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Supply Chains

Volume 701: debated on Tuesday 21 September 2021

10. What recent discussions he has had with representatives of (a) businesses and (b) trade unions on supply chain matters. (903540)

Successful resolution of supply chain pressures will be a joint effort between stakeholders and the Government, and we will continue to engage with industry stakeholders and other Departments to find practical solutions to these challenges, which are not unique to the UK.

Will the Minister join me in congratulating companies such as Cardon Energy and Maritime Transport in my constituency on keeping the country fed, fuelled and supplied? However, they tell me that there is a tsunami of HGV drivers reaching retirement. Unite the Union says that terms and conditions are not good enough and lengthening the working day will not improve that. NG Transport has offered to resettle six Afghanistan families with the requisite skills. Will the Minister not stand in the way of companies trying to innovate to plug the gaps while we tackle these structural problems?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that. Indeed, that is exactly why we are engaging with industry because the solutions will likely come predominantly from industry. We will continue to work with stakeholders on this so that we are able to innovate to tackle this incredibly intractable—at the moment—problem.

For months, the Government have ignored warnings about supply chain issues from the Food and Drink Federation, UKHospitality and other businesses. August saw Nando’s temporarily close 50 stores. McDonald’s ran out of milkshakes and now the HGV shortage has been compounded by a CO2 crisis that the Government should have foreseen. With Iceland warning of food shortages in days, jobs at risk as businesses deal with this utter chaos, and looming costs for consumers who are now paying the price, will the Minister now tell the Chancellor that universal credit must not be cut? Is Professor Haszeldine not right to say today that, with only two to three days’ of methane stored rather than months’ of supply that other countries have, we should have been far better prepared?

The hon. Lady started talking about supply chains and ended up talking about welfare, but let me tackle the supply chains issue. We are working closely with sector leaders to understand how we can encourage more people to work in these areas. Through our plan for jobs, we are also giving people the skills and qualifications that they need to quickly take up roles in key sectors. That is why we are inviting employers from a range of sectors, including farming and hospitality, into local jobcentres, as one of the most effective ways to promote vacancies is for employers to come out and market their opportunities directly to our work coaches and jobseekers