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The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 4:50 pm, 24th October 2019

Thank you so much, Mr Speaker.

The Leader of the Opposition has voted against £7,800-worth of tax cuts for hard-working people, and the British Chambers of Commerce has warned that Labour’s plans for our economy would send an “icy chill” up the spines of business owners and investors.

There have been too many contributions for me to mention them all, but I have picked out some that were particularly interesting. The hon. Members for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) and for Glasgow East (David Linden) both talked about the importance of immigration to Scotland, and I am delighted to mention at the Dispatch Box the amazing contribution that EU citizens have made to our country. That is why I am so pleased that over 1 million people have already been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme, enshrining their rights in law.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend Mel Stride on being elected as the new Chair of the Treasury Committee, and I commend his call for Barclays to reconsider pulling out of the new UK banking framework, which was agreed with 28 UK banks. He is right to look into that issue.

Vernon Coaker talked about the tax gap. He should be reassured that, since coming into office, this Government have secured and protected more than £200 billion that would otherwise have gone unpaid. Our tax gap is at a near record low.

My hon. Friend Harriett Baldwin talked about the financial services Bill. I can assure her that that Bill will maintain the UK’s world-leading regulatory standards and ensure that the UK remains fully open to international markets after we leave the European Union.

Sir Edward Davey was right to welcome the United Kingdom’s amazing efforts on offshore wind. I commend him for the part he played in ensuring that the UK is a world leader in the deployment of offshore wind.

My hon. Friends the Members for Aberdeen South (Ross Thomson) and for Ochil and South Perthshire (Luke Graham) spoke as true Unionists and supporters of the Union. They highlighted how no-deal Nicola is not acting in the interests of Scotland.

My hon. Friend Scott Mann talked about how this Government are dealing with climate change, not just talking about it. Labour, on the other hand, has promised something that it cannot deliver and does not understand. Several unions have voiced their concern about the damage of a 2030 target for decarbonisation. The GMB dismissed it as threatening “whole communities” and “jobs”, as well as being “utterly unachievable”. The “30 by 2030” report put out by Labour today shows plans to hike up stamp duty on millions of homes, with home owners forced to spend tens of thousands to move home and local communities losing any say on onshore wind. On the other hand, this Government have a positive record on decarbonisation. We are the first major economy to legislate for net zero. Since 1990, we have reduced carbon emissions by 42% while growing our economy by nearly three quarters. We have shown that decarbonising can create jobs and prosperity. It has already produced 400,000 jobs in the low-carbon sector, and we hope that the number will reach 2 million by 2030. Our path to reaching net zero is realistic. It is based on science and has been supported by the Committee on Climate Change. We care too much about this issue to make pointless political promises that are just not deliverable.

My hon. Friend Chris Green welcomed the Government’s investment in towns and cities, with the £3.6 billion new towns fund, which will support our high streets. I also wish to mention Albert Owen, who highlighted the fact that this would be his last Queen’s Speech. I wish him well and thank him for his contribution in this place. My hon. Friend Trudy Harrison talked movingly about her daughter’s new apprenticeship in the nuclear sector—we wish her well with that. My hon. Friend is rightly a great champion for new nuclear.

James Frith raised the issue of Orkambi. All of us across the House are delighted by the achievement of my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary on Orkambi, which can be a vital drug for many cystic fibrosis sufferers. I also wish to mention Ruth Jones, who is calling again for the BBC to honour the right of the over-75s to get their free TV licences. I completely agree with her about that.

Finally, may I say that it is very refreshing to have spent a whole six days—albeit with a brief interval—debating the exciting positive future that awaits this country? As the Prime Minister said, this is

“a new age of opportunity for the whole country.”—[Official Report, 14 October 2019;
Vol. 666, c. 19.]

As MPs, we should never lose sight of whom we serve, and this Queen’s Speech is about the people’s priorities. It is about the things that really matter to people in their everyday lives: more police; better schools; a stronger NHS; more support for those in need; and a United Kingdom that rewards hard work today, that protects the environment for tomorrow, that spreads opportunity right across our shores and that flies the flag for global free trade.

Instead of self-doubt we need self-belief in ourselves and in our abilities as a country to build the low-carbon, high-tech, business-backing United Kingdom we all want to see, spreading opportunity right across our shores. From our universities to our creative industries, from offshore wind to outer space, we have so much to shout about in this great country, and this Queen’s Speech will help us to do even more. From attracting the best minds in the world to exporting the best products to the world, we can make the United Kingdom the greatest place on earth. I commend this Queen’s Speech to the House.

Question put, That the amendment be made.