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Sarah in Parliament

SARAH IN PARLIAMENT

Below is a full list of my speeches and questions in Parliament.

Photo of Sarah Jones
8 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many Prison Transfer Agreements were in place in each year since 2010.

Photo of Sarah Jones
8 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish a list of all (a) vehicles and (b) heavy weapons that have been reported missing from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
8 February 2024

Mr Speaker:

“The UK steel industry, the trade unions, and Labour are…proposing an industrial policy worthy of a serious industrial country.”

Those are not my words but those of the world economic editor of The Daily Telegraph writing yesterday. He also said that

“the Government’s minimalist plan…does just half the job, leaving the UK with a stunted second-tier industrial base, the only G20 country lacking a sovereign capability in ‘weapons grade’ primary steel.”

He is right, isn’t he?

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. If we look at the stats that I just cited—more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping and only 10 fixed penalty notices—it is clear that people feel that they can get away with it. Of course we need more enforcement and appropriate punishment, when it is right to do that. This is a really pernicious, horrible crime, and the response in our courts should reflect that.

The promise that crimes will have consequences is central to our justice system. One idea that I think is interesting is Merton Council’s wall of shame, which puts that principle into action. The council uses its roaming CCTV to capture images of fly-tippers, and it puts those images up as posters around fly-tipping hotspots. Merton has only just started doing that, but it achieved seen results. Merton has even filmed, with the CCTV, people coming with their rubbish and looking at the poster and then walking away, because they realise that there might be consequences to their actions. What Merton is doing could be something that the Minister might look at on a more national scale.

Next, I want to talk about having a strategy. As we have established, fly-tipping is widespread across the country. Croydon Council has focused on blitz clean-up approaches to hotspots, which is a good in itself, but I agree with the suggestion that I have had from many constituents that a more joined-up approach is needed. Each council—Croydon Council being one—should develop a fly-tipping strategy that explores the root causes of fly-tipping, identifies the hotspots in each borough, outlines what tools the council already has at its disposal, and produces a plan to deploy those tools to address the problem. Let me give one example of councils using the resources that they have. Several councils use their YouTube page to show pictures of perpetrators of fly-tipping—again, to try to shock people into realising that they are committing an offence and should stop.

I am grateful to have had this debate to highlight the pestilence that is fly-tipping, to commend community efforts to address it and to outline some ways to address it. Everyone deserves to live in a neighbourhood that they feel proud of. The levels of fly-tipping in Croydon and across the country are completely unacceptable. I am suggesting to Croydon Council that it set up mega-skip days to provide freely available skips so that residents can more easily get rid of unwanted items for free, that it set up a fly-tippers wall of shame—learn from Merton Council and publicise images of fly-tippers—and that it approach fly-tipping strategically. We need to use the enforcement measures and other tools that we have, look at what we can do in the online space, and develop a fly-tipping strategy to tackle the problem across the borough. We cannot and must not allow this situation to continue. We know that there are solutions. We know that things can be done. I want to see a future in which fly-tipping is drastically reduced, and I look forward to working with the local community, council and Government to clean up Croydon.

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

The hon. Lady makes another good point. We have seen, probably across the country, many areas where recycling centres have closed. If people do not have cars or if they struggle to travel, it is even more difficult for them to reach those areas. She is absolutely right. We could have a much wider debate about funding for local authorities, but I will focus on some of the ideas that some local authorities are using.

Under Newham Council and Keep Britain Tidy’s award-winning and innovative crime scene investigation approach, fly-tipping was cut by up 70%. Fly-tips were surrounded by bright yellow tape and left for a few days, to highlight their lasting impact on the area to perpetrators, before then being cleaned up. It was an imaginative approach and demonstrates the spirit that we need to combat a persistent problem. That is why the suggestions that follow are as much as possible aimed at utilising the powers that councils already have.

The first idea is mega-skips. Many people have told me that the accessibility of waste removal services and centres—the hon. Lady made this point—is a major barrier to bringing down levels of dumping. Nearly one in five jobs in my constituency is paid below the London living wage, yet services to dispose of bulky items of household waste are often expensive. On top of that, levels of car ownership in the borough are at record lows, putting recycling centres out of reach of many in our community.

One fantastic suggestion that I support is to replicate the mega-skip days run by Wandsworth Council, whereby skips are provided around the borough on certain days of the year so that residents can simply get rid of items for free. I hope the Minister will join me in encouraging Croydon and other councils to look at mega-skip days. Are they something that he would support?

The second idea is changing behaviours. Many who wrote to me were dismayed by the feeling that fly-tippers were getting away without facing any consequences. That is extremely understandable, given that official statistics show that Croydon is the second easiest place in the country to fly-tip and get away fine-free. Last year Croydon Council issued just 10 fixed penalty notices, despite recording more than 20,000 instances of fly-tipping.

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

The hon. Member is absolutely right. This is a problem across the whole country, and we see it in different forms in different places. I am sure her farmers in Somerton and Frome are very frustrated at this persistent crime, as it is sometimes hard, particularly in rural areas, to catch those responsible. This is a big part of the cost that farmers bear, on top of all the other challenges they have to face, so she makes a good point.

Fly-tipping is dangerous. It is a public health hazard that attracts rats and vermin. I am frequently contacted about a hotspot on the corner of Sherwood Road and Lower Addiscombe Road in Croydon, where, as well as discarded mattresses and furniture, black bin bags filled with used nappies and sanitary products are being ripped open by foxes and strewn across the pavement. Fly-tipping is damaging to local economies. People living near London Road, a busy main road in my constituency, frequently tell me how frustrated they are by the rates of fly-tipping there. For areas that are home to many small businesses, cafés, grocers and hairdressers, the feeling of dirtiness and neglect that fly-tipping causes is far from helpful to their custom.

Fly-tipping is also unsightly, which is a problem in more than just an aesthetic sense. The environment we live in can have a profound impact on our sense of wellbeing. The streets we tread each day help to bind our communities together—that is, our neighbours, the staff of our favourite café and the postman. When streets are clean, we get more than cleanliness in return. Clean streets tell us that we are part of a community and that people take pride in the spaces they share, the memories they make there and the community they are part of. People in Croydon are immensely proud of their community. There is already a great deal of work being done to try to keep our streets clean. Rowenna Davis and Ellily Ponnuthurai, two Labour councillors in Waddon, have been fighting tirelessly to get the mess on Purley Way, probably one of the biggest fly-tips in London, cleared up.

The Litter Free Norbury group is doing fantastic voluntary work and frequently organises group litter-picking sessions. Croydon Council’s Love Clean Streets app, which allows users to report fly-tips for the council to clear them away, is very effective in getting fly-tips cleaned up. There are many individuals across the country, as well as in my patch, spending their free time cleaning up our streets. We recognise and commend their tenacity and their determination to make sure we can all enjoy our boroughs at their best, but we cannot and should not just rely on the generosity of community groups to address the problem; we need to prevent it in the first place.

In advance of this debate, many of my constituents wrote to me with many excellent ideas about how we tackle fly-tipping, but there is not enough time to outline them all. I will therefore focus on three. I am acutely aware that local authorities are severely limited by resources—the Government’s record on that is a debate for another time. The reality is that local authorities have to work much harder to use the resources they have to effectively tackle fly-tipping on a budget.

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the matter of fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping is a pernicious and inexcusable form of antisocial behaviour that causes great distress to many of my constituents. I will set out the extent of the problem, highlight some of the fantastic community efforts to address it, and then turn to the potential solutions. I have not secured this debate to score political points. The Minister may have a few pre-prepared lines, but I want this to be a constructive discussion about how we bring about change, and I hope he will respond in the same spirit. Many of my constituents have written to me with fantastic suggestions of what could be done. I am immensely grateful for their ideas and look forward to sharing them in the course of the debate.

Fly-tipping is a persistent and acute problem in Croydon, but it is not just a problem in Croydon. This blight on our communities should not be treated as some inevitable feature of city living—quite the opposite. The statistics show that fly-tipping affects all parts of our country. Around 3,000 incidents of fly-tipping hit communities across England every single day, costing local authorities up to £58 million each year. Worryingly, the mountain of rubbish being heaped on Britain’s streets is growing. Over the past two years, the number of large fly-tips that were tipper lorry-load size or larger has increased by 13%. Whether we live in rolling hills or in a concrete jungle, no one should have their neighbourhood polluted by piles of junk. People in Croydon are angry and frustrated at the persistence of fly-tipping on their streets, from Central Parade in New Addington to Gonville Road in Thornton Heath.

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

Forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker. That was an error.

Would the Minister read that letter, consider these issues and perhaps meet us to talk about it? They are good people, and we want to keep their pharmacies open.

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

The three pharmacies in Shirley, in my constituency, have been there for decades. They are very well known and very trusted, but they are all on the edge of having to close. To stay open, one pharmacist is using their own savings and not paying themselves a wage. I welcome your announcement, but would you read a letter from them—

Photo of Sarah Jones
7 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each munition type was (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
6 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each ammunition type was lost from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
6 February 2024

The Labour party would support an industrial strategy, which would have myriad plans that would look exactly at some of these issues. Our national wealth fund would fund some of the really important future industries that we need, crowd-in private sector investment at a much greater scale and, hopefully, lead to the manufacturing industry growing and not the managed decline we have seen under this Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) said that the plan is exporting jobs and importing carbon, and he is exactly right. My dad was from Llanelli, once the tinplate capital of the world. My grandad worked at the tinplate factory that was then called Richard Thomas and Baldwins, and his brother worked at the Salter saucepan works. They would have stood in Stradey Park singing “Sosban Fach,” I am sure bursting with pride.

Britain’s steel industry has seen us through momentous periods in Britain’s national story—the white heat of the industrial revolution; the planes, ships and tanks that saw us through the second world war; and the buildings dotting our skyline across this modern Britain—but if we get nostalgic for the past, we do not look to the future. The world is changing, it is less safe and less secure, and steel is changing. New technologies are transforming how we make and use steel, and it will be as crucial to our future as it has been to our past.

We cannot make solar power without steel. We cannot make electric vehicles without steel. We cannot make wind turbines without steel. We will not reach the Paris climate agreement targets without steel. Steel is used for 3D printing and robotic automation, and everything from the tools that our doctors use to save our lives to the rocket ships that reach into space needs steel. Our pens are made of steel, and Big Ben ticks because of steel. Anyone who does not know that it is magic should read Ed Conway’s book “Material World”. Steel makes the machines, the tools and the factories that make everything possible. It will forge our future, not just our past. The debate is not about nostalgia: it is about looking head. Labour Members know that steel can have a bright future in Britain.

The Government’s last-minute chaotic deal is a masterclass in how not to run the transition. What they offered was never a serious plan for the long-term of our steel industry; it was yet another sticking plaster from a Government lurching from crisis to crisis, unable or unwilling to take a long-term view.

There are other ways forward. Labour has a cast-iron commitment to support our steel industry. We have earmarked up to £3 billion for investment in green steel alongside industry, working with steel communities to ensure that the transition comes with jobs. There are other ways forward that can help us, not least hydrogen. While the Conservatives scramble around for last-minute deals, Labour will make long-term investments. That is the central difference in our approach.

We must think about manufacturing differently. I have lost track of the number of times businesses have said to me, “We would invest in renewables, but the Government make it too hard.” Our manufacturers say, “We want to decarbonise, but we are living hand to mouth because our energy bills are so much higher than in other countries, and Government won’t help us.” This steel debacle speaks to a much wider issue. We do not just need a steel industry: we need glass, ceramics, cement, compost, critical minerals, batteries, composites and cheap energy. We need supply chains that work, an upgraded national grid, planning reform and a job plan to create jobs across every part of this country—a transition from the old to a much cheaper renewable future. In short, we need an industrial strategy. We need a Government who believe in working in partnership with industry, not just telling them to “F off”, and we need a plan that looks to the future of our own country and does not just rely on cheap imports from China.

We are asking the Government to think again, to look at the multi-union plan again and to think about how to defend primary steel capacity in our country. We know that steelworkers are watching this debate, and they must feel wretched. I ask Government Members in all sincerity: are they concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make primary steel? Do they really think the Government’s plan is money well spent? Should decarbonisation really be about cutting jobs? Is manufacturing really a Victorian pursuit best left to the Chinese, as a former Tory Prime Minister is reported as saying?

Or, as the great country that we are, can we harness the skills and talents of our people and create a vibrant manufacturing sector here in the UK? Tonight, can we send a message to the steelworkers here that we want to protect the future of British steelmaking, and that we will not sit by and let managed decline be the hallmark of this great British industry? I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Sarah Jones
6 February 2024

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He made a brilliant speech earlier and has been a great defender of his constituents. The lack of any plan from the Government over the last 14 years is at the heart of the problems we see today.

As the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), said in his opening speech, we also risk something much wider: that net zero becomes a zero-sum game for working people and we lose the public consent that we need for the transition. There is no getting away from the facts. The Government have pushed a plan that uses hundreds of millions of pounds to make thousands of people redundant. If Scunthorpe ends up going the same way—the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) made a powerful speech to the contrary—we will be unable to produce primary steel in the UK.

In the Port Talbot plan, the two blast furnaces will shut this year, with a cliff edge for jobs. For at least three years, steel will be completely imported from India and the Netherlands to feed Trostre and Llanwern in south Wales, but there is no guarantee that once the electric arc furnace is built, those jobs will stay. We know that there are huge questions about scrap steel and whether it will produce the steel we need. Many Members, including the Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), asked questions to which the Government have so far provided no answers.

Photo of Sarah Jones
6 February 2024

This has been a powerful debate, reflecting the huge strength of feeling in this place, but also the huge knowledge and ambition for our steel industry. I was disappointed that the Minister came to this place and said that this debate was performative, less than a week after Tata Steel announced nearly 3,000 job losses. I think we all would have expected better from her.

Like many others, this afternoon I met steelworkers and union officials not only from Port Talbot, but from all the other steel sectors and steel sites across the country. They have come because they know what this announcement means for them and their future. These actions will have consequences beyond last week’s announcement. The steelworkers here today, like many of us, are baffled by the Government’s approach. They know that steel is a foundation industry. They know how crucial it is to our economy. They know that the world is uncertain—for goodness’ sake, the Prime Minister was here only this afternoon talking about strikes on Houthis in Yemen—and that having our own supply of primary steel is crucial to our security. Our genuine question is: why are the Government so content to be spending half a billion pounds on a scheme that leads to thousands of job losses?

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when was the last (a) division level and (b) brigade level manoeuvre exercise in the field that was not a CAS exercise.

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the (a) recruitment target and (b) actual number of joiners was to the Ranger Regiment for each year since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the Ranger Regiment on every 1 January since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
5 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people applied to join the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the recruitment targets were for the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years; and how many people were recruited to each body in the same period.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people left the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much ammunition of each ammunition type has been stolen in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
4 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much military equipment of each equipment type has been (a) lost and (b) stolen in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 February 2024

Forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker. That was an error.

Would the Minister read that letter, consider these issues and perhaps meet us to talk about it? They are good people, and we want to keep their pharmacies open.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 February 2024

The three pharmacies in Shirley, in my constituency, have been there for decades. They are very well known and very trusted, but they are all on the edge of having to close. To stay open, one pharmacist is using their own savings and not paying themselves a wage. I welcome your announcement, but would you read a letter from them—

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish a list of all (a) vehicles and (b) heavy weapons that have been reported missing from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
3 February 2024

Mr Speaker:

“The UK steel industry, the trade unions, and Labour are…proposing an industrial policy worthy of a serious industrial country.”

Those are not my words but those of the world economic editor of The Daily Telegraph writing yesterday. He also said that

“the Government’s minimalist plan…does just half the job, leaving the UK with a stunted second-tier industrial base, the only G20 country lacking a sovereign capability in ‘weapons grade’ primary steel.”

He is right, isn’t he?

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many offenders who went on to commit a serious further offence were classified as (a) high risk, (b) medium risk and (c) low risk in each year since 2010.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many Prison Transfer Agreements were in place in each year since 2010.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

Forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker. That was an error.

Would the Minister read that letter, consider these issues and perhaps meet us to talk about it? They are good people, and we want to keep their pharmacies open.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

The three pharmacies in Shirley, in my constituency, have been there for decades. They are very well known and very trusted, but they are all on the edge of having to close. To stay open, one pharmacist is using their own savings and not paying themselves a wage. I welcome your announcement, but would you read a letter from them—

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each munition type was (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each ammunition type was lost from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

The Labour party would support an industrial strategy, which would have myriad plans that would look exactly at some of these issues. Our national wealth fund would fund some of the really important future industries that we need, crowd-in private sector investment at a much greater scale and, hopefully, lead to the manufacturing industry growing and not the managed decline we have seen under this Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) said that the plan is exporting jobs and importing carbon, and he is exactly right. My dad was from Llanelli, once the tinplate capital of the world. My grandad worked at the tinplate factory that was then called Richard Thomas and Baldwins, and his brother worked at the Salter saucepan works. They would have stood in Stradey Park singing “Sosban Fach,” I am sure bursting with pride.

Britain’s steel industry has seen us through momentous periods in Britain’s national story—the white heat of the industrial revolution; the planes, ships and tanks that saw us through the second world war; and the buildings dotting our skyline across this modern Britain—but if we get nostalgic for the past, we do not look to the future. The world is changing, it is less safe and less secure, and steel is changing. New technologies are transforming how we make and use steel, and it will be as crucial to our future as it has been to our past.

We cannot make solar power without steel. We cannot make electric vehicles without steel. We cannot make wind turbines without steel. We will not reach the Paris climate agreement targets without steel. Steel is used for 3D printing and robotic automation, and everything from the tools that our doctors use to save our lives to the rocket ships that reach into space needs steel. Our pens are made of steel, and Big Ben ticks because of steel. Anyone who does not know that it is magic should read Ed Conway’s book “Material World”. Steel makes the machines, the tools and the factories that make everything possible. It will forge our future, not just our past. The debate is not about nostalgia: it is about looking head. Labour Members know that steel can have a bright future in Britain.

The Government’s last-minute chaotic deal is a masterclass in how not to run the transition. What they offered was never a serious plan for the long-term of our steel industry; it was yet another sticking plaster from a Government lurching from crisis to crisis, unable or unwilling to take a long-term view.

There are other ways forward. Labour has a cast-iron commitment to support our steel industry. We have earmarked up to £3 billion for investment in green steel alongside industry, working with steel communities to ensure that the transition comes with jobs. There are other ways forward that can help us, not least hydrogen. While the Conservatives scramble around for last-minute deals, Labour will make long-term investments. That is the central difference in our approach.

We must think about manufacturing differently. I have lost track of the number of times businesses have said to me, “We would invest in renewables, but the Government make it too hard.” Our manufacturers say, “We want to decarbonise, but we are living hand to mouth because our energy bills are so much higher than in other countries, and Government won’t help us.” This steel debacle speaks to a much wider issue. We do not just need a steel industry: we need glass, ceramics, cement, compost, critical minerals, batteries, composites and cheap energy. We need supply chains that work, an upgraded national grid, planning reform and a job plan to create jobs across every part of this country—a transition from the old to a much cheaper renewable future. In short, we need an industrial strategy. We need a Government who believe in working in partnership with industry, not just telling them to “F off”, and we need a plan that looks to the future of our own country and does not just rely on cheap imports from China.

We are asking the Government to think again, to look at the multi-union plan again and to think about how to defend primary steel capacity in our country. We know that steelworkers are watching this debate, and they must feel wretched. I ask Government Members in all sincerity: are they concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make primary steel? Do they really think the Government’s plan is money well spent? Should decarbonisation really be about cutting jobs? Is manufacturing really a Victorian pursuit best left to the Chinese, as a former Tory Prime Minister is reported as saying?

Or, as the great country that we are, can we harness the skills and talents of our people and create a vibrant manufacturing sector here in the UK? Tonight, can we send a message to the steelworkers here that we want to protect the future of British steelmaking, and that we will not sit by and let managed decline be the hallmark of this great British industry? I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He made a brilliant speech earlier and has been a great defender of his constituents. The lack of any plan from the Government over the last 14 years is at the heart of the problems we see today.

As the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), said in his opening speech, we also risk something much wider: that net zero becomes a zero-sum game for working people and we lose the public consent that we need for the transition. There is no getting away from the facts. The Government have pushed a plan that uses hundreds of millions of pounds to make thousands of people redundant. If Scunthorpe ends up going the same way—the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) made a powerful speech to the contrary—we will be unable to produce primary steel in the UK.

In the Port Talbot plan, the two blast furnaces will shut this year, with a cliff edge for jobs. For at least three years, steel will be completely imported from India and the Netherlands to feed Trostre and Llanwern in south Wales, but there is no guarantee that once the electric arc furnace is built, those jobs will stay. We know that there are huge questions about scrap steel and whether it will produce the steel we need. Many Members, including the Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), asked questions to which the Government have so far provided no answers.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

This has been a powerful debate, reflecting the huge strength of feeling in this place, but also the huge knowledge and ambition for our steel industry. I was disappointed that the Minister came to this place and said that this debate was performative, less than a week after Tata Steel announced nearly 3,000 job losses. I think we all would have expected better from her.

Like many others, this afternoon I met steelworkers and union officials not only from Port Talbot, but from all the other steel sectors and steel sites across the country. They have come because they know what this announcement means for them and their future. These actions will have consequences beyond last week’s announcement. The steelworkers here today, like many of us, are baffled by the Government’s approach. They know that steel is a foundation industry. They know how crucial it is to our economy. They know that the world is uncertain—for goodness’ sake, the Prime Minister was here only this afternoon talking about strikes on Houthis in Yemen—and that having our own supply of primary steel is crucial to our security. Our genuine question is: why are the Government so content to be spending half a billion pounds on a scheme that leads to thousands of job losses?

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when was the last (a) division level and (b) brigade level manoeuvre exercise in the field that was not a CAS exercise.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the (a) recruitment target and (b) actual number of joiners was to the Ranger Regiment for each year since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the Ranger Regiment on every 1 January since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people applied to join the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the recruitment targets were for the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years; and how many people were recruited to each body in the same period.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people left the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
2 February 2024

I was recently in County Kildare with the Minister of State and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, working to build understanding between the two countries. We heard from Irish Ministers and the ambassador about the impact of the lack of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly. Bearing that in mind, and the struggles that we know people are having in Northern Ireland with their bills, potential strike action and all kinds of issues, can the Secretary of State say a bit more about what he is doing, and about the meetings and conversations he is having, to work at pace to try to get a solution?

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much ammunition of each ammunition type has been stolen in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much military equipment of each equipment type has been (a) lost and (b) stolen in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

Forgive me, Madam Deputy Speaker. That was an error.

Would the Minister read that letter, consider these issues and perhaps meet us to talk about it? They are good people, and we want to keep their pharmacies open.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

The three pharmacies in Shirley, in my constituency, have been there for decades. They are very well known and very trusted, but they are all on the edge of having to close. To stay open, one pharmacist is using their own savings and not paying themselves a wage. I welcome your announcement, but would you read a letter from them—

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

The Labour party would support an industrial strategy, which would have myriad plans that would look exactly at some of these issues. Our national wealth fund would fund some of the really important future industries that we need, crowd-in private sector investment at a much greater scale and, hopefully, lead to the manufacturing industry growing and not the managed decline we have seen under this Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) said that the plan is exporting jobs and importing carbon, and he is exactly right. My dad was from Llanelli, once the tinplate capital of the world. My grandad worked at the tinplate factory that was then called Richard Thomas and Baldwins, and his brother worked at the Salter saucepan works. They would have stood in Stradey Park singing “Sosban Fach,” I am sure bursting with pride.

Britain’s steel industry has seen us through momentous periods in Britain’s national story—the white heat of the industrial revolution; the planes, ships and tanks that saw us through the second world war; and the buildings dotting our skyline across this modern Britain—but if we get nostalgic for the past, we do not look to the future. The world is changing, it is less safe and less secure, and steel is changing. New technologies are transforming how we make and use steel, and it will be as crucial to our future as it has been to our past.

We cannot make solar power without steel. We cannot make electric vehicles without steel. We cannot make wind turbines without steel. We will not reach the Paris climate agreement targets without steel. Steel is used for 3D printing and robotic automation, and everything from the tools that our doctors use to save our lives to the rocket ships that reach into space needs steel. Our pens are made of steel, and Big Ben ticks because of steel. Anyone who does not know that it is magic should read Ed Conway’s book “Material World”. Steel makes the machines, the tools and the factories that make everything possible. It will forge our future, not just our past. The debate is not about nostalgia: it is about looking head. Labour Members know that steel can have a bright future in Britain.

The Government’s last-minute chaotic deal is a masterclass in how not to run the transition. What they offered was never a serious plan for the long-term of our steel industry; it was yet another sticking plaster from a Government lurching from crisis to crisis, unable or unwilling to take a long-term view.

There are other ways forward. Labour has a cast-iron commitment to support our steel industry. We have earmarked up to £3 billion for investment in green steel alongside industry, working with steel communities to ensure that the transition comes with jobs. There are other ways forward that can help us, not least hydrogen. While the Conservatives scramble around for last-minute deals, Labour will make long-term investments. That is the central difference in our approach.

We must think about manufacturing differently. I have lost track of the number of times businesses have said to me, “We would invest in renewables, but the Government make it too hard.” Our manufacturers say, “We want to decarbonise, but we are living hand to mouth because our energy bills are so much higher than in other countries, and Government won’t help us.” This steel debacle speaks to a much wider issue. We do not just need a steel industry: we need glass, ceramics, cement, compost, critical minerals, batteries, composites and cheap energy. We need supply chains that work, an upgraded national grid, planning reform and a job plan to create jobs across every part of this country—a transition from the old to a much cheaper renewable future. In short, we need an industrial strategy. We need a Government who believe in working in partnership with industry, not just telling them to “F off”, and we need a plan that looks to the future of our own country and does not just rely on cheap imports from China.

We are asking the Government to think again, to look at the multi-union plan again and to think about how to defend primary steel capacity in our country. We know that steelworkers are watching this debate, and they must feel wretched. I ask Government Members in all sincerity: are they concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make primary steel? Do they really think the Government’s plan is money well spent? Should decarbonisation really be about cutting jobs? Is manufacturing really a Victorian pursuit best left to the Chinese, as a former Tory Prime Minister is reported as saying?

Or, as the great country that we are, can we harness the skills and talents of our people and create a vibrant manufacturing sector here in the UK? Tonight, can we send a message to the steelworkers here that we want to protect the future of British steelmaking, and that we will not sit by and let managed decline be the hallmark of this great British industry? I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He made a brilliant speech earlier and has been a great defender of his constituents. The lack of any plan from the Government over the last 14 years is at the heart of the problems we see today.

As the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), said in his opening speech, we also risk something much wider: that net zero becomes a zero-sum game for working people and we lose the public consent that we need for the transition. There is no getting away from the facts. The Government have pushed a plan that uses hundreds of millions of pounds to make thousands of people redundant. If Scunthorpe ends up going the same way—the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) made a powerful speech to the contrary—we will be unable to produce primary steel in the UK.

In the Port Talbot plan, the two blast furnaces will shut this year, with a cliff edge for jobs. For at least three years, steel will be completely imported from India and the Netherlands to feed Trostre and Llanwern in south Wales, but there is no guarantee that once the electric arc furnace is built, those jobs will stay. We know that there are huge questions about scrap steel and whether it will produce the steel we need. Many Members, including the Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), asked questions to which the Government have so far provided no answers.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

This has been a powerful debate, reflecting the huge strength of feeling in this place, but also the huge knowledge and ambition for our steel industry. I was disappointed that the Minister came to this place and said that this debate was performative, less than a week after Tata Steel announced nearly 3,000 job losses. I think we all would have expected better from her.

Like many others, this afternoon I met steelworkers and union officials not only from Port Talbot, but from all the other steel sectors and steel sites across the country. They have come because they know what this announcement means for them and their future. These actions will have consequences beyond last week’s announcement. The steelworkers here today, like many of us, are baffled by the Government’s approach. They know that steel is a foundation industry. They know how crucial it is to our economy. They know that the world is uncertain—for goodness’ sake, the Prime Minister was here only this afternoon talking about strikes on Houthis in Yemen—and that having our own supply of primary steel is crucial to our security. Our genuine question is: why are the Government so content to be spending half a billion pounds on a scheme that leads to thousands of job losses?

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

What steps his Department plans to take to help restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

Mr Speaker:

“The UK steel industry, the trade unions, and Labour are…proposing an industrial policy worthy of a serious industrial country.”

Those are not my words but those of the world economic editor of The Daily Telegraph writing yesterday. He also said that

“the Government’s minimalist plan…does just half the job, leaving the UK with a stunted second-tier industrial base, the only G20 country lacking a sovereign capability in ‘weapons grade’ primary steel.”

He is right, isn’t he?

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

This has been a powerful debate, reflecting the huge strength of feeling in this place, but also the huge knowledge and ambition for our steel industry. I was disappointed that the Minister came to this place and said that this debate was performative, less than a week after Tata Steel announced nearly 3,000 job losses. I think we all would have expected better from her.

Like many others, this afternoon I met steelworkers and union officials not only from Port Talbot, but from all the other steel sectors and steel sites across the country. They have come because they know what this announcement means for them and their future. These actions will have consequences beyond last week’s announcement. The steelworkers here today, like many of us, are baffled by the Government’s approach. They know that steel is a foundation industry. They know how crucial it is to our economy. They know that the world is uncertain—for goodness’ sake, the Prime Minister was here only this afternoon talking about strikes on Houthis in Yemen—and that having our own supply of primary steel is crucial to our security. Our genuine question is: why are the Government so content to be spending half a billion pounds on a scheme that leads to thousands of job losses?

Photo of Sarah Jones
1 February 2024

I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement.

The energy bills crisis of the past two years has exposed the deep vulnerabilities in Britain’s energy system and the urgent need to build more home-grown power in this country so that we can cut energy bills and have real energy independence from dictators such as Putin. In that context, we support the Government’s commitment to new nuclear power. Labour supports new nuclear, which must form a critical part of our future energy mix. Nuclear power is a long-term project for any country, and I want to give the industry and nuclear workers clear assurances that there is a cross-party consensus for nuclear power in this country.

It was the last Labour Government who identified 10 sites for new nuclear in 2009, and in the time since this Government’s record has been one of continual delay and false dawns. Yesterday, I met people from west Cumbria who have been waiting six years for a decision on nuclear since the last plan collapsed on this Government’s watch. The road map published today is two years later than they promised, and it still leaves a number of unanswered questions about how the Government intend to turn warm words into practical action, so I shall ask the Minister a number of questions.

First, I am glad that the Minister has woken up to the urgent fact that we need to generate more cheap, clean electricity in this country. In which year will any of the policies announced today actually cut bills for people? Secondly, it is all well and good talking about commitments to new stations in the next Parliament, but what is the timetable for the final investment decision for Sizewell C? The Government promised to have a final investment decision by the end of this Parliament, so will the Minister give a categorical promise today that that will be done? Time is running out. Thirdly, will he update us on the timetable for Hinkley Point C, originally promised to be delivered by 2017, and when will it start supplying power to households?

Fourthly, on SMRs, what is the timetable for concluding the competition? Just yesterday I met representatives trying to site SMRs who were complaining of long delays from Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in getting the project moving. How will the Minister unblock that and wider SMR development? Fifthly, what steps are being taken to ensure that the UK retains critical skills in our nuclear sector? Nuclear jobs are high-skilled, well-paid and unionised jobs, and Labour supports the workers and unions in the nuclear industry in calling on the Government to ensure that investment in the industry supports good jobs and apprenticeships right through the supply chain. Finally, will the Minister address the ongoing concerns about the safety and security of our nuclear decommissioning process, given the disturbing revelations about Sellafield? What steps are being taken to ensure that every nuclear site is secure?

Labour supports new nuclear for Britain after 14 years of inaction under the Conservatives. The wider lesson is that this country needs a Government going full pelt for clean power. We should be investing as a country in nuclear, offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and all forms of clean power that can help to cut bills and make our country energy independent. That is what we need, and that is what a Labour Government will do.

Photo of Sarah Jones
31 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish a list of all (a) vehicles and (b) heavy weapons that have been reported missing from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
31 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each munition type was (a) lost and (b) stolen from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
31 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how much of each ammunition type was lost from his Department's facilities in each year since 2015.

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 January 2024

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) was of course absolutely right: we have seen managed decline under this Government, with no coherent industrial strategy, total failure to get the grid connected where we need it, and different Departments giving mixed messages and providing complicated processes to access any support.

On top of all that, our industry has to pay twice as much on its energy bills compared with European competitors. A recent report by UK Steel stated that our steel producers have to pay £117 million more per year on electricity, forcing the Government to deliver a subsidy through the supercharger, which in turn raises bills for everybody else. Instead of such short-term policies, is it time for Labour’s industrial strategy, Labour’s grid reform and Labour’s mission to become a clean energy superpower, so that we can permanently cut bills for everyone, grow our economy and give Britain its future back?

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many service personnel were living in grade four single living accommodation in each local authority area on 10 January 2024.

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many offenders were subsequently convicted of murder by index sentence in each financial year between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 January 2024

It is timely to be having the debate on the day we rise for Christmas, as we know that there will be many decent people affected who, 20 years on, are spending yet another Christmas without proper compensation. It has been a short but sobering debate on the victims of the Horizon scandal and how the Government intend to ensure justice is delivered. I am pleased to sit opposite the Minister again and to hear his commitment to a full and fair process, and I am pleased that the Bill is going through this place. However, the need to extend Government powers to deliver the compensation scheme is, of course, disappointing news to those affected.

I will not keep the House long to summarise our support for the Bill, to thank all those who have campaigned for so long and to ask the Minister to respond to some important points that have been raised. As Members have set out, the Bill extends the powers for the Government to deliver one of the compensation schemes for some of the victims of the Horizon scandal beyond August 2024. I join others in thanking those who have got us to this point. I pay tribute to the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, which has campaigned for decades for compensation and justice. We could not have a debate in this place on this topic without thanking my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), who has been tireless in his work. I thank Lord Arbuthnot for his work in this area, and many others.

The Horizon scandal is one of the most insidious injustices our country has ever seen. Getting compensation to all victims as quickly as possible is vital if we are to right this injustice. As the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali), made clear at the start of the debate, Labour will work with the Government to do whatever is required to deliver justice.

There were some good speeches. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully) worked hard as a Minister and is right to be proud of what he did in this area. It is good to see that he has eased himself back into the Back Benches. I noted his praise, which is increasingly rare, for Boris Johnson for starting the process for the inquiry. I am sure the Minister noted his lesson that if we were doing this from scratch, the Business Department would perhaps have run all the compensation schemes in the first place. The hon. Gentleman is right that we talk about doing things “at pace” in this place all the time, but we just mean quickly. We need to keep up the speed, which has been sadly lacking, given that we are 20 years on from the original scandal.

My right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham gave a full, comprehensive and compelling speech. His quotes from his constituent Tom Brown were very moving, given that his constituent did not survive to receive his compensation. My right hon. Friend spelled out the indignity of his experience, describing how he was the pillar of his community, and how awful the situation had been for him and his family. I noted my right hon. Friend’s suggestion about the need for counselling for some people, because this has been extraordinarily impactful—way beyond financial terms.

My right hon. Friend also talked about the lessons that the Government need to learn. I noted his advice for Ministers and future Ministers. Without jumping to any conclusions, Mr Deputy Speaker, I took that advice, as did the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. He talked compellingly about the clear evidence that the Post Office knew what the problems were, yet still spent all that money defending the indefensible. He was right to make that point so powerfully.

Questions about Fujitsu and others were well made by the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson). My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Gerald Jones) made a good final speech, in which he called on the Minister to explain why the target has been missed and what more can be done.

This may be a relatively straightforward, simple piece of legislation, but it does relate, as all Members have said, to one of the UK’s most widespread miscarriages of justice. We have heard tales of people who have been affected. So many of them spent their 60th birthday in prison as a result of errors. Other people lost their entire life savings repaying shortfalls. My hon. Friend the shadow Minister talked about Seema Misra, who was pregnant with her second child when she was convicted. She had an absolutely awful time. Local press reports at the time described her as “a pregnant thief”, which is horrific. We need to keep those stories at the heart of everything we do while we try to make sure that people get the compensation they deserve.

Mr Deputy Speaker, we support the passage of this Bill, but we do have some questions that we would like the Minister to address, many of which have been set out today. The key one is what the Government will do in this extra time to ensure that compensation is delivered as quickly as possible. The Minister said that the Government are setting a target of 90% being completed within 40 working days. He used the expression, “promptly without being rushed”. Will he elaborate a bit on what that means in terms of the resource and the capacity that will hopefully increase the number of cases moving through the system to get to a happy conclusion?

Alan Bates, who has been widely praised in this debate and who leads the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, is reported as saying:

“It’s all well and good extending the deadline, but the Government has to try to meet the current deadline. The lives of the victims who have lived with this for a long time are not being extended.”

That is a good and sobering point. It would be helpful if the Minister said more about how he is going to speed up that work.

The Minister also made broader remarks. Can he clarify from his earlier remarks how many people have reached a settlement using the £600,000 offer that he announced? He said something about a proportion, but it would be helpful if he could give us a number. Does he have any estimate of the proportion of victims that he considers to be fully compensated? Does he have a timescale for the completion of compensation for those he considers not to be fully compensated? When does he hope to have all this done by?

The Minister has been asked how he will ensure that mistakes like this are not made again. Obviously, we have the inquiry, which is carrying on at its own pace. I do not know whether he has done any work on learning those lessons, so that we do not make mistakes like this again.

As we close the debate, I wish to end by again putting on the record our thoughts for all the victims who have not had their cases solved and who face another Christmas without justice.

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 January 2024

We are used to this Government flip-flopping all over the place. It would be funny if it were not so serious for business, exports and jobs. So when we heard the Treasury telling everyone who would listen that the Government’s response to the carbon border adjustment mechanism would be in the autumn statement, we were not surprised that it was not. The future of steel investment and growth relies on a clear and certain path from Government. We cannot have our business disadvantaged any more, so what is the decision on the CBAM? If this Government cannot decide, is it not time to make way for one who can?

Photo of Sarah Jones
29 January 2024

Instead of properly responding to America’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Government held a meeting with businesses yesterday—you might not have seen it, Mr Speaker, as it did not make any of the front pages. Was the global investment summit not just a distraction from the same old fundamentals—business confidence is down, exports are down, and growth forecasts are down after 13 years of instability and uncertainty? Does the Secretary of State think that lack of business confidence is because her Government trashed the economy last year, because her Government told business to eff off, or because, as Mark Carney said, the Government have “juvenilised” the climate debate instead of using it as a driver of good jobs? Does she not agree with those from a global pension fund I spoke to this morning who said it is time we got some adults in the room?

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when was the last (a) division level and (b) brigade level manoeuvre exercise in the field that was not a CAS exercise.

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the (a) recruitment target and (b) actual number of joiners was to the Ranger Regiment for each year since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the Ranger Regiment on every 1 January since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people applied to join the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the recruitment targets were for the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years; and how many people were recruited to each body in the same period.

Photo of Sarah Jones
28 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people left the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 January 2024

I was recently in County Kildare with the Minister of State and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, working to build understanding between the two countries. We heard from Irish Ministers and the ambassador about the impact of the lack of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly. Bearing that in mind, and the struggles that we know people are having in Northern Ireland with their bills, potential strike action and all kinds of issues, can the Secretary of State say a bit more about what he is doing, and about the meetings and conversations he is having, to work at pace to try to get a solution?

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 January 2024

What steps his Department plans to take to help restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 January 2024

The Labour party would support an industrial strategy, which would have myriad plans that would look exactly at some of these issues. Our national wealth fund would fund some of the really important future industries that we need, crowd-in private sector investment at a much greater scale and, hopefully, lead to the manufacturing industry growing and not the managed decline we have seen under this Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) said that the plan is exporting jobs and importing carbon, and he is exactly right. My dad was from Llanelli, once the tinplate capital of the world. My grandad worked at the tinplate factory that was then called Richard Thomas and Baldwins, and his brother worked at the Salter saucepan works. They would have stood in Stradey Park singing “Sosban Fach,” I am sure bursting with pride.

Britain’s steel industry has seen us through momentous periods in Britain’s national story—the white heat of the industrial revolution; the planes, ships and tanks that saw us through the second world war; and the buildings dotting our skyline across this modern Britain—but if we get nostalgic for the past, we do not look to the future. The world is changing, it is less safe and less secure, and steel is changing. New technologies are transforming how we make and use steel, and it will be as crucial to our future as it has been to our past.

We cannot make solar power without steel. We cannot make electric vehicles without steel. We cannot make wind turbines without steel. We will not reach the Paris climate agreement targets without steel. Steel is used for 3D printing and robotic automation, and everything from the tools that our doctors use to save our lives to the rocket ships that reach into space needs steel. Our pens are made of steel, and Big Ben ticks because of steel. Anyone who does not know that it is magic should read Ed Conway’s book “Material World”. Steel makes the machines, the tools and the factories that make everything possible. It will forge our future, not just our past. The debate is not about nostalgia: it is about looking head. Labour Members know that steel can have a bright future in Britain.

The Government’s last-minute chaotic deal is a masterclass in how not to run the transition. What they offered was never a serious plan for the long-term of our steel industry; it was yet another sticking plaster from a Government lurching from crisis to crisis, unable or unwilling to take a long-term view.

There are other ways forward. Labour has a cast-iron commitment to support our steel industry. We have earmarked up to £3 billion for investment in green steel alongside industry, working with steel communities to ensure that the transition comes with jobs. There are other ways forward that can help us, not least hydrogen. While the Conservatives scramble around for last-minute deals, Labour will make long-term investments. That is the central difference in our approach.

We must think about manufacturing differently. I have lost track of the number of times businesses have said to me, “We would invest in renewables, but the Government make it too hard.” Our manufacturers say, “We want to decarbonise, but we are living hand to mouth because our energy bills are so much higher than in other countries, and Government won’t help us.” This steel debacle speaks to a much wider issue. We do not just need a steel industry: we need glass, ceramics, cement, compost, critical minerals, batteries, composites and cheap energy. We need supply chains that work, an upgraded national grid, planning reform and a job plan to create jobs across every part of this country—a transition from the old to a much cheaper renewable future. In short, we need an industrial strategy. We need a Government who believe in working in partnership with industry, not just telling them to “F off”, and we need a plan that looks to the future of our own country and does not just rely on cheap imports from China.

We are asking the Government to think again, to look at the multi-union plan again and to think about how to defend primary steel capacity in our country. We know that steelworkers are watching this debate, and they must feel wretched. I ask Government Members in all sincerity: are they concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make primary steel? Do they really think the Government’s plan is money well spent? Should decarbonisation really be about cutting jobs? Is manufacturing really a Victorian pursuit best left to the Chinese, as a former Tory Prime Minister is reported as saying?

Or, as the great country that we are, can we harness the skills and talents of our people and create a vibrant manufacturing sector here in the UK? Tonight, can we send a message to the steelworkers here that we want to protect the future of British steelmaking, and that we will not sit by and let managed decline be the hallmark of this great British industry? I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 January 2024

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He made a brilliant speech earlier and has been a great defender of his constituents. The lack of any plan from the Government over the last 14 years is at the heart of the problems we see today.

As the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), said in his opening speech, we also risk something much wider: that net zero becomes a zero-sum game for working people and we lose the public consent that we need for the transition. There is no getting away from the facts. The Government have pushed a plan that uses hundreds of millions of pounds to make thousands of people redundant. If Scunthorpe ends up going the same way—the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) made a powerful speech to the contrary—we will be unable to produce primary steel in the UK.

In the Port Talbot plan, the two blast furnaces will shut this year, with a cliff edge for jobs. For at least three years, steel will be completely imported from India and the Netherlands to feed Trostre and Llanwern in south Wales, but there is no guarantee that once the electric arc furnace is built, those jobs will stay. We know that there are huge questions about scrap steel and whether it will produce the steel we need. Many Members, including the Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), asked questions to which the Government have so far provided no answers.

Photo of Sarah Jones
27 January 2024

This has been a powerful debate, reflecting the huge strength of feeling in this place, but also the huge knowledge and ambition for our steel industry. I was disappointed that the Minister came to this place and said that this debate was performative, less than a week after Tata Steel announced nearly 3,000 job losses. I think we all would have expected better from her.

Like many others, this afternoon I met steelworkers and union officials not only from Port Talbot, but from all the other steel sectors and steel sites across the country. They have come because they know what this announcement means for them and their future. These actions will have consequences beyond last week’s announcement. The steelworkers here today, like many of us, are baffled by the Government’s approach. They know that steel is a foundation industry. They know how crucial it is to our economy. They know that the world is uncertain—for goodness’ sake, the Prime Minister was here only this afternoon talking about strikes on Houthis in Yemen—and that having our own supply of primary steel is crucial to our security. Our genuine question is: why are the Government so content to be spending half a billion pounds on a scheme that leads to thousands of job losses?

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

Mr Speaker:

“The UK steel industry, the trade unions, and Labour are…proposing an industrial policy worthy of a serious industrial country.”

Those are not my words but those of the world economic editor of The Daily Telegraph writing yesterday. He also said that

“the Government’s minimalist plan…does just half the job, leaving the UK with a stunted second-tier industrial base, the only G20 country lacking a sovereign capability in ‘weapons grade’ primary steel.”

He is right, isn’t he?

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement.

The energy bills crisis of the past two years has exposed the deep vulnerabilities in Britain’s energy system and the urgent need to build more home-grown power in this country so that we can cut energy bills and have real energy independence from dictators such as Putin. In that context, we support the Government’s commitment to new nuclear power. Labour supports new nuclear, which must form a critical part of our future energy mix. Nuclear power is a long-term project for any country, and I want to give the industry and nuclear workers clear assurances that there is a cross-party consensus for nuclear power in this country.

It was the last Labour Government who identified 10 sites for new nuclear in 2009, and in the time since this Government’s record has been one of continual delay and false dawns. Yesterday, I met people from west Cumbria who have been waiting six years for a decision on nuclear since the last plan collapsed on this Government’s watch. The road map published today is two years later than they promised, and it still leaves a number of unanswered questions about how the Government intend to turn warm words into practical action, so I shall ask the Minister a number of questions.

First, I am glad that the Minister has woken up to the urgent fact that we need to generate more cheap, clean electricity in this country. In which year will any of the policies announced today actually cut bills for people? Secondly, it is all well and good talking about commitments to new stations in the next Parliament, but what is the timetable for the final investment decision for Sizewell C? The Government promised to have a final investment decision by the end of this Parliament, so will the Minister give a categorical promise today that that will be done? Time is running out. Thirdly, will he update us on the timetable for Hinkley Point C, originally promised to be delivered by 2017, and when will it start supplying power to households?

Fourthly, on SMRs, what is the timetable for concluding the competition? Just yesterday I met representatives trying to site SMRs who were complaining of long delays from Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in getting the project moving. How will the Minister unblock that and wider SMR development? Fifthly, what steps are being taken to ensure that the UK retains critical skills in our nuclear sector? Nuclear jobs are high-skilled, well-paid and unionised jobs, and Labour supports the workers and unions in the nuclear industry in calling on the Government to ensure that investment in the industry supports good jobs and apprenticeships right through the supply chain. Finally, will the Minister address the ongoing concerns about the safety and security of our nuclear decommissioning process, given the disturbing revelations about Sellafield? What steps are being taken to ensure that every nuclear site is secure?

Labour supports new nuclear for Britain after 14 years of inaction under the Conservatives. The wider lesson is that this country needs a Government going full pelt for clean power. We should be investing as a country in nuclear, offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and all forms of clean power that can help to cut bills and make our country energy independent. That is what we need, and that is what a Labour Government will do.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

The Labour party would support an industrial strategy, which would have myriad plans that would look exactly at some of these issues. Our national wealth fund would fund some of the really important future industries that we need, crowd-in private sector investment at a much greater scale and, hopefully, lead to the manufacturing industry growing and not the managed decline we have seen under this Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) said that the plan is exporting jobs and importing carbon, and he is exactly right. My dad was from Llanelli, once the tinplate capital of the world. My grandad worked at the tinplate factory that was then called Richard Thomas and Baldwins, and his brother worked at the Salter saucepan works. They would have stood in Stradey Park singing “Sosban Fach,” I am sure bursting with pride.

Britain’s steel industry has seen us through momentous periods in Britain’s national story—the white heat of the industrial revolution; the planes, ships and tanks that saw us through the second world war; and the buildings dotting our skyline across this modern Britain—but if we get nostalgic for the past, we do not look to the future. The world is changing, it is less safe and less secure, and steel is changing. New technologies are transforming how we make and use steel, and it will be as crucial to our future as it has been to our past.

We cannot make solar power without steel. We cannot make electric vehicles without steel. We cannot make wind turbines without steel. We will not reach the Paris climate agreement targets without steel. Steel is used for 3D printing and robotic automation, and everything from the tools that our doctors use to save our lives to the rocket ships that reach into space needs steel. Our pens are made of steel, and Big Ben ticks because of steel. Anyone who does not know that it is magic should read Ed Conway’s book “Material World”. Steel makes the machines, the tools and the factories that make everything possible. It will forge our future, not just our past. The debate is not about nostalgia: it is about looking head. Labour Members know that steel can have a bright future in Britain.

The Government’s last-minute chaotic deal is a masterclass in how not to run the transition. What they offered was never a serious plan for the long-term of our steel industry; it was yet another sticking plaster from a Government lurching from crisis to crisis, unable or unwilling to take a long-term view.

There are other ways forward. Labour has a cast-iron commitment to support our steel industry. We have earmarked up to £3 billion for investment in green steel alongside industry, working with steel communities to ensure that the transition comes with jobs. There are other ways forward that can help us, not least hydrogen. While the Conservatives scramble around for last-minute deals, Labour will make long-term investments. That is the central difference in our approach.

We must think about manufacturing differently. I have lost track of the number of times businesses have said to me, “We would invest in renewables, but the Government make it too hard.” Our manufacturers say, “We want to decarbonise, but we are living hand to mouth because our energy bills are so much higher than in other countries, and Government won’t help us.” This steel debacle speaks to a much wider issue. We do not just need a steel industry: we need glass, ceramics, cement, compost, critical minerals, batteries, composites and cheap energy. We need supply chains that work, an upgraded national grid, planning reform and a job plan to create jobs across every part of this country—a transition from the old to a much cheaper renewable future. In short, we need an industrial strategy. We need a Government who believe in working in partnership with industry, not just telling them to “F off”, and we need a plan that looks to the future of our own country and does not just rely on cheap imports from China.

We are asking the Government to think again, to look at the multi-union plan again and to think about how to defend primary steel capacity in our country. We know that steelworkers are watching this debate, and they must feel wretched. I ask Government Members in all sincerity: are they concerned about our defence capabilities if we lose the capacity to make primary steel? Do they really think the Government’s plan is money well spent? Should decarbonisation really be about cutting jobs? Is manufacturing really a Victorian pursuit best left to the Chinese, as a former Tory Prime Minister is reported as saying?

Or, as the great country that we are, can we harness the skills and talents of our people and create a vibrant manufacturing sector here in the UK? Tonight, can we send a message to the steelworkers here that we want to protect the future of British steelmaking, and that we will not sit by and let managed decline be the hallmark of this great British industry? I commend the motion to the House.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. He made a brilliant speech earlier and has been a great defender of his constituents. The lack of any plan from the Government over the last 14 years is at the heart of the problems we see today.

As the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), said in his opening speech, we also risk something much wider: that net zero becomes a zero-sum game for working people and we lose the public consent that we need for the transition. There is no getting away from the facts. The Government have pushed a plan that uses hundreds of millions of pounds to make thousands of people redundant. If Scunthorpe ends up going the same way—the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft) made a powerful speech to the contrary—we will be unable to produce primary steel in the UK.

In the Port Talbot plan, the two blast furnaces will shut this year, with a cliff edge for jobs. For at least three years, steel will be completely imported from India and the Netherlands to feed Trostre and Llanwern in south Wales, but there is no guarantee that once the electric arc furnace is built, those jobs will stay. We know that there are huge questions about scrap steel and whether it will produce the steel we need. Many Members, including the Chair of the Business and Trade Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne), asked questions to which the Government have so far provided no answers.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

This has been a powerful debate, reflecting the huge strength of feeling in this place, but also the huge knowledge and ambition for our steel industry. I was disappointed that the Minister came to this place and said that this debate was performative, less than a week after Tata Steel announced nearly 3,000 job losses. I think we all would have expected better from her.

Like many others, this afternoon I met steelworkers and union officials not only from Port Talbot, but from all the other steel sectors and steel sites across the country. They have come because they know what this announcement means for them and their future. These actions will have consequences beyond last week’s announcement. The steelworkers here today, like many of us, are baffled by the Government’s approach. They know that steel is a foundation industry. They know how crucial it is to our economy. They know that the world is uncertain—for goodness’ sake, the Prime Minister was here only this afternoon talking about strikes on Houthis in Yemen—and that having our own supply of primary steel is crucial to our security. Our genuine question is: why are the Government so content to be spending half a billion pounds on a scheme that leads to thousands of job losses?

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockton North (Alex Cunningham) was of course absolutely right: we have seen managed decline under this Government, with no coherent industrial strategy, total failure to get the grid connected where we need it, and different Departments giving mixed messages and providing complicated processes to access any support.

On top of all that, our industry has to pay twice as much on its energy bills compared with European competitors. A recent report by UK Steel stated that our steel producers have to pay £117 million more per year on electricity, forcing the Government to deliver a subsidy through the supercharger, which in turn raises bills for everybody else. Instead of such short-term policies, is it time for Labour’s industrial strategy, Labour’s grid reform and Labour’s mission to become a clean energy superpower, so that we can permanently cut bills for everyone, grow our economy and give Britain its future back?

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many service personnel were living in grade four single living accommodation in each local authority area on 10 January 2024.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many offenders were subsequently convicted of murder by index sentence in each financial year between 2010-11 and 2015-16.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

It is timely to be having the debate on the day we rise for Christmas, as we know that there will be many decent people affected who, 20 years on, are spending yet another Christmas without proper compensation. It has been a short but sobering debate on the victims of the Horizon scandal and how the Government intend to ensure justice is delivered. I am pleased to sit opposite the Minister again and to hear his commitment to a full and fair process, and I am pleased that the Bill is going through this place. However, the need to extend Government powers to deliver the compensation scheme is, of course, disappointing news to those affected.

I will not keep the House long to summarise our support for the Bill, to thank all those who have campaigned for so long and to ask the Minister to respond to some important points that have been raised. As Members have set out, the Bill extends the powers for the Government to deliver one of the compensation schemes for some of the victims of the Horizon scandal beyond August 2024. I join others in thanking those who have got us to this point. I pay tribute to the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, which has campaigned for decades for compensation and justice. We could not have a debate in this place on this topic without thanking my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), who has been tireless in his work. I thank Lord Arbuthnot for his work in this area, and many others.

The Horizon scandal is one of the most insidious injustices our country has ever seen. Getting compensation to all victims as quickly as possible is vital if we are to right this injustice. As the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali), made clear at the start of the debate, Labour will work with the Government to do whatever is required to deliver justice.

There were some good speeches. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully) worked hard as a Minister and is right to be proud of what he did in this area. It is good to see that he has eased himself back into the Back Benches. I noted his praise, which is increasingly rare, for Boris Johnson for starting the process for the inquiry. I am sure the Minister noted his lesson that if we were doing this from scratch, the Business Department would perhaps have run all the compensation schemes in the first place. The hon. Gentleman is right that we talk about doing things “at pace” in this place all the time, but we just mean quickly. We need to keep up the speed, which has been sadly lacking, given that we are 20 years on from the original scandal.

My right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham gave a full, comprehensive and compelling speech. His quotes from his constituent Tom Brown were very moving, given that his constituent did not survive to receive his compensation. My right hon. Friend spelled out the indignity of his experience, describing how he was the pillar of his community, and how awful the situation had been for him and his family. I noted my right hon. Friend’s suggestion about the need for counselling for some people, because this has been extraordinarily impactful—way beyond financial terms.

My right hon. Friend also talked about the lessons that the Government need to learn. I noted his advice for Ministers and future Ministers. Without jumping to any conclusions, Mr Deputy Speaker, I took that advice, as did the shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. He talked compellingly about the clear evidence that the Post Office knew what the problems were, yet still spent all that money defending the indefensible. He was right to make that point so powerfully.

Questions about Fujitsu and others were well made by the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson). My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Gerald Jones) made a good final speech, in which he called on the Minister to explain why the target has been missed and what more can be done.

This may be a relatively straightforward, simple piece of legislation, but it does relate, as all Members have said, to one of the UK’s most widespread miscarriages of justice. We have heard tales of people who have been affected. So many of them spent their 60th birthday in prison as a result of errors. Other people lost their entire life savings repaying shortfalls. My hon. Friend the shadow Minister talked about Seema Misra, who was pregnant with her second child when she was convicted. She had an absolutely awful time. Local press reports at the time described her as “a pregnant thief”, which is horrific. We need to keep those stories at the heart of everything we do while we try to make sure that people get the compensation they deserve.

Mr Deputy Speaker, we support the passage of this Bill, but we do have some questions that we would like the Minister to address, many of which have been set out today. The key one is what the Government will do in this extra time to ensure that compensation is delivered as quickly as possible. The Minister said that the Government are setting a target of 90% being completed within 40 working days. He used the expression, “promptly without being rushed”. Will he elaborate a bit on what that means in terms of the resource and the capacity that will hopefully increase the number of cases moving through the system to get to a happy conclusion?

Alan Bates, who has been widely praised in this debate and who leads the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, is reported as saying:

“It’s all well and good extending the deadline, but the Government has to try to meet the current deadline. The lives of the victims who have lived with this for a long time are not being extended.”

That is a good and sobering point. It would be helpful if the Minister said more about how he is going to speed up that work.

The Minister also made broader remarks. Can he clarify from his earlier remarks how many people have reached a settlement using the £600,000 offer that he announced? He said something about a proportion, but it would be helpful if he could give us a number. Does he have any estimate of the proportion of victims that he considers to be fully compensated? Does he have a timescale for the completion of compensation for those he considers not to be fully compensated? When does he hope to have all this done by?

The Minister has been asked how he will ensure that mistakes like this are not made again. Obviously, we have the inquiry, which is carrying on at its own pace. I do not know whether he has done any work on learning those lessons, so that we do not make mistakes like this again.

As we close the debate, I wish to end by again putting on the record our thoughts for all the victims who have not had their cases solved and who face another Christmas without justice.

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

We are used to this Government flip-flopping all over the place. It would be funny if it were not so serious for business, exports and jobs. So when we heard the Treasury telling everyone who would listen that the Government’s response to the carbon border adjustment mechanism would be in the autumn statement, we were not surprised that it was not. The future of steel investment and growth relies on a clear and certain path from Government. We cannot have our business disadvantaged any more, so what is the decision on the CBAM? If this Government cannot decide, is it not time to make way for one who can?

Photo of Sarah Jones
26 January 2024

Instead of properly responding to America’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Government held a meeting with businesses yesterday—you might not have seen it, Mr Speaker, as it did not make any of the front pages. Was the global investment summit not just a distraction from the same old fundamentals—business confidence is down, exports are down, and growth forecasts are down after 13 years of instability and uncertainty? Does the Secretary of State think that lack of business confidence is because her Government trashed the economy last year, because her Government told business to eff off, or because, as Mark Carney said, the Government have “juvenilised” the climate debate instead of using it as a driver of good jobs? Does she not agree with those from a global pension fund I spoke to this morning who said it is time we got some adults in the room?

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when was the last (a) division level and (b) brigade level manoeuvre exercise in the field that was not a CAS exercise.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the (a) recruitment target and (b) actual number of joiners was to the Ranger Regiment for each year since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the Ranger Regiment on every 1 January since its creation.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people applied to join the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the recruitment targets were for the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years; and how many people were recruited to each body in the same period.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people left the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what the headcount was of the (a) Intelligence Corps, (b) Parachute Regiment and (c) Royal Marine Commando Forces in each of the last eight years.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

I was recently in County Kildare with the Minister of State and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, working to build understanding between the two countries. We heard from Irish Ministers and the ambassador about the impact of the lack of a functioning Northern Ireland Assembly. Bearing that in mind, and the struggles that we know people are having in Northern Ireland with their bills, potential strike action and all kinds of issues, can the Secretary of State say a bit more about what he is doing, and about the meetings and conversations he is having, to work at pace to try to get a solution?

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

What steps his Department plans to take to help restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Angela.

We have had a short but very good debate, and the enthusiasm for floating offshore wind has come across loud and clear. The SNP spokesperson, the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman), was right to say that there is a lot of agreement across the board about what we should be doing.

I congratulate the hon. Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) on securing the debate and on her very good speech. All the speakers so far have made a really good case for why we need a national industrial strategy that pulls together all these different levers so that we can get jobs, skills, infrastructure and energy all working in the right way and in the right places. Labour would certainly do that in government, and I ask the Minister to consider doing it as well.

The hon. Member for North Devon talked very politely about AR5—indeed, we will all talk very politely about it—but it was clearly a catastrophe. I would be interested in the Minister’s views about the hon. Member’s suggestion that we try to speed up the next process.

My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Dame Nia Griffith) also made an excellent speech—my grandfather was from Llanelli, where he worked in a tinplate factory all his career. She talked about all the issues to do with floating offshore wind, as well as about steel, which was very interesting, and about the need for primary steel to remain in this country. Again, I would be interested in the Minister’s views on that.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen North talked enthusiastically, as she always does, about a range of issues, and she made some good points. The passporting of skills from oil and gas to renewables is really important. Somewhere in the mix, there is a big piece of work to do on that. We also need to look at things such as apprenticeships and how they work, because they are not flexible enough for today’s environment.

At the end of her speech, the hon. Member said that the industry in general just is not confident about investing in the UK, and that is absolutely at the core of all this. Even though I have been in this role for only eight weeks, the sense I have is that every single person needs stability—we need stability, we need certainty and we need things not to chop and change. When the Prime Minister changes a target, as he did for the automotive sector, it sends a message to wider industry, prompting it to ask, “Why would we invest here when we’re not really sure what is going to happen?”

Going back to floating offshore wind, moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewables is a huge opportunity, and floating offshore wind is at the absolute cutting edge of that change. As has been said, the technology represents a once-in-a-generation chance to create good, skilled jobs, bring down energy bills and put the UK at the forefront of the world.

The hon. Member for North Devon made the point that the price jump in energy was caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but of course the UK was worst affected because of our dependence on fossil fuels. So this is an opportunity to tackle that problem.

Analysis from the Global Wind Energy Council suggests that 80% of the world’s potential offshore wind resources are in deeper waters, which fixed turbines simply cannot reach, as the hon. Member said. Floating offshore wind allows us to capture the power of the stronger, more consistent winds that blow further out at sea, to harness the unique advantages that our island status affords us and to breathe new life into economies and communities around the Celtic and North seas.

With innovation, the cost of FLOW could be below the Government’s low wholesale price forecast as soon as 2032. There are loads of innovations in this space, such as artificial reefs, which can potentially help to enhance the marine environment as well. So there is a lot to be positive about.

We have already touched on the contracts for difference, which really was an energy security disaster: there was not a single offshore wind project bid, and two viable offshore projects missed out on long-term funding, adding to the cost of energy bills for families up and down the country. Of course, that catastrophe was avoidable. My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli said that the Irish Government managed to navigate their way through this. Recently, at a conference, I talked with the energy Minister in Ireland, who explained what they did. Basically, they are more agile and more responsive to the needs of industry, and the Government have hopefully learned lessons from that. Of course, we welcomed the news yesterday that the Government have set the strike price for the next round of bidding, but what will matter for the success of AR6 are the as yet undecided elements of the framework: how big the pot will be, and how the Government will support the floating offshore supply chain in the meantime. It would be helpful if the Minister responded to some of those issues.

As we have said, new floating offshore wind projects are vital to our move away from fossil fuels, and they can and should be the source of good British jobs. However, the Government’s neglect of Britain’s infra- structure and industry means that much of the benefit of projects that do manage to secure funding is likely to be felt elsewhere. Their allergy to strategic industrial direction has meant that the largest floating offshore project in the UK had its foundations made in Spain and its turbines made and assembled in Rotterdam, and that the finished project was simply towed into Scottish waters. Jobs that could and should come to Britain are being held back by the fact that our critical infrastructure is not fit to support them. In the UK, we lack a clear route from project design to plugging into the grid—the grid has been mentioned before and will be mentioned again, and it is mentioned by every single industry representative I meet.

Our ports need major investment and upgrading to allow the manufacture and assembly of turbine components and their bases at the required size. Floating offshore turbines are mammoth structures, as the hon. Member for Aberdeen North knows from her perilous trip to see one, and we need to be making them in the UK. There is great potential to revitalise port infrastructure in this country, and in Scotland and the Celtic sea, for fixed and floating offshore wind. The floating offshore wind manufacturing investment scheme, which closed for applications at the end of the summer, and which represents £160 million to be spent across the whole UK, will not make the difference we need without serious strategic investment in our ports alongside it. We need our ports to be advanced for the most cutting-edge technologies to make the strongest difference to jobs and to power generation.

The Conservatives have had 13 years to show they can get a grip on the move to clean energy. Labour’s strategy is to drive this country’s floating offshore wind industry forward. Labour’s national mission for clean power by 2030 has set ambitious targets to rapidly expand the offshore wind industry as a whole, giving us 5 GW of floating wind power by 2030. We recognise the leading role that Britain can and should play in pioneering this technology, which is why we will help to accelerate floating offshore wind deployment and manufacturing. The national wealth fund will deliver renewable-ready ports, alongside good, well-paid jobs, hand in hand with the private sector.

Industry is still waiting for the Government to spend £160 million on ports; Labour will invest £1.8 billion over the Parliament to make sure our ports are renewable-ready and fit for the future, and we will use Great British Energy—a new, publicly owned energy company—to invest in floating offshore wind, so that Britain can lead the world. The market for floating wind is very new, meaning that Great British Energy can drive the sector forward, where the Conservatives have sat and left it alone. That will help to finally overturn the stagnation and offshoring of British jobs and manufacturing that has been caused by the neglect of the British wind power industry.

I hope the Minister can answer a few questions. Can he outline how the floating offshore wind supply chain is being supported in the absence of new projects in the past year? Can he update us on FLOWMIS? When will the allocations be given out? Can he ensure that the funding will be allocated fairly across the country, including in Wales, where there is such huge potential?

We talked about skills, and I would like the Minister to suggest that the Government might consider—perhaps in the autumn statement—some changes to the apprenticeship scheme, which would be helpful, and which Labour has called for. The grid is the single biggest obstacle we need to remove, and Labour has set out plans for how we will speed up the removal of barriers. We will need four times as much grid infrastructure to be built in the next seven years as has been built in the last 30. It would be good if the Minister could tell us how he will do that.

Where the Conservatives have cast floating offshore wind off to drift, Labour will drive it forward. Where the Conservatives are letting global leadership on FLOW technology slip through our fingers, Labour will pick up the ball. Where the Conservatives have left critical infrastructure such as ports gather dust, Labour will see them renewable-ready at long last. People around the country, and across all political parties, want to see the potential of the British people and of our island’s unique geography realised. I would very much appreciate hearing from the Minister how he will do that.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

For years people have been calling on the Government to have a proper plan to help our steel industry decarbonise. Instead, the industry has lurched from crisis to crisis, and now the Government are spending £500 million in a deal that will make thousands of Port Talbot steelworkers redundant. Is it not the simple truth that jobs and wealth will be lost because there is no comprehensive plan for steel, automotive or any industry that needs to decarbonise?

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

My hon. Friend is doing an excellent job on behalf of her constituents, as, of course, did her predecessor, in standing up for the sector in many debates in this place.

The Tories risk putting British motor manufacturers under the bus. According to analysis that I have seen, under the Conservatives we have lost more than a third of automotive manufacturing output since 2010, so it is little wonder that the UK is slipping down the international league tables when it comes to automotive manufacturing relative to GDP. It is said that people never remember the runner-up, but they certainly do not remember the one in 17th place. However, we know that the problem is not unique to the automotive industry; we know that the lack of a Government plan that people can understand, rely on and invest in is a problem across many sectors. When I was reading about this brief, I came across a reference to the former special adviser to the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, who said recently that the Government

“does not know, nor really care”

about business issues. This is someone who has worked at the heart of Government, seeing the decision making, seeing Ministers and seeing what happens.

Listening to the speech made earlier today by the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss)—the Minister may well have heard it—was a timely reminder of the Conservatives’ relentless economic incompetence. Last year they crashed the economy, and this year they are on track to gift British manufacturers the entirely avoidable introduction of 10% tariffs. Rather than co-operating with the EU to suspend a ratcheting up of rules of origin requirements until 2027, British and European manufacturers are facing a cliff edge of higher export costs from 1 January. An agreement with Europe would be a win-win for everyone. JLR, Stellantis and Vauxhall have all warned that failure to act will see jobs shipped overseas. When will the Conservatives heed Labour’s calls for them to deal with this issue as a priority?

The Minister talked about some of the bright spots amid the clouds, and of course there are some. We were pleased to see the Government adopt Labour’s approach of using public investment to leverage in much more private investment to prevent the relocation of an iconic British institution to China. The loss of the BMW Mini production plant in Oxford would have been an historic loss for the automotive industry in Britain. Labour will always welcome investment in Britain—we have not had enough of it under this Government—but we need a proper industrial strategy, giving certainty that investments of this kind can support British jobs and industry for the long term. Instead, industry faces that 1 January cliff edge on rules of origin, and another on the zero-emission vehicle mandate; the Department for Transport has still not clarified how that will be implemented.

Industry is facing Government Back Benchers who are miring the UK’s commitment to electric vehicles in uncertainty by talking from the Back Benches about how we should scrap these targets. That is adding to the uncertainty that the industry feels. If Japan or the USA were considering investing in the UK and they heard what the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk, said today about delaying our net zero commitments and what Back Benchers have said about getting rid of some of these targets, it would be hard for them to invest, given that backdrop. The Government need to get a grip and make a decision on which way they are going. Are they fixed on those dates and on giving industry the certainty it needs, or are they going to carry on heeding the calls from their Back Benches for delay?

The Government’s industrial neglect has weakened Britain’s international competitiveness to the extent that Tata was close to building its new gigafactory in Spain. The Government might congratulate themselves on their deal making, but in truth they have only narrowly avoided driving the country headfirst into a disaster. Without batteries being made here in the UK, it is unlikely that there will be a long-term future for automotive production in this country at all. Despite what the Minister says, Britain remains far behind where we need to be and far behind many of our international competitors. If Tata’s factory makes it into operation, the UK will have 66 GW of capacity by 2030. At that point, Germany will have over 300 GW, Hungary over 200 GW and China over 6,000 GW. The Minister said that she was working on the production of a strategy on this. I urge her to speed up. Working on the production of something does not give industry the certainty that it is desperately calling for.

The reality is that this Tory Government are asleep at the wheel and taking the future of the automotive industry along for the ride. They have no plan. They are lurching from crisis to crisis, unable to provide industry with the long-term view it desperately needs. They need to listen to Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who has implored that

“we just need a plan…and we need it urgently”.

He is right, but we do not just need a plan; we need Labour’s plan to turbocharge electric vehicle manufacturing and put the UK’s automotive industry back in the fast lane. With Labour’s industrial strategy, industry leaders would not have to beg Ministers for action. First, in the face of impending tariffs, Labour would prioritise reaching an agreement with the European Union to ensure that manufacturers had time to prepare to meet the rules of origin requirements. We know the Tories love to talk about Brexit, but Labour would make it work.

Secondly, a Labour Government would end the era of sticking-plaster solutions in the automotive sector. While the Conservatives scramble around for last-minute deals, the next Labour Government would make the long-term investments that industry and workers are crying out for. That is why we would rapidly scale up battery-making capacity by part-funding gigafactories through our green prosperity plan and end this country’s reliance on imported batteries. Our plan would create 80,000 jobs, power 2 million electric vehicles and add £30 billion to the UK’s economy. What is more, three quarters of the economic benefit from that strategy would be felt in the midlands and the north. The Conservatives talk about levelling up; Labour would deliver it.

Thirdly, we know that transitioning to electric vehicles is vital to the UK hitting our net zero targets, but so far this year more public electric vehicle chargers have been installed in Westminster than in the entire north of England. Labour would give confidence to motorists to make that switch to electric by accelerating the roll-out of charging points with binding targets on Government. Today’s press release from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders talks about this very point. We have to do all we can to encourage people to make that switch, but we cannot do that without the chargers. We have all heard stories of people travelling from Scotland in electric cars and just not being able to charge them because the charging stations are not working or do not take the right payment type. That has to be fixed, otherwise people will quite understandably not be confident enough to make the switch.

Fourthly, Labour will make the UK a clean energy superpower. British businesses such as automotive manufacturers are being hammered by the highest energy costs in Europe. Our plan to make the UK a clean energy superpower by 2030 would bring down bills, support our vital manufacturing industries and turbocharge the UK’s international competitiveness. With a plan like that, it is little wonder that a supermajority of investors say that a Labour Government would be the best election outcome for UK markets.

Labour understands that the automotive industry will flourish only through vision, leadership and partnership. The automotive industry is the jewel in the crown of British manufacturing. It can and should have a bright future creating good jobs for people across the UK. It is Labour’s industrial strategy that will bring businesses, workers and unions together to safeguard the future of a sector that is the pride of communities across the country. It is Labour’s plan that the sector is crying out for, because the industry deserves better, communities deserve better and Britain deserves better.

Photo of Sarah Jones
25 January 2024

It is a pleasure to take part in a debate on a sector whose past, present and future lie at the heart of British manufacturing. I know that many of my colleagues and their constituents will understand the vital importance of this issue; I also know that several colleagues sadly cannot be here today because they are attending a conference on the industry at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre.

I am new to this brief, so, as Members would expect, I have been speaking to people in the industry—including representatives of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, who do an excellent job—and I have to say that their picture of the reality is somewhat different from the Minister’s. The Minister says that all is well in the world, everything is booming and everything is great. She has big numbers, and she speaks with great confidence and enthusiasm about a sector which, of course, we all cherish and want to build. The sector, however, is absolutely of one voice in crying out for certainty, clarity and a plan of action, as it has been doing for years. It provides hundreds of thousands of highly skilled jobs across the country, it brings pride to communities by putting them at the forefront of a world-leading sector, and its iconic British brands showcase the best of British innovation and craftsmanship on a global stage. It should, and could, be booming, but for the past 13 years we have had kid racers at the wheel. Industry is desperate for a plan, and I have heard that loud and clear. Motorists are crying out for direction, and jobs are at risk of being shipped overseas.

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