Covid-19: Support for UK Industries

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Felicity Buchan Felicity Buchan Conservative, Kensington 4:22 pm, 25th June 2020

I thank the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for their remarkable support for businesses in the UK, and specifically in Kensington. The Treasury put together a remarkable series of measures—really extraordinary when one thinks of the size, scale and speed of their delivery. However, I would say never let a good crisis go to waste. It is incumbent on us to learn the lessons of the crisis, and to use them to formulate a new business and industrial strategy post Brexit.

One of the key takeaways from the crisis is that we need more high-tech manufacturing and engineering capacity in the UK. We had a remarkable response to the call to action on ventilators, and I am delighted to hear that 7,500 ventilators have been provided to the NHS by UK industry. However, manufacturing capacity should already have been in place. The same issue exists with our supply chains. There is no point in having high-tech capacity in the UK if we are dependent on imports for basic components from Asia. We need an industrial strategy that focuses on our high-tech industries, whether that be telecommunications, artificial intelligence and technology, or energy.

These issues are not going to go away. I hear all the time from constituents who are concerned about Huawei’s involvement, for instance, in 5G. I hear their concerns about the involvement of China General Nuclear Power in Hinkley Point C. We also need a strategy that defends our companies from hostile foreign takeovers if they endanger our national security. I am delighted with the Government’s response, but let us see this as an opportunity to develop a strong post-Brexit industrial strategy for the UK.