My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Eatwell, for the opportunity to debate the economic issues arising from Covid-19. I thank him for his excellent and powerful speech.
Sadly, through no fault of the noble Lord, for most of us this is a highly truncated opportunity in which we have just two minutes to attempt to discuss this enormous issue. This follows a debate on
In the time that I have left, and on a more positive note, I welcome the early and decisive actions taken by the Chancellor to support the economy. Although there are some gaps in support, which my noble friends will highlight, his early action has undoubtedly made the lives of many better than they otherwise would have been. Nevertheless, the hardest part is likely to be in the next phase. It is estimated that between 1 million and 2 million people have already lost their jobs, and many more are likely to follow. In this context, will the Government urgently publish detailed plans for a job-rich economic recovery? In particular, can the Minister indicate if the Government intend to bring forward proposals for a nationwide programme to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes? This could provide tens of thousands of jobs and will be critical to meeting our net zero targets. Will the Government also look at urgent investment to accelerate research into cost-effective production of clean hydrogen, so that it can play an effective part in our decarbonisation plans?
This crisis reminds us how fragile is our control of the environment in which we live. We must use this timely reminder to inspire urgent and concrete action to tackle climate change and protect the future of generations to come.