Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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The COP President has not set out which countries are his priority for enhanced nationally determined contributions in the run-up to COP27; will he do so?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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As the Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee knows, all countries have committed to come back to their 2030 emissions-reduction targets by 2022, if necessary. Of course, the G20 is responsible for 80% of global emissions and will have to lead the way.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Wednesday 20th October 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Reaffirmed by our 25-year environmental plan and our fisheries White Paper, the Government are committed to sustainable fishing and the principle of maximum sustainable yield. My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that we are also committed to helping industry to reduce the adverse impacts on the marine environment and to adapt to climate change.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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Only 13 of the G20 nations have committed to net zero by law. Does the COP President expect all G20 nations to commit to net zero by law at COP26?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I would like every country to step forward with a net zero target. When we started, it was 30% of the world economy; it is now 80%. Of course, we also need those nationally determined contributions to come forward before COP.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Wednesday 14th July 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I respectfully disagree with the hon. Lady. Since 2000 the UK has decarbonised faster than any other G20 nation, and our national determined contribution of at least 68% reduction in emissions on a 1990 base year by 2030 is world leading, as is the commitment in our carbon budget. We are doing our bit but, of course, there is always room for all of us to do more.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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Has Britain lost her credibility when asking developing nations to pay to decarbonise, following the Government’s affirmation yesterday of their cut to UK international aid spending?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I have seen at first hand, when I was Secretary of State for International Development and, indeed, in other roles, that UK support continues to transform millions of lives for the better across the world. The hon. Gentleman will know that we will continue to spend over £10 billion this year in aid, and of course we now have certainty that we will be returning to the 0.7% target.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Wednesday 9th June 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman raises a very important point. We want this to be the most inclusive COP ever. As he will know, we have set up a civil society and youth advisory group, which is an opportunity for groups from the global south and the global north to come together and discuss issues. I can say to him that, ahead of the climate and development ministerial meeting we had on 31 March, we took a lot of feedback from this grouping in deciding what we needed to discuss.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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Many stake- holders that would normally engage at COP26—civil society groups, NGOs, politicians, business leaders—still do not have clarity about how they will engage at COP in November. I understand the difficulties related to the pandemic, but can the President give the House an update today on when guidance will be provided to stakeholders about online versus offline and whether presence will be allowed in Glasgow?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I have always been clear, and I reiterated in a speech I gave in Glasgow with six months to go to COP, that we want this to be a physical event. That is the basis on which we are planning, and we are ensuring that we are exploring all measures to ensure this is covid- secure—safe for the people of Glasgow and, of course, safe for participants as well.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Wednesday 14th April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. I have said on a number of occasions that I want this to be the most inclusive COP ever. Absolutely, we are looking at how we can expand our digital programmes to allow for more virtualisation. I hope that, at the appropriate time, I will be able to update the House further.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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A diplomatic source in the British Government is reported in the papers today as saying about the conference:

“No one in Europe thinks it’s going to happen and the US is increasingly sceptical that it can happen without a delay.”

I support the COP26 President’s aim for a physical conference of national delegations but, of course, many stakeholders are politicians, business leaders, NGOs and others. When will the Cabinet Office produce a contingency plan to give clarity to stakeholders about how engagement can take place in November?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman, again, raises an important point. He will have seen the letter I wrote to UNFCCC members on the progress we want to make over the coming months. COP26 has already been postponed by one year, and the urgency of the climate crisis has not abated. I do not sense any desire among parties for a further postponement, and we are working very hard to ensure that we have an in-person, physical COP, taking into account, of course, any covid-related contingencies.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Wednesday 24th February 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend knows a great deal about these matters, and he makes a vital point about the incredibly valuable role of tropical forests. He will be aware that the UK is championing a new global taskforce on nature-related financial disclosures to tackle nature-related risks in investments.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab) [V]
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With many developing nations further behind in the roll-out of their covid vaccinations, what steps is the COP President taking to ensure that every nation on earth is able to fully participate at COP26 in November?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman raises an incredibly important point. We want this to be the most inclusive COP ever and, of course, we are planning for it to be an in-person COP, while taking into account contingencies. The point about vaccines is important, because access to vaccines is not consistent globally. We will work very hard to ensure that we have a safe and inclusive COP for all.

I should point out that, more generally, the UK is supporting the COVAX facility and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the Prime Minister has recently made it clear that we will send the majority of any future surplus of vaccine doses that the UK has to the COVAX scheme to support developing countries.

Energy White Paper

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Monday 14th December 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I thank my hon. Friend for that question. If I may, I refer him to the written ministerial statement I laid in the House some weeks ago, in which I said that from 1 January 2021 the Government will follow the World Trade Organisation rules for subsidy control and any related commitments the Government have agreed in free trade agreements. We also intend to publish a consultation in the coming months on whether we should go further than our WTO and international commitments. That will include consulting on whether any further legislation should be put in place.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of the statement, and congratulate him and his team on the publication of this long-awaited but comprehensive White Paper. He will know that the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee will be looking at it in the round in the new year, including in our inquiry on decarbonising heat, but may I ask him one question today about gaps between the sixth carbon budget and the energy White Paper? To give one example, the sixth carbon budget from the Committee on Climate Change requested that all new boilers should be hydrogen-ready by 2025 at the latest, and that to meet all our hydrogen requirements we would need to generate 90 TWh by 2035. In the energy White Paper, however, the commitment to boilers is for the mid-2030s and only 42 TWh of power from hydrogen by 2030, a gap of some 48 TWh. Will he acknowledge that gap between the energy White Paper and the sixth carbon budget, and perhaps tell the House whether there will be further announcements in the new year to bridge that gap?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Tuesday 10th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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We are making funding available to upgrade ports, as the right hon. Gentleman said. I hope he would acknowledge that, as a result of the Government’s work on contracts-for-difference auctions, we have the biggest offshore wind industry in the world, which has driven down prices significantly and made offshore wind viable. We will continue to work to support those jobs, and we are talking about tens of thousands of extra jobs in the sector by 2030.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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Vaccine manufacturing for covid is being led by Ms Kate Bingham from the vaccine taskforce. Not only has she disclosed official sensitive documents to hedge-fund managers in the United States, but she has spent £670,000 of taxpayers’ money on private public relations advisers instead of using civil servants and is set to benefit financially from state investments. Ms Bingham should be sacked. If she is not sacked, who will be held to account for this gross conflict of interest and misuse of public funds? Will it be the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I would point out that the vaccines taskforce, which sits in my Department and is led by Kate Bingham, has done an absolutely brilliant job over the past few months. We have managed to secure 350 million doses across six of the most promising vaccine candidates. The hon. Gentleman will have seen the statement that came through from Pfizer/BioNTech yesterday; we were the first country in the world to secure access to that particular vaccine candidate. The hon. Gentleman talks about spending; the senior responsible officer, in line with his delegated authority, approved that resourcing in accordance with public sector practices and frameworks.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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Let me assure the right hon. Gentleman that this Department does stand up for businesses. We have a very regular dialogue with sectors on an ongoing basis. As I said, I acknowledge that some of them are facing particular difficulties. As he himself knows from his time in government, we are not going to be able to protect every single job—very, very sadly—but that is why we are providing extra support in the welfare system but also, really importantly, in support with skills and, indeed, apprenticeships and the kickstart scheme for young people, so that we can help people into better jobs.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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It has been confirmed that the Secretary of State is due to rewrite the industrial strategy this autumn. Given the concern from businesses that the Department is the voice of Government to business, as opposed to the voice of business to Government, could the Secretary of State confirm how businesses will be engaged in the drafting of the new industrial strategy?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The Chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee of course raises an important point, and he will know that I have come to the House on previous occasions and outlined the detailed discussions we have. I set up a range of taskforces, where we had discussions on issues around the industrial strategy back in June, and we converse on a daily basis with sectors across the country.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(3 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Select Committee, Darren Jones.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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Hospitality workers who, in normal times, rely on tips as a significant part of their income have been especially hit, not just because their workplaces have been shut but because furlough payments have not recognised tip-based income. The Government have committed to bringing forward legislation to ensure that hospitality staff can keep their tips; indeed, it was a Conservative party manifesto commitment. When will that legislation be brought to the House?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The Chairman of the Select Committee raises a very important point. As he knows, we have had to bring forward a number of emergency Bills. However, I recognise the point he is making, and we will look to see the earliest point at which we might be able to bring that forward.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Tuesday 16th June 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Darren Jones.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab)
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UK-EU research collaboration contributes £2 billion to British research and development and accounts for at least 5,000 researchers in British universities, as well as its contributions to covid research and vaccination research. Will the Secretary of State make a commitment that, irrespective of the free trade agreement negotiations with the EU, the UK will seek third country full associate membership of Horizon Europe to keep that money coming into British R&D?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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The hon. Gentleman will know that we are committed to being a science and R&D superpower, which is why we have committed to spending £22 billion a year by 2024-25 and to reaching 2.4% of GDP by 2027. The discussions with the EU are ongoing, and we will see what they lead to.

Covid-19: Business

Debate between Alok Sharma and Darren Jones
Tuesday 12th May 2020

(4 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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My hon. Friend raises an important point. May I first thank him for the great work he is doing in the ambulance service as a community first responder, which I know is making a real difference in his community? He talks about consumer rights. The law is very clear, and it is there to protect consumers. Refunds should be issued within 14 days. However, he also knows that the sectors he is talking about are facing their own challenges. I am continuing to have discussions on this issue with my counterparts in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. He will also know that the Competition and Markets Authority has set up a covid-19 taskforce for consumers seeking refunds, and we continue to have a dialogue with it.

Darren Jones Portrait Darren Jones (Bristol North West) (Lab) [V]
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I thank the Secretary of State for the advance copy of his statement. The whole House will know that businesses will want to do the right thing in implementing the covid-19-secure guidelines, but we also know that many businesses, especially SMEs, have struggled to buy the required kit on the open market and that many workers feel under pressure to go to work when they do not feel safe to do so. Can the Secretary of State confirm what support the Government will give to businesses to ensure that they have access to the covid-19-secure codes they need for their workplaces and set out how workers will be supported, perhaps by ACAS, in dealing with potential workplace disputes linked to this issue?

Alok Sharma Portrait Alok Sharma
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I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his election as Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, and I look forward to further interactions in the future. He raises a point about the support available for businesses. The Chancellor spoke earlier, and he set out an extension to the job retention scheme. He has also made available loans and grants, so there is a lot of support out there. On the point about ACAS, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. Where employees feel that they have an issue they are not able to resolve, they absolutely should go to ACAS.