Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions

21st January 2020

Nadhim Zahawi answers MPs’ questions to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Small-scale Modular Nuclear Reactors

7. What steps the Government are taking to support the provision of small-scale modular nuclear reactors. [900280]

It is delightful to see you in your place, Mr Speaker; this is the first opportunity I have had to congratulate you.

Small modular reactors have significant potential to reduce our carbon emissions, and help to achieve net zero by using advanced manufacturing techniques to unlock what is referred to as “fleet economics” and drive down costs in nuclear.

It is clearly very good news that Rolls-Royce, a world-renowned company, has taken up the challenge of developing small modular nuclear reactors for clean energy not only for the UK, but for export across the world. What assessment has my hon. Friend made of the opportunity for new jobs in the UK and for exports across the world?

The Rolls-Royce consortium has proposed a significant public-private joint innovation programme worth more than £500 million to design a first-of-its-kind SMR. The consortium expects a working model to be up and running in the early 2030s, that the SMR programme would create high-value export opportunities and, at its peak, 40,000 jobs, and that each SMR would be capable of producing enough clean electricity to power 750,000 homes.

In the last Parliament, the Defence Committee and Science and Technology Committee received evidence clearly indicating that there are threats from unmanned aerial vehicles in relation to nuclear reactors. If the Minister supports these small-scale nuclear reactors, will he advise the House on what discussions his Department is having with the Ministry of Defence about their impact on the security of national infrastructure?

I am grateful for the hon. Member’s pertinent question. He is absolutely right; we do have discussions with the Ministry of Defence. The Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth and I are visiting Hinkley Point tomorrow, but the hon. Member raises an important issue that the nuclear constabulary is taking very seriously.

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Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk: Business Support

11. What recent steps she has taken to support businesses in Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency. [900285]

The Government are committed to spreading prosperity to all parts of the United Kingdom. We are investing £565 million through the borderlands growth deal and the Edinburgh and south-east Scotland city region deal, demonstrating our commitment to supporting growth and prosperity in the Scottish borders.

The Minister will know about the borders’ fine, famous tradition of producing Scottish textiles, but this industry is being hammered by the US-EU trade war, whereby many businesses face a 25% tariff on their exports to the United States. What are the Government doing to support those businesses and, in particular, compensate them for these tariff charges?

Scottish textiles are, as my hon. Friend rightly points out, an important part of the Scottish economy, our overall economy and our heritage. We will do everything we can to protect this micro-economy. The Government are working closely with the EU and the United States to support a negotiated settlement to the Airbus-Boeing dispute, and the Secretary of State continues to raise this personally with the United States Administration and is meeting the Trade Secretary later today.

Topical Questions

T3. Does the Secretary of State agree that local enterprise partnerships should be led by the business community in the area they serve? [900300]

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Ceramic Valley enterprise zone has transformed a number of brownfield sites and created thousands of jobs in Stoke-on-Trent. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State support our proposals to extend the zone, and its continuation in Stoke-on-Trent?

Since it launched in April 2016, Ceramic Valley enterprise zone has been a fantastic success: it has attracted private sector investment and has already secured 1,000 new jobs in Stoke. The Government are prioritising levelling up, as the Prime Minister continuously reminds us. We will want to reflect on those things, such as Ceramic Valley enterprise zone, that have worked and see how we can support them further.

Hansard

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