Economic Growth and Emissions

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th June 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull 12:00 am, 12th June 2018

What steps he is taking to support economic growth while decreasing emissions.

Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon

What steps he is taking to support economic growth while decreasing emissions.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

My hon Friends and the House will agree that we should be proud of the UK’s progress in cutting emissions while driving economic growth. Since 1990, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by over 40% while growing the economy by over two thirds—the best performance per capita in the G7. And we will, as part of our modern industrial strategy, continue to exploit the opportunities for future growth across the UK through our clean growth grand challenge.

Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull

As we rightly move towards eliminating the internal combustion engine in all new cars from 2040, does the Minister agree that, in the short to medium term, it is important to jobs and growth that we recognise the role of clean diesel engines such as those in the cars that roll off the production in my local car plant?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

My hon. Friend rightly champions the incredible employer in his constituency. He knows that we are right to move towards eliminating internal combustion engines from our roads, but we must do it in a managed way and ensure that we preserve those jobs and particularly the investment in clean diesel during the transition to zero-emission vehicles. I know that there have been announcements today of job losses in his constituency, which will be concerning. However, they are part of the manufacturing plan that has been announced.

Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon

The oil and gas industry plays an active role in protecting the environment and reducing emissions. Does the Minister share my shock that the shadow Chancellor advised Cambridge University to divest itself of oil and gas investments when that industry supports 300,000 jobs in the UK? Does she agree that the industry is playing its part, and that 300,000 UK jobs are worth protecting despite the Opposition’s—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. I say very gently that the Minister will want to focus on the policy of the Government. Her view about the policy of the Opposition is neither here nor there. With experience, I know the hon. Gentleman will realise that those questions are disorderly.

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

The Government’s policy is to support a sector that employs 300,000 people and contributes £21 billion to the UK economy. We recognise that the vital oil and gas industry has an integral role to play as we transition to a low-carbon economy, which is why we are investing in technologies such as carbon capture, usage and storage, and exploring how things such as our world-leading submersible technologies can work to support oil and gas.

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

The Minister will be aware of the potential of the marine energy sector in terms of both UK economic growth and reducing emissions. Will she assure me that projects such as Minesto and Morlais in my constituency will not be crowded out by the funding mechanism in place now, which favours offshore wind?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

The hon. Gentleman knows that we have set out £557 million to support all renewable technologies over the next few years. We want to make sure that we decarbonise at the right price for taxpayers and bill payers, which is one reason why the mechanism will continue.

Photo of Chris Elmore Chris Elmore Opposition Whip (Commons)

One way in which the Government could invest in economic growth while decreasing emissions would be to invest in the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project. They have flip-flopped over the past 10 days, with leaks about when the announcement will or will not be made. May I press the Minister? Can she please tell us when she will deliver that major economic investment for Wales?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

Having grown up on one side of the Bristol channel and seen the second-highest tidal range in the world on an almost daily basis, I will take no lessons on the value of tidal and marine technology. As guardians of public money, it is absolutely right that we make investments that deliver the right decarbonisation and the right value for the taxpayer. The hon. Gentleman should not rely on leaks and assume that they are Government information. That announcement will come in due course and the House will be the first to know.

Photo of David Davies David Davies Chair, Welsh Affairs Committee

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the recent announcement of support for Wylfa underpins the Government’s commitment not only to reducing emissions, but to economic growth, not least in Wales?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

My hon. Friend is right. I should clarify that we are entering commercial negotiations—a deal needs to be done—but we should make a virtue of the fact that we have one of the most diversified energy supplies in the world, and one of the lowest-carbon energy supplies. We have also managed to get ourselves off coal, which other countries long to do.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

The Government’s shambolic policy on the solar and onshore wind sectors in recent years has meant that significant economic growth and decarbonisation opportunities have been lost. For example, we have seen dramatic feed-in tariff subsidy cuts; business and VAT rate hikes; and obstruction to clean power auctions. Sadly, as we have heard today, there are reports that the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon, the world’s first tidal lagoon, which would create thousands of jobs and local supply chains and use 100,000 tonnes of majority British steel, is potentially on the Secretary of State’s hit list. Will the Minister buck that trend today and confirm when the decision will be made, and outline what support she will give to solar and onshore wind?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

I remain bemused by the hon. Lady’s ability to seize a disaster out of a triumph. We have delivered more renewable energy than we ever thought possible, at a price that is unimaginable—[Interruption.] I know the Opposition Front Benchers do not give a stuff about consumer bills, as they have made that totally obvious, but we care about decarbonisation at the right price for the consumer.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I think we touched a nerve there. The Minister is living in a parallel universe to me, because in the first quarter of 2018 the deployment of new solar slowed to its lowest level since 2010, and next year onshore wind installation is expected to be at its lowest level since before 2008. But it gets worse: last November, the industrial strategy was published, yet seven months on progress has been slow, with business becoming increasingly frustrated. The industrial strategy council has not yet been appointed, no strategy for reaching the research and development target has been published, and dozens of sectors are waiting for responses to their sector deals. So does the Minister accept, as some key business leaders do, that perhaps her Government’s chaos over Brexit and the apparent inability even to concentrate on an industrial strategy are undermining British business and indeed our growth?

Photo of Claire Perry Claire Perry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Minister of State (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Clean Growth)

The previous point still stands. We are incredibly proud of our industrial strategy, with its groundbreaking opportunities to link up government and businesses for the first time. I go back to the point on the hon. Lady’s questions about solar: the thing about offshore wind is that we lead—[Interruption.] Again, if they could all stop chuntering, Mr Speaker—God almighty. We lead the world in terms of the installed capacity, and we have created tens of thousands of jobs. I know the Opposition Front Benchers, as per the first question, do not give a stuff about jobs, let alone consumer bills, but the point is that—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. Minister, please resume your seat. I am most grateful to you, but I am afraid dilation is not in order today. We have a lot to get through and not much time in which to do so. We have to make progress. We need short questions and short answers.