8 Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale debates involving the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Mon 12th Jul 2021
Tue 8th Sep 2020
Trade Bill
Lords Chamber

2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading

Climate Change: Global Temperatures

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Wednesday 27th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The Committee on Climate Change has made it clear that we still need fossil fuels for the transition. I remind the noble Baroness that the UK is responsible for only 1% of worldwide emissions. Yes, we must do our bit, which we are—we are a world-leading power in that respect—but we also need to work on a worldwide basis with other nations, because just stopping emissions in the United Kingdom will not solve the problem.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the Government had four key objectives for the summit next week in Glasgow. The third of those, and the one that was in many ways among the most important because of the failure to deliver it over the past decade, was the objective on finance and delivering $100 billion per annum of support for those developing countries that would miss out as a result of moving towards net zero. The Government have admitted this week, in advance of the summit, that that objective is not going to be met. Does the Minister agree that one reason for that might just be the fact that our Government—our country—withdrew on their commitments to the world’s poorest people this year and that that might just have affected the atmosphere around decision-making and the commitments that might then be made by others?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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No, I do not accept that, because the UK, even after the recent reduction, still has one of the largest international climate finance facilities in the world. Again, on international finance, we are world-leading as well. It was an immense diplomatic effort to get many other nations on board—credit goes to the Prime Minister and to Alok Sharma for managing to do that. We have got the commitment, albeit maybe not as early as we would have hoped for, from 2023.

Emissions Trading Scheme: Transport

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Monday 11th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I agree with the comments made by my Secretary of State yesterday. There are always ongoing discussions between government departments on a huge range of measures, and I am sure that the Treasury and BEIS will be closely involved in further discussions.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, at the start of the pandemic last year, as a result of the lockdowns there was a significant problem in developing countries around the world in trading, due to the lack of access to shipping and other forms of freight. This problem could be exacerbated by the correct action to reduce and—I hope—eliminate emissions. Will the Government ensure that the COP 26 summit in Glasgow delivers enough funding and other forms of support to developing countries to make sure that there can be a just transition?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Again, in this matter we are leading with the funds that we have supplied to developing countries and we have promised. The Prime Minister and the joint president at COP are engaged in discussions as we speak, to try and drive up the commitment of developed countries to help lower-developed countries with their aspirations.

Steel Sector

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Monday 12th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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Ultimately, it is of course for the company to manage its commercial decisions for the future and to find a successful buyer, but we hope this company succeeds with its plans to refinance. With regard to investigations, the noble Lord will know that I cannot comment.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare my membership of the Community trade union, which represents steel-workers, and my former role as Member of the Scottish Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw—a proud steel-making constituency, where the number of jobs today is a fraction of what it was in the past but where real quality steel is still made at the Dalzell works. Therefore, I ask the Minister to confirm today, on behalf of the Government, that they will work closely with the Scottish Government, who have a role in both procurement and decarbonisation. We need all levels of government in the UK to work together to ensure a strong future for the UK steel industry, in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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I can certainly give the noble Lord the assurances that he is looking for: we will work with all partners, domestic and international, in order to ensure that the UK steel sector has a viable future. Of course, we all know the challenges that it faces, but we are committed to doing what we can to help it. I mentioned the steel council, which was reformed, with government, the industry and the trade unions working together to produce a viable future for the industry. It has met twice already and will meet again further this month, chaired by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

Private Sector: Environment and COP 26

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Wednesday 7th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord will I am sure be delighted to hear that we are launching a new contracts for difference round in December.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the best multinational companies have actually been ahead of the Government in relation to the sustainable development goals. Therefore, I wonder whether the Build Back Better World initiative announced at the G7 summit recently by the Prime Minister will actively engage multinational companies in delivering the sustainable development goals, and will the UK have a key role in taking forward this initiative after leading the G7 in Cornwall last month?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a very good point, and indeed we will. Already, 40 of the UK’s leading companies have joined the net-zero challenge and, as he will be aware, as part of the 10-point plan, the Government have invested over £12 billion to stimulate a green industrial revolution in the UK supporting up to 250,000 jobs.

Japan Free Trade Agreement

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 17th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for his comments about the agreement and I am well aware of his great expertise in Japan. As the Minister for Investment, of course it is always a matter of great regret for me if a major company decides not to pursue an investment opportunity in the United Kingdom. My noble friend will realise that nuclear has a huge number of manifestations; these are very large decisions that companies will take. We have maintained contact with Hitachi throughout the process. I believe that this was a decision by the Hitachi board. I have no information in what circumstances it might choose to revisit that decision, but I will say that I have huge admiration for Hitachi. I have spoken to Hitachi at the most senior levels on a number of occasions, and we would always welcome any investment from Hitachi into the United Kingdom.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as noted in the register, but in particular my membership of the UK board of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, set up by Prime Minister Thatcher when the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, was a Minister. The board met in its annual conference with Japanese colleagues last weekend and warmly welcomed the announcement of the trade deal: in particular the steps towards UK membership of the comprehensive trans-Pacific partnership.

It would also be appropriate today for us to welcome and congratulate Prime Minister Suga on his election yesterday as Prime Minister of Japan. He has a particularly strong commitment to UK-Japan relations and an understanding of the importance of the UK and Japan in maintaining an international rules-based system and that free and fair trade are at the heart of that. Can the Minister confirm that, when we see the details of this agreement and its implementation over the coming months, there will be nothing that will contradict our commitment to those international agreements on climate change and the sustainable development goals that see the UK and Japan committed to not only free trade but fair trade that helps preserve our planet and develop the global economy?

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Portrait Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Con)
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The noble Lord is yet another example of the vast expertise that we have in this House on these matters and, because of his special insights into Japan, I welcome his commendation of this agreement. He is right to say that Japan and the UK have very similar attitudes to these matters: both of us look to a rules-based economy in world trade. I can confirm that the matters to which he referred have been rolled over from the EU agreement. The EU agreement had very strong provisions in relation to sustainability, climate and other matters, and he will see once the agreement is made available to the House that we have preserved the impact of those measures. I join the noble Lord’s congratulations of the new Japanese Prime Minister: I wish him a long and successful period in post.

Trade Bill

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard) & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 8th September 2020

(3 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I too welcome the noble Lord, Lord Grimstone, to his place and welcome his maiden speech. As chair of Standard Life, he brought strong strategic direction, clarity and consistency to the company over many years, which ensured that it survived and thrived in difficult times for many other companies in financial services in this country. As he said, at the heart of that was good governance. I hope he is able to bring some of that to help his colleagues in the Government in these troubled times.

I want to make two points. The first is in relation to parliamentary scrutiny and engagement with the devolved Governments and Parliaments. One of the reasons we are in this place—by that I mean moving towards the final stages of Brexit—is the decline in trust in politicians, government and institutions over recent years. While the Government’s intention might be to try through Brexit to bring back some of that trust and to deal with some of those issues, I do not believe that we can deal with the problem of trust among the general population in institutions and Parliament by reducing the role of Parliament in scrutinising trade agreements and other important decisions. I urge the Government to look at this in a positive way and to enhance the role of Parliament, not diminish it, as they bring trade agreements back home to the UK.

I also urge them to take the same approach in relation to the involvement of the devolved nations and their Governments and Parliaments, because early engagement with the devolved nations can ensure that we have better, not worse, trade agreements. We will have more unity in the country—unity of purpose and of implementation—if we are able to secure that engagement, and therefore better agreements at the end of the day.

I also urge the Government to think positively in a wider sense about trade. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, mentioned this in relation to some of the developments that are taking place across Africa in these times. We need trade agreements that serve not only the economic interests of the UK and its population but do not make climate change worse or increase the inequity in the world and therefore all the many problems of migration and conflict that result. Our trade policy should not only ensure that we have strong democratic accountability at home but that we have a real sense of purpose abroad.

I think—I hope—we all have a shared objective in trade that is free and fair but that also grows the global economy, as well as our own, and ensures that more people in the world can secure its benefits, and therefore a better life and better opportunities.

UK Internal Market: White Paper

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Wednesday 29th July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I agree with the noble Lord that the internal single market is indeed the economic glue that binds the four nations together. I can confirm that we will continue to respect the devolution settlement and indeed, as I said in response to earlier questions, the devolved Administrations are gaining many new powers as we leave the European Union. There is no power grab involved here—in fact, the opposite is the case—and we will continue to want to work as quickly as possible with the devolved nations and legislatures as much as we can.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his courtesy on the day the White Paper was launched. I hope that over the coming months, we in both Houses of Parliament will apply rigour to the debates on these proposals, because they are absolutely vital, economically as well as politically, for the United Kingdom.

I will ask the Minister two questions. I am impressed with the idea of the market access guarantee, which is the most novel and interesting proposal for the way we work inside the UK since the Fresh Talent visa of 2004. However, I would like to know how that and the subsidy control proposals that will come forward will be overseen. Will the Government consider an independent mechanism for both or either, and if so, would they give an opportunity to the devolved Governments in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, to nominate individuals to sit on any body that oversaw that independent mechanism for compliance?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I thank the noble Lord for his support. I was happy to be able to brief him personally on the proposals, because I know he speaks with great authority on this subject. He is right to refer to the market access commitments. It is a simple set of legal principles which guarantees UK businesses access to trade across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They have tremendous benefits for businesses in Scotland and Wales, as well as those in England. The noble Lord is right to say that we are considering setting up a body to monitor the operation of the single market across the United Kingdom. If we proceed with those proposals, I am sure that it will be sensible to have representation from the devolved Administrations.

Covid-19: Businesses and the Private Sector

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 21st May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as recorded in the Lords’ register. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, for initiating this debate: it is a fantastic opportunity to recognise the significant role of the private sector in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Perhaps even more important is the critical role of the energy and creativity of the private sector in the economic recovery that must surely follow. I shall raise two points that perhaps add to the many points that have been made by noble Lords during the debate.

First, I want to recognise the fact that companies and firms have been far ahead of government in this country in relation to the sustainable development goals. They have seen their potential for the management of risk, for building greater resilience in supply chains and development, and for securing sustainable economic development both at home and abroad. I hope the Government will take that on board in looking towards an economic recovery that is more sustainable in the future, and that has the sustainable development goals as part of the framework for building the sorts of partnerships that will be required.

Secondly, I want to make a point about consumers. This crisis has highlighted, perhaps as never before, the disgraceful way that some companies treat those who are applying for refunds—whether it is airlines and holiday companies, as in this case, or others. Will the Government include in their review of actions after this crisis the question of whether new consumer rights are needed to ensure that people are better protected in future?