British manufacturing DOES have a future

At a time when the behaviour of MPs is under the microscope as never before, I just want to reassure you that much of what we do is genuinely useful Ė itís just that, because good news doesnít seem to make the news very often, you donít hear very much about it.

In particular, the good work done by select committees tends to go unreported. As Chairman of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, you wonít be surprised to know I think thatís a shame. Itís only when our reports make damming criticisms of government that we get noticed.

A couple of months ago we published a report challenging the ridiculous idea that we donít make things any more in this country. Did you know that we are the sixth largest manufacturing nation on the planet? Or that our aerospace manufacturing sector is the largest outside the USA? And itís no accident that Formula One development and manufacture is heavily concentrated in the UK Ė something I saw for myself this week on a fascinating visit to Silverstone on Monday.

And when I went to Birmingham University last Friday, I saw the excellent work that is being done there with small businesses, taking the expertise of some very clever academics and making sure it brings real gains to local businesses.

Our September report celebrated this success and made some constructive suggestions for maintaining and improving this situation. Of course, it went unreported Ė people only want bad news about manufacturing because itís what weíve all been brought up to expect.

Yes, we could have had a still bigger and better manufacturing sector and the policies of successive governments have both helped and hindered manufacturers. But I will not stand by and let the notion that we are finished as a manufacturing nation go unanswered. In Worcestershire I can see many outstanding manufacturers making incredibly successful and sophisticated products.

If we want young people to choose careers in science, engineering and manufacturing, they must be told the truth about British success in these areas and the real opportunities for satisfying and rewarding careers. If we let the pessimists win, we will indeed find ourselves in a vicious circle of decline Ė and it just neednít be like that.


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