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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:50 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 2:50 pm, 26th June 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As I say, we have heard nothing yet to suggest that the economy in Cornwall and on Scilly could not thrive. It is really important to MPs in Cornwall that we are part of the solution, not the problem. In July last year I set up a group that works with local business, Cornwall Council and people who already work with the most deprived and left behind in our communities. The group looks at the skills that a shared prosperity fund should deliver to enable people to get the well-paid, skilled jobs they want. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, my right hon. Friend Elizabeth Truss, attended the first meeting and set out a Government commitment and invitation for us to engage in the process and help them to understand what was needed.

Outside this building today there are thousands of people demanding that we take urgent action on climate change, clean up our air and make our society healthier and fairer. Through the shared prosperity fund we can achieve exactly that, particularly in places such as Cornwall. The Committee on Climate Change recommendations set out the need for massive upskilling to give people the skills needed for research and innovation, so that we can decarbonise our environment and our economy and ensure that people are healthier, live in healthier homes and have better opportunities. Now is the right time to have this debate and create a vibrant, low-carbon economy with better health, better skills and better pay.

In our jobs and growth group we have looked at skills. Even with European funding, the real problem in Cornwall is that many communities and young people never feel they have the opportunity or the learning that they need.