Richard Harrington: On 25 June, I met Unite the union to discuss its views on how Government can best support the UK automotive sector. I met Tony Burke and representatives from the Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and GKN unions. The Secretary of State and I also speak to the unions regularly through their membership of the Automotive Council.
Richard Harrington: The Government’s “Road to Zero” strategy, which was published last week, made it clear that there is a continuing role for clean diesel vehicles as we reduce carbon dioxide emissions from UK road transport. It has been generally welcomed by the automotive industry.
Richard Harrington: My right hon. Friend will be very aware of the number of meetings we have with the automotive industry and of how closely we are working with it on the sector deal. The Automotive Council met only in the past couple of weeks, and that was one of the top things on the agenda for discussion.
Richard Harrington: I hope the hon. Gentleman has read the Chequers agreement and the White Paper. I will be very happy to forward him a copy. It explains how the views and interests of the motor industry are central to how the sector works throughout all countries in the European Union, including us. We will continue in a friction-free way that is very much to the advantage of the automotive industry.
Richard Harrington: I hope the hon. Gentleman does not think my eyes are too wide. Despite your efforts last week, Mr Speaker, there seems to be a shortage of Members on both sides of the Chamber who have actually read the White Paper. I would be very happy to give one to him.
Richard Harrington: I totally agree with the hon. Lady: it is the Government’s role to do exactly that. That is why we have the Faraday battery challenge, which covers skills, and why the Government are putting so much effort into battery technology and clean technology for this country. I am very proud of that. I have seen skills in the automotive industry when I have visited car factories and the...
Richard Harrington: I am pleased to assure my hon. Friend that our modern industrial strategy continues to deliver strongly for Scotland. The progress in negotiations for a growth deal with Ayrshire demonstrates our commitment to regional growth. Investment in Scotland through the industrial strategy challenge fund includes last month’s £13 million for a medicines manufacturing innovation centre in...
Richard Harrington: I am very pleased to reassure my hon. Friend, who works so hard on this subject, that we continue to work closely with the Scottish Government on many industrial strategy priorities, including our support for innovation and business productivity. Regarding the review, work is under way across government to determine its scope. Clearly, our partnership with the Scottish Government will be...
Richard Harrington: That is not the picture of the oil and gas industry that I know following a visit to Aberdeen, where I saw more investment, more Government support and more support in the area for this Government’s industrial strategy. I am a great admirer of the hon. Gentleman normally, but I think he must have read the wrong script for this question.
Richard Harrington: Corporation tax rates will be cut from 19% to 17% in 2020. We have doubled the annual allowance for people investing in knowledge-intensive companies through the enterprise investment scheme, and we are investing over £26 million through Be the Business. The Government’s British Business Bank is supporting over 70,000 smaller businesses to access £4.6 billion of finance.
Richard Harrington: We want to ensure that all businesses get to know how to use the finance they need, including our 1.2 million women-owned businesses. Alongside the online finance finder and the business bank’s finance guide, the business bank is working with partners to understand the representation of women in venture capital firms.
Richard Harrington: I thank my hon. Friend for that question. Some people would argue that Ministers engage with the Treasury too often on many matters, but we engage with them regularly on this matter. The Chancellor has been clear that we need to find a better way to tax the digital economy. We are making on progress on that before considering the implications for the wider tax system, including business rates.
Richard Harrington: I thank my hon. Friend for all the work he has done for Torbay businesses. I understand that the Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Jake Berry), who has responsibility for local growth, recently had a positive meeting with him and representatives from Torbay to discuss their proposals for local economic...
Richard Harrington: We have many and regular meetings at all levels with the Department for Work and Pensions on that subject, but the hon. Lady is right: starting small businesses is very difficult and it always has been. Some of them survive and some do not, and some go on to be extremely successful larger businesses. She is right to be concerned about the amount of support that government, local and national,...
Richard Harrington: I think that the hon. Lady is misinformed. There has been significant help for small businesses on business rates in previous Budgets and this is being looked at all the time.
Richard Harrington: The UK Government really do not need to take very many lessons from Scotland on how to help businesses with business rates and every other form of business support. Actually, the working relationship between the two Governments is pretty good and we aim to provide a good business environment for all businesses on both sides of the border.
Richard Harrington: I have met my hon. Friend to discuss his Bill, and we fully understand that the practice of retention has caused problems for the construction industry supply chain. We are fully committed to tackling the issue, but any action we take needs to be robust, proportionate and evidence-based. We have listened and consulted, and we will shortly be publishing the response to a public consultation...
Richard Harrington: We meet Ofgem very regularly to discuss this and other matters, and we are very aware of the situation. As the hon. Lady knows, I have met many companies in the steel industry and discussed this, and it is very much part of our discussions with Ofgem and others.
Richard Harrington: I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we are having regular meetings with all the business representative bodies and the Department for Education to ensure that levy funds are spent properly, for the purpose for which they are meant and in local areas by the companies that pay the levy.
Richard Harrington: I can confirm that I have been in discussions with the CNPF. I have met the chief constable and the chairman, and I visited the civil nuclear police on site at Sellafield. I am well aware of the issue, and I am in discussions with colleagues at the Treasury and elsewhere.