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Industrial Strategy

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2018

6. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that the industrial strategy benefits Wales. (905012)

11. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that the industrial strategy benefits Wales. (905017)

There are significant opportunities for Wales from the industrial strategy, particularly in relation to innovation, where there is a commitment to raise the total research and development spend to 2.4% of the economy. This is already benefiting Wales, with almost £6 million committed to 17 Welsh partner projects.

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer, but will he outline how he is ensuring that research and innovation, which is a key part of the industrial strategy in Wales, is recognised across the world?

My hon. Friend is a key campaigner for the steel industry, and I draw his attention to the Swansea bay city deal and the industrial strategy, which has established a new national Steel and Metals Institute, not only offering long-term viability to the industry in Wales, but complementing his constituency’s interests.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answers so far. Does he agree that the combination of scrapping the Severn tolls and the cross-border commitment to the industrial strategy represents a significant boost for south Wales, mid-Wales and even south-west England?

My hon. Friend rightly draws attention to our commitment to scrap the Severn tolls by the end of this year, which will benefit south-west England and his constituency, as well as the south Wales economy. We are developing a new economic region and the industrial strategy commits to cross-border growth corridors. There is a great deal of excitement in south Wales and the south-west.

In view of the lack of news about a sector deal for steel—[Interruption]—coupled with looming trade disruption caused by US steel tariffs, what is the Secretary of State doing in Cabinet to press for action to get the UK—[Interruption.]

Order. The hon. Lady has been overwhelmed by just how popular she is. We will just have to hear the question again from start to finish.

In the light of the lack of news about a sector deal for steel, coupled with the looming trade disruption caused by US steel tariffs, what is the Secretary of State doing in Cabinet to press for action to get the UK steel sector a more sustainable future? When is the next Steel Council?

I have already referred to the national Steel and Metals Institute at Swansea University, which is important for the sustainability of the steel sector. On the US trading arrangements on steel, the UK and European exemption was extended last week, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade has travelled to the US specifically to discuss the matter. I have also raised the matter with the US ambassador here, and we are optimistic.

At the heart of the industrial strategy is a commitment to 5G connectivity for businesses in Wales. Most businesses across Wales, including in my constituency, have little or no connectivity and slow connections. The Secretary of State has been warned by the CBI that the industrial strategy must be achievable. Is all this not just pie in the sky for businesses that are not connected at the moment?

I point to the commitment to the Swansea bay city deal and to our ambition for Cardiff to be a 5G testbed, and we are excited for the opportunities that they will bring. As for connectivity, the Welsh Government have a significant responsibility and, although they have recently committed more money, I ask them to look at their planning rules. The highest that a mast can be in Wales is 15 metres, whereas masts can go to 25 metres in England.