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Renewables are the core of the energy policy that we want to pursue. Our fundamental argument with the Government’s case on nuclear power is that it will effectively crowd out carbon storage and capture—the alternative transitional technology until we achieve an all-renewables-based energy system—as well as renewables. The BP Peterhead experience will be looked back on in a year or two as the first example of a carbon capture and storage programme that got crowded out by the nuclear announcement and by the direction being captured within the energy White Paper. Time will tell, but I suspect that we will look back on that as the very first example and illustration of what is really going on in this sector. There are finite resources for investment in future energy technologies,
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and they are now being diverted to what I regard as the most inappropriate technology.

The Minister also raised the issue of security of supply, but nuclear energy, even under the most optimistic programme that he could put together, would be providing something like 4 per cent. of the UK’s total energy usage. It does not eliminate the need for oil and gas. We hear about 20 per cent. of electricity being provided from renewables, but the Government constantly get electricity and energy muddled, and they have never been able to tell us how they will reach the EU target of providing 20 per cent. of energy—not electricity—from renewables by 2020. That is another feature of the DTI’s general problem in dealing with a wide range of issues.

The Government constantly talk about not subsidising nuclear energy, but we have heard clearly again today a commitment from both the Government and Conservative Front Benchers to what amounts to the most significant subsidy of all—the transfer of risk in connection with waste to the public and away from the commercial sector. That has always been one of the key core arguments against nuclear power, because that is the largest subsidy of all.

Mark Tami: Whatever the hon. Lady thinks about nuclear power, does she not believe that waste is an issue for us to consider now? We have to tackle waste, so the problem has to be solved—now and for the future.

Susan Kramer: One can only agree with the hon. Gentleman’s argument that what has been done and ignored in the past has to be dealt with now, but unfortunately, creating more waste only adds to the problem and does not diminish it. It also adds to overall costs, so there is an underlying set of issues that has to be dealt with— [Interruption.] If only we were talking about rubbish, but this is waste, and it is far more dangerous.

The Minister spoke about the huge manufacturing potential in this country, but there really is substantial potential in marine renewables, if only we exploited the incredible skills built up through the sub-sea oil and gas industry. I have visited players in that industry and it is clear to me that they see nuclear power as their death knell. They thought that a source of funds might be provided for their industry to help them build on the real potential. Many projects are sitting in prototype, but they are unable to move off that prototype base into real demonstration and production, precisely because the funding lying on one side will be directed into nuclear if that is where the Government intend it to go. If the Minister does not know that, I suggest that he do some travelling and talk to some of the people in those industries. If he did, he would find it an eye-opening set of experiences.

Let us move on to the issue of science. I support what the Government and Opposition Front Benchers have said—that the Government have done many things very well in this area. However, the clawback of £68 million over the last year and the additional £30 million clawback from regional development agencies has been very disappointing. Half the latter came from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, but the research councils have suffered as a whole.

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We were utterly frustrated to hear the Government describe this as “unspent money”, when it was really unallocated money in what had been promoted and produced as a multi-year programme, under a set of changes to the way in which grant money was to be allocated, supposedly allowing time to work out where best to make the allocations. According to the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, the money was being diverted to cope with the overspend on the Rover inquiry, but, sad to say, there is a strong suspicion that it was really to do with part of the overspend on nuclear decommissioning. Here we have nuclear decommissioning actually impacting on what everyone has described as the most important aspect of what we are talking about—science and industry.

On trade issues, others have talked about UK Trade and Investment, so I will not go into it further, but let me say that one of the biggest disappointments has been the Doha round. When it comes to meeting our targets for trade and industry, along with international development—and with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a player—we have been incredibly inadequate and we need to strengthen what we do. This again illustrates the fact that the existence of a Department of Trade and Industry will not necessarily provide the international tool that we need to achieve our goals in what has been identified as one of the most important strategies of this Government—or, frankly, of any other Government. If developing countries are to have a future, something with the characteristics of a development trade round must succeed. Nearly all the time benchmarks have now been passed, and the hope offered to some of the poorest countries in the world has been lost.

I hope that some of my colleagues will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to talk about small business. I was asked earlier what kinds of programmes we would be willing to eliminate, and we think that some of the business support services, which are described by the people whom they are offered to and targeted towards as utterly ineffective and inappropriate, ought to go into the dustbin. We want to make sure, however, that business, including small business, has a genuine and proper voice at the highest levels of government.

The Budget was a good illustration of the fact that small business, especially, has no significant voice in the key decision making and discussions in this Government. The policy that had the effect of raising corporation tax on small businesses seemed driven by a Treasury desire to discourage people from incorporating rather than remaining as sole traders—a side issue if ever there was one. It completely failed to recognise that those small businesses, given their nature and the way in which they function, could never take advantage of the research and capital allowances on offer. Clearly, the conversation with representatives of small business never took place.

Mr. Kevan Jones: The hon. Lady has now spoken for nearly 20 minutes. In her opening remarks, she said that she would enlighten us about the dead wood in the DTI, and explain how getting rid of it would result in a saving of £8 billion over the lifetime of a Parliament? When will she explain where the dead wood is, and where the savings will be made?

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Susan Kramer: As I made clear, the £8 billion figure was in our previous manifesto. As there have been changes in the DTI, we are working through the numbers again. That is not inappropriate. We did not call this debate; we are responding to it. We will come forward with the numbers. We are not changing policy. [Interruption.] I have just described the business support services aspects; one can tell that that has not stirred the blood of many people to come and participate. There is plenty of scope to eliminate aspects of the regional development agencies’ activities, many of which compete with export schemes, and even the Government seem to have finally realised that that is a complete waste of time and money. As we work through the structure, we will come out with hard numbers, as we always do.

As the DTI disappears, two essential elements must remain and be captured within whatever the new structure is. First, there must be a voice for business at Cabinet level, where it will have an impact. That is less an issue for large business—which is able to lobby and reach Government in the ways that it finds necessary—than it is for small business, which has been under-recognised and under-heard over a long period. We envisage that role being in the Treasury, perhaps in the No. 2 slot. It should be a powerful voice, and perhaps the word “Business” should finally be brought into the Minister’s title, so that it is evident that that voice is at the Cabinet table, and heard within the context of economic development.

Secondly, the energy portfolio must be put in a place where climate change can be the umbrella, so to speak, under which it functions. In the past, energy policy has essentially been business-driven, and exceedingly slow to recognise environmental and climate change issues. That is partly why we are in such a pickle today, with the struggle to reach the necessary targets over the years. The structure that I am proposing will be essential. There are business voices that very much want energy, transport and planning to go off into a sort of infrastructure Department that would separate them permanently from the climate change discussion, other than in a most tenuous way. We do not support that, as it would be utterly inappropriate.

My goal in coming into this role has been to put both myself and every other Front-Bench DTI spokesman out of a job. It looks as if I will achieve that later in the year. When the Department is eliminated and elements of it restructured, it is crucial that it is not done simply to accommodate rival politicians who are looking for particular titles, or to sort out different political balances within the party. There needs to be a sunset clause on every aspect of what the DTI does, so that it will be examined and a decision will be made on whether it is a worthwhile and appropriate activity for the Government to carry out—and whether it can be carried out within a particular Department or constructed in an alternative way. An alternative home should be made available for those aspects that are worth while; that would be more effective, and would eliminate duplication. Those parts that are inappropriate should disappear for good.

6.1 pm

Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South) (Lab): I do not recognise in the motion the description of the Department of Trade and Industry and its functions as
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in any way reflecting its work. I notice that it omits the key word “manufacturing”. That is deplorable. The hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alan Duncan) made a passing mention of manufacturing and the number of jobs lost, but he did not say what the Opposition would do to ensure that manufacturing continues to play a vital role in this country’s economy. On the issues that the motion does mention—energy, science, research and development, workplace rights and business support—and on manufacturing, the record of the DTI and Ministers is a creditable one.

I feel passionately about manufacturing. As right hon. and hon. Members know, I come from a constituency that is massively and predominantly in the service sector—finance, insurance and connected services—but my constituents know that there would be no financing or insurance of products if they were not being manufactured. It has been a drive of the Government to ensure that as much manufacturing as possible is carried out in this country, and in automotive, pharmaceutical and other key areas that has been achieved.

That has been achieved by a strategy started by the first inquiry into manufacturing in 30 years—the developing our manufacturing strategy—and by creating the manufacturing advisory service and a centre of excellence for manufacturing in every region. We heard about the benefits of that. The right hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy), who spoke for Halewood, highlighted the multimillion pound—£7 million—DTI investment that has brought in £1 billion of investment in Jaguar and the new X-type. There are many other such examples. In fact, more than 50,000 manufacturers have been helped by the Government’s manufacturing strategy, which is why manufacturing productivity has risen by 30 per cent. since they came into office.

Mr. Ben Wallace (Lancaster and Wyre) (Con): The hon. Gentleman is not seriously saying that, given that 1 million manufacturing jobs have been lost under his Government’s strategy, that that strategy is a success?

Nigel Griffiths: The 1 million manufacturing jobs that the hon. Member should be telling the House about are the 600,000-plus manufacturing jobs lost in one year alone in the first Tory recession and the 400,000 lost in one year alone in the second recession. Those are the records that we had to rescue this country’s manufacturing from, and we did a creditable job in doing it.

Our success is shown by the fact that, whereas under the last Government manufacturing jobs flooded other countries, we have repatriated key projects such as the construction of the new Mini engine. A substantial investment by the DTI has multiplied itself 10, 20 and 30 times in another massive investment at Hams Hall so that the engine can be made there. The Department has also underpinned £1 billion of investment in aerospace. Our Rolls-Royce Trent engine now powers almost a third of the world’s commercial aircraft, again as a result of the Government’s manufacturing strategy.

Manufacturing productivity increases have returned this country to the world-beating league in certain key areas. That is one reason why our pharmaceutical industry now exports more by value than almost any of its foreign competitors, our aero-engines—as I have
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said—power a third of the world’s commercial aircraft, a quarter of Ford cars in the world have engines with “Made in Britain” stamped on them, and projects like the one in Brazil are being returned to this country.

This Government established the Automotive Academy to increase skills and productivity. They established the Chemistry Leadership Council and the national aerospace technology strategy, and have worked closely with industry to reflect its needs in those crucial areas. And they have done more. Ten years ago there were only 75,000 apprentices in the country, which was a disgrace. Now there are more than 250,000, 70,000 in manufacturing alone. However, I urge my colleagues—who I know will take my words to heart—to do still more to promote even higher-quality manufacturing apprenticeships and jobs.

The DTI is an unsung hero in another key area, that of decent rights for working people. We have delivered to part-time workers rights that they never had under any previous Government. More than 3 million have been given the right to four weeks’ paid holiday, more than 6 million have benefited from pay and conditions equal to those of full-time workers, and more than 1 million—1.5 million, I believe—have benefited from the national minimum wage. I will not make political points about who supported those measures and who did not.

As for the DTI’s contribution to the environment, I applaud the work of the Minister for Energy, my hon. Friend the Minister for Science and Innovation—the former energy Minister—and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in securing a £1 billion investment in renewables, including £800 million for microgeneration, more than £110 million for offshore wind generation, £60 million for energy crops and biomass, and investment in key technologies such as photovoltaics, which now power some of the computer laboratories and libraries at Napier university in my constituency.

I challenge the Liberal Democrats to name two onshore wind turbine projects for which they have supported planning permission. It seems to me that they never support such projects on their doorstep, although they have a general and, I am sorry to say, rather hypocritical policy of supporting them nationally. I note that they remain seated, and do not attempt to name even one such project. In fact, I do not believe that they support any of them.

I am glad that on science, at least, we have consensus in the House. In 10 years we have taken science investment from £1.3 billion to £3.5 billion. That has led to spectacular successes, one of which was mentioned earlier. Let me add to the many tributes paid to Lord Sainsbury. He was an outstanding science Minister, I believe the best science Minister. He was a great ambassador on behalf of science to Government and a great securer of Government resources for science.

On UK Trade and Investment, I thought that the criticisms of the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton (Alan Duncan) were a little unbalanced. Had he read today’s report from the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, he would have seen in paragraph 38 praise for the success of UKTI, for its strength in attracting R and D facilities from overseas into this country and for the targeted investment in China and India, which is proving immensely profitable for UK companies. UKTI, its predecessor, the DTI and other Departments
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have succeeded in making this country the magnet for foreign investment because of our favourable tax regime and our regulatory regime, which is far more favourable than that in many other countries.

The report touches on regulations, as the hon. Member did. It says in paragraph 3 that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ranks this country

That reflects what is being said by other surveys that the hon. Member should be reading.

The RDAs have been giving business advice and have been highly praised for the business advice that has been delivered through the small business network, which has advised 600,000 small businesses.

I was provoked by this: I was rather surprised that the hon. Member for Richmond Park (Susan Kramer) raised the issue of post offices. I note that the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton, who speaks for the Opposition, wisely steered clear of that because the Conservatives closed 3,500 of them.

In fairness to the Liberal Democrats, no one knows more about the betrayal of post offices than them. Their councillors in towns and cities such as Aberdeen refuse to let local citizens use the post office to pay the council tax, rents, business trade waste bills, home help and other charges. By contrast Labour-run councils such as Edinburgh pay a fee to the Post Office to allow that to happen. Of course, the net result of that is that 20 per cent. more post offices closed in Aberdeen. Again, the Liberal Democrats have failed to put at least some money where their mouth is. Instead they wanted to save money and they did not care that it cost us the post offices.

Nationally, Liberal Democrat policies on post offices are just as bad. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Clegg) wrote a policy paper advocating the privatisation of post offices along Dutch lines, which has meant mass closures. By contrast, this Government have invested some £3 billion in post offices to secure the best possible network that can be secured in this day and age. That reflects what Labour councils such as Edinburgh have done. The Government have given financial support because it was worth while putting money into post offices.

Susan Kramer: I rise just to confirm with the hon. Gentleman that 2,500 branch post offices are to be closed. Do I understand that, if any of those are in his constituency, he will support the closures? That is the implication of what he has just said.

Nigel Griffiths: I will come to that directly but I thought that I was giving way to the hon. Member because she had thought of one wind turbine project on mainland Britain that the Liberal Democrats support.

David Howarth: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Cambridge local plan, which went through when I was leader of Cambridge city council and which supports wind farms.

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