Oral Answers to Questions

Sir Edward Leigh Excerpts
Monday 4th May 2020

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Amanda Solloway Portrait Amanda Solloway - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The growing UK space sector employs 42,000 people and contributes £300 billion to the wider UK economy by providing satellite services on which many industries rely. The UK Space Agency continues to investigate the requirements, design specifications and cost of a UK GNSS capability, and it is working closely with the Ministry of Defence to support activities under the Skynet contract. We are working hard to develop a UK space strategy to generate further economic growth across the country.

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con) - Hansard

What discussions he has had with (a) the Federation of Small Businesses and (b) other representatives of small businesses on the Government's response to the covid-19 outbreak. [902143]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth (Kwasi Kwarteng) - Hansard

The Government are doing everything at their disposal to support businesses through the crisis and beyond. The Department is maintaining an ongoing dialogue with key stakeholders representing the country’s small businesses. The FSB regularly participates in the Business Secretary’s twice weekly call and regularly engages with my Department on a number of issues relating to covid-19.

Sir Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh [V] - Hansard

The best way, probably, to help small business in rural areas such as Lincolnshire is to beef up broadband. That is for the long term, but does the Minister accept that, in the short term, the best way to help businesses is to let them do business, not subsidise them to close? I know we have to help vulnerable people, but it is not going to help the vulnerable in the long term if we crash the economy, so are the Government working full pelt, obviously consistent with proper social distancing, to get business back to work?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng - Hansard

My right hon. Friend is quite right: we want to focus on getting business back to work; but these lockdown measures were introduced to protect lives. Relaxing the measures too much would, we feel, risk damage to public health, our economy and all the sacrifices we have all made. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education said last week, it is incredibly important that we create environments that are safe in which to work and learn. We will adjust lockdown measures when the scientific advice indicates that it is safe to do so.