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It is a pleasure to take part in this important debate. The industrial strategy is an important document that contains crucial objectives relating to skills and young people. The importance of the skills agenda is particularly demonstrated in my own area, where the offshore renewables sector is playing a major role in the area’s economic expansion. Indeed, the Government have referred to the Humber estuary as the “energy estuary”. We have a number of important training facilities, such as the CATCH facility in Stallingborough, which was set up as a joint operation funded by the Government, local authorities and industry. The Secretary of State himself has visited the Grimsby Institute, where he launched a previous skills initiative. Leaving the European Union provides us with many opportunities, but we need to invest in research and development, and we also desperately need to invest in our infrastructure. I am pleased to say that the Government have taken that matter particularly seriously.
A crucial element in the document is regional growth, and I know that the Secretary of State is particularly committed to that. He has visited the Grimsby-Cleethorpes area on a number of occasions, and I know that he is familiar with the problems and the opportunities that exist there. He will, I am sure, have taken note of the importance of the seafood processing industry in the area, as well as the offshore renewables sector and the chemicals, ports and logistics industries. We also have two of the country’s six oil refineries. Cleethorpes, being the jewel in the crown of the east coast, is very important for tourism. I can see that you are eager to visit it yourself, Mr Deputy Speaker. You would be most welcome, and you would enjoy the best fish and chips in the country.
I am sure that Ministers would be disappointed if I did not mention page 226 of the document, which refers to the Greater Grimsby town deal. In fairness to Governments of both colours, there has been much investment in our cities and city regions over the past 20 years, but that has emphasised the relative decline of some of our smaller towns in the provinces, particularly our coastal communities. To combat that, the local authority, the local enterprise partnership and, crucially, local industry have come together to create the Greater Grimsby project board, which has put forward several important proposals encompassing a town deal that would boost the area tremendously, reducing the differential between our cities and towns. The Prime Minister herself has referred to “left behind” towns, and our coastal communities sadly fall into that category.
As I mentioned, the project board is led by the private sector, but it includes the local enterprise partnership and local authorities. We have put detailed proposals to the Government, and they are grinding their way through the various Departments, but the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is primarily responsible for town deals. Our most recent meeting was with Lord Henley, who has now taken over day-to-day responsibility for the strategy, and I urge the Minister to give us some indication of when we can expect a decision on the deal. At that meeting, it was suggested that we might get a decision by June or July. I suspect that the Minister will not want to give a definite date today, but I urge him to push things forward as quickly as possible.
The industrial strategy clearly presents huge opportunities for areas such as northern Lincolnshire. The shadow Secretary of State, in fairness to her, did acknowledge that even a future Labour Government would not go about picking winners, but it was rather depressing to hear Kelvin Hopkins turning the clock back to the days of the Neddy—I think there were even “Little Neddies”—with prices and income falls and the winters of discontent. All that could come again if, sadly, the Labour party comes to power.