Live Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions House of Commons

Live Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark and his ministerial team.

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the day, at 11 o'clock tonight. First we have questions from the


business, energy and industrial strategy secretary Greg Clark and


his team of ministers. Questions on energy strategy. Question one Mr


Speaker. Mr Nick Hurd. I will ask this question with Foran 14. Between


1990 and 2015 hour missions have fallen over a third while our


economy has grown over 60%, since 2010 policy has contributed to the


state-run bling of renewable electricity capacity. I thank the


Minister for his answer, businesses and Scottish renewables sector


predict that one in six jobs are at risk in the next six months due to


changes in government support. Will the government take action now to


make sure that we grasp the opportunities that our fantastic


energy resources provide. Few countries certainly in Europe done


more to expand renewable energy and electricity capacity since 2010, and


the economy sector now employs over 220,000 people. She's questioning


our continuing commitment to renewable energy, I refer her to the


public commitment to the forthcoming thing to secure less renewable --


assessment your renewable technologies. This report, and


another one on North American biomass both concluded that the use


of these pellets, are high carbon. Given that, there was a review


promised in 2012, will the government conduct an urgent review,


a moratorium on new subsidies for biomass. As the honourable gentleman


knows, we have reviewed and adjusted this in relation to biomass and we


will keep that under regular reviews. Thank you Mr Speaker given


that Scotland's renewable energy will be cheaper than that produced


at Hinkley Point by the time it is complete and Brexit is already


pushing out build cost in an environment where the UK Government


has unilaterally decided to abandon the protection of Europe Tom. Will


we scrap the costly nuclear accession instead replace it with


nuclear. You bless me with powers I'd date possess. Previous


governments, neglected the power infrastructure, this is a challenge


that the government is gripping. As I said before, few countries have


done more to make the transition to cleaner energy, a trebling of


capacity in terms of renewable electricity and the commitment to


Hinkley Point offers are so potential, 7% of the electricity,


low carbon -based power. Colleagues in both houses have signed an


offshore blade, on the Isle of Wight. While also arranging a


schools outreach programme. With my right honourable friend agree that


this sort of initiative raises awareness of how low-carbon


renewable energy technology can insure, that the UK reaches its


potential of exporting its first-class engineering and advanced


manufacturing worldwide? I thank my honourable friend and I wholly


endorse what he is saying, and the Secretary of State and myself saw


first visiting this new Siemens offshore wind blade turbine factory


in Hull, just what this technology and engineering can do to inspire


particularly young people in the area about opportunities for


employment in this exciting sector. Layla nuclear power is an important


part of the transition to a low carbon economy, can the minister


update us on the small reactor competition. Can I welcome the


ladies election to the select committee. She is right, any


innovation is critical to our future ability to reducing the cost of geek


organisation. To unlocking, the opportunity, so we are reviewing our


plans, I feel I can say that the nuclear industry is a very important


part of those plans and I hope we will have something to say shortly.


In the south-west we don't share the SNP's negative view on the Hinkley


Point power station project. Will he reassure me about what work the


government is doing to ensure that the young people have the skills to


take the jobs in these industries? I thank my honourable friend for


correcting the impression that investment in new jobs in the


nuclear industry is somehow bad news given the commitment that 75% of the


content of Hinkley Point should be supplied from this country. But just


as important is the contribution it makes to upgrading the power


infrastructure to make sure that the country has the ability to access


reliable low-carbon stuff in the future. Last week the budget failed


to stop the 800% rise in business rates for companies that installed


solar panels, this week research published in the journal nature


energy says that to achieve our targets in the Paris agreement, we


need to set out longer-term plans beyond 2050, the government has now


dithered for five years and still refuses to publish its own


implementation plan, even up to 2030. How does the minister proposed


to increase the low-carbon exports when he can't even set out how we


will achieve the medium-term targets. The honourable gentleman


accuses us of dithering, if you see is the performance on emissions, one


of the most successful, since 1990. He talks about delaying the


emissions, and also, the fifth carbon budget was only set last


July. This country and this government has a very proud record


in terms of proving that we can reduce emissions while growing the


economy. The 30 large wind turbines in Kettering Borough, is becoming


very close to generating more green electricity than it consumes. But


what incentives are there in the business rate system, the planning


system, to award housing developments and business start-ups


that are low-carbon? I thank my honourable friend for pointing out


how much progress we are making at the local level as well as the


national level in terms of the transition. That has been


facilitated by a series of substantial investment, through


public subsidies, and we review now, as we look to encourage the


deployment of renewable energy through competitive markets, what


else we can do through the tools of government to facilitate that. Our


concern on Hinkley Point is that the government appears to be stacking


the deck in favour of nuclear power over much cheaper renewable energy.


The strike price for Hinckley was 92.5 in 2012 compare to a much lower


82.54 offshore wind in 2015. Yet when looking in the value for money


assessment, the government assumes a 90 strike price for renewables, they


inflating the pricing pass on to Hinckley? I hope the honourable


gentleman doesn't want to give the wrong impression, he knows with his


expense that one of the keys to successful energy policies died


averse to supply. That is the key of energy security. And ensuring that


diversity of supply is what we are trying to do as a government. The


Minister has completely missed the point about the comparison and they


commission frontier economic to look at the whole impact of electricity


generation models. Despite repeated Parliamentary questions, that report


has not been published. Mr Speaker if the government has nothing to


hide, why are they hiding things? I'm not aware of hiding anything,


I'm making a point of the diverse energy supply. One of the most


encouraging things is the progress that we have made in terms of policy


structure to drive greater competition, to get better prices


for consumers and the taxpayer from the public subsidies available, and


I hope that will be evident very soon in the results of the


forthcoming auctions. We are committed to making the UK the


global go to nation for scientists, in orators and tech investors, and


that is why as part of the industrial strategy, we will


announce the increase of ?4.7 billion in public are indeed funds,


the biggest increase in site support for 40 years. I welcome the


government 's recent 40 million investment, and development in space


technology including the university led National space Park. Could the


minister tell a house what further steps you can take to encourage the


space industrial cluster in the Midlands? The space industry has an


important role to play in driving growth across the UK and the


government is working closely with the centre to make this a reality.


I'm pleased that Leicestershire is grasping this. The satellite


applications catapult has funded a centre of excellence, focused on


linking industry to local and national expertise, in addition, the


UK space agency is supporting business incubators in Leicester,


Nottingham and Loughborough to develop innovative start-ups. The


page 98 of the government industrial strategy talks about the importance


of long-term institutions and many of those who work in science and


industry in Wirral and elsewhere feel that the single market is a


long-term is that you should that has served them well. Can I ask the


Minister whether he has asked the Prime Minister to change course and


keep our country in the single market. The UK is indeed a


powerhouse for academic research and collaborations with institutions in


Europe and around the world are an important part of that success. We


want through the industrial strategy to continue to play to a great


strengths as a science and research powerhouse and we will continue to


welcome agreement to collaborate with our European partners on major


science and technology programmes in years to come. Agri- science is


playing a vital part in this industrial strategy but more can be


done. Is the minister whereof the excellent work, of a constituency


which is exporting it all over the world?


I am indeed aware of the excellent work that is undertaken by that


institution and the honourable members in my honourable friend's


constituency. Considerable source port is being received through our


investment in R The European medicines agency, a European


institution based in the UK, is one of the reasons why our farming


industry is so successful -- pharmaceutical industry is so


successful. When we crash out of the EU, what will happen to that


organisation and what is the science Mr doing to make sure we have


effective regulations which support our pharmacology and history? She


should wait until we have embarked upon the negotiations our future


relationship with European funding streams and we will anticipate


continuing to collaborate closely with our European partners so that


our scientists can develop institutions such as the one she


mentions. Bill yesterday I talked about science technology business


which is on the British Chamber of Commerce business of the year and


export business of the year. Can my right honourable friend join me in


congratulating that business for championing and promoting the best


of British science and research? I'm delighted to be able to congratulate


them and it is companies like those that are really doing well at


exploiting the research undertaken to the benefit of this country,


maximising commercial opportunities from the significant public


investment we are putting into R and D. Looking beyond the two-year


period when we exit the EU, wilderness to ensure that liaison


with the devolved institutions will be restored before then, so that


excellent facilities like the science centres in Belfast and


Londonderry can be availed of an replicated right across the UK to


ensure we get the maximum advantage? Through the creation of UK research


and innovation, which is a UK wide global funding and research agency,


we will continue to ensure that excellent science and research is


supported throughout the UK in years to come. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The


oil and gas sector is very important for the UK economy, energy security


and jobs. That's why over the past two years the Government has


established the oil and gas authority as a strong independent


regulator and provided a ?2.3 billion package of support to


encourage investment and exploration in the UK. In the spring budget last


week, the Chancellor and as the government will consider how tax can


be used to assist sales of oil and gas assets in the North Sea, helping


to keep unproductive the longer. Does this government stand by


comments made by the Scottish Conservatives energy spokesman


Alexander Burnett and must be that the oil and gas industry does not


need any help, saying people in Aberdeen are not asking for any more


at the moment? I'm not sure I entirely caught the remarks he


mentions but the Government has been very clear in its support not just


for the UK continental shelf and the companies on it but in support for


Aberdeen through the ?250 million city deal we have announced. Is my


honourable friend aware that at this very moment crude oil is trading at


$48.31 per barrel? As he read the report by the OECD which says that


because of this and many other structural factors, an independent


Scotland would have a worse debt per population ratio than even Greece?


I'm sure my colleague will understand that I'm not going to


comment on the specific economic issues he raises. What I would say,


however, and I admire him for his spot awareness of the oil spot


price, is that we as a government have managed to engineer a


significant fall in oil and gas supply costs on the continental


shelf. Order! Mr Boswell, a cerebral minister is at the box responding to


a pertinent inquiry and the honourable gentleman is very and


characteristically behaving in a mildly boorish fashion. But I'm sure


it is an exceptional case. -- uncharacteristically. I'm not sure


anyone can recover from the accusation of being cerebral! Let me


just say that the way the oil and gas authority has lowered costs is


itself a testimony to how competitive our economy can be in


oil and gas, even where oil and gas prices are falling. Thank you very


much indeed. The UK space sector is world leading. A quarter of the


world's telecommunication satellites are either built here all with key


UK components. Our recently announced space flight bill will now


UK businesses tend a global market with an expected ?25 billion over


the next 20 years and our industrial strategy will ensure we build on


this and continue to be a global leader in this important sector.


Many people think my constituency, North Swindon, is out of this world


and they are not wrong as we are home to the UK space agency. Will


they tell me how the upcoming space bill will enable the UK to build on


our strengths in science, research and innovation? It has a stellar


member of Parliament, as well! It is one of our most important industries


and the space flight bill in particular will move us forward and


enable us to be in the business not only of manufacturing satellites but


launching them, which gives us further industrial opportunities


that I know not just Swindon but the whole of the UK can benefit from.


A collaborative approach of the UK aerospace sector is one of the


lessons that this Government needs to remember in the difficult years


that are moving ahead. Will the Secretary of State please come to


one of the most important aerospace sectors in the country, North East


Wales, see the excellent work that is being carried forward and the


potential threats that now exist to one of the most successful


industries in our country? I'm grateful to him for his point


and he is right that one of the reasons that the space and satellite


sector has been so successful is the collaboration between firms there


and government and research institutions. That is very much the


way forward and my honourable friend the Parliamentary undersecretary is


going to visit North Wales and the facilities he mentions and I look


forward to hearing from him all about it. Somebody who has


calculated inertia matrices, I'm very pleased that the government has


a focus on this area. Can he tell me what assessment he has made for the


capacity for the UK commercial space flight sector and what steps he is


going to take to supported? I'm glad he is not questioning me on inertia


ratios and matrices! The capacity is there but it requires planning


ahead, which is why the industrial strategy mentions the need to invest


in science and research and development - very important that we


should do that and that we should look forward to make sure we have


the skills that can fulfil the order books. That is the purpose of having


a long-term industrial strategy, so we are prepared to reach those


opportunities. -- reap. With a mission, I'll answer this


together with number nine. Small businesses are vital to the economy


and we are providing additional access to finance and support to


help scale businesses to enable them to reap the benefits from future


trade with the EU and the rest of the world. Can I start by wishing


everybody a happy parade day -- Pi day. The UK government failed to


consult the business community on the changes to national insurance


for the self-employed. Will the government now tackle the ongoing


uncertainty that these changes could bring to work as' rights, such as


maternity, paternity pay, sick pay, annual leave and pensions? The


Government is absolutely committed, as the Prime Minister has said on


several occasions, to protect workers' rights as we leave the


European Union and not just to protect them but also to enhance


them if necessary, and she has set up a review to examine the details.


I'm sad to note the absence, rather uncharacteristic, the honourable


gentleman but we will do our best to bear up with such fortitude as we


can muster. In the oil and gas sector, there are a number of small


businesses in the supply chain that have been hit disproportionately by


the oil price reduction. Myself and the honourable member for Aberdeen


South held a meeting last week to encourage members to access


different methods of capital finance to grow. What is the UK government


doing to encourage these businesses to access capital finance? Although


support for business in Scotland is largely devolved, the British


business bank does fund a vast number of companies in Scotland.


?415 million of finance for Scottish companies, including the start-up


loan, and over 1600 companies in Scotland benefit from the enterprise


Finance guarantee scheme. SMEs are the backbone of the south-west and


much effort is being put into upping productivity in the region and in


Taunton Deane, we recognise the recent government investment in


infrastructure and the work being done on skills but to give us a real


Filipe, would my right horrible friend agreed to come, or perhaps


someone from the department, to the Taunton annual business partners


conference on the 16th of June to boost the idea is that this


government can help us with? I thank my honourable friend for such a


wonderful invitation and although I have already been to the south-west,


I'm sure I can find an occasion on June six to do so again.


The honourable lady looks as though her cup has run of over. What a


happy day for the honourable lady and, indeed, for Taunton Deane, not


to mention the Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. One advantage for small


businesses of the United Kingdom leaving the EU is that this House


will be free to be able to repeal unwanted EU regulations. Can the


ministers say what steps she is taking to consult with small


businesses to be able to identify those regulations quite well


I can assure him we consult small businesses all the time and the


department for exiting the EU engages regularly with the


Federation of Small Businesses and we will be asking that department to


hold a round table for small businesses to discuss the very


issues he raises in due course. And the honourable member is so keen


to hear my to this question. -- I'm glad. We support small businesses by


ensuring they can access wider support. The British business bank


are already supporting with 3.4 billion finance over 54,000 small


businesses and I am leading a task force to enable SMEs to accelerate


their growth potential and realise their growth prospects. From my own


experience I know that rugby is a great place to run a business,


however many small businesses continued to tell me that an


obstacle to their expanding remains a shortage of suitable industrial


premises so at a time when our local authority is preparing its local


plan, I wonder what discussions my honourable friend has had with


counterparts at DCLG to ensure adequate land is allocated for the


development of businesses. In answer to my honourable friend, we work


closely with the department for Communities and Local Government and


I weaselly co-chaired a successful round table with the Minister of


state for Mr and planning. -- recently co-chaired. We will be


having a further meeting and I will take into consideration the needs of


businesses in rugby for more space. Small businesses in Doncaster have


expressed concern to me about how to access apprenticeships. Will


minister work with the DfEE and draw a regional analysis, especially in


Yorkshire and the Humber, of how small businesses can find effective


ways to access those schemes, especially in the light of the


apprenticeship Levy? We will certainly talk to businesses in the


Doncaster region, as elsewhere in the Yorkshire area, but I'm


delighted to say that only 1.3% businesses will actually pay the


apprenticeship Levy and for all other businesses, particularly small


businesses, the Government will fund 90 % of their training costs


following the introduction of the Levy proper next month. Last week's


business rates announcement by my right honourable friend the


Chancellor will be welcome relief to hundreds of independent small


businesses in my constituency. Wilderness to join me in


congratulating Visit Bass as they focus more attention to marketing


the domestic and international markets out of our independent small


businesses, which will bring jobs and growth in our constituency? I


absolutely join with my honourable friend in congratulating Visit Bath


in all the trade and ideas that that organisation brings to local SMEs.


Many thanks Mr Speaker as chair of the disability all Parliamentary


group, I have been hearing from people, saying that there are stark


far too many barriers. This includes information even that on government


Gateway that is accessible. So what specific measures are the government


taking to support disabled entrepreneurs and what more can be


done to address these very important issues. I thank durable lady for her


excellent question, I do work closely for the Minister of people


with disabilities and she is leading huge initiatives, to improve


opportunities for people with disabilities and I will raise the


specific question of entrepreneurs with disabilities with her. The


truth is that the government has got to show a lot more love for small


businesses. To reinforce the truth that the concerned parties the party


from the printer is. Can my honourable friend the Minister start


that, by eliminating the time limits on DIS investment on small


businesses and finding a way, after we leave the EU that compliance with


regulations for small businesses can be produced to a single checkmark --


IES investment. I thank the honourable friend, as he knows I'm a


great lover of small businesses, and entrepreneurs. I think that I can


speak for the rest of the government in that, he knows that the EU


governs those time limits and caps on DIS schemes at the moment and


what happens post-Brexit negotiations will be a matter for


the Treasury. Thank you, to speed don't think small businesses are


really feeling the love after the budget week. The Federation of small


business produced a report entitled 37 problems and tax is one. They


said that the proposed national insurance tax grab is an absolute


kick in the teeth for small business, just at a time that we


need to create more entrepreneurs, not fewer. When the Minster said the


government consults the Federation of small business, perhaps in the


future they might listen to them and do what they suggest. Well I think


that the small business world feels more love from this side of a house


than they would from the opposition, were they to take our place in


government. But on the specific question that he raises, the FSB I


know lobbied hard on a number of points on national insurance, on


also on business rates. And on quarterly reporting of tax accounts.


On the latter two, they were very pleased with the outcome that the


Chancellor provided and with regard to national insurance, he knows that


over 60% of people, who are self-employed, will actually benefit


from the changes that were mooted by the Chancellor last week. Chris


Green. Thank you, as a matter of fact Mr Speaker just yesterday I was


a few miles away from the gentleman 's constituency in Carrington,


opening a new combined cycle gas turbine plant. And if you weeks


before that I was in Folkestone for the new interconnect is being built


through the Channel Tunnel. What these remind us of is the government


's commitment to the UK energy infrastructure underscored by a


capacity market and contracts for difference. We are also investing


?320 million in new seat in the structure, and I think that


undergirds the size of the whole thing. The bases and G supplier is


fundamental to live ring the energy needs, since some do not provide


baseload and there is pressure not to increase the consumption of


hydrocarbons, does my right honourable friend agree with me that


in the absence of energy storage capacity, future investment must go


to the nuclear industry, perhaps small modular reactors. As he will


know, we are spending a great deal of time working on developers with


new investment alongside the plans already being executed at Hinkley


Point. Small modular reactors are potentially part of that


conversation. It is worth saying that the likelihood, there are many


outcomes of possible technologies of which storage will come on stream


over the next decade or two, that will also undoubtedly be part of the


picture. The country needs 21st-century systems like smart


metering, can the minister update the house on the progress of the


roll-out and Cani have a word with the energy companies to stop them


blaming this government for being part of a height in energy prices


that is ripping off the consumer. We are in no doubt at all about the


need for the energy companies to bear down on prices and as they will


be aware, the cost of those policies are a relatively small part of it.


Tidal energy gives the UK an opportunity to find clean


predictable sources of renewable energy. It is a sector where we have


world leading businesses. Will my right honourable friend consider


giving tidal a higher priorities so that we can maintain our competitive


edge? The honourable lady will know that we are looking at tidal energy


and related issues closely in the context of our consideration of the


review. Doctor John Pugh? When a final decision will be made on the


Swansea tidal thing? I think it is fair to say that we will be coming


to the house as soon as we can for the matter is presently under


consideration. The minister mentioned is the capacity market and


I'm sure he will agree with me that the prime purpose of that market has


been to procure new infrastructure capacity. Can the Minister tell me


how many new gas-fired power stations had been procured by ?3.4


billion that has been spent so far on the capacity market and what


plans does he have to improve that number, and to be helpful the answer


is one new power plant in King's Lynn. I'm all in favour of the self


answering question, Mr Speaker. Might I just remind you that the


last capacity market, procured energy at a cost of ?7 per kilowatt


hour which I think is cheaper than any possible conceivable


alternative. With no common definition of the gig economy,


numbers vary in terms of how many workers are involved in it so we


have commissioned new research that will be published this summer and it


will look at the number of individuals working through digital


platforms in the UK and their experiences. The number of


freelancing mums has increased by 79% since 2008, whilst I remember,


the government 's announcement, on fairer maternity pay, this was


recommended 13 months ago, why is it taking the government so long to act


on this crucial issue for these women when it took a stroke of a pen


to increase their taxes? Well as I said in my previous answers, the


increase in taxes under review, will be ruling out in terms of the


maternity and paternity issues that she raises I should hasten to add.


And, that consultation will run its course this summer, and she will


have an answer the end of the year. Mr Speaker does the Minister begin


to understand the sense of grievance on the part of the growing army of


the self-employed, who are reluctant conscripts to self-employment in the


gig economy, that they work in a twilight world of insecurity without


basic rights, are now having to pay more in tax, when there was not one


measure in the budget that put the burden on the shoulders of those


truly responsible, the goobers of this world. The right honourable


gentleman knows that we have in place the Taylor review that is


currently examining all of the issues that he raises, I'm very


concerned about the plight of some low paid workers who may be workers


rather than self-employed and valleys up to the courts and the


government to conclude later this year but I can assure him that we to


take the issues that he raises very seriously. Thank you Mr Speaker


thank you very much indeed, with your permission Mr Speaker, I'd like


to answer this question together with question 14. Last week we


published the Midlands engine strategy. It is further


demonstration that this government is committed to investing in the


Midlands, a region that has seen over 180,000 more people in


employment since 2010. I thank the Minister for his reply. Increasing


investment, inward investment from businesses in the automotive supply


chain, such as Polytech and Magna Carta bringing Weald jobs and growth


to it. Does the Minister agree that Telford is set to play a key role in


the engine strategy with its reputation for innovation and


advanced manufacturing and will he congratulate these businesses on


helping to build a successful business future for Telford? My


honourable friend's constituency of Telford which includes Coalbrookdale


has a good claim to be the cradle of the first Industrial Revolution. It


has a good claim, it is disputed. I think Derby is fairly early. Now it


is at the heart of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Absolutely


the T54 site is proving to be a very important location for the supply


chain for the automotive sector. With the secretary of state agree


with me that one of the pivotal things that is needed to be in an


industrial strategy for the West Midlands is to close the skill gap


which is held back in the West Midlands for too long so that areas


like the Black Country can continue to work to become leading


specialists in areas like aerospace, automotive, advanced manufacturing


which I know are critical on the agenda of the Conservative candidate


for the West Midlands now. I agree with my honourable friend, he is


absolutely right, the reputation of the Black Country, is very strong.


There is a phrase, made in the Black Country, sold around the world. But


in order to do that you need good skills. Andy Street, being a person


of great expense in business, is the best person available to bring that


business acumen to bring in more businesses to the whole of the West


Midlands. Hearing about an industrial strategy rather than an


electoral strategy, but here you go. The Black Country is the birthplace


of Industrial Revolution. Can I ask the Secretary of State in terms of


transport spending, which is a key for the industrial strategy, when he


expects to persuade his colleagues Secretary of State for Transport to


spend as much per capita Ron the West Midlands as he does in London.


The honourable gentleman who is an assiduous reader of these things,


will see that in his industrial strategy, we propose a commitment,


to in the structure right across the country. I hope he will respond to


that, so that when we have the budget later in the year, we will be


in a position to make further such announcements. Thank you Mr Speaker,


can my right honourable friend of, talk about particular those in Mike


assiduous of North Warwickshire. The board have a very important role to


play, one of the trends that colleagues across all sides of the


house will know, is that the development of supply chains, one of


the key sources of innovation in many industries, and within that,


start-up businesses including those by the self-employed can make a big


contribution to making us attractive for jobs and new businesses. Mr


Speaker, with your permission I will answer this with question 16, I


think I'm right in saying. We have had great success over the years, in


developing key sectors including aerospace and the automotive sector.


To build on this we have set up proposals for a new business led


sector deals in the dust shall strategy. The first set of deals are


already under development, and we are taking steps to drive growth in


sectors across the economy including with funding four sides, and


education. Does the Secretary of State share my concern for the


fermentation of industrial strategy will focus solely on the big


players, what does he do to ensure that the SMEs in those sectors, get


their FSA and their fair share? The honourable gentleman, that is not


the case, I have regular discussions with the Federation of small


business, with the British Chambers of commerce, and the smaller


businesses right across the country. The supply chain, and making our


country more attractive to supply chain businesses, is absolutely


foundation to success. That is particularly in regard to the small


businesses. Side security is one of the most important sectors of this


growth but the UK has the highest skills gap in cyber security in the


world. Does the Secretary of State think that the government 's current


commitment to educate 1% of our students by 2021 in cyber security


is anywhere near enough? I think the honourable lady makes a very good


point, if we are to take advantage of the opportunities that are there,


we need to upgrade our technical education. That is why in the budget


last week the Chancellor made such a clear commitment, prominence in the


industrial strategy, to transform the level of technical education


including to increase by 50% the hours of tuition that are available.


Thank you. I welcome a ?90 million in the budget that the Chancellor


has given for PHP places. I would like to ask the Secretary of State


whether he has determined how they will be distributed and whether the


academically excellent area of Cambridgeshire will benefit from


this funding. Yes, Mr Speaker. I would expect all competitive places


to make a bid for these places and in Cambridgeshire, both the


University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin and other institutions more


broadly across the country will be in a good position to benefit from


these. The aerospace sector is vital importance to my constituency and I


was delighted to take place as a ground-breaking ceremony for


Rolls-Royce on a new site. How can the government help grow the


aerospace sector? It has been an important -- an important sector and


our discussions this morning reflect the track record of working together


and that will continue and be reinforced. I think all members


across the House will have been as delighted as I was that Boeing made


a commitment to their first ever UK plant in Sheffield, showing how


attractive we are too advanced manufacturing businesses like that.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. The select committee recent report stated that


the green paper provides little clarity on how things will work in


practice and that it appears to lack political will, falling short of


providing a clear framework for decision-making in the long term so


I ask the Secretary of State, is it lack of clarity or lack of political


will that has led to a bespoke Brexit deal for certain


manufacturers whilst leaving others and other industries in a state of


uncertainty. Can I wrote them her to her first oral questions on this and


I see her predecessor before her. She is my third opposite number in


the eight months since I've had this job. The first was appointed in the


summer, the second in the autumn and she was appointed in the winter. I


notice this week the birds were singing and the sun was out so I


hope this is not bad news for the honourable lady! In terms of apology


asked about the industrial strategy, the sector deals that we have


proposed have been widely welcomed. We have set out a number of initial


deals in life sciences, for example, in the creative industries. We are


already talking to other sectors such as the steel sector but I know


a lot of colleagues in the House would want to see taken forward. Oh,


the Secretary of State is cheeky! But he might want to refer to the


report because it also states that the White Paper on exiting the EU


failed to meaningfully referred to an industrial strategy and


reinforced a lack of coordination between the Government's major


challenge and its principal plank of business policy. Given that last


week's budget failed to mention Brexit or industrial strategy, does


the Secretary of State agree with the recent foreign affairs select


committee report that the Government has provided no evidence of


industrial contingency planning in the event of a no deal? If not, what


is his no deal plan? She will have to do a bit better than that because


I've got the budget here and she says it doesn't mention the


industrial strategy but I can tell her it is mentioned in the first


paragraph of the first page of the budget and throughout it. Given the


honourable lady's interest in this, she ought to read the budget! I'm


keen that the Northwest should play its part in the Government's


industrial strategy to drive up competitiveness in our area. I would


like to know how small businesses can play their part in my area. In


her area, as in every area in the country, the opportunities for the


supply chain to be attractive and locate in this country to supply the


major manufacturers and service providers, also to the world is one


of the key themes that is emerging from the sector deals that are being


negotiated. Number 19, yes. Nearly ?56 billion has been invested in


renewable energy since 2012. In the budget last year, my friend the


honourable former Chancellor, announced investments for projects


including offshore wind. The renewable heat incentive was


announced at ?1.15 billion by 2021. We have heard a lot about the


importance of small business this morning but there are 44,000 small


businesses that have their own smaller sola Micra generators that


are currently exempt from business rates but from April one they face


an 800% increase in business rates. This is clearly damaging for them


and the solar industry. Hopefully, it isn't deliberate so will the


Minister meet with the Chancellor to see what can be done to relieve


this? I'm grateful for the question. The impact of rates does differ from


company to company as regards the solar panels. They have three


quarters of the businesses projected to have rates that fall next year


and they're is transitional rate relief. We as a department long


recognise the problems in some cases she refers to. Number 24, or is it


22? 23! The honourable gentleman was close on either side! I will respond


shortly to the Competition and Markets Authority report and take


steps to increase competition and tell consumers. If he is successful


in generating much-needed competition, will we need a


regulator at all? The aim of government policy must be to have


such vigorous competition in markets that that takes care of itself. I


don't think we are in that position so I'm determined to make sure


customers are treated fairly. Topical questions. Number one, Mr


Speaker. As well as continuing the consultation on our own just real


strategy green paper, we are acting ice diagnosis. We set out our plan


to transform technical education, increasingly our students are taught


by 50%, increasing funding for technical education by 01 ?5 billion


a year and new Institute of technology. We announced in the butt


of the first ?270 million of projects under the industrial


strategy Challenge Fund, including a world leading investment in the


development, design and manufacture of batteries to power the next


generation of electric vehicles and we announced ?100 million Fellowship


fund to attract the world's brightest minds to come and work in


the UK. I'm pleased my honourable friend is planning to visit the


Astra Joker site in the UK, the largest in the UK, but can he tell


us what plans there are to further support life sciences? My honourable


friend, a great champion for life sciences, as well as the Treasury


economy, knows that the opportunity to negotiate a sector deal for life


sciences, which is being led by Sir John Bell, is going to be good for


the whole country but will have particular relevance to Cheshire and


to Macclesfield and I'm looking forward to visiting his constituency


to see these facilities myself. Will the Secretary of State join me in


congratulating the greatest evening newspaper in the country, the


express and Star, and the brilliant work of Wolverhampton University,


who launched a scheme which has now successfully distributed ?4 million


of regional growth fund money, supporting 65 businesses, creating


or protecting 600 jobs and extraordinarily generating over ?11


million in private sector investment to support businesses in places like


Dudley, which everybody knows is the real birthplace of the industrial


revolution. I'm going to dip my toes into controversy by talking about


the industrial revolution so I am not going to talk about the best


local newspaper in the country. I gather that the Foreign Secretary


began his illustrious career on the express and Star. I'm not sure if


this shows their pre-shins or whether they have recovered from


that particular judgment, but it is... Local newspapers make a vital


contribution to the success of local business and I'm delighted to hear


the initiative of the express and Star. My constituency of Rochester


and Strood has seen 8800 apprenticeships started across many


sectors and very soon I will be hosting my first apprenticeship


there, bringing together local students and businesses. With the


Minister outlined what steps he is taking to encourage more small


businesses to engage and take on more apprentices in places like my


constituency of rust just and Strood? The new phase of the get in,


go far campaign focused on the benefits of apprenticeships and they


support this by contacting small businesses who have previously


engaged with the programme and this will be of great benefit to SMEs in


their constituency. There are talks of needs to close the skills gap and


invest in so, Secretary of State explain to the House on childcare


isn't mentioned once? What I would say is that making ourselves


attractive as a country to the workforce, making sure we are the


best place to operate a business and to work as an important theme of


that and I will look forward to the her contribution to the


consultation. I thank him for his support for the Midlands engine. In


Stafford, we build them and last week I have the honour of opening


the technical training centre and large engine plant in Stafford.


Would he agree with me that this shows just how important it is for


businesses to be proactive in putting together the facilities for


apprentices and taking on more? I quite agree with my honourable


friend. It does demonstrate the need for all businesses, especially SMEs


to take advantage of the 3 million apprenticeship target we have and


the huge improvement in quality that is supported by the national


apprenticeship service. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that the Brexit


negotiations are about to start, can the Secretary of State to tell us


whether he agrees with his right honourable friend the Prime Minister


that no deal is better than a bad deal? Does my right honourable


friend... Could he set out how he is intending to shape the regulatory


environment as we leave the EU, including things like these


allegations, to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of the


technical revolution? The UK is the number one place in


Europe for investment in technology and the Government's industrial


strategy will deliver the prime minister's vision of Britain as a


magnet for talent and home to the innovators and pioneers that will


shape the future. Scotland's economy, from its thriving


universities to its economic food and drink sector, relies on EU


freedom of movement. How does the Minister hoped to close the skills


gap and pave the way for highly skilled economy if he cannot


safeguard the rights of EU nationals living here? The Government,


including at the highest level, have made clear on many, many occasions


that we value tremendously the important contribution that EU


nationals make to the success of our higher education institutions and


our scientific establishments across the country, including in Scotland,


and we have every intention that continuing years ahead. When I


visited the corgi steelworks on Friday, there was a real enthusiasm


for a sector deal for the steel industry and a real commitment to


ongoing partnership working. Would my right honourable friend the


Secretary of State be willing to visit the corgi works to discuss


these opportunities? I would be delighted to visit corgi with my


honourable friend. He is right that my discussions with the steel


industry show a real appetite to set out a long-term sector deal to


secure the future of the steel industry. Given the decimation of


Scotland's renewable sector and the fact Scotland has very different


energy capabilities than the rest of the UK, why does this government


continue to think that a one size fits all energy policy is in anyway


appropriate for Scotland's very different energy capabilities? I've


emphasised in earlier answers the importance of a diverse energy


supply, which is at the root of energy security, and there is no


question about this Government's commitment to investment in


renewables. Driving forward the fourth industrial revolution in new


sectors such as robotics and 3D printing, can he ensure that this


sector engagement includes new challenges, not just incumbents? It


certainly can't up through our industrial strategy, we are backing


Britain's innovators with the biggest investment in science and


ten and since 1979 and a new industrial strategy Challenge Fund


to bring cutting-edge ideas out of the lab and into the wider economy.


A recent resolution foundation report stated that one in three UK


businesses admit to under investing over the last five years. What


measures will the UK government take turn this round?


Yes this country does recognise that it has been under investing in


research and develop mud, that is why at the Autumn Statement and the


budget we will be making the biggest investment in RND in over 40 years.


Public investment in RND helps bring in money about ?1 36 for every pound


of Marburg that at a big investment. Yellow mac can my right honourable


friend outline what measures are included in the middle and strategy


to support small businesses enterprises such as those in Cannock


Chase. As the honourable lady knows through the growth deal, there is a


bought through the local enterprise partnerships for small businesses


both start-ups and growing businesses. Following Npower's 15%


price hike last month, the government pledged that where


markets are not working we are prepared to act. Given that Dion


raised their prices by 14%, and SSE by 8% yesterday, and many more


companies need to raise their prices until the government actually acts


to stop energy customers from getting fleeced. The honourable


gentleman is absolutely right, the behaviour is unacceptable, reported


by Ofgem that there is no reason to increase prices. We have committed


to a Green paper, on the issue. It will be published very shortly and


the time is up for these companies. As the chairman for a VP for small


businesses I never access to finance is a real challenge for small


businesses. What advice could he give to those in my constituency who


are looking to access to financing the early years? I can advise my


honourable friend that the start-up loans company has already helped


44,000 small start-ups, and will be on hand to support start-ups in his


constituency. What plans does the Secretary of State had to encourage


new innovation support for SMEs in our key foundation industries which


make materials like glass, ceramics and steel for cars such as those


needed, for those in my constituency. This could help create


hundreds of jobs, in the supply chain that are actually made in


Britain. Mr Speaker support renovation has received its biggest


boost since 1979, the industrial strategy challenge fund has just


seen the first allocations of ?270 million that will help boost


innovation in key areas across the economy. The diesel power generators


for poor and equality, small inoperative, in my constituency


whose Mobile hybrid units provide green energy to the construction. My


noble friend makes a good point and through him, can I congratulate the


business involved that as my honourable friend. With the


government 's plans, to improve the energy infrastructure, what positive


impact will that have. On small businesses when it comes to


electricity cost. The primary effect will be to keep the it down for


small businesses. There is an excellent company and a new car is a


pride chain that have excellent vacancies that will be on offer in


Mike seventh annual Pendle jobs that. What more can we do to support


the nuclear supply chain. Mr Speaker one of the things we have done to


support the supply chain is to have a continuing commitment and it will


benefit his constituents and through a network of training colleges, we


will make sure that we grow the nuclear skills. I found the minister


was a touch complacent in his earlier answer on smart meters,


given this is going to coursed the taxpayer 11 billion by the end of


the Parliament, what is he going to do by the fact that it doesn't work


when you try to switch supplier. It will save ?47 billion by the end of


that decade. When will the business rate review commenced an report, in


the light that sticking plasters last week do little for the small


businesses in York. The review will report in due course and in the not


too distant future. Thank you Mr Speaker, the Digital strategy is a


key component in the government 's industrial strategy, can he do


better than decent MS and tummy which countries have committed to


working Great Grimsby as part of the skills partnership. It is about


invitation to businesses to come forward and pose to the government


what is required to grow the jobs and skills there. That is the aim of


all skills. They have felled to declare much more complimentary


today, tenants are protesting outside the office, how long will


they keep failing to do their duty and not facing up to the situation?


The honourable gentleman knows that the Commissioner for Public


avoidance stated that the panel did consider that there were no


conflicts of interest in this case that would preclude Mr Newby from


doing his job. We must now remove on. Statements, the Prime Minister.


CHEERING Thank you Mr Speaker had with


permission I would like to make a statement on last weeks European


Council. And the next steps in preparing to trigger Article 50, and


beginning in the process of leaving the European Union. The summit began


by re-electing Donald Tusk as president of the European Council, I


welcomed this because we have a close working relationships with


Donald Tusk and we recognise the strong contribution he has made in


office. In the main business