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A Green Industrial Revolution

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 15th January 2020.

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Photo of Mike Hill Mike Hill Labour, Hartlepool 5:38 pm, 15th January 2020

Thank you for calling me, Madam Deputy Speaker—Madam Senior Deputy Speaker! It is lovely to see you in your rightful place.

Being at the back end of the shift, it has been marvellous to listen to a host of maiden speeches, all of which have been fantastic. They took me back to the occasion on which I made my own maiden speech. I particularly recall Dennis Skinner—who was mentioned very favourably in the maiden speech of Mark Fletcher—being a good mentor and guide to all the new starters when I first entered the House. I thank Conservative Members for their kind words about the so-called Beast of Bolsover. He would probably fall over at the thought of people building a statue of him, but it is a nice thought.

I am thankful to my constituents in Hartlepool for returning me here, and for having faith in me to represent their interests in this place. I am also thankful for the presence of the Secretary of State for Transport, who visited our area recently. He was visiting the site of Hordern station in Peterlee, which has not yet been built, although the £10 million-plus investment in our area is incredible and great. However, I would ask the Secretary of State, with respect, to listen to the people who use that line. I appreciate the fact that Northern Rail has been taken to task, but the people who use the line know that by the time the train got to that station it would be packed to the rafters, just as it is when the train gets to Seaham. The colloquialism round there would be: why bother getting a train when it gets so packed? So, if he could look at our train issues, that would be great, and if he could work with our combined authority on regulating our buses and bringing them back into public ownership, that would be even better. As he knows, the Tees valley is an area that the Tories love to come to, so let us hope they listen to our constituents and bring in the necessary improvements.

One more thing on my wish list is for the Secretary of State for Health to come to Hartlepool and talk to local people about why we lost our A&E. A number of Members today have spoken about threats to their own A&Es and hospitals. Sadly, we lost our A&E 10 years ago, and we would like it back, please.

I could have spoken on any number of subjects in the Queen’s Speech debate—the NHS, local government, social care, the police—but I chose to speak in this debate not only because we need urgently to address climate change and global warming, which could see large parts of my constituency under water in the not too distant future, but because the need to tackle the climate crisis provides unique opportunities for former manufacturing-based coastal communities such as mine.

Hartlepool was once a proud shipbuilding and steel manufacturing town. The shipyards and the steelworks were its beating heart, but they are now long gone. We cling on to our heritage with specialist steel manufacturing, offshore oil and gas plant production, and a major offshore plant decommissioning base, Able Seaton Port, but jobs are either going or transient, and the decimation of our once-strong manufacturing heritage has left a legacy of unemployment in the town that has affected generations.

With the green new deal, or the green industrial revolution, which I know the Government are keen to grasp, we need to look to areas such as Hartlepool and the wider Tees valley to build on their existing infrastructure, knowledge and skills. Their experience in offshore oil and gas technologies and their steel and chemical manufacturing heritage speak volumes. We have the skills and capabilities, the ready-made workforce and the desire and technology to expand ports such as Hartlepool and develop new technologies such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen power. We are well positioned to convert our traditional oil and gas and chemical industries into leading providers and manufacturers of green technologies.

In the Tees valley and Hartlepool, we stand at the cutting edge of the green industrial revolution. We have the potential and the desire to reshape our industrial landscape, revitalise jobs and embrace the future, but we also need to protect the low- carbon industries already in the mix. For me, that means taking a serious approach and strategy to our nuclear energy provision. It is as essential to refocus our traditional offshore industries on to the creation of green technologies such as wind farm production as it is to replace our low-carbon nuclear power stations with new nuclear being brought to Hartlepool. One of the most important Labour party pledges in its 2019 manifesto was to continue the nuclear programme as an essential aid to a low-carbon energy future, and I am determined to work night and day to deliver on that. I therefore ask the Minister to meet me to discuss the future of the industry and the future of Hartlepool nuclear power station.