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Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 6:50 pm, 18th April 2018

Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I would be delighted to meet the right hon. Gentleman to discuss that important matter.

As I was saying, I have seen many companies involved in this industrial strategy. It is much more than the same few companies that are used to lobbying the Government from the centre. That is one of the great achievements. The shadow Secretary of State and shadow Minister made partisan speeches—the former rather more than the latter, I might say—and I could spend a long time rebutting them, but time does not allow. I must, however, respond to a few of their points. The shadow Secretary of State said there was no guidance for sector deals. It is all in the White Paper—there are six of them—and I am very happy to send her a copy. In fact, she can choose from one of the many languages that it is printed in. I will send her one of each.

The shadow Secretary of State said there was not enough research and development and that this was all hot air, but actually it lays a pathway for the biggest increase for 40 years. There is an extra £7 billion of research and development funding to 2022. After the 2.4% target, we are aiming for 3% and to be world class. She also mentioned, as did several of her colleagues, the issue of steel. We have had regular meetings with the managements of all the steel companies. I have visited two steel companies in the last week. Moreover, everyone in the Government, from the Prime Minister down, has been involved with the situation regarding President Trump and the United States. As for the sector deals, we are regularly talking about them with unions and companies alike. So this is not, as the hon. Lady said, gathering dust. It is very important to us. As for the local industrial strategy, it is really beginning to develop, and not just in three areas; it is being tested across places with different economies to see how it works.

We heard many other contributions. My hon. Friend Trudy Harrison represents a constituency that she is always fighting for, because she understands, as do her constituents, the need for skills and new technology, and the need to drive down costs, which is key to the whole industrial strategy. I look forward to visiting her constituency tomorrow and on Friday.

I have a lot of respect for Mr Bailey. We have worked together in various capacities. We might have been on opposite sides of the table, but we have not always been in opposition to each other. He mentioned Jaguar Land Rover, as did Jack Dromey, and the recent announcement not to renew the contracts of 1,000 temporary staff at Solihull. I spoke to the managing director of Jaguar Land Rover on Monday, and he made it clear that that decision has been taken to safeguard the competitiveness of the plants in the European market. The automotive industry is a very good example of how the industrial strategy works, and I know it has an extremely bright future.