It is a pleasure, as always, to speak today and represent the residents of the Clacton constituency.
There is much to welcome in the Queen’s Speech: a fairer immigration system; new protections and support for victims of crime, and increased sentences for serious and violent offenders; the strengthening of the armed forces covenant; the modernisation of renting and planning; and the end of anomalies with leaseholds, which can be so exorbitant. This is a programme that reflects a Government who are listening to and delivering on people’s priorities.
I am particularly pleased with new measures to help people into better jobs, especially the revolutionary lifetime skills guarantee, which will be extremely valuable for the Clacton constituency. Our area, as I have said in this place many times, relies heavily on tourism for jobs. Prior to the pandemic, it represented about 17% of all employment in our area. The results of my recent covid recovery survey showed that this heavy reliance on tourism continues.
Yes, the Government are helping businesses back to normality with restart grants, the business rates holiday, a VAT cut and the “Welcome back” fund, and of course the next stage is the wonderful unlocking next Monday, which will also do so much to help hospitality. Sadly, however, there will still be casualties. There will still be businesses that do not reopen, despite our best efforts. That is true not just for tourism but for all industries, which is why the lifetime skills guarantee scheme is so vital. It will help people to retrain after the pandemic, while equalling out opportunities for training and employment in the future, and setting people up on the route to better, well-paid jobs. It will do this across a wide range of job-relevant courses, including training in industries that will be of central importance as we build back better. We are helping people to get the skills that employers are looking for, thereby giving them the best chance of finding better jobs.
Those who vote against the motion or legislation to enact the scheme will do nothing but rob those hard-working, aspirational people of valuable opportunities to reskill—opportunities that until now have been out of their reach. I will not do that. I will support the motion and the skills and post-16 education Bill, when it arrives in this place, to ensure a levelling up of opportunities. Of course, I will also do all I can in this place to help those businesses as they reopen.
There is still much that the Government can do in this area, including by introducing a differentiation in beer duty to help hospitality, helping our arts, cultural and sporting institutions back on their feet, maintaining that help until they are welcoming back full houses once more, and promoting the wonderful destinations we have here in the United Kingdom, which includes the wonderful sunshine coast of Clacton. Our best beaches are here, and I am proud to represent them. The way to help businesses in Clacton is to get people visiting our seaside destinations regularly. Create demand and, I believe, we create jobs.
On jobs, I also welcome the Bill to create the freeports, which include a site at Harwich and Felixstowe. That is another thing that will help the Clacton constituency, with jobs that will be filled by an increasingly upskilled workforce. Further, I recognise the importance of the Bills to improve the NHS and the Bill to improve the highest standards of animal welfare—two issues that I know my constituents care deeply about, as do I. I look forward to supporting that legislation in due course.
Finally, I thank the Government once again for prioritising the environment in this Queen’s Speech. We will set binding targets, but we will build back greener, creating highly skilled jobs as part of the green industrial revolution. I have no doubt that the Clacton constituency will be a part of creating and filling those new employment opportunities.