The Economy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:33 pm on 8th July 2020.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Education) 5:33 pm, 8th July 2020

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is a pleasure to follow Caroline Nokes. I echo the speech she has just given and her comments on the need to support the beauty industry, for which she has been a fantastic advocate, working across the relevant all-party group. She has my full support on that.

I also want to pay tribute to the people of Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, who have made huge sacrifices during this pandemic. I want to thank all the key workers and everyone in the city for their kindness, commitment and compassion. I also wish to draw the Minister’s attention to the Social Market Foundation report that put Hull as No. 1 in the top 10 of areas that are severely impacted economically by covid-19. Households have already been struggling after a decade of cuts and austerity, and the number of UC claimants has already increased. Before we can talk of levelling up, we must protect what we already have.

The good news is that the Chancellor could use this as an opportunity to build back better, build back brighter and improve the lives of everyone across the city and in Hessle, if he so chooses. We could look to clamp down on poor working conditions and poor tax practices, and encourage businesses to hit environmental targets. Our city does not want charity; we want the help to help ourselves and fulfil our huge ambitions, including that of being the green energy capital of the UK. The alternative is yet another lost decade.

I will give the Minister a very short list—or a very long one, but in a short time—of areas in which he needs to consider investing. I start by inviting him and everyone to join in my love of the caravan industry. We are looking at 2,627 jobs in manufacturing. I am sure that he is already fully aware that Hull is the caravan-building capital of the United Kingdom, and that 90% of static caravans are built in Hull and the East Riding. On this issue, I speak with cross-party support. Graham Stuart, Mr Davis, my hon. Friends the Members for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), and for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) and I speak with one voice when we ask for specific support for this industry. I heard what the Minister said about not extending furlough, but something else needs to happen. I accept that furloughing cannot go on forever, but as I tried to explain in my earlier intervention, we are talking about an additional four months. This industry will be booming again come springtime when people want their staycations and their caravan holidays. All it needs is help to get over the winter hump. I say to the Minister to please look at that again.

I was disappointed with the reply to the letter on Hull Trains. How can it be that we are looking at potentially losing our direct rail link from Hull down to London after only having it for 20 years through open access? This would not be happening in any other part of the country, and it is appalling that this has been considered for the City of Hull and the wider area, all because it happens to be open access and therefore cannot access the same support. I have here a letter that was written on 30 June to the Minister of State for Transport, Chris Heaton-Harris, the reply to which is extremely disappointing. If we want private-sector investments in our city then we need that direct rail route. We cannot end this crisis in a worse state than when we first started, so please look at that again.

Let me also mention beauty therapists, tattoo parlours, yoga studios and everyone else across the city. The Deep, which is the only aquamarine submarine aquarium in the United Kingdom—all are welcome to visit when it reopens—requires support as well. It provides specialist world-leading marine research. It needs additional support to get going. I also want to briefly mention Charles Cracknell and the forgotten young people whom he represents. Young people doing start-ups have been let down and have fallen through the gaps in the system. I shall continue my list, I am sure, through written questions and letters to the Minister and hopefully I shall receive some good responses.