Ceramic and Brick Industries

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:59 pm on 15th June 2016.

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Photo of Mary Robinson Mary Robinson Conservative, Cheadle 4:59 pm, 15th June 2016

That is exactly right. They have an all-pervasive influence.

Innovation and speed are important in meeting the Government’s targets. Innovation can drive down construction time. For instance, Porotherm—Wienerberger’s clay block walling system—has been used to build an apartment block complex in South Harrow, which is currently being finished. It has reduced the construction time by 20% from 15 to 12 months. One floor is rising every eight days, readying the roof for installation within 10 weeks. That new method of brick production has reduced overall construction time and speeded up access to home ownership. Therefore, where there is demand for good-quality housing, and where there are brownfield sites with appropriate planning permission for construction, we should recognise that developments in the brick industry enable quicker construction and allow properties to be released much sooner than the market is currently used to.

It is clear from Members’ contributions that investment in new capacity is needed to help the industry with the production of bricks. That should be at the forefront of our concerns. As Members have mentioned, in the EU ETS phase 3, all ceramic sectors and subsectors are deemed at risk of carbon leakage for direct carbon costs, but they will not be compensated for indirect carbon costs. The key issue for phase 4 legislation is to guard against the leakage associated with indirect and direct costs. However, there are shortcomings to those proposals—most notably, an insufficient number of free allowances for the industry. Thus there would be a uniform percentage reduction, known as the cross-sectoral correction factor, to keep within the minimum. To avoid the CSCF, the introduction of a tiered approach, although helping a limited number of sectors, could be damaging to other sectors. Under this tiering, ceramic installations would see a significant reduction in the level of free allocation received. That is worrying for the firms that are involved in the production of bricks, roof tiles and drainage pipes, which may cease to receive free allowances. That will make investment in UK operations challenging and undermine much needed investment in capacity.

The UK ceramic industry is steeped in heritage. Now more than ever it is vital to Britain’s growth. As we seek to build more homes, we should remember that good homes are built on strong foundations, and we should do all we can to ensure that those foundations are built on a strong brick and ceramic manufacturing industry.