The UK is one of the best places in the world to locate a life sciences business. We are making vaccines in Livingston, Wrexham, Oxford and Hartlepool. We are making cell and gene therapies in Stevenage, surgical robots in Cambridge, cancer medicines in Macclesfield, hip replacements in Leeds and care products in Hull. Last week, we announced another £20 million fund to incentivise companies to put medicines and diagnostics manufacturing investments here in the UK.
Some people have very short memories, I must say. The UK was found desperately wanting when this horrid covid-19 pandemic swept through the cities, towns and villages of this country. The nation’s silverware was sold off and the stock cupboards laid bare. There was a deliberate policy of under-investment in the NHS, with a view to buying everything on the cheap from elsewhere. This was an ideological crime. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that we are never again left without the capacity to produce essential health and safety equipment, and how might a real industrial strategy aid the need to produce personal protective equipment, to bring good, well-paid jobs to long held back communities like Wansbeck here in the north-east?
There might be a meeting of minds between the hon. Gentleman and me. Over the last year, we have developed the capacity to produce 70% of the country’s PPE needs here in the UK. We set that target last summer. We met it at Christmas for all different types of PPE, with the exception of gloves, but we keep working on bringing glove manufacturing onshore. As I said in my response, we have built a huge amount of pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity here in the UK, and there is a lot more to come.