Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:14 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate Conservative 1:14 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, we now know that we have a huge task ahead to secure our economy following the Covid crisis and our post-EU situation. As one of those involved in the rollout of development corporations in the most needy regions of our country in the 1980s and 1990s, I would support their implementation again to help us recover. Choosing the areas of the country most affected by the current crisis and installing development corporations under enlightened and strong leadership, we can replicate the success of the earlier examples that rejuvenated the local economies of many places, including the north-east and Yorkshire. The corporations not only produced fresh enterprise, including many new-technology businesses, but improved the environment in their areas of operation. Maintaining an emphasis on sustainability and job creation with an eye to future opportunities, they could again be the basis for recovery and greater geographical equality in this country.

One of the most important powers ceded to the corporations was that of fast-track planning. Decisions were taken and investment obtained on a new basis that fully considered all aspects of community needs and environmental enhancement. In many cases, we were able to encourage enterprise to come to local populations, thus minimising the need for unnecessary travel. The boards comprised representatives of business, workers and the community. In the main, they made very good decisions, and the evidence of success is still to be seen today.

Looking ahead, the challenges seem enormous, with the shrinking of our GDP predicted to be 12% this year. Many sectors are affected, but the remedies lie not in old approaches but in new technology, job creation and, of course, care for our environment. These things are not incompatible.