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Industrial Strategy: High-quality Jobs

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 19 March 2019

9. What recent steps he has taken through the industrial strategy to increase the number of high-quality and well-paid jobs. (909873)

The industrial strategy is based on increasing the number of high-quality and well-paid jobs because it invests in skills, infrastructure and innovation, as well as building long-term strategic partnerships with businesses through sector deals between the Government and industry.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, we often talk about our being the fifth largest economy, but by GDP per head we are ranked about 23rd or 24th, according to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Does he agree that greater export penetration into growing markets overseas will help to raise that GDP per head and that an independent trade policy could boost that endeavour?

I agree with my hon. Friend. In his own constituency, six companies have received the Queen’s award for international trade. He understands the importance of exports. I agree that the UK needs to deploy all the tools at its disposal to support UK exporters, and a key part of that is tailoring our trade policy to the strengths and requirements of our economy and supporting the delivery of the industrial strategy.

Today’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee report singles out the steel industry as having been particularly failed by the Government’s industrial strategy. On behalf of the steel sector in my constituency, can I ask the Minister when the Government will get back around the table to take action on issues such as energy prices?

I discussed this issue yesterday through the good offices of the all-party group on steel and metal related industries—several hon. Members were there—and agreed to hold a roundtable with all parties, including, I hope, the hon. Lady, to discuss how we can progress the sector deal.

General Electric in Stafford—and indeed in Rugby—provides excellent, high-quality and well-paid jobs through its investment in energy, particularly good energy. Can I invite the Minister or his colleague the Energy Minister to come and see what world-leading technology is being developed in Stafford?

I cannot answer for my right hon. Friend, who is capable of visiting wherever she likes—in fact, she is omnipresent all over the country with her visits—but I would be delighted to visit GE and anywhere else in Stafford my hon. Friend thinks suitable.

Will the Minister spell out yet again the extent of his support in the industrial strategy for the likes of Bombardier and related industries in Northern Ireland?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I meet regularly with Bombardier, as does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. It is a regular visitor to my office and is always welcome. I am interested to hear its views on anything.

It is more than a year since the Government committed to putting as much emphasis on the quality of jobs as on the quantity. In their response to the Taylor review last February, they said:

“We will…report annually on the quality of work in the UK economy…and…hold ourselves to account”.

How much longer do we have to wait for the first assessment of job quality in the UK?

We gave our answer in our response to the Taylor review, but the Government have also published a good work plan, in which we commit to ways of delivering better jobs for everyone in the British economy.