Skip to main content

Covid-19: Economic Recovery

Volume 678: debated on Wednesday 8 July 2020

What steps his Department is taking to support economic recovery in Wales as the covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased. (904305)

The Government’s support for business—the £350 billion package—is helping to limit the long-term damage to the economy, and my Department will continue to work with others in Whitehall and the Welsh Government to drive forward that economic recovery. As the Prime Minister said last week, we must “build, build, build” to ensure jobs and growth as we continue to ease lockdown.

Wales desperately needs new projects to deliver growth and better-quality work, so may I ask my hon. Friend if he will look at the proposals coming from the joint venture based in Pembrokeshire between Total and Simply Blue Energy for deploying floating offshore wind technology in the Celtic sea? I also ask him to use his office to ensure that Treasury and BEIS stay fully involved, because it is a serious project that is worth backing.

I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. Floating offshore wind is a hugely exciting technology. I would be happy to meet those companies. Our commitment to offshore wind is demonstrated by the £28 million which we, along with the Welsh Government, have invested in the Pembroke Dock marine project.

Recognising the severity of the economic damage of covid-19 and also the importance of swift responses from the Government, will the Minister consider proposals made by the Wales Governance Centre recently that both the annual drawdown limit from the Welsh reserve and the cap on Welsh Government borrowing should be

“very significantly relaxed—or removed?”

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that my right hon. Friend has already signed off about an extra £800 million for the Welsh Government, and if he can wait in his seat for a little while longer, there may be more good news to come.

Economic recovery in north Wales will be made all the harder by the devastating news that Airbus in Broughton is to shed 1,435 jobs. I know the UK Government are already supporting the UK aerospace industry significantly, but can the Minister confirm what further the Government can do to assist Airbus?

I can confirm that when I and my right hon. Friend spoke to the leaders of Airbus last week, they were very grateful to the UK Government and said that the UK Government had been one of the most supportive Governments in the world, which is why, no doubt, far fewer jobs are being lost in the United Kingdom than in other European Union countries. Airbus has benefited from around £5 billion of UK Government support, and I am absolutely certain that the Government will want to continue to support the aerospace sector.