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House of Lords Hansard
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Industrial Strategy
31 October 2018
Volume 793

Question

Asked by

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in establishing the governance of their Industrial Strategy.

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My Lords, the industrial strategy has a fully operational governance framework. Implementation is led by a ministerial task force, which is overseen by the economic and industrial strategy cabinet committee. This is further supported by a cross-Whitehall programme board, which brings together senior officials in government to drive delivery.

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I thank the Minister for that Answer, but he did not include in his list the Industrial Strategy Council, which is designed to oversee this process. In a letter written to me on 16 February the Minister said, “Our plans to announce the formation of the Industrial Strategy Council by spring are progressing well”. I remind him that British Summer Time has now passed, and I am not aware of more than one member of this council. Can the Minister tell us when the full list of members of this council will be announced and when, at last, it will meet?

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My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot give the noble Lord a precise date. I accept that it is not spring and that British Summer Time has ended. I had better say that, as the noble Lord knows, one member, the chairman, has been announced. The remaining members will be announced—dare I say it—shortly. I look forward to being able to share the names of those members with the noble Lord—in due course.

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We have obviously stumbled into an audition for “Yes Minister”; I congratulate the noble Lord on his response. Would he agree with me that the industrial strategy has to be for the whole country? If so, why does the Cabinet sub-committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, charged with supervising the industrial strategy have no representatives from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland in its membership? Can he confirm that the new strategy board—or strategy council; I thought it was the strategy board—will have representation from businesses, economists and academics from every nation and region of the United Kingdom?

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My Lords, on the Cabinet committee that will be looking at this issue, the noble Lord will be well aware that many members of the Cabinet —including my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy—have responsibilities that cover the entire United Kingdom, so the whole United Kingdom is covered in that respect. On the membership of the council itself, there will be 20 members. One member has been announced; the remaining 19 will cover the entire United Kingdom, covering as many different areas as it is possible for 20 members to cover. Again, I look forward to sharing that list of members with the noble Lord and with the noble Lord, Lord Fox—in due course.

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My Lords, I declare my interests as on the list. On responsible businesses, I have chaired or co-chaired the relevant all-party group for many years. It is very good news that the Government are taking steps towards setting up a cross-departmental advisory group on responsible business, which will support them in making this strategy a reality. I urge the Government to move faster on appointing people to the group; nearly a year on from the paper’s publication, we need the voice of responsible business to be shaping the implementation of the strategy as soon as possible.

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My Lords, I can assure the noble Baroness that much has happened since the publication in November 2017 of the industrial strategy; indeed, I could speak at length listing all the things that have happened. Again, I ask the noble Baroness to be patient: we will announce the membership of this committee shortly, but we want to make sure we have the right people in place to look at the long-term development and success of the strategy.

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The White Paper promised us a separate council, the purpose of which is to stimulate and motivate action from the Government. Is this why the council has not yet been appointed?

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No. The point of the council, as I made clear to the noble Baroness in my earlier answer, is to look at the long term and at the development of the industrial strategy, and to ensure its success. That is why it is very important that we get the right people, all representing themselves, rather than any particular sector, and covering a whole range of areas and the entire United Kingdom, as I said to noble Lord, Lord Stevenson.

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My Lords, as always, I am much too eager to make my points; I apologise to the Minister for standing while he was speaking. Given the wide scope of the industrial strategy, how will it ensure that women’s leadership is reflected in its ambition? Will he also take the opportunity to write to the House to say how many women will be part of its governing institutions?

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My Lords, as I have made clear, I am not in a position to give the list of all those who will be on the council, but I can be clear that it will be as representative as it is possible to be with 20 members; of course, with 20 members it is difficult to ensure that one covers every last corner of the kingdom. I look forward to being able to send a copy of the letter to the noble Baroness and to others, listing all members. As I have said, I look forward to doing that very shortly.

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My Lords, in their response to the Science and Technology Committee report, Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, the Government said they would be publishing the timelines with clear matrices to allow for independent scrutiny. When will this be published and who will be the independent scrutiniser?

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My Lords, the noble Lord has been scrutinising the industrial strategy, and particularly the parts of it relating to life sciences, ever since we published it, and we debated this only last week. He knows all about what we are doing on the life sciences part of it, and he knows the full membership of the life sciences innovation board and the Life Sciences Council. I look forward to sharing with him the membership of the Industrial Strategy Council when it is published.