Category Archives: In Parliament

Richard Graham MP comments on the Prime Minister’s Brexit Speech

The Gloucester MP said, “The Prime Minister’s speech should put an end to the boiled egg debate – ‘hard’ and soft’ Brexit. I totally agree our aim should be for the closest possible relationship on defence and security as well as all research, science and technology: for the rights of EU citizens here and ours there to be protected; for free trade between us and for a customs arrangement so that our goods are not inspected.

At the same time she has absolutely honoured the will of the people in recognising that leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market, and bringing back control of our laws and immigration. One of the key questions (understandably) not discussed in detail was the shape of transitional arrangements. That is a crucial part of the talks, and Theresa May will not want to give our position away.

I hope most of my constituents will welcome her speech – and especially the decision for a vote by Parliament on the result of the negotiations. This recognises the sovereignty of Parliament. I’ve no doubt my constituents will tell me their views before that crucial vote!”

The Best Deal for the UK leaving the EU

This is my reaction to the PM’s speech today outlining the Way Forward on Brexit – and her ambitions for Global Britain.

I hope that most of my constituents will agree with the main points and there is an important point for us all: at the end of the negotiations there will be a vote in Parliament.

Let me know your reactions on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk

Britain’s chance to create energy from the world’s first Tidal Lagoon

It may not hit the headlines when the media are focused on whether the Kremlin has compromising material on the new US President, but yesterday was I think the moment Britain got serious about creating a new global industry.

We were early movers in offshore wind energy, and we have an opportunity now to be the first mover in generating energy from tidal lagoons. There are tidal barrages in eg France and Russia, but no tidal lagoon – where a large wall is built around a bay, and an under water turbine captures energy from the twice daily movements of the tide – anywhere in the world. Yet.

Some time ago I opened the Gloucester headquarters of Tidal Lagoon Power plc (TLP), which proposes a series of tidal lagoons to harness the strength of the Severn Estuary tides and generate up to 10% of Britain’s total electricity needs. The technology is not totally new, but has never been deployed in this way before: and the size of even the first and smallest lagoon in Swansea Bay involves over eleven miles of wall. And although TLP has funding for the c£1.3 billion project, ultimately the taxpayer would subsidise the cost through the price paid by the National Grid.

In the wake of controversy about the size of the subsidy to be paid for nuclear energy from the new Hinkley Point stations, the government was cautious about the cost and last year commissioned a Review of Tidal Energy. Those who thought the aim was delay, prevarication and kicking the issue into the long grass will have been disappointed by Charles Hendry’s report, whose launch I hosted (as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Marine Energy & Tidal Lagoons) in Parliament yesterday.

Charles is a former colleague and Energy Minister, and although he started a sceptic hisreport  is absolutely clear about the scale of the opportunity and its importance to the UK. He described our tides as the greatest untapped source of energy in the country, and highlighted the Severn Estuary and the Solway Firth in particular. He sees a golden opportunity for Britain to be bold and seize first mover advantage in a new global industry, and in his 40 recommendations urges the government to reach agreement on a pathfinder by TLP at Swansea Bay as soon as possible. Why did he reach that conclusion?

The Hendry Review looked at four key questions – the security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs). On all four it found strongly in favour of tidal lagoons. Their energy is domestically sourced and predictable, very low carbon (and supported by Greenpeace). The estimated UK content is 65%, with 50% likely to be sourced from Wales – not least manufacturing (including steel) and construction, but with huge tourism potential which Charles Hendry thought had been much underestimated, and compared to the Eden Project in Cornwall. And then there is the cost.

The report estimates that the cost of the Swansea pathfinder would be cheaper (through the Contract for Difference or CfD structure) than the nuclear subsidy, and over the lifetime of a tidal lagoon considerably cheaper per megawatt hour than offshore wind: less than 50p per household per year over the the first 60 years (after which the subsidy would end).

The Hendry Report makes 40 recommendations, many to government: including the creation of a Tidal Power Authority and establishing competitive tenders for future lagoons. The government will now study these in detail. So what happens next?

Last autumn I wrote a letter to the Chancellor urging him to look seriously at the Review when it came out because the 111 MPs who signed my letter all believed there were significant opportunities for Britain. As the Hendry Review has confirmed our instincts I will now write again, urging a detailed and formal response before the Budget.

In my view it would simply not be credible for the government to ignore or reject the general thrust of the recommendations. The Review and its author are too authoritative. It will have to look closely particularly at the structure and pricing issues, but the risk of the pathfinder at Swansea is really with TLP plc – they won’t receive anything until the electricity is in the National Grid, probably in 2022. And the support they have in Swansea, Wales and much more widely for this project is almost unprecedented.

I am also sure that an opportunity to buy tidal bonds with an income stream as steady as the energy itself would be well subscribed by both pension funds and retail investors alike. I want to see Britain investing in and owning our own infrastructure and this is our chance to show that we can and will do so. So much of our infrastructure from Camelot to most of Heathrow Airport is not owned by us – but it doesn’t need to be that way.

Which brings us back to Gloucester. What could be more exciting than to have a business based in our city construct the first of what I hope will be many tidal lagoons, all over the world. Our city has thrived on manufacturing innovation – whether Booth’s first vacuum cleaner, to the first flight of Whittle’s jet engine, Dowty’s landing gear and aviation instruments and the nuclear industry whose operations are all still run from Barnwood. Creating the world’s first tidal lagoon is in a great tradition – and I will do all I can to keep encouraging this bold step forward for Britain.

Let me know your thoughts and reactions on richard.graham.mp@parliament.uk

Best regards

PRESS RELEASE: Gloucester MP welcomes huge step forward for Tidal Lagoons from Hendry Review

Richard with Charles Hendry

Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Marine Energy and Tidal Lagoons and Gloucester MP Richard Graham said that the Hendry Review of Tidal Lagoons gave the clearest possible recommendation for the government to move fast and develop this new global industry.

Richard said, “Charles Hendry said he had started a sceptic and ended a huge enthusiast for the opportunities in this sector. On the core issues of security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs above all) his Review found strongly in favour of the UK being the world’s first mover of Tidal Lagoons – and he urged the government to get negotiations for a Swansea pathfinder moving as soon as possible, with an aim of seeing electricity generated from the Swansea Tidal Lagoon in 2022.”

The Hendry Review noted the huge public support for Tidal Lagoons, the importance of UK manufacturing, supply chains and tourism, and made over 30 recommendations, including the creation of new delivery body (Tidal Power Authority).

“This report gives the government the opportunity to move forward on domestically sourced, very low carbon generation from our greatest untapped source of energy – our tides. I will be inviting members of our All Party Group to write a further letter to the Chancellor giving our support for the recommendations and urging him to make a positive response before the Budget,” said Richard

Mark Shorrock, the Chief Executive of Tidal Lagoon Power said, “the Hendry Review has set the final piece of the jigsaw in place and we look forward to working with Ministers and Officials to bring this new industry to life. We really appreciate the work done by Richard and APPG members in putting tidal lagoons at the centre of Parliamentary debate.”

Charles Hendry said, “it is clear that tidal lagoons at scale could deliver low carbon power in a way that is very competitive with other low carbon sources. We are blessed with some of the best resources in the world, which puts us in a unique position to be world leaders. The costs of a pathfinder project would be about 30p per household per year over the first 30 years.”

Launch of the Independent Hendry Review on Tidal Lagoons

Charles Hendry has published his Independent Review of Tidal Lagoons and I hosted a press conference for him today.

Charles said he had started a sceptic and ended a huge enthusiast for the opportunities in this sector. On the core issues of security of supply, decarbonisation, affordability and economic gain (jobs above all) his Review found strongly in favour of the UK being the world’s first mover of Tidal Lagoons – and he urged the government to get negotiations for a Swansea pathfinder moving as soon as possible, with an aim of seeing electricity generated from the Swansea Tidal Lagoon in 2022.

Read his report here: https://hendryreview.wordpress.com/

Why I believe engagement is the right policy with China

Richard with President Xi Jinping

Richard with President Xi Jinping

China has undergone immense change. When I first arrived in Hong Kong in 1980, China didn’t impinge much on the world. Although a UN Security Council member with the world’s biggest population, she generated only 2% of global growth. Today she represents 15% of global GDP, investing about £10 billion annually into the UK. 140,000 Chinese students study here while almost a million tourists have come this year.

In my own constituency and the surrounding area leading exporters like Renishaw, Severn Glocon and Prima Dental all depend considerably on Chinese customers. So do all the aerospace contractors, some of whom (like Messier-Dowty) manufacture in China as well as in our county. We host Chinese students on training and university courses, or on exchanges from Hangzhou Medical College, to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. We export a range of goods from marine diesel engines, dental drills and gantrail to flavoured tea, coatings and cylinders. No wonder UK exports have doubled since 2010. Perhaps most importantly Gloucester hosts the EDF Energy operational HQ for all our nuclear power stations. The new plan at Hinkley Point depends on Chinese financing. And nuclear energy is key both to more home-grown, zero carbon energy and keeping the lights on.

The China factor in our country is for real: it is important for jobs, businesses and our energy needs. As the only Chinese speaking parliamentarian, who has worked in both mainland China and Hong Kong, I want my colleagues to see what’s happening there and why China matters. But business and investment cannot come at any cost and what is happening there is not simply about trade and investment. Our history, systems and values are very different, which leads to many challenges.

On every All Party Parliamentary China Group visit I have to explain aspects of our democracy to Chinese interlocutors. The human rights representative in our Beijing Embassy continues, with colleagues, to advocate a true Rule of Law. In today’s changing China leaders readily acknowledge the importance of this: but the speed and practical implementation of reform is behind China’s own needs, and the legislative function is controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

The UK has much to offer in this sphere and the Great Britain China Centre, of which I’m a director, does hugely important and behind the scenes  work with Chinese bodies on many aspects of the Rule of Law. Ultimately this is because the Rule of Law matters so much: not just giving businesses confidence to trade and expand, but defining the relationship between state and citizens too.

Some ask, and will continue to ask, if the UK has sold its soul for money, as the Dalai Lama suggested. It’s easy to criticise the UK for being so open to business with an authoritarian country: I could write the script myself. But at a time when so many non-Western states are crumbling and the Western world is itself facing huge political challenges, it would be bizarre not to engage with China –  a vast nation which has held together against the odds, taken a billion people out of poverty and is now a major global power, impacting all our lives directly and indirectly.

So I believe engagement is the right policy. We’re right to do so wholeheartedly, provided we don’t take our eye off obvious risks, like cybersecurity: and continue to raise, in line with our values, human and animal rights issues. In any event I believe these are in China’s own long term interests too. Ultimately I believe we both have lots to learn from each other, without expecting to agree all the time – and that needs engagement. That’s been my approach for 35 years and today, in uncertain times, dialogue and partnership is far more in our interests than it was back in 1980.

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