Ahead of the Queen’s Speech, Opposition Members called on the Government to prioritise jobs in the recovery from the pandemic. As the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, after a year of sacrifice we needed a Queen’s Speech that rose to the scale of the challenge and was transformative for our economy, public services and society, but what we got lacked ambition and a plan to meet that challenge.
For example, we did not get an uptake on the long-awaited and much needed employment Bill. It is imperative that the Government take swift action to deal with the scourge of insecure work, including by putting an end to exploitative working practices such as fire and rehire. I know constituents who have been caught in such traps—most recently at British Gas—and met some of them during the recent election campaign. Their accounts of the way they have been treated, often after years of loyal service, are deeply unfair. It is a reminder of the urgent need to reform employment practices so that everyone is treated with dignity and respect at work.
The Queen’s Speech was notable for what it excluded as much as for what it included. For all the talk about levelling up, there was no meaningful indication of support for an industry that should be at the very heart of that agenda: steel. Steel communities are a key part of our industrial future. There cannot be an advanced economy or an economic recovery from the pandemic without a resilient steel sector. Our steel producers need action on industrial energy costs—we have been going on about that for ages—and we need to ensure that British steel manufacturers, such as those in Newport East, are at last at the front of the queue for Government contracts.
Platitudes about levelling up across the regions and nations of the UK are popular with Government Ministers, but these Ministers are less keen on talking up Wales, and there was scant mention of Wales in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech. We are still waiting on assurances from Tory Government Ministers on their “not a penny less” promise on the replacement of European structural funds and on long-overdue investments in our transport network. It is wrong that Wales accounts for 11% of the UK rail network but receives only 2% of rail investment enhancement from the Department for Transport.
I express my deep disappointment, and that of campaigners and charities throughout the country, that the Queen’s Speech failed to incorporate long-awaited reform of the benefits system for terminally ill people. We are now approaching the two-year anniversary of the Government’s review of access to welfare benefits for the terminally ill and we are still no closer to the scrapping of the cruel six-month and three-year rules that force people to spend their final months grappling with a complex and uncaring system.
We have continuously raised the issue with Ministers over the past year, alongside the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Marie Curie and other campaigners, to whom I pay tribute for keeping it high on the agenda, especially on social media. The responses have been vague and non-committal, with promises of updates “soon” followed by inaction. Ministers say that they are receptive to the campaign and acknowledge the need for reform, but I question why we are stuck in this limbo. Two years since the review was announced, thousands have died while waiting for a decision on their benefits claim, so will Ministers on the Front Bench today convey to the Department for Work and Pensions people’s anger and frustration and ask the Department to sort the situation out?
Finally, on policing, despite warm words from the Government, the truth is that they have still not addressed the impact of their swingeing cuts to policing over the past decade. Today, the police workforce nationally has 23,824 fewer personnel than in 2010. Operation Uplift is welcome, but it still does not take things back to 2010 levels or beyond. The Government must do better for our police services and for communities such as Newport East.
The issue of planning is particularly important for my constituency, which is growing at three times the national average already. Does my hon. Friend accept that one welcome aspect of reform would be that for the 1 million housing approvals already in place, the economic incentives are there and the pressure is there for those to be implemented?
Northern Ireland benefits from being part of the United Kingdom. Its people benefit and its economy benefits—they are part of the fifth-largest economy in the world. By contrast, after 100 years of independence and almost 50 years of membership of the European Union, the Republic of Ireland remains the poorest region of the British Isles. It has no national health service, 11% of its employees are in the public sector, and the rest of its economy is essentially a tax haven model, which washes through huge amounts of money for US corporations.
By contrast, Northern Ireland has significantly higher employment levels and a 20% higher standard of living than the Republic of Ireland, and of course we have the benefits of being part of the welfare state. Yes, we have a large public sector, which has cushioned us considerably during the pandemic, and which could not be supported by the Republic of Ireland if there was any move whatsoever towards a united Ireland. Therefore, Northern Ireland’s economic and social future rests surely and squarely with the Union. So, for all the talk of Irish unity, the stubborn fact remains that the Republic of Ireland could not afford Irish unity because the Union offers the people of Northern Ireland so much more.
It is important to say that during this year of our centenary because of the amount of attacks on the very existence of our country. Earlier today we had a question in this House about the state of Israel and Hamas wishing to wipe it off the map. As a member of a small state, I get that—I understand that—because there is clearly an agenda to abuse Northern Ireland by saying it should not really exist. Well, I am proud it exists, and I am proud that this Queen’s Speech will help us continue to grow our economy as part of this Union. It is important to say that.
However, the first and second quarters of this year have created significant challenges for Northern Ireland. One of the issues was dealing with the pandemic, which was well beyond the Government’s control, but the second issue is, of course, the Northern Ireland protocol, which unfortunately has blighted business opportunity for the first two quarters of this year.
I welcome Lord Frost’s comments earlier this week that the protocol is not sustainable, but once again we need more than just words. We have had lots of words. The Prime Minister told businesses they could “bin” the protocol; well, they can’t. The Secretary of State told us it would be light touch; it isn’t. We are now being told it is not sustainable. Well, if that is the case, I and my country would like to see actions over the unsustainable protocol. It needs to be put away, to put businesses out of their misery in Northern Ireland. I urge the Government to invoke article 16 and make sure we can move on from the societal and economic hardship that has been caused single-handedly by that protocol. I hope we can do that and do it fast. The people and parties who want to keep the protocol for a political points-scoring exercise while businesses suffer only seek to prove that Northern Ireland is somehow different, without realising that it is that difference that prevents the normalisation of both politics and our economy.
I hope we can build on the promises in this Queen’s Speech, and I hope we can build on the bus building promises. The Government have an awful lot to do to meet the predicted 4,000 buses to be built during this Parliament, so they really need to get a move on.
I thank the right hon. Lady for her question. I wish that she had actually read my reports, because she would have seen that I addressed that not just in the October report, but in the one that came out last week. Recording ethnicity data on death certificates was one of the recommendations in my previous report. It is not something that can be done overnight—it will probably require legislation—but we are on our way to getting it, so that is some good news.
The right hon. Lady also mentioned the orthodox Jewish community—finally someone from the Labour Benches has talked about this community, and I am very pleased that she has. Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that 64% of the orthodox Jewish community may have had covid-19 in 2020. The researchers said that the reasons behind this high rate of infection are not yet known.
Strictly orthodox families have significantly larger households than the UK average. They also live in areas of increased population density and, in pre-pandemic times, had regular attendance at communal events and gatherings. I use them as an example because this is why it is wrong for us to mix together lots of different groups. The orthodox Jewish community has been more impacted than many of the ethnic minority groups that get a lot of attention in the press, but we do not say that that is due to structural antisemitism. We look at the underlying factors. Where there are multi-generational households, for instance, that is not due to racism, but is often due to cultural factors. We are not going to take grandparents away from their families because of covid. We are going to provide them with guidance to ensure that they can look after themselves safely; that is this Government’s priority.
I thank my hon. Friend for the question, and for the opportunity to reiterate what I said to the hon. Member for Battersea (Marsha De Cordova). Of course racism exists; no one in this Government has ever denied the existence of racism. In fact, I have spoken about my personal experience, as did the Home Secretary at this very Dispatch Box—and 30 Labour MPs, including the hon. Lady, dismissed the Home Secretary’s experiences as gaslighting. However, we will not assume that every issue experienced by ethnic minorities is caused by racism without looking at the evidence. We develop solutions based on where the evidence leads, unlike Labour, whose report in October recommended that we decolonise the curriculum to address covid-19.
There is a legitimate debate to be had on how we tackle racism and address ethnic disparities, but although our means of achieving these goals may differ, that should in no way undermine our shared commitment to building a fairer and more cohesive society. Let me be clear to those who have either misunderstood or deliberately choose to misrepresent what the Government have said: this Government condemn racism, an evil which has no place in a civilised society.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the point about the OECD’s forecasts, and also the astonishing flexibility and effectiveness of our labour markets. She will know that the Government continue to adapt their response and, as the Chancellor mentioned a few minutes ago, we will shortly be launching the £2 billion kickstarter scheme alongside the job support scheme. That will be a tremendous boost for the prospects of young people across the country.
The Government are committed to levelling up opportunity so that all people and places across the UK benefit from economic growth, and covid-19’s impact has made that more important. From the £2 billion new kickstart scheme to create new jobs for 16 to 24-year-olds to the £1 billion for local projects to boost local recovery, we see that the Department will protect jobs, support economic growth and boost productivity across all nations and regions of the UK.
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that free ports will benefit communities across the UK by unleashing the economic potential of our ports, as he will very well know, having been one of my predecessors in this role. I thank him, the Mayor of Tees Valley and my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Jacob Young) for their support on this agenda. Our consultation response, published on 7 October, confirms our intent to deliver free ports by 2021, and the free port locations will be selected according to an open, transparent bidding process.
The next UN climate conference is the perfect opportunity to set out exactly what we are doing to get our emissions down to net zero by 2050. Can the Minister assure me that the Government are committed to doing all they can to achieve that and to delivering the green jobs that come with it?
The Minister will be aware that, as part of the drive towards zero emissions, there was a recent announcement about bringing forward the phasing out of diesel, petrol and hybrid vehicles to 2035. What assessment has he made of the economic and fiscal impact of doing so, and in particular the loss of jobs that will happen, because the industry is in imminent danger of collapse?
T3. Funding for coal mining ended in 2012, but it carries on for oil and gas, as we saw at the recent Africa summit and in the lobbying for the Petrofac oil refinery in Bahrain. When is the Chancellor going to end funding for fossil fuel projects and take the action that is needed to tackle the climate crisis? 
T4. Over the past few weeks, I have met a number of businesses in the Meon Valley whose growth is being held back by poor internet connectivity. What funding exists to help businesses in rural areas to boost their productivity and growth by improving their broadband? 
T8. Will the Chancellor ensure, in the Budget in March, that the automotive manufacturing sector gets the support it requires? He will know that there was a decline of 14% in our manufacturing production last year, which represents a big hit to the Treasury. Will he put in place the support to ensure a transition from fossil fuels, so that we can still produce vehicles such as diesel-powered units in good numbers while supporting the switch to electric vehicles? 
The Goodwin International training school in my constituency is an exemplar of skills training by a successful modern manufacturer with a world-class reputation. For less established firms such as challenger small and medium-sized enterprises, what support is on offer to level them up to Goodwin International standards?
Every year Scotland exports a quarter of a billion pounds worth of salmon to the European Union. This week, the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation expressed serious concern about the continuing uncertainty of Brexit. What assessment has the Chancellor of the Exchequer made of the impact on this vital industry of the Chancellor of the Duchy Lancaster’s announcement that “as friction-free as possible” trade with the EU means “not friction-free at all”?
It is an unexpected pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I congratulate the hon. Member for Dudley South (Mike Wood) on securing this important debate and on his work with the all-party parliamentary group, of which I am proud to be a member. The fact that the debate is so well attended by hon. Members from both sides of the House shows how important pubs are to our constituents. Indeed, this month, I have had more emails about this debate than about Brexit, so that is some progress.
Several important issues were raised by hon. Members on both sides, including how important local pubs are. They are a world-renowned institution that dates back to the 11th century. In Barnsley, we sadly lost the Black Bull pub a couple of years ago, which was 250 years old. That is just one example, but pubs often have an historical and cultural significance. Through the generations, people have gone to sit in the pub and talk about their everyday lives.
Supporting our pubs makes economic and social sense. The statistics have been rehearsed today. Pubs provide more than 600 jobs in my local economy in Barnsley. The Acorn Brewery is one example. Across the country, they provide 900,000 jobs, £23 billion of economic value and £13 billion of taxation.
A number of issues have been raised, and the Minister has a number of questions to respond to. Labour has called for a radical overhaul of business rates to help local pubs, and a review of the pubs code and pub closures. As CAMRA has pointed out, 18 pubs close a week, which is a tragedy. Once we let them go, we will find it much harder to get them back.
I have a couple of questions for the Minister. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of closures on high streets? I represent a town. I am not saying that pubs are not important to cities, but in small villages and towns, they are the hub of the community, so it is important to look at the impact. That also feeds into the Government’s loneliness strategy, in which pubs were cited. What assessment has been made in relation to that?
The crucial issue for this debate is the impact of high taxation. For every £3 made in a pub, £1 is sent to the Treasury, so surely we need to reconsider beer tax. On average, pubs in the UK pay £140,000 in tax, which is disproportionately high. We need to look at that. There are also important issues about public health. While there is a public health impact, they do provide a safe, secure and perhaps moderate area in which to drink and socialise.
I thank and congratulate all hon. Members who contributed to the debate. I look forward to listening to the Minister.
Does the Minister agree that, with a benign tax regime, independent British brewers can be an even greater exporting strength? The DEYA brewery in my constituency has achieved extraordinary international strength over the past five years. Has the time not come to back independent British brewers to go global?
I am pleased about the support the Government are putting into pubs. As hon. Members have mentioned, they are the centre of our communities. I want to highlight a pub in my constituency, The Pride of the Peaks in New Mills, which this Christmas gave 50 hampers and Christmas meals to elderly people to help combat loneliness. Does the Minister agree that pubs are the absolute heart of our communities?
One of the main burdens on pubs in my area is the disgraceful expulsion of Bury football club from the Football League. Anything that can be done to assist pubs in my area and the rebirth of Bury football club would be an eminently good thing.
A few years ago, I owned and ran a microbrewery, so I know some of the difficulties facing breweries, including the fledgling Magic Dragon brewery in Wrexham. I urge the Minister to support the cut in beer duty and increase small brewers relief.
I appreciate what the Minister says about prior notice, but will he take a look at the disproportionate effect of tax on on-sales compared with off-sales? It is unsustainable, notwithstanding the issues of public health, public nuisance and community support.
I thank all hon. Members who have contributed to the debate. We have had many contributions from six different political parties representing all four nations of the United Kingdom. They have displayed a rather rare unity of opinion, purpose and passion: beer and pubs are a force for good, and they should be supported through our taxation system.
I thank CAMRA, the Society of Independent Brewers, the British Beer and Pub Association, Long Live the Local and the quarter of a million people who have signed up to the Long Live the Local campaign for highlighting the importance of this issue. We have the opportunity of two Budgets this year, and I hope we will have support on beer duty in March. At the end of the year, we can have the announcements on a new system of beer duty for a post-Brexit Britain.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House has considered taxation on beer and pubs.
I could not agree more. I am delighted to hear about new jobs being created in Manchester, but not that people are struggling to get to them.
My point about the state of infrastructure, and not just the short or medium-term performance of the franchise operators, is that, not that long ago, people said that modern communications technology would make place less relevant to economic development, that we would all be able to work from home, that it would improve productivity, and that we would see the benefits of that. My hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley Central made the point, however, that place is as crucial as ever, because cities have generated the jobs of the future, particularly in the knowledge industries and in services. Our transport system is only now trying to catch up.
If we cannot give people an adequate journey over 10 miles, we have no chance of linking up the north, the midlands or South Yorkshire more comprehensively. From Stalybridge and Hyde, people should be able to go to work by public transport in not just Manchester, but Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and, of course, Barnsley. That is why I have always championed transport projects in my constituency, such as electrifying the Huddersfield rail line, which the Government are still prevaricating about and telling us might be partly possible; the Mottram-Tintwistle bypass, which would make it easier to get to Barnsley; and the extension of successful transport networks, such as the Metrolink tram network. That is also why we need schemes such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail. I say to the Minister that those two projects are complementary, not in competition. They will require major transport investment, but it will be worth it.
Secondly, I want to talk about automation. Many people fear the rise of automation and worry that it will destroy jobs and create huge and painful upheaval. I understand those concerns; I grew up in the north-east in the 1980s, which was a time of tremendous upheaval. We did not deal with those changes well, but, in the right hands and with the right leadership, automation makes the country more productive and more prosperous, not less. The problem in the UK is that we have not enough automation, rather than too much. The International Federation of Robotics notes that, in 2018, there were 71 robot units in the UK for every 10,000 manufacturing employees. The comparative figure in Japan was 303, in Germany, 309, and in South Korea, 631. We need more ambition with technology, not less. It is amazing that, until very recently, one 10th of all the fax machines in the world were in use in the NHS. I would like to see the Government lead on a managed automation plan as part of their industrial strategy, to drive up the use of new technology, and alongside that, have a technology displacement fund to support workers with the skills and training they would need if they faced displacement through new technology.
I also want to talk about business support, because as well as the things the Government need to do to improve productivity, decisions that individual firms make clearly have a big impact, based on the leadership and training they possess. The previous Chancellor, Philip Hammond, used to mention that a lot. There is some excellent work already happening. Many Members will be familiar with Be the Business, the business-led organisation that works with peers to improve and benchmark productivity performance. I am impressed with its work, but I wonder whether it could be taken further. Could Be the Business be the basis for a new social partnership or standing organisation to further expand on that work?
I hope this is one of many debates we will have on this subject in this Parliament, but I want to sound a word of warning. We are told the Government want to ban the word “Brexit” in an attempt to present it as being done, but, in reality, so many of the debates in this Parliament will be related to our exit from the European Union. The impact of future trade deals, in particular, will require serious debate about which sectors will be prioritised and which will be severely disrupted. The announcements we have had so far suggest there will be no substantive deal covering services of any kind, especially financial services, and that, on goods, the just-in-time supply chains that the automotive and aerospace manufacturers depend on will be significantly disrupted. Those sectors are where productivity is currently strongest. For instance, the Nissan car factory in Sunderland has a claim to being the most efficient in the world. If all of us here today are in agreement that national productivity must be improved, we must also make sure we do not lose the good sectors that we have.
We should work to improve the UK’s productivity where we can, but we should not take poor decisions that would make our productivity and therefore our prosperity and the living standards of our constituents much worse. I look forward to what the Minister has to tell us about the Government’s plans in this area.
The Minister says “correctly”. His definition and interpretation of that might be slightly different from mine. Will the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government have full control over the purse strings and decision making for the shared prosperity fund?
In an interview with the Financial Times at the weekend, the Chancellor very ambitiously said he intends to double the trend rate of economic growth that we have seen since the Conservative party returned to power. What kind of improvement in productivity would the Minister like to see, and what can we use to hold him to account for the successes of the strategy?
I apologise for testing your patience, Mr Paisley. Doubling the trend rate of growth would really return it only to pre-crash levels of growth. To repeat the questions that my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) just asked, what measure for the Government to be held to, specifically on productivity, will the Minister commit to?
I want very briefly to reflect on two points that the Minister referred to. First, the transforming cities fund is absolutely vital for us, in terms of productivity and economic growth. We have worked incredibly hard with the Department for Transport to put forward an outstanding bid into the transforming cities fund. I am the only metro mayor who has been required to bid for that money. My parliamentary colleagues in South Yorkshire, who now include three Conservative Members for the first time, and I will be looking very closely at what the Chancellor announces in his Budget in March.
I want to reiterate the points that the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss) rightly made about the shared prosperity fund. It is a critical amount of money for our regional economies. I am pleased that the Minister said that the consultation will be launched later this year. It is vital that both regional and national leaders can contribute to the important process of determining how the shared prosperity fund will be allocated in our regional economies—that is incredibly important. We urgently require clarity so that we can make long-term investment decisions.
The debate has been really useful; we have had a series of very constructive contributions from Members representing every corner of the country—Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, the north-west and north-east of England, and Yorkshire. We have established a consensus that productivity is a key driver of economic growth in the UK, and that regional imbalances are huge challenges that will require investment in skills, R&D and infrastructure, of which public transport is key. Devolution is a significant way to address some of those challenges, but democratically elected leaders need investment and resources to make regional and local decisions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) rightly placed the focus on women and challenged the Minister and the Government on what they will do about gender disparities. To be fair, that important challenge also needs to be levelled at our metro mayors, all of whom are men, as she will know.
Order. I sense that there is some confusion about this debate. It is a half-hour debate. The sponsor of the motion speaks and then the Minister replies. It is for other Members to intervene. Unless permission is obtained, the debate is not for other Members to make separate speeches. There are still many Members here who have attended because they are interested in the matter, but it is simply that they can make interventions.
I thank the Minister for giving way. A local converter company has told me that the range of low-emission options just is not there at the moment. It has already not replaced five workers who have moved on because sales have dropped. The policy is bad for converters and bad for British business, and it is bad for the environment, because it is staycations that we are damaging. Holme Valley Camping in my patch has also lobbied me, because bookings are starting to be affected by the policy as well. Please will the Minister look at it again.
The Minister has my sympathy. I have a sense of déjà vu from the omnishambles Budget, when the last attempt was made to attack pasties and caravans. At the time, I spoke to a predecessor in his post. I said, “You will lose taxes as a result of the impact on jobs, trade and so on.” He said, “Well, we don’t do calculations that way in the Treasury”, to which my response was, “You ought to.” This policy is masquerading as a green policy. It is destroying jobs in my constituency in Haltemprice already. It is hurting the poorest in our society in terms of their natural holidays travelling around the country. As we have heard, it is replacing staycations with trips to Cyprus and so on, which will use more in one trip than these vehicles use in one year. I look forward not to the Minister solving the issue today—I know that that is not within his reach—but to it being solved in the Budget.
The Minister has just quoted, word for word, what he said about those regulations when he wrote to me on 12 August. He may recall that I made representations to him on behalf of Auto-Trail, a business that operates on the border of Cleethorpes and the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Lia Nici). Auto-Trail forecasts that job losses will occur. The Minister concluded that letter by saying that he recognised the concerns. Will he recognise them even more after today? Otherwise, as other Members have said, there will be another omnishambles.
Does the Minister accept that it is not the percentage of the purchase cost that is important but the running costs per year? If a vehicle is being used on the road an average of 3,000 miles a year, a duty of more than £2,000—nearly 60p or 70p a mile—is a substantial increase in its running costs.
I thank the Minister for being so generous in giving way. On that exact point, perhaps the best thing to compare, if he wants to look at more than one-off costs, is the first six years, which can be reasonably compared. A light commercial vehicle doing 8,000 miles a year will have to meet £3,325; for a motorhome doing 3,000 miles a year, it is £4,460. It is a ridiculous comparison.
I thank the Minister for being generous. The heart of the nonsense is that the Euro 6 engines, which many of these vehicles will now have, are low on particulates. Let us put CO2 aside; particulates are what are important with diesel engines. We are actually encouraging the continued use on the road of older vehicles to the detriment of new ones that are, in the round, better for the environment. We are creating the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
I am pleased to see two ideas in the Queen’s Speech that were recycled from previous Labour manifestos: the waiving of NHS car parking charges, and renters’ rights. Will the Government go that bit further and adopt a third idea, our completely costed green new deal? Greenpeace rated the Labour party as best for the environment, whereas the Conservative party languished in fourth. This idea would help the Government to reach their carbon emission targets, which are woefully off track at the moment.
The UK Government currently offer more financial support than any other European state for fossil fuel industries. The oil giant Shell paid no corporate income tax last year due to tax rebates, despite making a £557 million profit in the UK. This situation is unsustainable and unacceptable in the context of a climate emergency. Can the Minister explain how a Government who continue to subsidise fossil fuel extraction to such a degree can ever be trusted to deliver net zero?
The best way to reduce carbon emissions is not to produce carbon when building houses. Given that the Conservative manifesto proposes to extend Help to Buy to people who wish to build their own homes, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows all about, will he meet me and the Right to Build taskforce to see how it can implement this excellent policy as quickly as possible?
The Minister is right about the growing role that renewables are playing in our energy mix, as 2018 was the greenest year on record for our energy system. Does he agree that the UK’s track record on cutting emissions, while maintaining jobs growth and economic growth, is remarkable at a global level and should be applauded?
First, let me associate myself with the comments welcoming you to your place and your Chair, Mr Speaker—long may you sit there.
For what have been described as a “post-truth” Government, here are two clear and simple facts: first, COP 26 is coming to the UK and, secondly, the eyes of the world will be on this Government’s climate crisis policies—or, rather, the appalling lack of them. As Australia burns, millions in African states face climate-driven famine and floods have swept the north of England, will this Government give a damn about this existential threat and act, not posture?
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is important that this Government do everything they can to help energy-intensive industries to reduce their carbon footprint and do not merely regulate and tax, as some would do, because that risks exporting not only the carbon, but the jobs?
Happy new year, Mr Speaker. May I associate myself and my colleagues with your remarks of support for the people of Australia? In that regard, may I ask the Treasury Front-Bench team whether this March’s Budget will be a Budget for the climate emergency? If it is, will Ministers look at the ideas of the outgoing Governor of the Bank of England to decarbonise finance and green the City, and come forward with the rules and regulations that will catalyse private investment to beat climate change?
Does the Minister think that this green tax, which has increased vehicle duty by 1,000% for many motorhomes—which are used, on average, for 31 days per year and do about 2,000 miles per year—is fair, and will he review it?
13. What fiscal steps he is taking to ensure that the Government meet their target of net zero emissions by 2050. 
I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. I am sure he is aware of the immense appetite within London’s financial and professional services community to invest in green infrastructure, and the rapid development of the green and sustainable bonds market. Is he therefore willing to meet me and representatives of the Corporation of London to discuss how Her Majesty’s Treasury can further advise and support further investment in green infrastructure and private finance, and its backing of that?
As always, the Scottish Government are ahead of the UK Government when it comes to climate change and taking steps to tackle this. The Minister rightly acknowledged that the UK Government have to do a lot more. Does he agree that they need to take away the subsidies to nuclear and actually reinvest in onshore wind in Scotland, and allow greater offshore deployment as well?
T4. Now that Lord Berkeley has laid bare the overspend and lack of return on investment of HS2, will the Chancellor pull the plug on this white elephant project and ensure that the money is spent on infrastructure projects across the north to benefit the regional economy, starting with northern powerhouse rail, with a station stop in Bradford, and the much needed and long-awaited Shipley eastern bypass? 
Can I first congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your first and second election as Speaker? You are looking very well on it.
May I ask the Chancellor about the problem facing many people who are worried about whether they have cancer? The best way to save the lives of people with cancer is early detection and ensuring that tests come back very quickly. Unfortunately, nine out of 10 pathology labs in England, Wales and Scotland are short of pathologists, which means that people are waiting six and seven weeks. Is it not now time we had a major financial incentive to persuade more people to become histopathologists and pathologists in the NHS?
The “back of a cigarette packet” policy to increase road duty by more than 700% for motor homes and camper vans is reminiscent of the caravan tax of 2013, which I think was invented by the Chancellor’s predecessor George Osborne. That would have decimated manufacturing industry in Hull. Will the Chancellor meet me, colleagues and those in the industry, who are very concerned about this policy, so that they can explain directly to him how disastrous this policy will be for manufacturing industry in Hull?