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BEIS Capital Spending

Volume 723: debated on Tuesday 29 November 2022

12. What recent assessment he has made of the efficiency and effectiveness of his Department’s capital spending. (902474)

As the Department for science, research and innovation, with the historic uplift in public R&D announced in the comprehensive spending review 2021 and the autumn statement 2022, and the Department for net zero, BEIS secured the highest increase in capital budgets at the last spending review, growing at 8.3% per annum over the spending review period.

As we know, capital expenditure spent effectively drives economic growth. To this end, would the Minister agree that capital projects such as those in my constituency that will clearly help economic growth and can start in the next 12 months will be prioritised, and that additional support will be given where they have shortfalls due to rising costs?

My hon. Friend has put his powerful point on record. I can assure him that the Department is actively working with the Treasury to make sure that those sorts of schemes are accelerated.

Is it still in the Department’s plans to take a 20% shareholding in Sizewell C? If so, will that result in a capital spend of £6 billion or £7 billion—money that could be better spent elsewhere? Private investment could be freed up in the Scottish cluster if it was made a track 1 cluster and pumped storage hydro could be helped by agreeing a pricing mechanism for electricity.

Unlike the Scottish nationalists, we are committed to the private-public partnership that drives investment in our nuclear industry, and Sizewell C is a major commitment. The Government are proud to be partnering with industry, and it is a shame that the Scottish nationalists are not similarly partnering with industry for the benefit of Scots voters and bill payers.