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Manufacturing: Support for Innovation

Volume 723: debated on Tuesday 29 November 2022

Despite the Opposition’s constant attempts to talk down UK manufacturing, the truth is that we are ninth in the world and fourth in Europe, and that our advanced manufacturing sector contributes £205 billion gross value added to the UK economy. That is why we continue to support it in sectors such as aerospace, automotive and life sciences through £850 million to the high-value manufacturing catapult and nearly £200 million through our Made Smarter programme.

Recently, Rolls-Royce, in conjunction with Gatwick-based easyJet, carried out a successful green hydrogen jet engine trial. Will my hon. Friend assure me that the Government will continue to invest in sustainable aviation innovation?

I thank my hon. Friend, the chair of the all-party group for the future of aviation, and I take this opportunity to invite the whole House to celebrate the world-first achieved by Rolls-Royce and easyJet: the first run of a green hydrogen-powered auto engine. I am happy to reconfirm our commitment to aerospace technology. That is why we have put £685 million into the Aerospace Technology Institute programme and £125 million through the industrial strategy challenge fund into the UK Research and Innovation future flight challenge. The UK is leading in clean energy for the aviation sector and jet zero.

The Government set a goal of the development of eight gigafactories before 2040. Will the Minister say how that is progressing, and will he reassure my constituents that the Government are in conversation with Britishvolt to secure its gigafactory site at Cambois in my constituency?

The hon. Member is absolutely right that we are committed to growing that supply chain for the gigafactory revolution in the north-east, the midlands and all around the country. That is why we set out, in our critical minerals strategy, a coherent plan for making sure that the country has the whole supply chain, as well as those factories. I know that the Minister with responsibility for energy technology will be happy to talk to the hon. Member to make sure that the supply chain is working locally as well.

On 16 November, the Government awarded the contract for the new fleet solid support ships to a Spanish state-led consortium. Around £700 million of that contract will go to overseas industry when our steel and shipbuilding sectors are crying out for support. Also on 16 November, the Minister for Industry and Investment Security wrote to me to say that the future of UK steel companies was a commercial decision. Will this Minister explain why the UK Government did not take the commercial decision to deliver £700 million of work to UK steelmakers and shipyards?

The hon. Member raises an important point. We are committed to using our Brexit freedoms both on procurement and regulation to support UK industries. I will raise that issue with the Minister for Industry and Investment Security, who sadly cannot be here this morning, and make sure that she picks that up with the hon. Member directly. However, the answer is that we are totally committed to the UK steel sector and to getting the balance right between ensuring that we have open procurement and that we use Government procurement muscle to back our industries. They are not easy decisions to make, but we are very sighted on them to try to get that balance right.