A blow for industry

I ALWAYS appreciate people from Hartlepool writing to me to let me know their concerns and the issues that matter to them.

For my part, I want people to be engaged with the democratic and Parliamentary processes.

I want people to feel part of, not removed from, the issues that are debated and the laws that are being passed in the House of Commons.

I feel it is always a negative thing if people don’t feel part of the process of passing laws.

In the past week, I have seen this in abundance. I was gratified to see many people in Hartlepool write to me about proposed amendments to the Energy Bill which the House of Commons was passing.

Crucially, I want what we do in Parliament to have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives and on the industrial capability of Hartlepool.

That last point – about bringing more manufacturing, engineering and industry – is a big priority for me.

I have said before, and I will keep repeating it and working hard to try to make it happen, that Hartlepool and the wider North-East has a massive role to play in future manufacturing, particularly when it comes down to energy and matters like nuclear and offshore wind.

We have a good and growing offshore wind capability here in Hartlepool.

There are some great companies like JDR Cables and Heerema who are part of the supply chain and look to win further work in the North Sea offshore windfarm sector.

There is huge opportunity here for more jobs and prosperity in our town.

But a lot of that is now reliant upon the government providing greater certainty to investors. Put yourself in the shoes of a major international company.

You will be making long-term decisions about manufacturing capacity. You will be looking at markets and skills, but you will also be looking at what government is doing in terms of targets and regulations.

The current targets go up to 2020, but that is only a blink of an eye in terms of manufacturing investment – how could you justify spending billions of pounds on new equipment and training workers if you aren’t certain the current arrangements will continue for any length of time.

That is why extending the targets about offshore wind to 2030 at the very least matters greatly to industry and, ultimately, to the amount of jobs and orders Hartlepool firms can provide.

That is what one amendment to the Energy Bill was proposing.

It was to extend the current targets to 2030. I fully supported it because I thought without, British manufacturing, and Hartlepool industry in particular, would not be able to thrive.

Importantly, a huge number of people emailed me about the matter too – I was really pleased that they engaged with the process and saw the links between what the Government was proposing and how this could affect our town’s economy.

The Government didn’t agree to the extension of the targets to 2030. I find this baffling.

Speaking to industry, they find it baffling and frustrating too.

Industry requires long-term certainty to plan, but the refusal on the part of the Government to accept the amendment to the Energy Bill last week makes it much more difficult for manufacturers.

The Government’s refusal to listen to the considerations of industry may mean that Hartlepool misses out on decades of prosperous and rewarding work.