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Lord Hesketh: My Lords, during many years in your Lordships' House I have never, ever intervened in a wind-up speech. However, I have been so disgracefully misquoted by the noble Lord that I really must stop him. I never said that it was enthusiasts' investment that made the industry. All of these businesses depend on being run by businessmen. It is not some kind of cavalier adventure as the noble Lord would make out. The truth is that I have been misquoted constantly in his speech. He did not listen to a word I said. I have looked at his speech and seen that it was all typed out before he heard a word that I had to say. I should be grateful if he did not make any further mention of me because every time he does it is a wholly disgraceful, inaccurate misrepresentation. The noble Lord has no Whip with him which I think is also fairly disgraceful. It is
Lord Haskel: My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord is upset. I carefully noted some of the comments that he made. Certainly I prepared my notes beforehand but I also noted down some of the comments that the noble Lord made.
I listened carefully to what everyone said. I noted that the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, told us of some of the fortunate sets of circumstances which have occurred over the past 40 years. He was speaking as an historian. With respect to the noble Lord, Lord Hesketh, one gets the impression, having listened to what other noble Lords have said, that these companies are driven by enthusiasm, passion and interest rather than by accountants. Many noble Lords have said that this set of circumstances seems to work well in this country, with responsive business units focusing on their core competences rather than working in large centrally-organised vertical production firms. Most importantly, I do not believe that those companies have as their first priority the production of shareholder value for financial institutions. Their first priority is simply to win races. That is what the sponsors want, and in many ways they are the providers of the capital. That is what the engineers, subcontractors and racing teams want. All of the stakeholders are united in a single objective. I would regard that as a very successful example of the stakeholder economy.
Lord Chesham: My Lords, I very much welcome the opportunity for this debate. Like other noble Lords, I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Astor for initiating it. I have always taken a very keen personal interest in motor sports, and therefore it is a genuine pleasure to be able to discuss this exhilarating and commercially important sector of sport.
The motor sport sector is an area in which the United Kingdom leads the world. I can proudly make that statement without any reservation. Yet all too frequently it has been said that the achievements of the sector go unacknowledged. We should take every opportunity, such as this, to applaud and promote the sector. We have the most innovative designers; the best and most imaginative manufacturers; and I do not believe that we should be shy to say that we have some of the best drivers. The world comes to the United Kingdom for its racing cars. When we refer to motor sport we must recognise that we are talking not only of Formula One. Far from it. Undoubtedly Formula One is the pinnacle of the sector, which is only natural since it is such a high profile and glamorous sport.
A number of noble Lords have referred to viewing figures, etcetera. I have here some figures that are even larger than those that have been mentioned. Each season Formula One is televised to well over 100 countries and a staggering aggregate audience of 27 billion people. But we must not lose sight of the fact that the motor sport sector covers a much wider range and depth of
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I should like to repeat the incredible success story of the United Kingdom's complete domination of the Indianapolis 500 race series. Half a million people attend the event itself and another quarter of a million watch the pre-race practice runs. This serves as a superb advertisement for British craftsmanship and design ingenuity. That race is only one of a series. There is enormous coverage of the event in the United States in particular. Perhaps noble Lords will bear with me if I mention one more success story--there seem to be so many in motor sports. I congratulate Colin McRae who became our first world rally champion driver at the end of last year.
The sector is a very significant industry in its own right. My noble friend Lord Astor raised the question of statistics and the lack thereof. This is a matter about which the SMMT, DTI and representative bodies are concerned. The SMMT already has first-class information and statistics about the motor industry but not about the motor sport sector. I thank the noble Lord for drawing my attention to this matter. I will ask officials to see how the necessary statistics can be set up.
The noble Lord, Lord Haskel, will be interested to hear that there has already been an important transfer of technology from the specialist motor sport industry to the mainstream car production industry. Advanced braking systems, analysis of crash management, lightweight materials, engine and fuel injection development, electronic management systems and semi-automatic gear boxes are some of the areas that have directly benefited volume manufacturers. These developments have undoubtedly contributed to technical improvements in mass-produced cars, but, equally important, have improved the safety of driving for consumers.
In concluding this brief overview of motor sports, I should like to highlight some of the illustrious names that the sector has generated, some of which have already been mentioned tonight: Lotus, McLaren, Cosworth, Williams and Tyrell, to name a few. It is significant that although many people are not necessarily motor sports fans--including perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Addington--there is a high probability that they will have heard of at least one and perhaps all of those names.
The companies in this country which design, develop, build and support racing cars are a supreme example of British engineering, flair and sophistication. They have many useful lessons for the wider component supply industry in terms of technology, organisation and teamwork. In all of these areas our component suppliers, with the support of the DTI, are working hard to improve their competitiveness. The second part of the initiative is to take a fresh look at ways in which the international prestige and world-class performance of British motor sport can support export promotion and outward investment initiatives.
We have a great asset in this industry, and the industry is in a position to attract public interest and attention across the world. More can be done to build on this. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that these moves are to be welcomed. The DTI is actively developing methods to take forward this initiative. Moreover, DTI Ministers and officials will be intensifying their discussions with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which is the lead trade organisation for the vehicle industry, and other representative bodies such as the Motor Sport Industry Association and the wider automotive industry to see how the interests of the sector can be further promoted. For example, the SMMT has offered to give the Motor Sport Industry Association affiliation status and appropriate administrative support. We believe that this generous gesture is to be applauded. It will provide the motor sport with a stronger voice and focal point. Of course, SMMT in partnership with DTI will continue to look at ways in which they can further promote the industry and enable it to prosper.
I should like to emphasise that the sound economic climate that has been created in the UK in the form of low inflation, low taxation and sound public finances has been central to allowing the motor industry in general, as well as the motor sport sector, to develop. In manufacturing we have world class vehicles and components manufacturers operating in the UK. We have a world renowned design engineering and R&D capability and our retail and distribution sector is increasingly innovative thanks both to manufacturers and dealers. It is no wonder that vehicle production is rising, that exports are rising, and that the UK has become the most attractive location in Europe for automotive companies.
One of the most exciting announcements that we have heard recently in motor sport was the news earlier this month by Jackie Stewart--surely one of the greatest names in the history of not only British but world motor racing--that, with the support of a multi-million pound
These are exciting developments and serve to underline that the UK is regarded as the natural base for the motor sport industry. Indeed, Britain is arguably the enterprise centre of Europe with the automotive industry, and within that motor sport at the forefront of that sector.
Perhaps I may make a few comments on various points raised by noble Lords. A number of noble Lords mentioned tobacco advertising. A voluntary agreement was drawn up between the Department of National Heritage and tobacco companies last year. Some noble Lords may not be aware of it. A key feature of the agreement is that tobacco companies can now spend only 15 per cent. of their sponsorship budgets on promoting an event. That ensures that 85 per cent. of tobacco spending on sponsorship now goes directly to sports bodies. That agreement, of course, applies only in the UK. However, it is a voluntary agreement which has been entered into.
The noble Lord, Lord Addington, will be pleased to know that we are aware of growing concerns at the use of four-wheel drive vehicles on byways, in particular deliberate damage caused to countryside tracks. There is a commitment in the 1995 White Paper, Rural England: A Nation Committed to a Living Countryside, to consult on whether legislation to ban vehicles from byways may be desirable.
My noble friend Lord Astor and my noble friend Lord Lucas spoke about the shortage of engineers. It is a global problem, not just one faced by the UK. The DTI is aware that it is an important issue and is urgently investigating with the automotive industry ways of increasing the numbers of suitably qualified designers and engineers and addressing the industry's education and training needs.
I can give two examples. The cross-training initiative will pump prime the SMMT's design engineering group to undertake a feasibility study for design engineering initiative. The aim is to evaluate the scope for retraining people with non-automotive skills, such as those from the defence and aerospace industries, in automotive design and engineering.
Secondly, the DTI and SMMT are developing a concept known as the virtual university to meet more adequately the education and training needs of the automotive sector. It is an exciting proposal and one that the industry fully supports. The DTI, the SMMT and the industry are urgently exploring the options for this university.
My noble friend Lord Astor suggested that I might be a focal point for the industry. I am flattered and grateful to my noble friend for suggesting that I should be. In the absence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Fraser, when that occurs, I would be happy to fulfil such a role as appropriate. However, Ministers
My noble friend correctly pointed out that the Silverstone bypass is part of a private finance initiative. Indeed, the bypass is part of a larger project, the A6/A43 south Midlands network, which was announced by the Secretary of State last November. The project is entirely dependent on private finance. The Department of Transport does not envisage work starting on the project until some time in 1997.
My noble friend Lord Astor raised the issue of motor sport on roads. Although the Department of Transport has not objected to events such as the Birmingham Superprix for purpose-built racing cars, the department believes that motor sport on public roads conveys the wrong message to motorists and encourages dangerous imitative behaviour. That can be borne out to some extent by the number of deaths after the TT by people using those roads thinking that they are qualified TT riders.
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate. We have heard some very successful, distinguished, informed and uninformed speakers. I am delighted that on the whole most speakers reinforced what I said earlier.
I am grateful to all noble Lords who took part. I apologise that they will be leaving later than I promised because of the Statement. I thank the Minister for his reply. With his interest and enthusiasm I feel that I have achieved my objective of making the Government more aware of the motor sport industry.
I have two points. First, I strongly disagree with the noble Lords, Lord Addington and Lord Haskel, about the ease in obtaining sponsorship. That is completely untrue. I know that even some of the leading Formula One teams are struggling to obtain all their sponsorship. I hope that they will bear that in mind.