In my two months as the BEIS Secretary of State, I have now held meetings with more than 200 businesses across the United Kingdom listening to their concerns and their hopes for the future. Last week, it was my real pleasure to see BEIS helping to make that future brighter when we launched our industrial decarbonisation strategy, which allocates more than £1 billion to driving down emissions from industry and public buildings. We have also published proposals for reforming audit and corporate governance, which will cement Britain’s status as the premier investment destination by raising standards, deterring fraud and empowering, potentially, a new regulator.
The Secretary of State will be aware that the National Engineering Laboratory based in my constituency in East Kilbride has put together a vital proposal to build a clean fuels metrology centre. Given that this project enjoys cross-party support and is vital to the UK’s transition to a decarbonised economy, will he meet me, cross-party members of the all-party hydrogen group and industry representatives to discuss how to progress these important matters?
I would be delighted to meet the hon. Member and her associates in this enterprise. She will know that as Minister of State for Energy I was particularly keen on this new technology and I commissioned a hydrogen strategy that will be published in the next couple of months. I am very interested in this and of course I would be delighted to meet her and her colleagues.
I would be absolutely delighted to meet my hon. Friend and the bodies that he has mentioned. We are absolutely committed to nuclear power and to the people of north Wales, in particular. Wylfa is still a prime candidate for new nuclear power and I look forward to pursuing our discussions to see what may be done in this regard.
Let me associate myself, Mr Speaker, with the important remarks you made on this national day of remembrance.
I want to follow up the question about Liberty Steel because the Business Secretary’s answer simply was not good enough. No ideology or dogma must stand in the way of protecting the jobs of 5,000 people and many more in the supply chain. This is a critical part of our national infrastructure and it is critical to those communities. Will he now do what he has failed to do so far and say that he will do whatever it takes, including public ownership if it is the best value for money choice, to save those jobs if it is necessary?
The right hon. Gentleman will be absolutely aware that this is an ongoing commercial matter. He will know that I have seen local management, representatives of the unions and a number of people who are very, very keenly involved in the steel sector, and it would not be appropriate for me to enter into what is a commercially sensitive situation. My heart goes out to the workers. They are an excellent workforce, and Liberty Steel has a fine tradition in this space, but it would be inappropriate for me to enter into what are live, commercially sensitive issues.
It is not about the Business Secretary’s meetings or about his heart; it is about his action and his willingness to say that he will do plan B if it is necessary to save those jobs, as we expect him to do. The problem is that the reason people are suspicious of the Secretary of State is that there used to be a cross-party consensus in this country about industrial strategy, but in his two months in office he has torn up the industrial strategy, abolished the Industrial Strategy Council, and thrown in the bin all the work local areas have done over a number of years. Maybe he can tell the business community: why does he hate industrial strategy so much?
I think it is very easy for the right hon. Gentleman to get obsessed with the words “industrial strategy”. What this Government are committed to is action. That is why we launched the decarbonisation industrial strategy. That is why we are pursuing the fourth auction round in offshore wind. That is why John Kerry, who I was very happy to meet two weeks ago, said that this country is a world leader in decarbonisation.
My hon. Friend will know—if he does not, I will let him know—that when I took office two months ago, the things that the travel and hospitality sectors assured me that they needed more than ever were a road map and support. I am pleased to say that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister came up with his road map on 22 February and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor extended unprecedented support to the economy on 3 March. I am happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss whether he wants to see further actions, but we have committed £407 billion—an unprecedented amount—to supporting the economy at this terrible time.
The hon. Gentleman will know that I have met ITM Power a number of times; I was honoured to meet them in Grimsby. It does a great job. He will also know that, in my time as Minister of State for Energy, I commissioned the hydrogen strategy, which will be published shortly. At the core of the strategy is a twin-track approach. We are promoting blue hydrogen—which is made through methane natural gas reformation—and, more particularly in answer to his question, we are also committed to green hydrogen, or electrolyser-produced hydrogen, in which ITM Power is the leader.
My hon. Friend has been a champion for all the businesses in her area. We have spent £407 billion on support for businesses, including those that are not eligible for the business rates holiday. The interim report from the fundamental business rates review will be published next month and the full report will be published in the autumn. I urge local authorities to expand their local policies to include some of these businesses in the additional restrictions grant.
The right hon. Gentleman has obviously been speaking to my officials because the issue has popped up on my desk this morning. We will not kick this into the long grass. We will tackle it. We will not allow bully boy tactics. We want a flexible workforce, but not at any cost.
Across Sevenoaks and Swanley, high streets are preparing to reopen, supported by our brilliant Sevenoaks District Council. However, we are finding that some of our local businesses are being rejected for support from the high street recovery fund. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State meet me and my local council to discuss how we can address some of the issues?
I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend and others to discuss these important issues. As my hon. Friend mentioned, the high street is clearly a hugely important part of our economy, and that is why the business rates review will be particularly interesting.
Zero-hours contracts provide flexibility for the vast majority of people who use them and appreciate the benefits. We have got rid of exclusivity contracts. Clearly, given the impact of covid on employment, when we introduce the employment Bill in due course we will reflect on the lessons learned over this period.
Members of the group litigation scheme entered into a full, final settlement through mediation with Post Office Ltd last year, but we are working with sub-postmasters who have come forward on the historical shortfall scheme. I urge them still to come forward to the Post Office Horizon inquiry led by former judge Sir Wyn Williams, who is calling for evidence at the moment.
I thank my hon. Friend for his commitment to Greater Manchester and his constituency. We are committed to building back better and creating those green jobs, which will help to accelerate our world-leading path to net zero. The package of measures set out in the industrial decarbonisation strategy is part of this complex and critical path to success.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have considerable plans for hydrogen production. We have a hydrogen strategy coming forward, and we have consulted on business models. I am sure that people in Ellesmere Port, and the HyNet cluster generally, will have a big part to play in the development of hydrogen production in this country.
The proportion of residual waste sent to landfill, incineration and transfer stations that could otherwise have been recycled in England in 2020 is not available, I am afraid, but data on waste arisings are not structured around the material composition of waste streams. For both fossil and biogenic CO2 for energy-from-waste plants, national emissions estimates are based on an emission factor derived using the 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change default factor for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste.
I can guarantee I think of little else at the moment, because of the way my right hon. Friend and her colleagues in the weddings taskforce have pressed that very just cause. In stage 2, wedding ceremonies in churches, register offices, dedicated wedding venues and other premises that can open will be able to take place with up to 15 people indoors and receptions outdoors. We are looking forward to expanding that in stage 3, and the events programme will conduct research to ensure that we can have non-socially distanced events and larger weddings post June.