Members of the Lords including prominent businessmen, a professor of manufacturing and several former Trade and Industry spokespeople debated the issues surrounding the development and retention of the UK’s manufacturing industry on Thursday 8 December.
In his opening speech Lord Haskel (Labour) highlighted that despite being the seventh largest manufacturing nation, manufacturing is 11 per cent of our economy and 46 per cent of our exports. He argued that to retain our manufacturing sector, 'there needs to be a better understanding of what manufacturing actually is in 2011.'
Lord Bhattacharyya (Labour), whose interests include a role as the founding chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group stated that for the first time in decades, manufacturing is key to economic growth. He said: 'We have had eight quarters of manufacturing GDP growth, business investment has increased for the past sixth months and while yesterday's output figures were poor, a "maker's recovery" continues in key sectors; for example, automotive.'
Lord Lee of Trafford (Liberal Democrat) made four points on manufacturing, saying that there needed to be a closer liaison between the manufacturing industry and schools and more positive media coverage of manufacturing and the investment opportunities.
Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench) founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, referred to the UK industry's cutting-edge capabilities: 'We have the support of the best creative industries, the best design, the best accountants, the best lawyers in the world; it is all there,' he said.
Other speakers included:
- Lord Sugar (Labour), businessman and entrepreneur
- Lord Selsdon (Conservative), former member of the British Overseas Trade Board and former President of the British Exporters Association
- Lord Young of Norwood Green (Labour), Opposition Spokesperson for Business, Innovation and Skills
- Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan (Labour), former Opposition Frontbench Spokesperson for Trade and Industry
- Baroness Randerson (Liberal Democrat), Vice-President of Cardiff Business Club
- Lord Cope of Berkeley (Conservative), former Paymaster General and Minister for Employment with special responsibility for Small Firms
Baroness Wilcox (Conservative) responded on behalf of the Government and concluded: 'I am confident that we can once again put world-class manufacturing at the heart of our economy.'
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