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Volume 560: debated on Thursday 21 March 2013

Advanced manufacturing is crucial to economic growth. That is why the Chancellor announced a further £1.1 billion for our industrial strategy in his Budget. That follows an additional £600 million investment in the autumn statement for eight great technologies.

Will my right hon. Friend commend the vital contribution to the national economy made by advanced manufacturing industries, such as APPH in Runcorn, which manufactures vital parts for the Saab Gripen fighter? The company has recruited four new engineering apprentices from Manchester, Liverpool and Salford universities. Does he agree that it is vital to encourage more young people to take up engineering as a career?

I agree with my hon. Friend. The aerospace announcement in the Budget, to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has just referred, is crucial in supporting those industries. My hon. Friend can be proud of a constituency that has, in Daresbury, an important high-tech centre.

This week, AstraZeneca announced a deep global restructuring, committing its manufacturing facility to Cheshire, but moving its global R and D to Cambridge, with a £300 million investment and 2,000 staff. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is a sharp reminder of the deep global restructuring in the pharmaceutical sector and the importance of the life science strategy we put in place 18 months ago? May I congratulate his Department on the speed with which the task force was set up?

The announcement was obviously disappointing for people at Alderley Park, but we have worked with AstraZeneca in setting up a task force, which I hope will secure a future for the site. Meanwhile, we should celebrate the fact that AstraZeneca decided, having looked around the world, that the UK was the best place to invest in new R and D facilities.