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Industrial Strategy

Volume 542: debated on Thursday 15 March 2012

Yes, I am developing an industrial policy, and I will continue to work closely with my ministerial colleagues on that important work. In speeches on 27 February and 6 March, I set out what that policy should be and where our future industrial capabilities should lie.

In his leaked letter last week, the Secretary of State said:

“Where we know big investment decisions are going to be made…we need to put in place a strategy actively to plan how we will strengthen the supply chain”.

Does he therefore agree that a good start would be to work towards ensuring that the new Ministry of Defence tankers are built in Britain, not in Korea, and that our new nuclear reactors are made in Sheffield, not in France?

A great deal of progress is being made in developing British supply chains that were whittled away to a disastrous extent with the decline of manufacturing under the last Government. If the hon. Lady looks at what is happening in the car and aerospace industries, for example, she will find that a lot of supply chains are coming back to the UK. As for her last point, on the nuclear industry, I think she is aware that the company that she represents is a regional growth fund recipient.

19. The Secretary of State will not know this, but a high-tech company in my constituency that spawned out of Manchester university was told by its would-be venture capitalists that unless it moved from Manchester to within the golden triangle of Oxbridge and London, it would not obtain finance. Will he look into that financial gap, which has been around for a long time and prevents the dynamic growth of industry, particularly in the northern regions? (100040)

As it happens, I was in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency yesterday, and I met groups of businesses with similar concerns. He is right that there is a long-standing financing gap, particularly for small and medium-sized companies looking for risk capital. The business growth fund, which is a private sector initiative rather than Government money, is already beginning to fill that gap. It is headquartered in Birmingham but, I think, has substantial outreach into Manchester.