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Volume 671: debated on Tuesday 11 February 2020

You ain’t no Deputy, Mr Speaker!

Increasing productivity is the best way to boost wages and improve living standards. We have worked hard to build a stronger, fairer economy, dealing with the deficit, helping people into work, and cutting taxes for families and businesses.

The link between investment in research and development and increased productivity is well recognised. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to encourage more private sector investment in R&D to help Britain become a leader in the fourth industrial revolution?

I thank my hon. Friend for all the work that he has done to put the UK at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution. He is right to raise the importance of research and development. We are committed to investing an additional £7 billion in R&D by 2021-22 —the largest increase in 40 years—and, as my hon. Friend will know, in our manifesto we committed ourselves to going even further.

The people with the least productive, lowest-paid jobs, although often highly skilled, are women working in care, retail or hospitality. Where is the Chancellor’s productivity plan for the women in our country?

The hon. Lady will be pleased to know that we have more women in employment than ever before in our history, and that the gender pay gap is the narrowest ever recorded. However, she is right: we need to do more, and more investment will help, whether it is in infrastructure or skills. What will also help is our new points-based immigration system. Too often businesses have sought to take unskilled labour from abroad and cut the wages of people locally, and we must put an end to that as well.