It is a delight to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone, and it is a double delight to speak at this small lectern, which is a new addition to this assembly that adds to both my status and grandeur, as if I needed either.
I congratulate my hon. Friend Alberto Costa on securing this debate. He is right that the circumstances he set out are the result of other changes. He is right to draw attention to the fact that this is a growing trend that is a result of the way that people obtain goods and the way those goods are dispatched.
I am inclined to the view of Schumacher, and I am a fan of his book “Small is Beautiful”. Of course, he said:
“Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful.”
I am inclined, too, to regard politics and commerce as best conducted on a human scale. Nevertheless, we must deal with things as they are. I understand that the consequences my hon. Friend set out present particular challenges in the area he represents. It is often said that there is a geographical triangle where there is a propensity to develop such sites, and his constituency is in that triangle.
As I know from earlier discussions with my hon. Friend, he knows that logistics is a vital part of our country’s economy and prosperity. I have responsibility for freight, which is, in part, why I am responding to this debate. I take a keen interest in how logistics continues to develop and in how we can support HGV drivers and businesses, but I am mindful of the effect of those businesses on communities, which is the essence of this debate. This is about how storage facilities are changing and how logistics parks affect local communities.