Covid-19: Recovery Strategies - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:02 pm on 11th June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Shipley Lord Shipley Liberal Democrat 2:02 pm, 11th June 2020

My Lords, we have learned much from Germany in recent months. Germany has met the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic far better than us. Its policy of test and trace and its devolved structure of government have resulted in a much lower death rate from Covid-19, which stands at a quarter of ours.

Perhaps the Government will therefore now look very closely at how Germany is planning its economic recovery from the pandemic. It has announced an enormous fiscal stimulus worth €130 billion, with measures for the short, medium and long term. There will be a six-month cut in VAT to encourage consumer spending and a €300 payment for every child. There will be much more research investment in green technologies and significantly lower taxation on electric cars.

In the UK, the Chancellor has announced an intention for a green industrial revolution, and I hope he keeps to it. The UK is well positioned to build on the achievements of my party in government, which encouraged green investment and, particularly, renewable energy. We should just note that our electricity supply system ran without coal-fired electricity throughout May, when wind and solar power produced 28% of our electricity. We should build on that, insulate more homes and invest in a much more widespread electrical charging infrastructure.

Yesterday, the OECD forecast that the UK economy is likely to shrink by between 11.5% and 14% this year. The implications are very serious. Above all, we must avoid a return to 1980s levels of unemployment and, in particular, youth unemployment. Many young people have lost schooling. They may find their hoped-for career unavailable or non-existent. It will be necessary for our schools, colleges and universities to alter the courses they offer to reflect a changed economy and to be resourced accordingly.