and development, which is central to our forward progress. It was remarkable that the Lady opposite did not once use the phrase “research and development”, as far as I remember, although I will check Hansard tomorrow. It is was surprising in such a debate that we did not hear anything about research and development from the Opposition.

Research and development is clearly a big part of the Government’s strategy, and there is a £4.7 billion fund for such investment. We are also trying to create a more favourable environment. From where I stand, corporation tax cuts, about which we have been very consistent over the past eight years, have been an important lever—the Lady opposite talked about levers.