Debates between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry

There have been 5 exchanges between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry

1 Tue 22nd October 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5 interactions (261 words)
2 Tue 8th October 2019 Government Plan for Net Zero Emissions
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
3 interactions (940 words)
3 Tue 8th May 2018 Nuclear Safeguards Bill 5 interactions (1,060 words)
4 Wed 18th April 2018 Industrial Strategy
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
2 interactions (889 words)
5 Mon 16th October 2017 Nuclear Safeguards Bill
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
5 interactions (981 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 22nd October 2019

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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22 Oct 2019, noon

My hon. Friend makes an excellent observation. We are supporting innovation in this area. We have the Modern Energy Partners programme, which cuts energy costs and carbon emissions across the public sector.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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Any VAT increase would be yet another hammer blow to solar. The Minister’s predecessors took solar power to the brink, blocked onshore wind, cut support for offshore wind and failed to capitalise on Scotland’s lead in marine and tidal power. Has he compared the detail in the Scottish Government’s new green deal with the lack of detail in the Queen’s Speech? When will his Government wake up to the climate emergency?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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22 Oct 2019, noon

As I have said a number of times, the VAT increase was a consequence of EU membership, so on that basis I recommend that the hon. Gentleman support the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill this evening.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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Last month’s energy auction revealed that offshore wind is a third cheaper than gas and half the price of the energy from Hinkley C nuclear plant, yet Tory dogma is holding climate change mitigation back. Does the Minister agree that VAT on solar is yet another barrier to much needed change, and will he ask the Chancellor to rule that out in the Budget?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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22 Oct 2019, noon

I very much appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s prepared remarks, but he does not seem to be living in the real world. We have delivered on offshore wind, which he mentioned. The price has fallen by two thirds—that is a Government success and we are going to pursue that sort of success to meet the net zero carbon target.

Government Plan for Net Zero Emissions

Debate between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 8th October 2019

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth (Kwasi Kwarteng)
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8 Oct 2019, 10:51 a.m.

Thank you very much, Mr Gray. I have to say that this has been an excellent debate, and I sincerely commend my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton) for securing it. I hope that we can have more time in the House of Commons to discuss these important issues.

One thing that struck me in the debate was the level of consensus. There were one or two examples of political point scoring here and there, and we can accept that, but I was delighted to see so many MPs sing the praises of their local councils and of the fact that local communities are making great strides. In one of the few agreements I have ever had with the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Emma Hardy), I completely agree that the Government have to be involved in this. No one in this House has praised the free market as extensively as I have over the years, but even I, as an energy Minister, realise that, as she clearly said, private enterprise and the free market economy will not deliver this target on their own. That is very clear. As a Government Minister, I am absolutely committed to the target.

We can argue about how quickly we are reaching the target, and I happen to think that we have done a great deal as a country. The hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) said, “Oh well, you’ve done okay in the power sector”, but the power sector is huge. Looking at the history of this country, at what the industrial revolution meant and at industrialisation across the world, power is absolutely at the heart of it. For a country that for 300 years was powered by coal burning and fossil fuels, taking coal off the system entirely in 2025, in terms of power generation, is an achievement.

I do not want to rest on my laurels. I do not want to be accused of complacency—there is still a hell of a lot to do. However, to face the future, we have to recognise where we have come from. I pay tribute to the last Labour Government for passing the Climate Change Act 2008. I do not think we need to play childish, point-scoring games on that. It was a significant piece of legislation, and I am happy to say that. I think that what we did in amending that Act in 2019 was also significant and bold and showed leadership.

As the new Minister—I have been in post for two months—I have seen a number of my counterparts across the world, and all have said that the United Kingdom is a leader in this area. That does not mean that we have solved everything. I think it is impressive that we have reduced our carbon emissions by 42% since 1990 while growing our economy by two thirds, but I fully recognise that we need to do more on energy efficiency and insulating homes, which is why we are spending a large amount of money dealing with fuel poverty. We have put in bids for the Budget; it would be inappropriate for me to say exactly what those bids are, but we are looking at this. Our officials and Ministers are very focused on the idea that fuel poverty is a real problem.

We have also committed ourselves to offshore wind. Ten years ago, many people thought that offshore wind was a crackers and slightly bizarre idea. An energy specialist was telling me that the reduction in the costs of offshore wind is the biggest story of the decade. We were looking at costs of £150 per megawatt-hour at the beginning of the decade. The first auction came in at £119. Only two weeks ago, the price was £39 per megawatt-hour. That is a significant achievement. Nobody was saying that these targets were in any way achievable, and while I fully appreciate that Opposition Members say that we should move further and faster, and I fully understand that we are not exactly where we should be, we have to recognise that there have been big achievements in this.

On the forward view, we can dwell on the past and say that we got the right legislation, but my right hon. Friend the Member for East Hampshire (Damian Hinds) and my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth are absolutely right that we can all say a date. It can trip off the tongue—net zero by 2050 or 2030—but how do we actually get there? That is exactly what the Government are trying to set out. My team is looking at pathways to net zero, and it is clear to me that the best way, in terms of energy security and also cost, is to have a balanced approach. The question of an entirely renewable economy was raised, but the problem with that is that we would need huge amounts of capacity because of the intermittent nature of that power.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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8 Oct 2019, 10:56 a.m.

On that balanced economy, the CBI, while acknowledging the offshore wind success story, said that investment in onshore wind and solar has stalled for political reasons, and urges this UK Tory Government to take politics off the table for onshore wind. Will they do that?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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8 Oct 2019, 10:56 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the target has changed. The Climate Change Act 2008 set an 80% reduction, but this year we have set a net zero carbon target. There is absolutely a wider debate about how we move on— [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman is trying to put words into my mouth, but I am just saying that there is a broader debate.

Nuclear Safeguards Bill

(Ping Pong: House of Commons)
Debate between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry
Tuesday 8th May 2018

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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8 May 2018, 7:35 p.m.

I should like to begin by echoing the remarks of the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) about the Minister’s participation in the Bill so far. He has indeed been helpful, inclusive and relentlessly courteous as we have gone through the process. I welcome the progress that has been made, but that must be set against the background of what we believe to be the folly of leaving Euratom in the first instance. The last time the Bill came before us, I said that despite the Government’s ideological intention to abandon Euratom—it is ideological; there has been no attempt to challenge whether there might be a possibility to stay in it—their proposals fell short of answering vital questions on the UK’s nuclear future. Those answers have been asked for by the nuclear industry, the medical profession, our research sector and virtually everyone associated with nuclear power. Simply put, we should not be leaving Euratom.

Even with some sensible amendments from the Lords that have been accepted by the Commons, the Bill still fails to answer many critical concerns. As I have stated before, we in the Scottish National party believe that the safest nuclear power is no nuclear power. In Scotland, we have demonstrated what can be achieved by alternative renewable energy sources, and there is still a vast potential to be tapped, especially offshore, for an abundance of low-cost clean energy. In contrast, the UK Government continue to chase the folly of new nuclear, including the white elephant that is Hinckley C. That means higher costs for consumers, and technologies whose capital costs continue to skyrocket.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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8 May 2018, 7:36 p.m.

Does the hon. Gentleman believe that “no nuclear” can be squared with full participation in Euratom? If he had to choose one or the other, what would he decide?

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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8 May 2018, 7:37 p.m.

I find the hon. Gentleman’s question rather odd. I shall come to the reasons that we support Euratom in a moment, but a no-nuclear future means that we still have to navigate the nuclear that we have at the moment, and the wider public need to understand the existing nuclear technology.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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8 May 2018, 7:37 p.m.

rose—

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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8 May 2018, 7:37 p.m.

I want to make progress, because I am aware that Members wish to move ahead and I wish to accommodate that as much as I can.

On safeguards, at Dounreay in the highlands we have lived with the consequences of the UK’s previous regulatory regime. Decades on, we are still finding nuclear material that has simply been dumped or buried. For these reasons, and many more, while we work for a nuclear-free future, we recognise the vital need for the continuing protections and benefits that we have enjoyed through Euratom. I hope that that answers the hon. Gentleman’s question.

Turning to the Lords amendments, and the Government amendment in lieu, I should like some clarification from the Minister. On Lords amendments 1 and 2, I have said that providing clarification on the definition of “civil activities” is a sensible move, but is he in a position to enlighten us on the question put by Lord Hutton as to why the phrase, “for peaceful purposes”, has been defined in regard to electricity generation? I understand that Lord Henley, the Under-Secretary for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, was to write to Lord Hutton with a response to that question. However, I am not aware that there is anything on the public record on that issue, so I would be grateful if the Minister enlightened us.

Lords amendment 4 proposes a sunset clause, but I still do not think that the Government have fully answered the question as to why the sunset provision needed to be extended to five years from two years, so I would welcome clarification from the Minister. That being said, this is a sensible clause to add to the Bill.

I also agree with Lords amendment 5, which will mean that we receive a report for each three-month period in the years after the Bill is enacted. I note that the reports could include information on the development of the domestic operational arrangements required for the new domestic safeguards regime. Will the Minister outline what level of information he expects to provide? What information does he intend to include in the reports? For example, will they include information on the profile of ongoing costs, including any increases, on skills, on the recruitment and skills opportunities for girls and women and on gender pay? Reports should also include a rolling risk register.

I also note that we are to expect, or “may” have, a report that includes information on future arrangements with Euratom, including on nuclear research and development and on the import and export of qualifying nuclear material. I listened carefully when the Minister said that he had “every confidence” about the situation. It is good that he does, but we should have a guarantee. As was said earlier, there should be no diminution of the current protection that we enjoy under Euratom. I remain concerned about radioactive isotopes, but I do not intend to go through the rationale that I presented in the previous debate for why they are vital—although if I did, I would make no apology for doing so. The medical profession is concerned about their future availability, and even if there are agreements about access to such isotopes, the question remains unanswered about how we are supposed to obtain them in a Brexit future that means no customs union. How are they going to get across the border in time, before their limited half-life has expired? I could say much more on that, but perhaps the Minister can tell us how he intends to overcome the customs barriers and get that material here.

The Scottish National party supports Labour’s position on Lords amendment 3, and if it comes to a vote, we will vote to disagree with the disagreement that the UK Government have brought forward. If the Minister was serious about giving Parliament assurances, he would accept Lords amendment 3, which was moved by a Cross-Bench peer. The amendment quite literally does what it says on the tin: no exit from Euratom if relevant and necessary agreements are not in place. Instead, in presenting their own amendment (a), the UK Government are again asking us to take things on trust and believe that everything will be all right on the night. That is not good enough when it comes to nuclear safeguards.

Industrial Strategy

Debate between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry
Wednesday 18th April 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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18 Apr 2018, 4:49 p.m.

There are a huge number of ambitious initiatives in the industrial strategy. We are very good in this House—Opposition Members certainly are—at running the country down and pointing out shortfalls. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) pointed out, we have some of the best universities in the world, and we have the best talent, as the Secretary of State mentioned. The trick, and the ambition, is to try to marry some of that talent with commercial productivity, and that is what the Government are trying to do. That is an exciting development. When we look at world-beating innovation and scientific research, we see that this country is right at the top of any list. We should celebrate that and try to improve on it, and I fully accept the remarks that have been made about that.

I am delighted that we are debating this issue because, as far as I can recall, it has been a very long time since we have talked about industrial strategy, certainly in this House. We are putting to bed a lot of the ghosts of the 1970s. I know that the Labour party does not necessarily want me to talk about the 1970s, but they were a disastrous era, when the so-called industrial strategy collapsed into a slightly absurd game of trying to pick winners and of backing industries that were totally failing. It is a real relief to hear a plan from the Secretary of State that moves away from some of those old ideas. Anyone who thinks we will drive innovation, R&D and talent by nationalising vast swathes of the British economy—anyone who thinks that is a viable option—deserves some sort of break or respite, because they are clearly not thinking particularly straight. I do not think it is right to confront this country with threats of nationalisation and confiscatory taxation. I do not think that helps the investment climate, and it is not a good form of industrial strategy. I am delighted that we are discussing this, and I look forward to contributions from Opposition Members that will be made in a more constructive spirit than the speech we heard just a few minutes ago.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey) (SNP)
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18 Apr 2018, 4:52 p.m.

I always enjoy listening to the Secretary of State; I find him a courteous and well-mannered person who tries to put forward a positive view at all times. I find the same to be the case when I work with his team.

This long-awaited industrial strategy is welcome—it is good to see something—but it lacks the substance that we should see in a document that would make a meaningful difference for people, and it misses the mark on fairness and ambition. I hope to delight the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng), because along with my criticisms, of which I have many, I am going to try to be constructive and suggest some points that the Secretary of State might want to consider.

On inclusive growth, the Scottish National party has long argued that ideologically-driven measures not only are harmful to society, but actively hinder business development, growth and investment. Inclusive growth must be at the heart of any economic strategy, yet the Government continue their obsession with a failing austerity dogma, and nothing in the industrial strategy signals a change of direction. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has forecast that austerity could last until the mid-2020s, meaning that Scottish businesses, households and public services could ultimately face 15 years of austerity measures—and that amid the harsh realities of a hard Tory Brexit. The UK is facing the biggest increase in inequality since the 1980s, the worst wage stagnation in 70 years, which the IFS described as “dreadful”, and a huge increase in child poverty as a direct effect of tax and benefit reforms.

In the context of Brexit, the Global Future study was released just today. After looking into all four options available to the Prime Minister, it established that, in the long term, the amount available for spending on public services will fall. Under the so-called Norway option, there would be £262 million less a week. Under the Canada model, there would be £877 million less per week, while under a no-deal scenario, there would be £1.25 billion less per week. For the NHS, there would be 22% less funding available if there was a bespoke deal, and 9%, 31% and 44% less under each of the other options. Of course, it is not just about the public sector. As we have found from speaking to industry after industry and sector after sector, there are many concerns across the piece about the direction of the Brexit negotiations.

Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr Sweeney) is no longer in the Chamber, but I wish to reflect on what he said about Jack McConnell and the post-study work visa. I have a great deal of respect for Jack McConnell, who was and remains a far-sighted politician. He recognised that Scotland requires different measures when it comes to our immigration needs. For many decades, our problem has been one of emigration. We need people to come to Scotland. If we are to retain competitiveness and increase productivity, it is essential that Scotland’s immigration system is outward-looking and that it allows businesses to attract the necessary skills to boost growth and create jobs.

Nuclear Safeguards Bill

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Debate between Kwasi Kwarteng and Drew Hendry
Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne) (Con)
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16 Oct 2017, 9:02 p.m.

My only regret in speaking is that, given the constraints on our time, you have imposed a six-minute limit on our speeches, Madam Deputy Speaker, and I feel that I could speak for a long time on the important subject of our debate.

The Bill is precisely the sort of responsible measure that a good, decent, forward-looking Government would introduce to avoid the cliff edge that we are told is a problem with so-called hard Brexit. The debate is serious, but the Opposition are clearly not taking it seriously. I am disappointed that so few of our Opposition colleagues participated. I am surprised that we have had a string of Conservative speakers, without even a bat squeak from the Opposition in response.

From the speeches of members of the Opposition parties, one would think that we faced disaster if we left Euratom. We will not face disaster precisely because of the Bill. The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) quoted a nuclear expert and used the phrase, to which he did not return, “without alternative arrangements”. That is key. The expert said that, if we left Euratom “without alternative arrangements”, there would be a problem, but the whole point of the Bill is to set up those alternative arrangements, without which we would face a more difficult situation. The hon. Gentleman could not have made a more ridiculous point.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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16 Oct 2017, 9:03 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to respond. Does he accept that the industry would prefer to stay in Euratom or have an associate membership to “alternative arrangements”?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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16 Oct 2017, 9:05 p.m.

I know that the hon. Gentleman has been listening to the debate with rapt attention, and he will have noticed in the course of several hours of discussion that we are leaving Euratom because, if he remembers, we voted to leave the EU last year. It was not the British Government who said we had to leave Euratom, but the Commission. The EU itself said that, as a consequence of voting to leave the EU, we had to leave Euratom, and we have taken it at its word. Perhaps we should not have done; perhaps the hon. Gentleman has intelligence that we do not possess, but we took it at its word and, consequently, it is quite proper to seek, through the Bill, to provide the “alternative arrangements” that industry experts have suggested are necessary to smooth the transition process.

I also wish to point out how depressingly gloomy a lot of the SNP’s language has been. We have been told that we are useless negotiators and that the state of Britain’s diplomacy is woefully inadequate. We have been told all sorts of things about how bad things are going, and of course nothing could be further from the truth. It is a complete fantasy. In fact, our diplomacy is widely respected throughout the world. We have a highly effective, well trained force and a disciplined, professional cadre of people. It is nauseating to hear SNP Members decry and denigrate our civil service in that way, and it is indicative of their lack of seriousness that only two Members from that particular party are gracing us with their presence in the Chamber.

With a couple of minutes to spare, I want to talk briefly about Britain’s traditions in nuclear power. I know it was uncomfortable to hear, but my hon. Friend the Member for North West Hampshire (Kit Malthouse) was right that we are leaving Euratom at a moment when the countries of Europe, such as Germany, Italy and even Austria, are retreating from civil nuclear power. It is not something they want in their energy mix. The response of the German Chancellor to the Fukushima disaster in 2011 was to suggest that Germany would not pursue nuclear power and would shut down its nuclear power plants. Indeed, it is revealing that Frau Merkel is now in conversation with the Green party in Germany. Her coalition is dependent on Green party co-operation, and those of us who follow these things will know that the Green party is singularly opposed to nuclear power. It is the one thing that will not happen if it enters the Government in Germany, once the Government have been constituted, so there is no way that the Germans will develop this line of research. Similarly, we understand that Austria has banned the transfer of nuclear material.

Drew Hendry Portrait Drew Hendry
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16 Oct 2017, 9:07 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman rightly points out where he disagrees with politicians of other places or has criticisms of them, but will he withdraw his earlier remark about the SNP criticising civil servants, which we have never done? All we have done is criticise the failure of this Government.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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Forgive me, but one of the hon. Gentleman’s colleagues mentioned—we can all look at Hansard tomorrow—that our diplomacy was being ridiculed and was somehow deficient. If someone says that diplomacy is deficient, they are criticising the diplomats who are conducting that diplomacy, and I am afraid that most of those diplomats are indeed civil servants, so that was criticism of our civil servants, with no cause whatever—it was just a form of abuse. I know that SNP Members get caught up in their rhetorical exercises and like to make a big splash in the House of Commons, but I thought that was completely unnecessary.

Lastly, when it comes to freedom of access and foreign scientists and nuclear power experts coming to Britain, there is no country that is more open, from the academic point of view, to foreign talent and ingenuity than Great Britain. We have dozens of Nobel prize winners, many of whom came from outside the United Kingdom. We also have a great record in practical science and in businesses that have developed from the fruits of that practical science, so again this scaremongering and project fear is completely misplaced. I suggest to those hon. Members that they just move on.