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Strategic Support (Industries and Sectors)

Volume 597: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2015

4. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Government’s strategic support for industries and sectors. (900633)

In preparation for the forthcoming spending review, I am assessing the effectiveness of BIS policies, including strategic support for industry. We will continue an open dialogue with business, including through sector councils.

A long-term industrial strategy is vital for my constituency, which boasts a major chemical process complex in Wilton. Recently, the workforce have been taking to the gates because they believe that long, hard-won, nationally agreed terms and conditions are being undercut on the site. What assurance can the Minister give me, and what steps is he taking to make sure, that nationally agreed terms and conditions are being applied on such sites, and that the British workforce are not being undercut by recruitment from overseas?

I welcome the hon. Lady to her place. I know that a number of industries, including the one that she has mentioned, are important to Redcar. I am more than happy to take a closer look at the issue that she raises. I am afraid that I do not know the details of it, but if she would like to furnish me with them, I or my right hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise will take a closer look.

Steel producers are an important employer in Corby. Will my right hon. Friend meet representatives of the steel all-party parliamentary group, who are working closely together, to talk about strategic support, especially on carbon taxation?

I welcome my hon. Friend to his place and congratulate him on his work to help the steel industry to meet those challenges. I will be more than happy to meet him and representatives of the APPG and see what more we can do, especially on the high energy costs that the industry faces.

I have previously suggested a strategic support mechanism for the open-cast coal industry—a carbon tax exemption for specific sites. An independent economic analysis suggests that an exemption with a value of £195 would produce a net income to the Treasury of £57 million and would also allow the sites to be restored. Will the Secretary of State consider that urgently and work with the Treasury to include the exemption in the July Budget or, following a previous offer, meet me to discuss it?

Steel is a very important industry, employing thousands of people in Britain. It is important to see what we can do to help, so I or my right hon. Friend the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise will be more than happy to meet the hon. Gentleman.

What plans, if any, do the Government have to make local enterprise partnerships more democratically accountable? They have more funds than the regional development agencies, but are less accountable.

It is right that LEPs are business-led, but it is also important that they include democratically elected people, and that is how they are working. It is important to review LEPs after a few years of operation and to ensure that they are truly accountable.