Debates between Lord Ravensdale and Baroness Jolly

There have been 1 exchanges between Lord Ravensdale and Baroness Jolly

1 Thu 11th June 2020 Covid-19: Recovery Strategies 2 interactions (661 words)

Covid-19: Recovery Strategies

Debate between Lord Ravensdale and Baroness Jolly
Thursday 11th June 2020

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber

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Baroness Jolly Portrait Baroness Jolly (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on securing this fascinating debate. My home is in Cornwall, where our economy is largely based on agriculture and tourism. We have some of the best beaches and moorland in the country. Once known only for pilchards and tin, Cornwall is now recognised for fine food from our local farms and coastal waters. Educational standards are low but rising. Aspiration is on the up too. However, there are still too many who have not been as far as Devon.

In the past 20 years, and thanks to excellent fibre broadband right across Cornwall, young professionals have moved down and increased the diversification of employment opportunities. Falmouth University has been a great asset in supporting local entrepreneurship.

Sadly, however, we have a dependency on the car for travel. Too many cars are diesel powered—cheap to run, but not helpful for our air quality. Electric cars do not yet have the range to get about, and hybrids are expensive.

Using sun and wind, we now produce 37% of our electricity from renewables, and we are looking at how floating turbines could deliver jobs and prosperity to our coastal communities. I must not forget geothermal schemes, which are in the very early stages.

London outstrips Cornwall’s economy by a factor of nine. Fifty years ago, 70% of our labour force worked on the land. The same percentage now works in food production, but not in farms. Our economy is growing. We had Objective 1 status, and, were we still in the EU, we would be eligible for more targeted support. Our MPs reassure us that it will continue. Can the Minister confirm this?

How our smaller businesses will thrive after Covid is another issue, but the local council, the LEP, and business and community organisations have a hunger for success. I feel sure that resilience, borne out of established partnership working, will stand Cornwall in good stead.

Lord Ravensdale Portrait Lord Ravensdale (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Hayman on securing the debate and declare my registered interests. Over the past few days, we have heard the forecasts of the scale of the hit that the UK economy could take this year. Investment is needed on a massive scale to rebuild the economy post Covid. It is essential that this investment focuses on building back better.

We have seen the devastating effects of one ecological crisis in Covid. This must surely focus minds on working to avoid another, in the form of climate change. We must use post-Covid investment to focus on key recovery and our net-zero targets. The macroeconomic case is rock solid, with the Government able to borrow at negative real rates to invest in clean industries with high rates of return.

A key gap is investment in nuclear. Nuclear is currently the only mature low-carbon technology that can provide large quantities of firm, non-variable power into the grid. To mitigate the risk of no firm power alternative being available to meet the 2050 targets, the build rate of nuclear needs to expand significantly. The key issue remains the cost of capital, and the Government urgently need to clarify their approach to funding new nuclear. Will the Minister clarify in what timescales a decision and announcement will be made on the model for funding new nuclear?

Fairness must also be a priority of the recovery. Thousands of new high-skilled jobs are needed to rejuvenate and level up the regions of the north and the Midlands, where I live. We need an evidence-based plan for recovery that fits these regions. Data must play a key role in how government policy is targeted. I highlight the excellent work of the Midlands Engine Economic Observatory’s independent economic review; it provides a unique dataset on the Midlands economy, which should be a key reference point for designing a recovery plan that fits the Midlands. Does the Minister agree on the importance of this data, collated at a regional level, to government policy-making regarding the levelling up agenda?