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Mike Wood: On that very point, the family-owned Hinton Perry & Davenhill brickworks in my constituency has recently invested £5 million in new energy and production efficiency measures. Does my hon. Friend agree that undermining the business model on which such brickworks operate reduces investment in energy efficiency, thereby worsening the situation, rather than helping?
Craig Tracey Conservative, North Warwickshire
I cannot say much more than that my hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is the nub of the problem. It is about investment as much as anything else.
Given the Government’s commitment to delivering 400,000 affordable housing starts by 2021, and the Construction 2025 strategy, which seeks to achieve a 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and imports of construction products and materials, it is essential that we maintain a UK manufacturing base of bricks and clay roof tiles. In order to achieve that, we must support local manufacturers in the UK, which will ultimately reduce the need for imported materials.
Competing construction materials such as cement and steel are set to retain carbon leakage status, creating distortions in the UK market. Importing construction products will have a negative effect on the UK trade balance and increase the UK’s consumption-based emissions. I should add that it is not only the brick and ceramics industries that raise these concerns; there is also support from other energy-intensive sectors, such as paper and glass industries.
In summary, my asks of the Minister are that the Government support these very important industries by ensuring that no tiered approach is applied, and that ceramic installations retain full carbon leakage mitigation; by maximising the provision of free allowances to preserve the UK’s competitiveness; and, finally, by allowing the current qualitative assessment process to continue. I look forward to hearing my right hon. Friend the Minister’s response.