We have put in place a number of measures to deal with the extraordinary set of circumstances brought on by the pandemic and the global economy rebounding from the disruption it caused. These include increasing HGV testing capacity by 90% to help get new drivers into the sector quickly, extending cabotage rights, making available boot camps to train up to 5,000 HGV drivers, and making available temporary visas for poultry workers and butchers.
As well as making the best use of our wide and varied natural resources in our energy transition to net zero, it also makes sense to make the best and most effective use of our existing supply chains that serve our maritime nation. Will my right hon. Friend therefore join me and the UK Marine Energy Council in welcoming the announcement yesterday of £20 million of UK funding for the tidal energy sector, and will this Government reinforce supply chains for the wider maritime economy?
I do welcome that announcement. As the Energy Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea and Fulham (Greg Hands), said, the backing for tidal steam power is opening up a new chapter for Britain’s coastal communities and advancing the possibilities for Britain’s marine energy sector to play a significant role in delivering the UK’s green energy revolution.
A large number of small and medium-sized enterprises play a crucial role in the UK’s supply chain and many rely on imports from the European Union to keep that supply chain going. Such businesses were let down badly last year when import controls were introduced on the other side of the channel; what guarantees can the Minister give that when the UK starts to impose import controls in January the needs of small businesses will be kept in mind?
We are working in collaboration across the United Kingdom: I joined a call with the First Ministers, including the First Minister of Scotland, to discuss supply chain issues. We have also brought in expertise such as Sir Dave Lewis, former chief executive of Tesco, to work with us. How we maintain the resilience of our supply chains involves shared issues that we are working together on across the UK.