Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: Departmental Spending

Published date : 07 July, 2020
It is vitally important that we recognise that not every business, not every sector and not every area will recover at the same rate. It is vitally important that support is not removed prematurely or arbitrarily. That is as true for individuals who furlough under the self-employment income support scheme as it is for businesses themselves.

As something approaching normality returns as lockdown eases, we must allow the returning demand in the economy to do whatever it can, but some things are too important to be left entirely to market forces. That means that we will need Governments across these islands to target investment and support. That means, as the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts) said, a VAT cut to boost the tourism sector. It means converting loans into grants and perhaps the Government taking equity stakes in key strategic sectors.

In the remaining time I have, let me say there is no more strategically important sector to this country than the North sea in terms of the billions it generates for the Treasury, whether that is through the petroleum revenue taxes or through the economic activity that it generates elsewhere. It is on the brink of thousands of job losses. The Scottish Government have already invested £62 million in an energy transition deal. We need the UK Government to match that ambition and invest that money. There is no route to net zero without harnessing the expertise of that sector. Time, just as it is for me in this debate, is running out for something to happen. The UK Government must act, in congress with the industry and very swiftly.

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