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Industrial Strategy

Volume 783: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2017

Question

Asked by

I thank the Minister for that Answer. At least we have taken a first step away from austerity. Perhaps I may ask him the question everybody else out there would like to have answered: will he confirm that the funding laid out in the Autumn Statement 2016 will be made available in full, plus the substantial increase in grant funding to be awarded through UKRI, which was also promised in the Autumn Statement, so that money for innovation will not be spread too thinly?

I am very happy to give that assurance. As the noble Lord will know, UKRI will receive an additional £4.9 billion over the period to 2021. Much of that resource will go through UK Innovate into a number of productivity schemes. I hope that will be, as he says, a creative alternative to austerity.

My Lords, the Minister is very well aware of the importance of catapult centres in the industrial strategy. Will he now say what his plans are for maintaining funding for the current level of catapult centres and for opening new centres?

My Lords, the catapult programme has, on the whole, been a huge success, but not all catapults are performing as well as others, so we are now undertaking a review of the catapults to identify those that have been performing well and those that have not. There is no intention that I am aware of to reduce the funding of all the catapults.

My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that it continues to be the Government’s intention to publish sector strategies following up the consultation to which he referred? Is he able to say whether an early sector strategy will relate to life sciences? In doing so, will the Government also be able to bring forward relatively speedily a positive response to the accelerated access review?

My Lords, the sector strategies will be an important part of the industrial strategy and the life science strategy is probably one of the furthest forward. It will, I assure my noble friend, include proposals to improve access to the NHS.

My Lords, I am sure the Minister is aware of the Social Mobility Commission’s Time for Change report, which urges the Government to commit to speedy reform to avoid unsustainable social division, particularly with the regions being left behind with very uneven pay and skill levels, employment rates, job quality and access to high-level qualifications. Will the Government accept the commission’s call to use the industrial strategy to address this imbalance, which will, of course, show a more committed effort towards the regions than the fact that there have been three northern powerhouse Ministers in four years?

My Lords, I would say that probably the single most important objective of the industrial strategy is to address some of the regional imbalances that the noble Lord refers to. We have seen London and the south-east do extremely well over the last few years, and we will carry on supporting London and the south-east to continue doing well, but there is no doubt that many parts of the country have been left behind, with many people on stagnant and falling earnings. That is absolutely a key priority for the strategy.

My Lords, will the Minister please confirm to the House that the defence growth strategy will fit within the Government’s industrial strategy?

There will be many sector strategies and the Defence Growth Partnership is one that we hope will be part of the industrial strategy.