Business, Innovation and Skills Questions: 10th November 2015

Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry) (Con)
T3. Many English Members of the House, while unable to recall individual results in the tournament, were extremely proud that England hosted the rugby world cup this year. What does my right hon. Friend estimate is the positive economic impact of hosting the rugby world cup? [902074]

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry)
Independent consultants—EY, the old Ernst & Young—estimated pre-tournament that the rugby world cup would attract more than 460,000 international visitors to England and Wales, which is the highest ever number for a world cup. That, apparently, would add up to £1 billion to the United Kingdom’s GDP, which is excellent, and we will know whether that figure was accurate sometime in May, when the impact statement has been done. By way of an anecdote, my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mark Pawsey), who represents the birthplace of this great game, says that one business in his constituency reported a 250% increase in turnover, purely as a result of this great tournament.

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab)
T9. The Minister appears to be a little shy about telling us exactly when the compensation scheme for energy-intensive industries such as steel is likely to be introduced, or whether it will be ahead of the original planned date. While she is thinking about that, will she also give thought to other industries, such as chemicals, ceramics, paper and cement, with a view to providing sufficient compensation for them? They face greater competition, uniquely, because of the high cost of additional UK Government energy and climate change electricity taxes. [902080]

Anna Soubry
At yesterday’s excellent meeting held by the Secretary of State in Brussels, the presidency agreed that this matter should be prioritised. We are now waiting for the European Union to sign off on it, and we are told that it will be in a matter of weeks. We are doing everything we can to advance that.

Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab)
I was at Caparo Atlas Fastenings in my constituency talking to the administrators last Friday. I am sure that the whole House will send their condolences to the Paul family. Will the Minister say what specific steps can be taken to preserve those skilled jobs for the future, given that infrastructure projects are coming up in the west midlands?

Anna Soubry
Of course we always listen to what the local enterprise partnerships are asking us to do, if they need any additional support. As the hon. Lady knows, in relation to steelworkers who have unfortunately been made redundant—notably at Redcar, but with more fears for Scunthorpe and Rotherham—we have put in substantial amounts of public money, specifically to ensure that those highly skilled workers get all the opportunities they need to retrain. The amount for Redcar is £16.5 million, and for Scunthorpe it will start​at £3 million. We have already started to work with Rotherham and, if we get more bad news, money will be available for that area.

Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op)
The Caparo group, which has its headquarters in my constituency and is currently in administration, provides high-quality steel products to the supply chains for both the motor industry and civil aviation. Those products are difficult to source from elsewhere. What will the Minister do to ensure that those companies survive?

Anna Soubry
May I first apologise, because I should have added my condolences to the Paul family on their loss yesterday?

The difficulties in Caparo are not as simple as those involved in the decline in the steel industry, with which we are all familiar. One of the difficulties at the Hartlepool plant, for example, was the decline in oil and gas. We will work with the LEPs—we will work with anyone—to make sure that workers who need extra skills to transfer into new jobs have that opportunity.

Anna Turley (Redcar) (Lab/Co-op)
As has been well documented in this House, Ministers promised £80 million for retraining and economic development in Redcar. We know now that only £30 million of that will be saved for pension payments. Less than £10 million has been paid out already, and more than 90% of people have received their payments. Will the Minister promise the people of Redcar that what is not spent on redundancies and final salaries will stay in the region and go to the people of Redcar, not be sucked back up to the Treasury?

Anna Soubry
I can absolutely assure the hon. Lady, who rightly fights very hard for her constituents, that only today I met again with my officials and said that I wanted the remaining money to go in tranches to Redcar, so that people there can determine how it will be spent for the benefit of her constituents.