Manufacturing and Automotive Sector

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 8th January 2019.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

What steps he is taking to support the manufacturing and automotive sector.

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

The automotive sector is one of the great success stories of our country, and our sector deal is a good example of how we will continue to support it going forward. We have committed around £1 billion over 10 years up to 2023 through the Advanced Propulsion Centre to research, develop and commercialise the next generation of low-carbon technologies, to keep us at the cutting edge of the automotive industry’s development.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

The UK car industry is under huge pressure, yet far from providing the certainty that the sector needs, we will be debating our trading relationship with the European Union for years to come. Is it not the case that the deal that the Government are putting forward fails to protect tens of thousands of highly-skilled automotive jobs in my region? Not only that, but it is far worse than the deal we have now.

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I am sure the hon. Lady knows that the deal has been backed by everybody in the automotive sector. I meet regularly with them and they have been outspoken about the perils of defeating the Prime Minister’s deal. I hope that the hon. Lady will think about that when she goes through the voting Lobby.

Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling

What is the Minister’s response to the report published last month by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee—the membership of which, by the way, includes the Scottish National party Front-Bench spokesperson, Drew Hendry—which concluded:

“The consistent and overwhelming message expressed by” business

“is that to make…decisions they need certainty and it is for that reason they support the Withdrawal Agreement”?

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

As ever, my hon. Friend has absolutely nailed this. The automotive sector, like the BEIS Committee, is totally in favour of the Prime Minister’s deal. I am sure that the SNP spokesman has listened carefully to what my hon. Friend said, and I am sure that he will be supporting the deal next week.

Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Armed Forces and Veterans), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Education)

The Scottish Government’s £18 million advanced manufacturing challenge fund is at serious risk of being undermined by Brexit, with the Bank of England’s analysis showing that the UK relies on the EU for more than 30% of manufacturing sales. When will the UK Government start listening to the majority of Scots and protect Scotland’s economy and jobs by keeping us in the single market and the customs union?

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I must remind the hon. Lady of my answer to the previous question: the best thing for the Scottish economy is the Prime Minister’s deal. I hope the hon. Lady will consider that when she votes next week.

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

I am very saddened that Frank Field is departing our midst. I know he has many pressing commitments and a very full diary, but if he stayed, he might get called. It would be very sad to lose the right hon. Gentleman’s pearls of wisdom.