My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on securing this fascinating debate. My home is in Cornwall, where our economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism. We have some of the best beaches and moorland in the country. Once known only for pilchards and tin, Cornwall is now recognised for fine food from our local farms and coastal waters. Educational standards are low but rising. Aspiration is on the up too. However, there are still too many who have not been as far as Devon.
In the past 20 years, and thanks to excellent fibre broadband right across Cornwall, young professionals have moved down and increased the diversification of employment opportunities. Falmouth University has been a great asset in supporting local entrepreneurship.
Sadly, however, we have a dependency on the car for travel. Too many cars are diesel powered—cheap to run, but not helpful for our air quality. Electric cars do not yet have the range to get about, and hybrids are expensive.
Using sun and wind, we now produce 37% of our electricity from renewables, and we are looking at how floating turbines could deliver jobs and prosperity to our coastal communities. I must not forget geothermal schemes, which are in the very early stages.
London outstrips Cornwall’s economy by a factor of nine. Fifty years ago, 70% of our labour force worked on the land. The same percentage now works in food production, but not in farms. Our economy is growing. We had Objective 1 status, and, were we still in the EU, we would be eligible for more targeted support. Our MPs reassure us that it will continue. Can the Minister confirm this?
How our smaller businesses will thrive after Covid is another issue, but the local council, the LEP, and business and community organisations have a hunger for success. I feel sure that resilience, borne out of established partnership working, will stand Cornwall in good stead.