Industrial Strategy: High-quality Jobs

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk

What recent steps he has taken through the industrial strategy to increase the number of high-quality and well-paid jobs.

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

The industrial strategy is based on increasing the number of high-quality and well-paid jobs because it invests in skills, infrastructure and innovation, as well as building long-term strategic partnerships with businesses through sector deals between the Government and industry.

Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk

As my hon. Friend will be aware, we often talk about our being the fifth largest economy, but by GDP per head we are ranked about 23rd or 24th, according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Does he agree that greater export penetration into growing markets overseas will help to raise that GDP per head and that an independent trade policy could boost that endeavour?

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

I agree with my hon. Friend. In his own constituency, six companies have received the Queen’s award for international trade. He understands the importance of exports. I agree that the UK needs to deploy all the tools at its disposal to support UK exporters, and a key part of that is tailoring our trade policy to the strengths and requirements of our economy and supporting the delivery of the industrial strategy.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

Today’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report singles out the steel industry as having been particularly failed by the Government’s industrial strategy. On behalf of the steel sector in my constituency, can I ask the Minister when the Government will get back around the table to take action on issues such as energy prices?

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

I discussed this issue yesterday through the good offices of the all-party group on steel and metal related industries—several hon. Members were there—and agreed to hold a roundtable with all parties, including, I hope, the hon. Lady, to discuss how we can progress the sector deal.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

General Electric in Stafford—and indeed in Rugby—provides excellent, high-quality and well-paid jobs through its investment in energy, particularly good energy. Can I invite the Minister or his colleague the Energy Minister to come and see what world-leading technology is being developed in Stafford?

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

I cannot answer for my right hon. Friend, who is capable of visiting wherever she likes—in fact, she is omnipresent all over the country with her visits—but I would be delighted to visit GE and anywhere else in Stafford my hon. Friend thinks suitable.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Will the Minister spell out yet again the extent of his support in the industrial strategy for the likes of Bombardier and related industries in Northern Ireland?

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

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I meet regularly with Bombardier, as does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. It is a regular visitor to my office and is always welcome. I am interested to hear its views on anything.

Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)

It is more than a year since the Government committed to putting as much emphasis on the quality of jobs as on the quantity. In their response to the Taylor review last February, they said:

“We will…report annually on the quality of work in the UK economy…and…hold ourselves to account”.

How much longer do we have to wait for the first assessment of job quality in the UK?

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

We gave our answer in our response to the Taylor review, but the Government have also published a good work plan, in which we commit to ways of delivering better jobs for everyone in the British economy.