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Food and Drink Sector

Volume 617: debated on Thursday 24 November 2016

The Prime Minister has set out our vision for making the UK a world leader in innovation, which includes spending an extra £4.7 billion by 2020-21. Food and drink is our largest manufacturing sector—bigger than cars and aerospace combined. Our £160 million agri-tech strategy is taking forward brilliant ideas, such as monitoring crops using the latest satellite data.

It is an indescribable delight to see the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove). My surprise was merely at the fact that he has perambulated to a different part of the Chamber from that which he ordinarily inhabits. I am sure that we will enjoy the same eloquence as usual.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. As a migratory species, I am glad that you have noticed the different habitat that I am now in.

The Secretary of State will be aware that 80 years ago, the number of fish landed at British ports was 14 times the number we land now. The fishing industry has suffered grievously under the common fisheries policy. Now that we are leaving the European Union, can she say a little more about how investment, growth and innovation in the fish trade will ensure that we bring prosperity back to our great fishing ports?

I can reassure my right hon. Friend that we will do everything possible to preserve his habitat. I know that he has great knowledge of fishing. Just last week, in China, I signed a memorandum of understanding on seafood that is worth £50 million to UK fishermen, and I have met a number of fishing groups to hear their ideas about what we can do to ensure that our fantastic fishing sectors develop in a positive way once we have left the EU.

Such innovation will be enhanced, and indeed is necessary, in order to restore the water meadows of the lower Avon valley. Will the Secretary of State visit the area to see what we can do?

I am, of course, delighted to accept my right hon. Friend’s invitation. We will certainly revisit the area to look at that scheme in the new year.