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Members on bringing this issue before the House, and commend all the newspaper and petitioning activity that led to that. It is not every motion before the House of which we can say it will save thousands of lives and cost very little, but that is precisely what this motion will do if the Government follow through on it, as the hon. Lady has been advocating. I wholeheartedly agree with everything she said about making it mandatory and with her demolition of all the arguments against it.
In the brief time allowed, I want to refer to a programme that originated 15 years ago at the John Radcliffe hospital in my constituency, which has been extended to nine other centres in the UK and emulated overseas in Hong Kong and Belarus. The injury minimisation programme for schools was, like most of the best ideas, very simple and obvious once someone was clever enough to think of it. The idea is that if we educate children in accident prevention and what to do when there is an accident, and at an age when they are old enough to understand and apply the lessons but before they become especially sensitive about their bodies, that will cut accidents and save lives. The programme works by combining work in the classroom with a visit to hospital to learn emergency life skills. Approximately 5,000 10 and 11-year-olds in Oxfordshire take part each year. Children enjoy it, teachers value it, and, most importantly, it works.
I congratulate all who work on the programme—its administrators and volunteers, as well as the medical staff and teachers. I have met children on the course, and it is uplifting to see their enthusiasm for the knowledge and practical skills that they have learned, and how proud they are to go home and tell their parents that they know how to save their life. I have one feedback message from a youngster who went on the programme:
“I have shown my mum how to do the recovery position! She was very impressed! I told her about CPR and I now know that if someone has collapsed then I could save their life. Hope you enjoy my feedback. Please carry on teaching children to save people’s lives.”
Andrew Bridgen: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that if the practice were adopted and made mandatory, it could improve social cohesion? Young people could have the skills to save the lives of people from the older generation, and that would change perceptions in society.
Mr Smith: The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. It is vital to understand what children are capable of, and that we do not underestimate the live-saving skills they can learn. There is hard evidence for that. In a scientific abstract to the international conference on emergency medicine in June, the journal Academic Emergency Medicine reported on a study assessing whether children can defibrillate. The study was done properly and rigorously, with control groups and so on, and chi-squared analysis of the conclusion. In concluded:
“This study demonstrates that children aged 11-years-old can use a defibrillator effectively and safely, and retain this knowledge over several weeks”—
Dame Joan Ruddock: There is perhaps even more important feedback in the case histories that the St John Ambulance has circulated to all hon. Members, where children of that age have been shown to save lives, either of their peers or of their parents in some circumstances.
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Mr Smith: I wholeheartedly agree, and I have similar evidence from IMPS. What is more, and as the hon. Member for Newton Abbot argued, such initiatives are very cost-effective. The IMPS estimate is that it costs approximately £16 a head to enable children to take part. I would like to raise a couple of points about funding.
In Oxfordshire, 50% of the cost of IMPS has been met by the PCT, there has been some support from the county council, and the rest of the cost has been met by fundraising initiatives. Of course, classroom time and teacher involvement is met from the base education budget, which is right because there are wider commensurate educational benefits relating to the self-esteem of children who take part. Funding for some of the other centres is under acute pressure. Sadly, the Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster IMPS closed because of shortage of funds—absolutely tragic when one thinks of the benefits.
There is also a general issue about future funding with the establishment of the NHS Commissioning Board. It would be helpful if the Minister could tell us whether funding for this sort of initiative will be the responsibility of the Commissioning Board as the main successor to the PCT, whether it will fall to the county council with its public health responsibilities, or whether the responsibility will be shared. Whichever it is, it is essential that IMPS and similar initiatives are enabled to continue and thrive to form the basis of what we hope will be part of the mandatory curriculum provision for which we are arguing. At the end of the day, there can be nothing more important than helping children save lives, both their own and those of others.
Justin Tomlinson (North Swindon) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) on securing the debate on a subject that I know she is passionate about. I also congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) and the hon. Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling), as we have been pushing on this collectively for some time. I feel that we are making some progress.
The debate is essential, because we are talking about creating the next generation of life-savers. Let me use some cold, hard statistics to reinforce that point. Some 60,000 people a year will have a cardiac arrest. The survival rates in this country are disgracefully low—between 2% and 12%—which means that approximately 55,000 people a year will die from a cardiac arrest. About half of those are, in theory, able to get help through the ambulance service, but on average it takes approximately 6 to 12 minutes for an emergency ambulance to reach a critically ill patient. For every minute that passes, the chance of survival falls by 10%. However, if CPR is given immediately, survival rates increase threefold. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newton Abbot said, we really cannot do any worse by leaving somebody in that position.
The great shame is that most people are simply not able to help. For about half of the 60,000, there are witnesses on hand who could help, but most either do not have the skills or lack the confidence even to try something. By training and educating individuals, we can radically alter the situation. I have heard horrific stories of crowds gathering round, with no one willing
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to step in. Thankfully, the evidence clearly shows that, with training, lay people can overcome the psychological barriers and manage the patient until more advanced and experienced personnel arrive.
Those are the cold, hard statistics, but I was in such a position with my own father. When I was 12, my father collapsed. My attempts to help were, at best, muddled, and passers-by then helped. We all rely on people having that confidence to go and make a difference. Sadly, my father was one of those statistics who did not survive. We will never know, had we all been equipped with the skills, what difference that would have made.
What we are asking for would take only 0.2% of the school year. It takes less than two hours to train a young person fully in emergency life-saving skills. To put that into context, that is the equivalent of one PE lesson. I am conscious that schools Ministers are for ever lobbied by campaigns saying, “This would be very important for the national curriculum.” I am as guilty as any MP for asking for financial education, basic cookery skills and a variety of other campaigns. However, we are trying to be helpful; we would be happy if such training were included in PSHE, as long as it was a mandatory part of it. It could go into biology, as one understands how the breathing system and the heart works. It could go into PE lessons, especially given the number of sports therapists we would like to encourage. We are not proud—as long as we can get it in somewhere.
We are told that there is a limit to the amount of time available in the national curriculum, yet we find time for every school to practise fire drills. They are important, but 60,000 people a year having a cardiac arrest is certainly up there with fire drills. We could take the training in assemblies. If we really are struggling with the school curriculum, then there are always driving lessons, because all young people want to take lessons—we are trying to be as helpful as we possibly can be.
The training is straightforward. At a recent meeting of the all-party group on heart disease, I and all of my staff took part, and it was a breeze—it was pretty impressive for us for it to be a breeze. The training can be broken into three levels and even the most basic form of training can make a difference. For example, the body has enough oxygen in the blood so that even basic compression CPR is sufficient for 15 minutes. Crucially, these skills will remain with people for the rest of their lives. We will create a new generation of life-savers and they can pass their skills on, so it is a win-win situation. We have the evidence that it will work. It will allow us to change the prognosis of this devastating condition and save thousands of lives a year.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newton Abbot made great play of international comparisons, talking about the improvements in France, Denmark, Norway and Seattle. The cold, hard statistics show that, where such training is compulsory, survival rates are not 2% to 12% but 52%. That means that an extra 15,000 lives a year would be saved.
Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that children would thoroughly enjoy learning emergency life-saving in school? Instead of sitting in the classroom reading books, they would be getting involved; it is hands-on. They would enjoy it, and learn quickly, too.
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This idea has huge public support. According to a British Heart Foundation survey, 86% of teachers think that ELS should be part of the national curriculum—we have the opportunity to get teachers’ support—and 78% of children want to be taught how to save someone’s life in an emergency, which touches on my hon. Friend’s point. Furthermore, 70% of parents thought that children should be taught ELS at school.
Following Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest and with the help of a campaign by The Sun, which we all supported, more than 100,000 people signed the e-petition—it is one of the few that quickly racked up the 100,000 signatures. I was delighted to read today that, although Fabrice Muamba thought his football career was over, he has said he will review that decision in two years, if his heart rate settles. That would be a fantastic achievement. He was technically dead for more than 70 minutes, but, because of ELS, he survived, and he has gone on to get married. That is a testament to the difference it can make.
In conclusion, ELS would make a real difference to survival rates. Training takes less than two hours, and the skills remain for life. Through education empowerment, a new generation of life-savers will be created, saving thousands of lives a year. I hope that we can make this a compulsory element of children’s education and create an army of life-savers with the confidence and skills to save a life.
Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): I congratulate the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris)—I hope her foot gets better—and pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling), who had a ten-minute rule Bill on this issue in the previous Session, which sadly fell. I congratulate other Members, too, who have taken this message forward.
I am a signatory to early-day motion 550, which calls for compulsory ELS in schools. I have also undertaken a three-day course with St John Ambulance—so I know, I hope, how to save a life—and I am a member of the Health Committee. Making ELS compulsory in schools would send the message to children: “Don’t walk on the other side. You can help someone. When you see someone, you can help them.” That is an incredibly empowering message. The simple task of knowing the recovery position, or even knowing when not to move a person—for example, if they have hurt their neck—are important skills. We are saying to them, “Don’t be afraid. You can be concerned, but don’t be afraid when someone is having a heart attack or is distressed.”
There are many children with conditions such as epilepsy or even diabetes—they will have to inject themselves—and children with siblings or parents with such conditions. They will understand these conditions and be able to help. This idea is just an extension of that. The 2001 census found that 174,995 under-18s are carers. So many children already know how to look after adults. There are four simple measures: dialling 999; administering CPR; putting someone in the recovery position; or simply staying with them, holding their hand and talking to them. That can save lives, and those measures are the basis of ELS. It should be compulsory for them to be taught in schools
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Mr Iain McKenzie (Inverclyde) (Lab): It will come as no surprise that Scotland has had voluntary engagement with pupils in schools for some time. In Inverclyde, we offered it to children in their lunch break, and we were astounded by how many came forward to learn these skills.
Valerie Vaz: I agree with my hon. Friend. As we have heard, different parts of different countries are doing this on a voluntary basis, but we are calling for something more: for it to be compulsory as part of education.
I had the privilege of administering CPR during the last conference recess. Most Members—certainly of my generation—will know the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. That is the kind of rhythm one should use to administer CPR. [Interruption.] I will not sing it, although I can hum it. I want to bring that up to date. I do not know, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you have seen this hit song on YouTube, but “Gangnam Style” has a similar beat, and in fact the first movement of the dance is similar to that required for administering CPR—as long as the person uncrosses their hands. Imagine teaching that in schools. How wonderful it would be to engage children in that way.
The British Medical Association has said that almost 60,000 people suffer from out-of-hospital strokes, and evidence shows that CPR can triple the rate of survival. I urge the Government to take that onboard, to listen to Back Benchers—for a change—and to include training on it as part of the curriculum. It is compulsory in Norway, Denmark and France. Let us embed it in our children’s psyche, engrain it and make it part of their DNA. After all, it is a matter of life and death.
Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): In making a brief contribution, I shall carry on where the hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) left off—with how a piece of music can save a life. She is so right. In a slightly different context, I remember listening to a radio interview with the wife of the great violinist, Yehudi Menuhin. She said she was always terribly worried when her husband played Beethoven’s violin concerto, and when it got to a certain bit—when she knew the end was nigh—she used to sing to herself, “Thank God it’s over, thank God it’s over”. That has ruined Beethoven’s violin concerto for me ever since, because I have never been able to get it out of my mind.
Reading the briefing, I did indeed see that, “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive” is apparently the rhythm that should be followed when administering CPR. I read that in the context of a report from the Daily Mail on 10 January, helpfully included by the Library in the debate pack. In it Dr Rob Galloway told the story of the rector of St Nicholas church in Sevenoaks, Angus MacLeay, who collapsed at the age of 51 and died—but his son and his friend had been told how to administer CPR. The report read:
“Although they had only a few hours’ training, it’s all they needed to know instinctively what to do. They took it in turns, pushing down on the chest in a continuous cycle”
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Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): It also works if the person sings “Nellie the Elephant”—for those of us who are more musically challenged or who cannot remember “Stayin’ Alive”—although it has to be a fast version.
Dr Lewis: I look forward to the hon. Lady’s rendition when she speaks—very shortly, I hope—and I pay tribute to her, to my hon. Friend the Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) and to other hon. Members. I was particularly touched by the contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson), when he said what happened to him and his late father.
My own background in this subject is slight. I have been involved with organisations such as Cardiac Risk in the Young, which campaigns to have young people screened for heart defects that otherwise no one would know were present, and with the battle to save the children’s heart hospital at Southampton general hospital, which is one of the best in the country and fortunately will not now be reorganised out of existence.
My immediate incentive for coming to today’s debate was a letter I received from my constituent Natasha Jones, who lives in Brockenhurst, who has set up an organisation called Baby Resuscitation. During the summer of 2010, she experienced an episode with her 11-week-old daughter of what is known as near-miss cot death, when her baby stopped breathing and was drifting in and out of consciousness. At the time, my constituent had no resuscitation training. It was only her maternal instincts that succeeded in keeping her baby alive until professional help arrived. As in the case of so many others, including my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon, the experience motivated my constituent, spurring her on to do something to ensure that the availability of skill would not be hit and miss in future. That is why she set up the Baby Resuscitation scheme, which is over-subscribed and to which parents go to get the skills they need. The point she makes to me is how much more vitally helpful and productive it would be if children had to learn such skills at school.
I know many people want to speak. This seems to me such an obviously admirable cause that I do not need to say anything more, other than that I wholeheartedly support it and I look to Minister to give the campaign the encouragement and endorsement that it clearly deserves.
Julie Hilling (Bolton West) (Lab): I join others in congratulating the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) on securing this debate. I also pay tribute to my colleagues in the campaign, the hon. Members for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) and for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), which is dear to our hearts.
“no brainer, it’s just common sense”.
Those are not my words, but the words of Dr Andy Lockey from the Resuscitation Council. He and another 124,665 people are calling on the Government to put emergency life support skills in the curriculum for all schools. For just two hours every year, we could make every child a life saver—just two hours that may save some of the 150,000 people who die each year in situations where first aid could have made a difference; two hours that could save some of the 60,000 people who have a cardiac arrest outside the hospital environment.
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On 17 March this year, Fabrice Muamba was playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham when he suffered a cardiac arrest. Fabrice was really lucky, because he had his cardiac arrest in a public place where there were trained first aiders; because the paramedics at the match were knowledgeable enough to give him immediate CPR on the pitch, so that his brain was saved; and because medics did not give up, but worked on him for 78 minutes until his heart restarted. Just because he was with people who knew what to do he survived, although sadly he has had to give up football—I was interested to hear the hon. Member for North Swindon say that it might not be for life. Fabrice joined us to take the British Heart Foundation’s petition, signed by 124,665 people, to Downing street.
My sister’s friend Malcolm McCormick was also really lucky. In April this year, he went to school to pick up his grandchildren when he keeled over—effectively dead, not breathing, heart not beating. Malcolm was really lucky because one of the people waiting to collect their children was a retained firefighter, who started to give CPR. He was also really lucky because once a month another firefighter volunteers in the school tuck shop and it was his Friday to be working, so he came out and took control of the situation. Malcolm was also lucky because a defibrillator was available and he was rushed to a specialist hospital. Malcolm left hospital three days later with very sore ribs, albeit alive and with his brain intact. Four months later he was fit enough to be a games maker at the Paralympic games.
However, it should not be down to luck, because there are far too many other examples of people suffering a cardiac arrest not being saved because the people around them do not know what to do. They include children such as Ciaran Geddes, who died aged seven, 12-year-old Oliver King, 16-year-old Daniel Young and 17-year-old Guy Evans. Their mums are campaigning for defibrillators and for emergency life-saving skills to be taught in schools. The Government have a chance to make a difference—to save lives simply, cheaply and immediately. They have said that they want a national curriculum to reflect the
“essential knowledge and understanding that pupils should be expected to have to enable them to take their place as educated members of society.”
I cannot imagine anything worse than watching a loved one die and not knowing what to do—especially if we find out later that doing something may have saved their life—so I have become a Heartstart trainer. I can teach people to do CPR and deal with choking and bleeding, and my staff are Heartstart trained. All the secondary schools in Bolton West have become or are becoming Heartstart schools, and they are rolling the programme out to the primary schools. There is co-ordinated action across Bolton to train as many children and adults in emergency life-saving skills as possible. The North West ambulance service, the fire brigade, Bolton Wanderers, Bolton council and the British Heart Foundation are all working together to teach the skills and promote defibrillators. In the new year, The Bolton News will run a campaign to get schools to sign up for Heartstart and raise funds for defibrillators in schools and public places.
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until every child leaves school a life saver. I met two 13-year-olds in Horwich on Saturday who had just learnt life support skills as part of their PE lessons in Rivington and Blackrod high school. Demi told me it made her feel good about herself because she can save a life. Matthew told me that he feels confident because if anything happened to someone, he would know what to do. Mark Roach, the Heartstart co-ordinator at Ladybridge high school, told me that his pupils leave school with a real life skill that they can pass on to others, and they do the lessons during form time. There are many places where Heartstart would fit into the curriculum. My local lead teacher for PE believes it would fit perfectly into the PE curriculum. Other schools do it as part of personal, social, health and economic education or biology, but where it fits is less important. Emergency life-saving skills should be part of the core curriculum, taught in all schools.
The Government like to compare themselves internationally. As has been said, in France, Denmark and Norway, ELS is already a compulsory part of the curriculum, as it is in a number of states in Australia and 36 of the 50 states in America. In Seattle, because no one can graduate from school or gain their driving licence without leaning first aid skills, more than half the population is trained in emergency life support. In the UK, there is only a 30% chance of a bystander administered CPR; in Seattle it is 60%. People have double the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest in Seattle than they do in the UK. Since the British Heart Foundation has run its “Hands-only CPR” advert with Vinnie Jones—to “Stayin’ Alive”—another 28 people have been saved because bystanders “had a go”, but it is not enough. As Dr Lockey says,
“Every year we don’t teach Emergency Life Support Skills to all school children, people are dying unnecessarily”.
Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View) (Lab): I cannot tell you how important I think this debate is, Mr Deputy Speaker. I congratulate the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) on securing it. I also congratulate the hon. Members who have spoken—with a great deal of knowledge and personal experience—about how important this issue is. The hon. Lady made an excellent speech, touching on all the key issues, and asked most of the key questions.
I will speak from personal experience. I qualified as a lifeguard in the mid-1990s. I did it to support my daughters, who were in a swimming club that needed voluntary lifeguards. I trained every two years and did the exam. During that process my children trained with me—we used to practise the various required skills on the front room floor. I was fortunate that there were no major incidents in the pool during the almost 10 years in which I turned up five nights a week to lifeguard—as parents do from time to time. However, on dry land it was altogether different. Let me cite some examples.
I remember stepping off a London bus one day to see a woman lying on the pavement, literally in front of me, and five people standing around, before doing the basic checks and asking people, “Has anybody done anything? Has anybody moved her?” Everybody stood there, shook their heads and said no, either because they were too
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scared or because they did not know what to do. The lady was unconscious, and was still unconscious when the ambulance arrived. Again, it was people’s lack of knowledge that prevented them from doing even the basic checks—that her pulse was there and she was breathing.
On another occasion I was on a train, travelling into London, sitting opposite a very large gentleman who was clearly in difficulty. My assessment was that he was having a cardiac episode of some kind. We cleared the area around him. I asked whether there were any doctors or nurses on the train; there were not. People were coming up to me as I was in the middle of it all, asking, “Shouldn’t you ring his wife?” I got someone to stay with the man and keep him calm, went down the carriage with the woman and said, “Well, what do we tell her—that her husband is having an episode on a train in the middle of nowhere and we don’t know which hospital he is going to?” “Oh,” she said. Common sense, I am afraid, rather goes out of the window when these things happen. He was a very large gentleman and I was worried that if he actually went on me, he would not fit in the gap between the seats so that I could do CPR. So I was struggling about how I was going to do it, but fortunately we got to a station and the ambulance got there and took him away for expert treatment. Again, at the end of that, people came up and said, “Thank God you were there. We didn’t know what to do. We were scared”—exactly the same comments.
The final example was in Brighton, at the Grand hotel, when I was having a dinner during conference. One of the guests started choking, slumped and started to go blue. So it was a Heimlich manoeuvre. I have to say it was my boss, so it was probably just as well I did it, not least because he is alive and I have now just married him; but that is another story.
Alison Seabeck: Yes. But again, the comments came back, “Thank heavens. We didn’t know what to do.” The basic skills are so simple and so easy to teach, and once you have them you almost automatically go into support mode, as I did in the hotel in Brighton. I admit that afterwards I was shaking a bit, but none the less you just do it, because that is what you have been trained to do.
Children are like sponges. They soak up information, and if they can see a practical use for it, they will learn even more quickly. This week, I am going to talk to pupils at Manadon Vale primary school about this very issue, as part of the discussion. Knowing basic techniques, such as being able to administer support when someone is having a cardiac arrest, is absolutely vital. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling) said, being in a situation where a loved one is having a cardiac arrest or perhaps where the baby is choking and not knowing what to do is unimaginable. I really cannot imagine how someone must feel in those circumstances. Teaching the basics is so important.
Of course there are people who say, “I don’t want to do the mouth-to-mouth bit.” They could do hands-only, as a number of Members have said. I still walk around carrying a British Red Cross Resusci-Shield for mouth-to-mouth, because I do think it is important to have one, but it is possible to do it hands-only, and one certainly should try.
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The hon. Member for Newton Abbot spoke about the lesson in which these skills should be taught being flexible. I think that is a really good proposal. We need to move towards ensuring these skills are taught as a matter of course in our schools. Pregnant mothers should have a basic training as well, because there are lives to be saved. The idea that such training is too onerous is a perennial excuse. I ask the Minister not to hide behind that.
Importantly, I would ask the Minister to go away and talk with colleagues in other Departments—in Health and in Communities and Local Government—because there are benefits across other Departments and there are possibly even some cost savings, ultimately, which the Government are obviously very interested in. Most important of all, lives will be saved. Children and young people are very capable of using these skills, and that is the time to teach them.
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): I shall speak very briefly; I am a late interloper into the debate, but I wanted to raise two points. Actually, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Alison Seabeck) has touched on them already. I recently attended a demonstration of CPR. The instructor was at pains to say that mouth-to-mouth was not essential but CPR was, and that some people are put off volunteering for such courses because they are fearful of engaging in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That is what my hon. Friend said, so she emphasised, “Do not press the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.”
I congratulate the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) on launching this superb debate, and all those who spoke so excellently. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View deserves a medal because she has saved several lives.
I want to speak specifically about water life-saving, because 55 years ago I acquired an intermediate life-saver’s certificate. I have never had to use it, but I think even now I could do the basics and get someone out of the water without drowning myself, and get them breathing again—free their tongue, and all the things that I remembered when I was 14 or 15. That is a subset of life-saving, but it is very important and I hope that the Government bear in mind the encouragement for people to take up life-saving in water as well as dealing with cardiac arrests.
Kevin Brennan (Cardiff West) (Lab): We have had a very good debate. I congratulate the hon. Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris), whose name appears at the head of the motion, on her very fine speech, which drew a lot of agreement across the House. She was absolutely right to emphasise that without compulsion, we simply will not get the levels of performance and the number of lives saved that we want, in comparison with other countries. I shall return to that point later.
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My right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford East (Mr Smith) rightly said that we must not underestimate what children are capable of. The hon. Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) rightly said that we need to get on and train the next generation of life-savers, and he mentioned, as other Members did, the survival rate of 2% to 12% of cardiac arrests in this country compared with 52% in the better jurisdictions. He also, movingly, told us about his own personal experience involving his father, which brought a lot of sympathy from across the House.
My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) did her speech gangnam-style, which I thought very appropriate. On MP4’s album, track 2, “Love’s Fire,” is also about the same rhythm, although it is not as well known as the other examples given. The hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) also spoke with personal experience. I can assure him that no one was saying, “Thank God it’s over,” at the end of his speech, which was a very effective contribution.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton West (Julie Hilling), who herself is common sense on legs, told us that it is simply common sense for us to be teaching these skills and making that teaching compulsory. She gave us real examples of where young lives had been saved. We also heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Alison Seabeck), who brought her personal experience as a trained lifeguard and who saved her future husband as a result of that training. Only time will tell whether she lives to regret that but, all joking aside, she showed the importance of these skills. Briefly, my hon. Friend the Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) drew on his personal experience.
We support the inclusion of life-saving skills as a compulsory element in our schools. We are open-minded, as hon. Members said, as to how we achieve that—PSHE might be the best subject in which to include that on a statutory basis. The motion does not actually spell that out, but it says that everyone should learn these skills. My question on these occasions is always, “If that is what the House wants to happen, what is the transmissions mechanism to ensure that it does happen?” The Government frequently talk about the necessity of following the examples of high-performing jurisdictions when we are looking at what schools do well and at the outcomes, so how about, on this occasion their following their own advice and looking at what happens in high-performing jurisdictions around the world as far as life-saving skills are concerned? I am afraid the evidence is clear that unless the Government spell out that such training should be compulsory and must be taught in schools, it simply will not work and we will continue to have the very slow progress in saving lives that the hon. Member for Newton Abbot talked about in her speech.
That would not be acceptable, because we are talking about people’s lives. What is the barrier anyway? All the arguments against the proposal have been demolished in the debate, so the only objection can be an ideological one relating to telling schools what to do. That is not a good enough reason when we are talking about saving lives. Unless this is made a requirement in all our schools, it will happen only in some of them. We can already see that on the ground.
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to talk to them about life-saving skills, and some had been taught those skills, but only as part of their first aid club activities. When I asked whether they thought that everyone should learn them, they were unanimous in agreeing that they should. Children and young people are up for this, and as has been observed, they are like sponges and can learn these skills quite quickly. The training need not take up a huge, burdensome amount of time in the curriculum. There is therefore no reason for the Government not to listen to what has been said by Members on both sides of the House today and come forward with proposals to ensure that this training happens in all our schools.
As the Government’s changes to the school system continue, this proposal will become more difficult to implement. It is already the case that nearly half of all secondary schools do not have to follow the national curriculum, following the academisation programme. We have heard today about the £1 billion overspend on that programme, which will take money away from other areas of the Department for Education’s budget. We have no evidence yet to show whether their academisation programme is working. It is fine to change the name and governance of a group of schools, but we need to see evidence that that is working. There is, however, evidence of the negative impact of those cuts being felt elsewhere. If academies are not required to follow the national curriculum and cannot be directed to introduce these programmes, it is likely that the life-saving skills situation will get worse. The Minister needs to get a grip on this.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Elizabeth Truss): Was it not the case that the previous Government who introduced the idea that academies would not teach the national curriculum?
Kevin Brennan: Indeed it was, but that was a small, targeted programme aimed at a small number of schools in deprived areas. The hon. Lady’s policy is completely different, in that it aims to roll out academy status. I think that about 47% of secondary schools in England now have that status. So her policy is on a completely different scale from ours, and she must adjust her policy according to those facts.
The Minister will no doubt say that she hopes the proposals will be introduced as a result of the motion being passed today, but unless she can tell us, perhaps in her forthcoming announcements, that they will be made a statutory part of PHSE or that she has some other way of achieving this, it simply will not happen. I can predict here and now that, if she does not take action, we will be back here debating this issue in a couple of years. Unless she makes this training a compulsory part of the curriculum, the statistics will not get much better.
We support the motion, for all the reasons that have been outlined in the debate, and the Minister should tell the House whether she agrees with what has been said. I know that she won the “Minister to Watch” award yesterday at The Spectator magazine’s Parliamentarian of the Year awards. During her acceptance speech, she thanked the Secretary of State for Education for “not fettering or gagging” her. Well, here is an opportunity for her to show that she is not being fettered or gagged by the Secretary of State, that she is her own woman,
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that she is in charge of her brief and that she is going to get on and make this training compulsory, as everyone here has called for today.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (Elizabeth Truss): We have had an interesting debate, and I know that many people feel very strongly about the provision of emergency life-saving skills in schools. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Newton Abbot (Anne Marie Morris) and her colleagues, who have come together to put the subject on the agenda today. I have learned a great deal today about ELS, about staying alive and about the singing skills of some Members. The next time I tune in to “Saturday Night Fever”, I shall no doubt think about resuscitation.
We have heard some affecting stories about the impact of ELS and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation training on Members and their families. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear them, and to have the subject brought to life. I agree that the ability to save a life is one of the most important skills a young person can learn. I also recognise the excellent work being done by organisations such as the Red Cross, with its “Life. Live it” campaign and resources, and St John Ambulance with its classroom-focused “Teach the Difference” resources and schools first aid competition. In addition, the British Heart Foundation’s Heartstart campaign has already trained 2.6 million people, including many young people in our schools. I met representatives of that organisation earlier this week.
Mr Andrew Smith: While the Minister is talking about those initiatives, will she respond to the question I posed in my speech about whether the funding that currently comes from primary care trusts for initiatives such as the injury minimisation programme for schools—IMPS—in my constituency will in future be the responsibility of the commissioning groups or of the county council? If she does not know, will she undertake to write to me with the answer?
Schools are free to take up all the programmes I have just mentioned and to make use of those reputable organisations in order to bring the subject to life and teach it in a high-quality way in schools. I am keen to see a higher take-up of the subject; I think it is a good thing. I want to see it done in such a way that quality will be on offer. The hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) asked how we could achieve what we want in Britain’s schools. Should it be done through compulsion or through winning hearts and minds? I favour the approach of winning hearts and minds and of improving practice in schools, rather than ordering something to be done compulsorily and not necessarily getting the quality we need.
When the national curriculum was first devised in the 1980s, it was seen as a slim guide to core knowledge, with schools having the freedom to teach in the way they saw fit. However, even its first draft was far larger than its originators intended. A lot of that came about through people wanting particular subjects to be included,
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often for laudable reasons. I am now working on the drafts for the new national curriculum at primary and secondary level, and it is our intention that it should be slimmed to reflect a framework for essential knowledge. It has been rather content-heavy in the past, which has restricted what schools teach and how they are able to teach it.
My hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson) has given me many helpful suggestions over the past few weeks. Even though I have not been in the job long, I have had quite a few meetings with him at which he has suggested various topics that he considers to be part of that core knowledge, all of which we are considering. It is our aim, however, to reduce unnecessary prescription throughout the education system.
Dame Joan Ruddock: I put it to the Minister that the teaching of life-saving skills is quite different from the range of other activities about which she has had representations. We are talking about learning a skill for life that could be taught in as little as two hours and that could save lives. There is nothing to compare to that, which is why it should be mandatory.
As I have said, I believe that it is best to win hearts and minds. We can then ensure that the teaching of life-saving skills in our curriculum is first class. Compulsion could result in the subject being taught in a tick-box fashion.
Schools can choose to cover ELS as part of non-statutory personal, social, health and economic education, which we have already talked about. At primary level, PSHE provides for pupils to be taught aboutbasic emergency procedures and where to get help, and at secondary schools they can develop the skills tocope with emergency situations that require basic first aid procedures, including, at key stage 4, resuscitation techniques.
In this afternoon’s debate, I was struck by the fact that 86% of teachers are in favour of teaching life-saving skills at school, but that the take-up is much lower. From all the discussions I have had with the professionals in the organisations that design life-saving courses and offer them in schools, I have found that the reason teachers often give for not being able to take up these good programmes is that they do not have enough
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discretion within their teaching time and their curriculum time to be able to teach those subjects. Our whole aim of giving teachers more discretion and more time will surely mean much stronger take-up. As my hon. Friend the Member for Newton Abbot pointed out, 86% of teachers want this subject to be taught. That is already a long way towards 100%; there is only another 14% to persuade.
Andrew Bridgen: From my own experience in education and that of my children, I know that schools have spent many hours a week teaching children to learn to swim, giving them the tools to save their own lives if they fall into water. Why can they not be given two hours a year to help save the lives of others?
Elizabeth Truss: I agree with my hon. Friend’s sentiments, but my point is that teachers want to do this and that we are giving them space in the curriculum to allow them to do so. I think that will result in a very positive outcome, but I also think it is better to win hearts and minds and allow freedom of judgment.
Today’s debate has been very helpful, and I agree completely with the sentiments expressed by hon. Members, but I think the best way of achieving the goal we want is to give teachers the freedom and the discretion to allow them to follow their natural instincts. We have already seen that 86% of teachers want to achieve this, so let us allow them to get on with it.
Anne Marie Morris: I will be brief. We have had an excellent debate. Given the restricted time available, I shall not name them all, but hon. Members’ contributions have been first class across the board. I have learned a lot; some wonderful personal insights have been shared.
The message I take from the all the contributions, however, is that it is the mood of the House—despite what the Minister has said—that this issue needs to be made compulsory. What gets measured gets done. If we think that we can achieve this without some element of compulsion, I am afraid that is little more than hope. It is not borne out by 10 years’ experience of trying, trying and trying again.
That this House believes every child should leave school knowing how to save a life.
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Industrial Policy and Manufacturing
That this House has considered the matter of industrial policy and UK manufacturing industries.
A debate on industrial policy, particularly with regard to manufacturing, is overdue. It is also extremely timely, given the recent publication of Lord Heseltine’s review, “No stone unturned in pursuit of growth” and a number of recent developments, including Ford’s announcement of the closure of its plants in Southampton and Dagenham, and what we saw earlier in the year with the Coryton oil refinery. It is also an opportunity to highlight some of the excellent work being undertaken by the all-party associate manufacturing group, of which I am an officer, along with the hon. Members for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White) and for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle), my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) and several others. I know they will all make contributions today.
I believe that the UK has an incredibly important manufacturing sector—one that has huge potential, but one that needs a successful industrial strategy that would contain a number of elements and could carry widespread support across this House. One factor common to countries that have successful industrial polices is that the fundamentals of the strategies are widely shared. Businesses can invest for the long term, knowing that the rug will not be pulled from under them. Lord Heseltine makes that point on page 8 of his report, when he asks for the “maximum political consensus possible”. I would like the work of the all-party group, as well debates such as this, to become the basis of precisely that.
Let me say at the outset what a debate about industrial policy is not. It is not misty-eyed romanticism for a return to the 1970s. This is forward looking, not backward looking. I believe there is a case for a modern industrial strategy that allows for our manufacturing sector to be a driver of prosperity for many years ahead. When people from across the political spectrum, such as Lord Mandelson and Lord Heseltine, seem to be coming to a consensus behind this, too, there definitely appears to be some momentum building for it.
One part of Lord Heseltine’s report jumped out at me—not the lovely picture of Manchester town hall on the back cover, welcome though that is in any Government report, but paragraph 10 on page 5, where Lord Heseltine says:
“Whether we look at the well established mature economies such as the United States or the new thrusters of the BRICs, there is one clear message we overlook at our peril: the public and private sectors are interdependent. Only by working together and learning to understand each others’ strengths and capabilities will we succeed.”
I firmly agree, and I want to mention a number of areas where our industrial strategy should reflect that—in skills, investment, procurement and the image of manufacturing as well employer-employee relations.
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of our skilled work force in the UK, which creeps ever upwards, should be of huge concern to us all. Every company I visit tells me that the skills pipeline does not work as it should. I believe we should be looking at two things here. First, we should be looking at ways to devolve skills funding more directly to business itself, and in exchange business should guarantee that they will provide the high-quality apprenticeships we all want to see.
Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the biggest problems is the careers advice offered to young people in schools from the age of 12 onwards? The careers advice is normally given by teachers who have only ever been teachers and have no concept of industry outside school. Would it not be better if we had dedicated and qualified careers advisers in every secondary school in the country?
Jonathan Reynolds: The hon. Gentleman makes some good points. Careers advice is variable. As I understand it, we are moving away from face-to-face interactions and more towards website-based and telephone-based careers advice services. Whether that will have the effect we would want is probably a matter of concern to us all.
We need to make apprenticeships work for the long term. I know Government Members are always well armed with statistics on new apprenticeships, but I would say to the Minister that there is a quantity versus quality debate to be addressed here, and an issue to do with how many apprenticeships are effectively developing the skills of our next generation. This is an area where more needs to happen.
When I visit manufacturing businesses in my constituency, I am always struck by just how many skilled people started off at British Aerospace. Whether we meant it or not, it seems to me that in the past British Aerospace acted to all intents and purposes as an active industrial intervention, but with that role diminishing we do not have anything that really fills the gap.
As for investment, I am sure that nearly every Member in the Chamber could report the same conversation with local businesses about the banks’ lack of interest in what they do. Businesses say that funding halved overnight during the financial crisis, but that it was never that good beforehand. It seems that, as banks nationalised their business operations and their heads were turned by sectors of the economy that may have been more lucrative in the short term, they were no longer interested in the steady success of their manufacturing clients.
We must find a way of securing for our manufacturing businesses the investment that they need. It seems to me that there is a growing consensus on the need for a British investment bank, whether it is modelled on Germany’s KfW or on France’s Financial Stability Institute, and I am attracted by the idea of a regional or sectoral structure. The proposed green investment bank could form part of a wider strategic investment bank, with a remit to generate long-term returns based on investment in infrastructure and businesses across strategic sectors.
When it comes to procurement, I could simply use the word Bombardier, but there is plainly a view throughout industry that the United Kingdom’s current attitude to procurement represents a wasted opportunity for British business. Let me make it clear that I do not endorse protectionism. Some of the local firms in my constituency
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have been extremely successful in the export markets, particularly the aerospace businesses, and I think that talk of protectionism at home fails to recognise their achievements. A company delivering a contract here in the UK does not have to be British, but it should be possible to consider how we might be able to make procurement policy work for the UK economy in an intelligent way while still honouring our commitments to the single European market.
I was recently made aware of the problems of Manganese Bronze in Coventry, which could lead to the disappearance of iconic British cabs from the streets of London. The Mayor’s clean air strategy means that as many as 2,000 cabs may have to be replaced in December this year. With Manganese Bronze in administration, the market is now wide open for Mercedes vehicles manufactured in Germany. Surely there could have been a better way.
Another problem is the image of manufacturing. Modern manufacturing is clean and safe, but that does not seem to be widely understood. In fact, at a recent event held by the all-party group in Rochdale, some businesses reported struggling to convey the message that it was also well paid. I did not consider the problem to be particularly significant until I listened to the evidence that industry leaders gave to the group. If we are to try to increase the share of the economy that manufacturing represents, we will need to tackle that. I am not thinking of short-term rebranding or anything that smacks of a gimmick; I am thinking of a long-term campaign—similar to that requested by the hon. Member for Burnley—to get the message across to schools and make them understand what modern British industry is really like.
Finally, I want to say something about employer-employee relations and employment law in the UK. I have deliberately left that subject until the end of my speech, because I suspect that it is the one on which there will be the least consensus. Let me explain my view by giving an example from my constituency.
Kerry Foods, in Hyde, is the largest private sector employer in Tameside. It makes, among other things, Richmond and Walls sausages. Food manufacturing, incidentally, is a much undervalued part of British industry. A few years ago, Kerry needed to adopt the principles of lean manufacturing. It needed to be able to scale its production up and down much more quickly in order to remain competitive, and it therefore needed to consider moving from a five-days-a-week to a seven-days-a-week working pattern. That had big implications for the work force, who were strongly unionised, so Kerry decided to work with them and with Unite, the recognised trade union, to deliver it. In effect, Kerry told the union what it needed, and the union asked the work force to design a shift system that worked for them.
The staff knew that the company’s bottom line was staying profitable, and the company knew that there had to be something in it for the staff. They agreed on the new shift system and a 3.5% wage rise for two successive years, dropping to 2.5% in the third year. That is more than most of our constituents are getting at the moment. My constituents who work for the company have told me that they felt that the consultation process had been extremely sincere, inclusive and open to recommendations, and that input from the union had
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made it into the final proposals. Unite also sent its reps at Kerry Foods to “change at work” courses which would help them to understand the company’s objectives and deliver the agreement of the work force to the new system. I should add that the company pays for a full-time convenor at the site through facility time, in line with a great deal of best practice.
I gave that example in order to demonstrate that trade unions are not in themselves anti-competitive, and do not constitute a blockage to our economic prosperity. Given the right approach, they can make a very significant contribution to British industry. They should not be demonised. The Ford work forces in Dagenham and Southampton were given very little notification of the recent announcement, let alone a chance to serve as part of a solution to the problem. That was a missed opportunity.
Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op): It is the trade union involvement with Jaguar Land Rover that has done so much to secure investment in the west midlands in new models and the new i54 development and, to an extent, the new Vauxhall Motors development at Ellesmere Port. Perhaps they could serve as a model for industrial communication for the purpose of promoting investment.
There are many other issues with which I could deal if I had time, including our relationship with Europe and the devolution of power and spending from Whitehall in the UK. I hope that other Members will refer to those. Let me end by saying how pleased I am that we are having this debate. I hope that it constitutes the beginning rather than the end of a conversation in the House about the future successful operation of the country’s industrial policy.
Chris White (Warwick and Leamington) (Con): May I say how delighted I am to follow the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) in this important debate? I must also thank the Backbench Business Committee for scheduling time for it. As co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on manufacturing, along with the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), one of the most consistent messages I hear is that the UK needs to have a comprehensive industrial policy setting out the key economic objectives and the policies we need to achieve them. We need, as a country, to get back on a more sustainable path to growth, which means seeking to balance our books—specifically, by reducing our trade deficit—so that Britain can be more resilient against future shocks and thrives in a more competitive world. Any industrial policy needs to consider the full range of the UK’s economic strengths, from financial services to creative industries and renewable energy. However, the most effective way of achieving a more sustainable growth trajectory is to boost manufacturing and our industrial capacity.
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of payments, whereas by 2008 that had reduced to 12% and we had a £42.6 billion deficit on the balance of payments? Does that not show that manufacturing and exports are vital to this country?
Chris White: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention and I note the figures he uses. One target the Minister might like to consider in an industrial strategy is about 15% by 2015—that works in so many ways.
We cannot afford merely to dismiss a large part of our global economy. Emerging markets are focusing on production and industry already, but they will not focus on those things for ever. Soon they will seek to compete with the developing economies in highly lucrative services, as well as in research and development. Where will the UK go then? We need to compete in manufacturing, as well as in services and the creative economy, if we are to succeed in the years ahead. The narrower our economy becomes, the more unstable it will be. We need a broad-based economic strategy, and manufacturing can and must play a crucial role in delivering that.
Andrew Bingham (High Peak) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that we must not forget the very small manufacturing companies in my constituency and elsewhere? This is not all about big factories; it is also about small niche manufacturers producing specialist goods in this country.
Chris White: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. As someone who worked for MG Rover, I had a great experience of the supply chain and some of the smaller businesses that supported it. They have a great part to play in our economic growth, certainly in terms of new jobs in this sector.
It seems clear from the statements that the Government have already made that they understand and appreciate the important role that manufacturing can play in supporting the UK economy. But I hope that the Minister will see these words turned into action, and I believe that means beginning the process of developing a formal UK industrial strategy for the next 10 years, at the very least. Countries such as Germany and Japan, where industrial policy is at the very heart of government, can perhaps operate without such a formal process. However, I believe that the UK would benefit from it, not only through the consultation, debate and consensus building that would be necessary in the formulation of such a document, but from having a document against which civil servants and politicians can be held accountable through regular reviews.
Parliament should be at the centre of the development of this industrial policy. We need a policy that can last beyond the lifetime of one Government, which means ensuring that we have policies that all parties support or broadly favour, so that we create the policy stability necessary for businesses to invest in the UK.
Guy Opperman (Hexham) (Con):
It is a year since we last debated manufacturing, on a Thursday late in November 2011. Does my hon. Friend agree that there is some evidence that actual change has taken place, particularly on local banking? That is now that much easier because of the Financial Services Bill, which we passed on 23 April. It means that the smaller businesses
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so favoured by my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Andrew Bingham) can much more ably be financed by local banks.
Chris White: I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. It is fortuitous, and something I did not realise until he mentioned it, that a similar debate was held this time last year. I hope we have made more progress and that that will continue. One issue on which we have made progress is the business bank concept, about which I know that he spoke in that debate.
Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s remarks, many of which I agree with. May I point out to him that there is something we could do right now about industrial strategy? A year ago, we were bemoaning the fact that the large energy companies did not have the market certainty to invest in large infrastructure, which would have had a ripple effect on all the smaller suppliers across the UK. Three weeks ago, seven of the largest worldwide energy companies wrote to the Chancellor to say that they still do not have certainty. Will he urge the Government, as I do, to put that certainty in place? There will be a ripple effect of tens of thousands of jobs in this country once we know that we are heading to a decarbonised future.
One of the most pressing concerns for manufacturing is access to finance. At meetings of the all-party group and with constituents, bank lending is a theme we return to time and time again. We must consider closely how we will reform our banking system for the benefit of our manufacturers, which must be a key part of our industrial policy.
Skills are another area that the Government must consider and I welcome the work that has already been done, particularly on apprenticeships. They are giving more young people the chance to learn skills in some of our excellent educational facilities—not least Warwickshire college in my constituency. We need to do more to strengthen the whole curriculum, however, so that it supports our economy, particularly by supporting science, technology, engineering and maths—the STEM subjects —at primary and secondary schools. We also need to look at apprenticeships so that we have more of the higher level apprenticeships our country needs to compete with other rapidly upskilling economies.
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): The hon. Gentleman is talking about the importance of education and training. Is he not concerned that every year we have to import tens of thousands of qualified engineers from abroad because we cannot produce enough through our own educational system even for our diminished manufacturing sector?
Yes, I share that concern. It is incumbent on the House and on partners with an interest in manufacturing and industry to spread the news and create a greater awareness of jobs in industry. It is a matter of attracting people to those jobs, and our
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education system has a great part to play in that. That brings us back to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle).
The Government have also rightly focused on infrastructure, on which the UK needs to improve, and a comprehensive industrial policy would seek to address that problem. A modern industrial policy must work to increase investment, by providing the right incentives and ensuring that the allowances and tax breaks make the UK one of the most attractive places in the world to do business.
Of course, an industrial policy should also consider other areas such as research and development, energy, procurement and export support, but I believe that the most crucial thing is that we should act swiftly to work on building a new industrial policy. Sector strategies are useful, but the main obstacles to UK manufacturing are at a national level.
A strong manufacturing ecosystem cannot depend on a few favoured industries but must see the whole of industry succeed. We have an historic opportunity over the next few years to develop consensus on a policy that our country desperately needs, working across political boundaries with business, trade unions and policy experts. I hope the Government will take the opportunity to do that, enabling manufacturing to be the engine of the UK economy once again and putting our country back on the path of sustainable and balanced long-term growth.
Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds), who are members of the all-party group on manufacturing. I think it is indicative of the consensus that is emerging on industrial policy that I heard little that I disagree with.
I welcome the debate and the Government’s publication of an industrial strategy. Indeed, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published any number of strategies so far, and I would find it difficult to disagree with any of the major points in them. The problem is not so much with the industrial strategy— I think that a consensus on that is emerging on the Back Benches—as with the priorities in the culture of the Government, which is not necessarily aligned with the Department’s priorities and the strategies.
“The Government shapes the British economy with its decisions every day. It makes many decisions about skills and universities, on research, on technologies, and on infrastructure. Through what it buys, and how it goes about buying it, the regulations that exist, the markets it oversees, and tax policy. All of these send messages to the economy.”
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Huw Irranca-Davies: My hon. Friend is right that Government decisions shape industrial strategy. I hope he might have some thoughts on where we go on carbon capture and storage as part of the strategy. It was with great regret that we found out this week that there is uncertainty over future funding and a drawing down of European funds because the Treasury was unable to provide guaranteed funding. Does he hope that CCS will be part of the industrial strategy in phase 2, which will come up next spring?
The problem is basically that although the Minister outlines the impact of different Government policies on the economy, the Department, in its delivery in those different areas, does not necessarily seem to be signed up to the same economic and industrial priorities. For a start, on the fiscal strategy, our ability to eliminate the deficit depends crucially on our ability to generate investment in economic growth, yet at the same time the Chancellor’s strategy has effectively squeezed consumer spending and failed to recognise that in many areas public spending and private engagement with it are crucial to economic performance. That, coupled with various apocalyptic utterances about the state of the British economy, has generated a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty that has had a knock-on effect on consumers’ confidence to spend money and the willingness of businesses to invest. I hear that many businesses are currently sitting on piles of cash, but they will not invest it because they fear that the investment would not pay off. Similarly, with such uncertainty, banks are less likely to lend because they obviously sense a higher risk in doing so than they would if there was greater confidence in the economy.
Also, the Government’s tax policies have concentrated on reducing corporation tax. All the messages I get from manufacturing—I know that the hon. Member for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle) has strong views on this—indicate that money to generate investment would be much better focused on research and development and capital allowances than on corporation tax. Much more needs to be done to assess the relative impact of reductions in corporation tax, rather than investment in R and D and capital allowances, and where future Government policy on that should go. Given the number of foreign businesses that have invested in this country and seem to have paid very little corporation tax, I wonder how relevant the reduction in corporation tax set out in the Chancellor’s first Budget was in attracting foreign investment. I need only repeat the comments the chair of my local enterprise partnership made this week: he said improving capital allowances would be a quicker and more effective step than creating a business bank. I do not decry the long-term significance of a business bank, but right now we need some shorter-term policies that can have a more immediate impact.
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Guy Opperman: One such short-term policy that would have an impact is the liberalisation of small local community banking, as that would mean there would be lending directly to small and medium-sized businesses, which is what the hon. Gentleman would like. This Government are doing that, but the Opposition voted against it. Can he explain why?
Mr Bailey: The hon. Gentleman tempts me to address a much bigger debate about the appropriate ways of financing industry, but I am not going to do that. I have been involved in local organisations providing access to finance for small businesses, and I know that the perception of risk is crucial. It does not matter where the money might come from, because if the risk is considered too high any funds will only be available on very expensive terms.
On green issues, the decision on solar panels, the dispute that still exists at the heart of Government on the future of wind power and the delays in the implementation of the green deal make for uncertainty in an industry that needs certainty above all else, and the Government must resolve that. In the submissions I have received from bodies representing manufacturing industry, two measures have been highlighted, which I think the all-party group would also call for. First, any industrial strategy must have at its heart a degree of certainty. That requires building a cross-party consensus that will outlive any Government, so that business can invest for the long term. That is especially relevant for green industries. Secondly, there must be changes in the culture and structure of Government that will allow economic, and in particular manufacturing, priorities to be considered across Departments. That was touched on in Lord Heseltine’s recent report, and it has featured prominently in submissions from organisations representing manufacturing. If we are to convince industry that there is a future in investing in our manufacturing, there has to be general confidence that the Government recognise these priorities and that project economic growth must be a key priority for any Government.
Having an industrial strategy that highlights the most important measures and stimulates debate will go some way towards achieving what we want, but I have yet to be convinced that other Departments accept the logic of this argument. However, there is an emerging consensus in Parliament, especially on the Back Benches, and in industry that the two key issues of long-term certainty and having a driver within Government to prioritise economic growth are crucial. That fact, allied to an emerging public consensus that economic growth must be a priority, could provide the public opinion background to enable any Government to drive forward this agenda. There is therefore a challenge for both the Government and the Opposition to have such policies in place for the public to decide on at the next general election. That is crucial for the British economy and for the future welfare of everybody in this country.
Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for West Bromwich West (Mr Bailey), for it was in 1984 that I made my maiden speech in the House as the newly arrived Member for Cannock and Burntwood on the subject of manufacturing in the west midlands, so I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for manufacturing industry.
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It has been a mistake in this country that for the past 40 years there has been an over-reliance on financial services as the salvation of our prosperity. The bust of 2008 has blown that apart and revealed that there is a pressing need for the United Kingdom to have a much more diversified economy. As a former international banker, I like to tell people that I am now going straight—I am a politician. For some curious reason, they think that is rather funny.
The point has been made about the decline in manufacturing industry in Britain. Let us look at the figures. In the case of Germany, 20% of its output is now manufacturing. It has maintained its position, and of course it is benefiting from a thoroughly depressed exchange rate. Nevertheless, it has seen that manufacturing can contribute, whereas as my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle) pointed out, in the United Kingdom manufacturing has declined from 18.4 % of our national output in 1997 to 10.8% last year. I hope that the Opposition will not constantly deride those on the Government Benches for the decline in manufacturing industry on our watch, as it pretty well halved on theirs. I hope we can attain a consensus on the need to do something for manufacturing. There is good reason why we should be confident.
Mr Bailey: I think I know what the hon. Gentleman means, but he has not reflected that. Manufacturing did not halve under the previous Government. As a proportion of the economy it may have done so, but it actually grew. That has been acknowledged in the Government’s policy.
I want to be positive, because the United Kingdom has historic and current industrial manufacturing flair and capability. I single out just two companies—JCB, a brilliant private family company in Staffordshire, and Dyson, the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner. [Interruption.] Indeed, Hoover too, as my hon. Friend the Minister says. Formula 1 as well has been a stunning success for advanced United Kingdom manufacturing, as has aerospace, which I shall come to in a moment.
I remind the House that JCB employs 10,000 people worldwide, of whom 6,000 are employed in the United Kingdom. JCB’s revenues rose last year by 37% to £2.75 billion. Dyson sold eight out of 10 of its appliances abroad, with revenues of £770 million and profits of £206 million—a serious success story.
Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): I am glad my hon. Friend mentioned JCB in my county, Staffordshire. Does he agree that one of the reasons why such companies have been successful is that remaining in family hands over such a long period, they are able to take long-term investment decisions without necessarily looking to the needs of quarterly reports to the market?
Sir Gerald Howarth: My hon. Friend in my old county makes my point admirably for me. A common feature of both companies that I mentioned is that they both invest heavily in research and development, which the chief executive of Dyson, Max Conze, describes as “the key to success on the world stage”.
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I want to concentrate on defence. BAE Systems and QinetiQ both have their headquarters in my constituency and I make no apology for being a strong supporter of Britain’s defence industry. According to Peter Rogers, who was last year president of ADS—the aerospace, defence and security trade body—the UK’s defence industry employed 110,000 people, of whom 25,000 were graduates and engineers, and supported a further 314,000 jobs. Turnover was £22 billion and export sales were just short of £10 billion—a fantastic record and a fantastic success story in manufacturing industry.
The United Kingdom is a world leader in both civil and military aerospace—as you, Mr Deputy Speaker, know better than almost anybody in this House apart from myself, Sir—with Rolls-Royce in advanced aero engineering and propulsion and Airbus providing the most advanced wing manufacturing in the world. On the military front we have Typhoon, with SELEX supplying the radar and MBDA the missile systems. We have a range of companies, from Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, to EADS UK, Thales, Ultra, Chemring, Cobham, and Marshalls, to tiny bespoke hi-tech companies that should not be ignored given the fantastic contribution that they make to the cutting edge of technology. We need to maintain our leadership of that cutting edge, not only to win wars but to enable us to compete against newly emerging economies.
If I can single out one man for his contribution to this, it is Lord Drayson, who in 2005, when he was the Minister with responsibility for defence procurement, produced a fantastic paper called “Defence Industrial Strategy” in which he said:
“Well targeted investment in R&T is a critical enabler of our national defence capability; it strengthens innovation in our defence industry, produces more capable equipment for our Armed Forces and underpins our ability to operate with high technology allies like the US or France”.
Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): I agree that the defence industry is an important part of the manufacturing base of our country. Will my hon. Friend contrast the previous Government and this Government in terms of the leadership provided by the Prime Minister? Under Labour, QinetiQ, which now headquarters in his constituency, closed down just outside my constituency with no support from the Government. Under this Government, our Prime Minister went to China and won a contract on behalf of the Aircraft Research Association, which is based in my constituency, thereby securing jobs and securing its future.
Sir Gerald Howarth: My hon. Friend anticipates a point that I was going to make, so let me do so now. I fully concur. I do not think that people in this country really appreciate the extraordinary lead that the Prime Minister has given in the promotion of defence exports. Having been the Minister responsible for defence exports, I can testify to his determination, vigour, enthusiasm and commitment. There is every prospect that that commitment will pay off, because he has seriously re-engaged the United Kingdom with the rest of the world in a way that the previous Prime Minister was wholly incapable of doing.
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In respect of defence exports, we are increasingly being required to transfer our technology as well; indeed, that appears to be the only way in which we will be able to win these contracts. In looking at the technology, it is very important to understand the significance of defence research. I have QinetiQ in my constituency, but I also have Roke Manor in Hampshire, which produces fantastic defence research and has 400 engineers. In 2009, BAE Systems invested £833 million in defence research.
We have a good record, but I am afraid that the previous Government do not have such a good record. In 1990-91, at 2009-10 prices, real defence R and D expenditure was £3.8 billion, but in 2009-10 that figure declined to £1.7 billion. In other words, it declined from 11.6% of the defence budget to 4.4% of it. As Lord Drayson said in his 2006 document, “Defence Technology Strategy”, today’s equipment is the result of yesterday’s investment in research. He also said:
“Current threats emphasise that science and technology is fundamental to UK military capability.”
Maintaining a vibrant defence industrial base is not a throwback to a 1960s socialist planning concept, as it appears that some of my colleagues believe, but an essential ingredient in the defence of the realm and in contributing to the export-led economic recovery that the Prime Minister wants and which, as I said, he is leading.
I salute my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Worcestershire (Peter Luff) for his sterling endeavours to ensure that the case for supporting British technology was made within Government, but I fear that the right balance has not been struck. People need to understand the consequences of simply buying abroad. Initially we might get a good price and the kit that we want, but then next time we are told, “The price has gone up, so I’m sorry but you can’t have the same capability.” We then find ourselves on a very slippery slope where we cease to be major players in the world and cease to be able to command our own operational sovereignty. We are facing that issue with the joint strike fighter. There is ongoing argument over our access to the technology. I know that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, know a great deal about that. It is imperative that, as equity partners in the joint strike fighter programme, we have that operational sovereignty.
Seeking to grow the UK’s defence industrial base must not be an excuse for the military to over-specify its requirements or for the industry to inflate its prices. Competition clearly has a role to play in restraining such excess, as the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) suggested. However, other nations, including an increasing number of emerging countries, are investing in military capability development and their demand for our products is likely to decline. That raises the inevitable question: from where will the United Kingdom derive its income in the future? I submit to the Minister that the answer has to be in upping our expenditure on defence research, for all the reasons that I have set out.
As a former Bank of England man and adviser to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, I say to the Minister that the position of R and D tax credits needs to be looked at again. QinetiQ has pointed out to me that it is being seriously disadvantaged by the Treasury’s proposal to change R and D tax credits to make them above the line, which would remove the fiscal incentive for companies
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that focus mainly on research, rather than development, to locate their activity in the United Kingdom. Given the strength of feeling around the House this evening about the importance of our manufacturing industry, I hope that the Minister will take back to his friends in the Treasury the need to ensure that we incentivise industry and the Government to invest in our technology. That will be hugely important for the defence of Britain and for our defence industrial base.
Andrew Sawford (Corby) (Lab/Co-op): I am very proud to speak in the Chamber for the first time as the Member of Parliament for Corby. Locally, we know the constituency as Corby and east Northamptonshire, comprising as it does both Corby town itself and the surrounding villages, the four towns of Raunds, Irthlingborough, Thrapston and Oundle, and many villages across east Northamptonshire.
I will start by paying tribute to my predecessor. Louise Mensch served as Corby’s MP in her own unique style. She was proud to be a vocal woman MP, speaking up for women in public life. She played an important role on the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, particularly on matters concerning the role of the media, in which she took a great interest. She championed the local media, such as in her debate earlier this year in which she praised our excellent local newspaper, the Corby Telegraph. She was also known as an advocate of social media. As I know already, combining family life with the demands of being an MP is challenging, but in my predecessor’s case there was also the matter of an ocean between those two parts of her life. I wish her and her family well in the future.
Louise had a tough act to follow. Her immediate predecessor, the Labour and Co-operative MP, Phil Hope, served for 13 years and was well known as a very hard-working local MP who was concerned with his constituents. He was instrumental in the opening of a new railway station in Corby, the opening of children’s centres across the area, major health service improvements and the building of new schools. He also served with distinction as a Minister.
Like Phil Hope, I am a co-operator, and I am proud to be a member of the Co-operative group of MPs, which this week has reached record numbers. The first ever Co-operative MP in the country was elected to represent my constituency, on its earlier boundaries, in 1918. The driving force behind Alf Waterson’s selection was the blastfurnacemen’s union in Corby. Although Northamptonshire had once been a stronghold of the Liberals, in the early 20th century, a more radical culture emerged from the chapels and the boot and shoe industry, in which past generations of my family were employed. Local co-operatives in towns across the constituency became a vital part of the local economy, and still feature strongly today. I believe that co-operative approaches, such as mutual housing and new energy co-ops, can play a big role in my constituency’s future.
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of the Raunds strike of 1905, during which a party of boot operatives marched to London to demand fair wages.
“Their arrival was awaited in Parliament by a large number of people in Parliament Square, from where a deputation of ten proceeded into Parliament to meet with MPs. Afterwards, the men were admitted to the Strangers Gallery, and a slight disturbance was created.”
All those years ago the War Office agreed to the demands of Raunds workers and committed to a minimum rate of pay that people could live on. Today, I urge all parts of the public sector in Corby and east Northamptonshire, and the private sector, to consider the case for a living wage of £7.45 an hour. Too many people in my constituency are being squeezed by rising food and fuel prices, and by other factors such as the role of employment agencies in our local labour market. Too many people are on zero-hours contracts where no work is guaranteed. When they do work they are paid low wages with agencies taking a cut of their earnings, and sometimes workers are poorly treated. I am also concerned about the way in which some agencies have set up offices overseas to facilitate employment in my constituency; I want them to make a much more determined effort to ensure that local people are given employment opportunities. I have raised that point with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and I am grateful that he has listened and said that he will take action.
In these tough economic times, many people in my constituency are unable to find work at all. Independent studies show that Corby is the most difficult place in the country to be a young unemployed person looking for work. Corby is, and must be, a working town. It is particularly well known as a steel town. Corby provided the steel for Operation Pluto—the famous pipeline under the ocean—which provided the fuel for allied forces invading Normandy in world war two. My granddad was there on D-day as a Royal Marine commando, and my other granddad, who worked in farming, helped to feed that Army and the country. Both would later become Corby steelworkers.
Today Corby’s steel tubes can be found at the Olympic park, and seen on everything from the Wembley arch to the millennium wheel across the river from this House. Tata is still a major local employer and I support its call for a level playing field on energy prices—which it tells me are much cheaper in continental Europe—and, crucially, for investment in infrastructure to boost demand. These are key issues for manufacturing industry in the UK. I want to see more action to create jobs, such as a one-off tax on bankers’ bonuses to pay for a real jobs guarantee for young people, and to help our small firms with a one-year national insurance tax break if they take on extra workers. I will also work locally with businesses, councils, schools and colleges. Skills matching is a particular issue, helping people to gain the skills they need for the jobs that will be created.
I was struck by the experience of a local man I met recently. He had started his working life as an apprentice toolmaker, carrying out a high-quality apprenticeship and being mentored by an older toolmaker who was in his last few years before retirement. I want such experiences to be much more widely available to support
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our young people to develop great skills and careers in the manufacturing industries—the important subject of today’s debate.
Corby is very proud of its Scottish connections and has a large population of Scottish descent. The Highland gathering is a big event, as are the Burns suppers. Generations of Scots and other people coming to the town have blended with Northamptonshire people to create a distinctive, incredibly strong and proud community that it really is a privilege to represent. There has not always been such co-operation between the Scots and the English in my constituency. Today Fotheringhay is one of our many beautiful villages, but it has a more gory past as the place where Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded. I assure the House that today there is a more harmonious spirit and we believe that England and Scotland are definitely better together.
That spirit has enabled Corby to survive at times of great hardship. In the 1980s. 10,000 people were made redundant at the steelworks—my own dad was one of them—and that experience shaped my childhood. My dad went to Ruskin college to study, while my mum worked in a leather goods factory to pay the bills. My dad, who is here today, went on to become the Member of Parliament for Kettering from 1997 to 2005, and I am very proud to continue my family’s record of public service.
I look forward to raising other issues that matter a great deal to my constituents, such as the future of vital local services, including our schools, local policing and health services. I am particularly concerned about the threat of serious cuts to Kettering general hospital. It is where my own children were born, and it serves people across my constituency. I will do everything I can to protect our hospital services. I will speak up, too, for our more vulnerable residents: the families affected by cuts to special needs services; those who rely on disability benefit who feel unfairly treated by these Atos reviews; and the pensioners, who want to know that their MP is on their side.
Thank you for the warm welcome, Mr Deputy Speaker, from the staff of the House and MPs on both sides, and from my right hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip—[Laughter.] I intend to work hard here in Parliament and in my constituency for all the residents in all the towns and villages. I very much look forward to the honour of representing Corby and east Northamptonshire in the years ahead.
Eric Ollerenshaw (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the new hon. Member for Corby (Andrew Sawford). Clearly, my two Saturdays in Corby did not turn out too well. I remember the rain in Thrapston. I offer him many congratulations. Obviously he is a man of strong views, and he puts them across clearly. I have known him before—briefly—in his professional life. He proves that he does his homework and research, and will make a great addition to the House. Unfortunately for Government Members, it looks like he will stay the course.
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and for Burnley (Gordon Birtwistle), on getting this debate under way. I declare an interest in Stalybridge and Hyde—I spent my childhood at Hyde county grammar, and used to live in Dukinfield, which is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde. My sister still lives there and works at the company the hon. Gentleman mentioned. I am also grateful to the Backbench Business Committee for the debate.
We need to rebalance the economy in terms of the types of the businesses we have, but getting manufacturing and industrial policy right is critical in rebalancing the economy regionally. I am pleased the hon. Gentleman said we do not want to go back to the failed policies of the 1970s in trying to pick company winners—he agrees with Government Members on that. Surely the Government’s job will be to identify sectors where we already have a world lead, such as life sciences, higher manufacturing and aerospace, as well as sectors of high growth, such as the automotive industry.
As the hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) pointed out, we need a strategy that resolves the country’s energy needs, which will give stability for investors on which to build an increased manufacturing base. We also need a positive climate for inward investment and business start-up.
The hon. Member for West Bromwich West (Mr Bailey) mentioned a competitive tax regime. I congratulate the Government on what they have done on corporation tax, which I believe is having an impact. We need a competitive tax regime, but we also need a regime under which tax is collected.
My hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington emphasised education policy and the reforms the Government are introducing to ensure that we have properly trained and qualified workers, which hon. Members on both sides say we need. When we meet local employers, they complain about their employees.
I agree with other hon. Members on apprenticeships. I congratulate the Government on what they have done—we have nearly half a million new apprenticeships. A couple of weeks ago, I visited a small manufacturing factory in my constituency—it is essentially small scale, as described by my hon. Friend the Member for High Peak (Andrew Bingham). A and G Precision and Sons Ltd has only 40 employees, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth) will be pleased to know, it supplies parts to BAE Systems for the Typhoon fighter. Only this year, it decided to make two work experience lads from the local school into full-time paid apprenticeships. I see the beginning of that welcome change throughout my constituency. The other part of that—my hon. Friend has just touched on it and it is one of my main points—is the encouragement of R and D, so that our companies remain at the cutting edge in their field.
My constituency benefits from having Lancaster university in it—one of the top 10 universities. The university has recently been made a centre of excellence for cyber-security, and has the potential to generate multi-billion pound business across the world. We need to build on that. In my constituency, ideas have been developed and transferred. For example, First Subsea Ltd took a design from the university and has now produced an engineering mechanism to pick up pipes and buoys from under the sea for the oil industry. It employs 45 people and has sales departments in all the major oil-producing parts of the world.
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I have previously made this point, but we have missed a trick with local enterprise zones. I have never understood why we could not give every university the potential to have their own enterprise zone. The purpose of enterprise zones is to encourage start-ups. Where do start-ups start? Many of them at the high end start with universities. We also want enterprise zones where businesses, as they expand, eventually move off and pay their taxes like every other business.
Sir Gerald Howarth: My hon. Friend is making an important point. May I remind him that Surrey Satellite Technology, a fantastic world leader in satellite technology, was spun out of the university of Surrey? That reinforces his point about the role that universities can perform in advancing high technology.
When I make inquiries, I am told that the problem in defining and facilitating university enterprise zones lies apparently with the Treasury. The Under-Secretary of State for Skills, my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Matthew Hancock), is an expert in these areas and I am not. However, I am told that the Treasury rules are that it has to make a calculation about the taxes it would have received from companies that have not yet been set up in order to make a decision about whether to allow an enterprise zone to be created. How civil servants can calculate the tax of non-existent companies—or new companies that have not even been dreamed up—I am not quite clear, but to me there is something wrong with the system.
Our universities have pushed forward the science park idea—Cambridge is a notable example—and it is being pursued by Lancaster university to enable graduates with skills and ideas to stay in the local area. To underline my theme, we have to use this policy to rebalance the contribution to growth that the regions make. The council, under general powers of competence, has the power to vary business rates. The concept suggested by the university, the council and myself was to have an enterprise zone-lite. The local council could define the area of the science park and lower business rates. The problem then—going back to the Treasury rules—is that the local council would then have to calculate the difference between the full business rate and an estimate of what those companies, some of which might not have even been set up, might have to pay. That seems to defeat the whole object, but watch this space. We are still trying to pursue where we can go with this. It is key that policy is not only about what Government can do—I will say a little bit more about that—but about what local councils and local authorities can do, on their own volition, with the new powers that the Government are giving them. That policy, based around universities, is the key to top-level manufacturing and to growing the economy of the north and, in particular, my constituency.
Hon. Members have mentioned exports. Lots of companies in my constituency export. I have mentioned before a company in Fleetwood that exports 50 tonnes of whelks to Korea. Only the other week, I was called by someone from another company in Fleetwood. I do not know if this counts as manufacturing, but the gentleman there reconditions and patches up end-of-life
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heavy trucks. He has found that the market in developing countries is either for brand-new Chinese trucks or British Bedford ex-defence vehicles—probably the kind that my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot secured the contract for many years ago. He says that the Chinese trucks do not last five minutes. I have no comment to make—I am not a truck expert—but he says that although they are glittering they do not survive very long.
The gentleman in question, then, has found a market in the developing world for reconditioned heavy vehicles, so why did he approach me? He wanted to know whether I had contacts with other countries that might want to get involved. Having been a member of the all-party group on Kurdistan, I mentioned Kurdistan. That taught me a lesson, because he came back and said, “We’re looking at Kurdistan”. Where was UK Trade & Investment? Through contacts in the all-party group, he contacted the consular staff, who were extremely helpful, and now he is on his way to selling reconditioned trucks to Kurdistan. Where was UKTI? Its role is pivotal. A small business that wants to be in the export market needs a simple lead.
Jeremy Lefroy: I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments about reconditioned British vehicles, which are much-sought-after all around the world, but does he agree that there is another problem, as experienced by a company in my constituency? Reconditioned UK Army vehicles, which cannot be described anymore as military vehicles, are banned from export to certain countries, yet similar German army vehicles are available in those places, because German companies face no such obstacles.
Eric Ollerenshaw: My hon. Friend clearly demonstrates his point about reconditioned vehicles. I do not want to prolong this debate, but clearly there is a market. Small businesses at—I would say “the coal face”, but we do not have one anymore—the end of manufacturing do not have time to make the phone calls and make the contacts. They need support. For that reason, I welcome some of the changes to UKTI. In particular, I welcome its approach to Members about getting these meetings going in their particular areas. That will, I hope, provide the contacts, so that no longer do I have to be called in to make the contacts myself. As I learnt, we should not assume that these small businesses are not looking at what is available on the global market. All they want is the assistance to get into that global market, and obviously we should do everything we can to address our concerns about manufacturing.
I supported the abolition of regional development agencies, although I should declare an interest, as a past member of the London Development Agency—why London needed an RDA I never understood, even though I sat on the board. I have, however, been a great supporter of local enterprise partnerships, and I take Lord Heseltine’s point about giving them greater support. I support LEPs because areas such as Lancaster and Fleetwood—at the north end of Lancashire—and surrounding constituencies, are dominated by Manchester and Liverpool. So despite serious concerns about the proposal for city regions and the dominance of those areas, which in my constituency resulted in little help from the RDA, I hope that we will get some help from the LEP.
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Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): May I first congratulate my new hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Andrew Sawford) on his absolutely splendid maiden speech? I have some connection with him in a sense, because I come from the east midlands, my grandfather worked in the boot and shoe industry, and at this moment I am wearing a pair of English leather shoes that were probably made in his constituency—and splendid shoes they are, too. It really was an excellent speech, and I am pleased that my hon. Friend’s father is here to hear it, because he was a very good personal friend and comrade in this place. I am delighted that my hon. Friend is following in his father’s footsteps and I welcome him to the House of Commons.
I want to mention Bedford trucks as well, because the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood (Eric Ollerenshaw) mentioned them. They were made just outside my constituency in Dunstable and are all over Pakistan—thousands of them can be seen there today. Many people think it was a great mistake to stop manufacturing the basic truck, which is so rugged and can work in any conditions—and no doubt is infinitely superior to the Chinese competition.
I want to talk about Britain’s experience of manufacturing. Britain has suffered from savage deindustrialisation, brought about by utterly misguided economic policies enacted over a long period. We have had many figures quoted to us today. We have only to look at, say, the comparable 2006 figures for Germany and Britain, to see that manufacturing comprised 12.4% of our economy in Britain and 23.2% of Germany’s economy—almost twice as much. Germany is indeed the economic powerhouse of Europe, and one can see why. During the period 2000 to 2010, the UK share of world trade fell by 28%, whereas Germany’s fell by a mere 3%. Why are our countries so different? Governments in Britain have made persistent attempts to sustain an overvalued exchange rate. This goes right back even to the 1931 crisis, which sadly destroyed the Labour Government, because they did not realise that they could come off the gold standard and devalue, which is what they should have done and what happened immediately after they lost office.
Then we had the 1949 devaluation—very sensible—and in 1967, again after resisting devaluation for a long time, we eventually devalued, following which the economy of course bounced a bit. But then in 1979 we had the Thatcher Government, who immediately introduced policies that saw a massive appreciation of the pound. In two years we saw a fifth of manufacturing industry disappear and unemployment rise to 3 million, simply because of the massive appreciation of the pound and the collapse in demand for manufacturing. Between ’82 and ’88, in the Nigel Lawson period, we saw a pretty savage depreciation of the pound—by some 35% from peak to trough—and a great recovery because of that depreciation.
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industry is accurate country-of-origin marking and an end to bogus back-stamping. If something says “Made in England”, it should be made in England. Other countries in Europe want that in the ceramics industry, but the UK has always stood in the way. Does my hon. Friend agree that it is time we had a more open mind to such measures to ensure accurate consumer information, to counter counterfeiting and to give our industries a fighting chance?
Then we had the 1990 to 1992 exchange rate mechanism disaster—again, an attempt to pinion our currency, in essence against the Deutschmark. We recovered from that after we devalued substantially—golden Wednesday—and the economy started to strengthen again. Indeed, if that economic strengthening had continued for three or four years longer, Labour might not have won the 1997 election, because we won on the basis of the terrible mistake made by the Conservative Government by going into the ERM. Those are key factors—the key factor, I think—in our economic weakness. But Germany kept its Deutschmark at a low parity for a prolonged period, and was allowed to do so because West Germany had to be, inevitably, the showcase for western capitalism against the east, and everything was done to ensure that Germany succeeded. It was permitted; it was allowed by the rest of the western world to keep its currency low as a necessary condition for economic success. Other factors, of course, were used to ensure that the Germans were successful, including a very strong interventionist industrial policy, which we forgot and left behind when we abandoned, for example, the National Economic Development Council, abolished by the Tory Government.
Mr Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con): I am very interested in the hon. Gentleman’s remarks about Germany. Would he join me in congratulating the Germans on the important supply side reforms that they have made in recent years, to liberalise their economy and to make it the exporting success that it clearly is? Is that not a lesson for the United Kingdom?
Kelvin Hopkins: If the hon. Gentleman thinks that we can recover by taking supply side measures, he is gravely mistaken. It is the macro-economic measures that the Germans took that were the basis for their success. Supply side measures can no doubt help, but having a low parity for the currency and then ensuring that investment goes into manufacturing above all was the key to German success. The euro, of course, is an invention, essentially to pinion the Deutschmark within the euro at a relatively low parity compared with the countries that Germany exports to. If those countries outside Germany but inside the eurozone were permitted to recreate their own currencies and devalue, they would not be able to buy quite so many BMWs and Mercedes as they do at the moment, and that would affect Germany. One of the reasons Germany is so keen to keep the eurozone going is simply that Germans know very well that if the eurozone was disaggregated, or collapsed, depending on how one chooses to describe it, the Deutschmark would immediately appreciate and Germany would have much more serious difficulties.
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We have had that constant problem with our exchange rate. Ours has always been high, and Governments have tried to keep it high. Germany’s has always been low and German Governments have made sure it stayed low. I have had a number of experiences, about which I have written in the past, and spoken on many occasions. In 1988 I went to a meeting of the Anglo-German Foundation and raised the question of the “balance of trade problem” with Germany. I was immediately told to shut up by a very angry representative of the then German Government. I thought I was just raising something that was obvious to everyone, but he was very upset that I even raised the issue. In 1988 the Institute for Public Policy Research produced a pamphlet, “The German Surplus,” which raised that issue. That too was suppressed. I tried to get extra copies; I was told there was none. I asked who wrote it; no one would tell me. Clearly, the Europhiles inside the organisation were suppressing that document because it would damage our relationships with the European Union, which we were moving towards.
Macro-economics is the core problem. We could do lots of other things as well, but the macro-economics must be right. We must ensure that our exchange rate is right, and the only way we are going to start to recover industrially—in manufacturing terms—is first to have a substantial depreciation and then to do other things to ensure we recover. If we do not do that, we are in for a very bleak time.
I have with me the fine document produced by the Library every month, “The Economic Indicators,” which I read avidly. Let us look at the trade balances—visible trade. In 2010, Germany had a trade surplus—converted by the Library into dollars, for comparison’s sake—of $204 billion, when the UK had a deficit of $151 billion. That is the difference between countries. They should be, in many other ways, very similar. They have got it right; we have got it wrong. The UK trade deficit with the EU27—essentially with Germany—in August, the last month recorded, was £4.9 billion in one month, up from £4.4 billion in July. So it is getting worse. Most of that is, of course, with the Germans. The UK trade deficit for 2011 tipped over the £100 billion mark—a staggering figure. No other country would be able to sustain that, and we must do something about it in time.
Only a much lower exchange rate will make it possible to increase exports and drive an economic, and specifically industrial, revival in the UK. Only then will we see unemployment come down and living standards start to rise again. We must do this; it is a necessary, vital condition for success, and if we do not do it, we have a bleak future before us.
Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): I refer Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I congratulate the hon. Member for Corby (Andrew Sawford) on his excellent maiden speech. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) and my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White) on securing this important debate.
I firmly believe that the United Kingdom needs a long-term industrial policy, but it must be rooted in growth. There is no point in focusing on economic sectors that will not create jobs and wealth for the UK
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in the future. We have fought shy of introducing an industrial policy in the UK for many years, because we believe that Governments should not be in the business of picking winners. It is true that a Government should not select one company over another, but we will be failing our country and future generations if we do not look ahead to see which economic sectors are likely to prosper and which are likely to fade away.
Suspicious as we have been about industrial policies, we have nevertheless had them over the years. In the midlands, in and around my constituency, I can see the positive results of at least three of them. Rolls-Royce aero-engine manufacturing was saved—perhaps fortuitously, and not as a result of a deliberate policy—by a Conservative Government intervention in 1971 after the company overreached itself with the development of the RB211 engine. Rolls-Royce employs tens of thousands of highly-skilled staff, contributes greatly to UK manufacturing exports—I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) on the need for rebalancing—and is one of the best-known British products on earth.
Alstom, the largest private sector employer in my constituency, was assisted by a French Government intervention in 2003. Since then, it has consolidated its world-leading role in developing high-voltage direct current transmission as well as being the only remaining manufacturer of large transformers in the UK. It, too, makes a significant contribution to the UK balance of payments.
Jaguar Land Rover is investing heavily in south Staffordshire, as the hon. Member for West Bromwich West (Mr Bailey) said earlier. My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Gavin Williamson) and other neighbouring MPs have worked hard to secure that investment, alongside the strong support of both Staffordshire county council and Wolverhampton city council. In recent years, the UK Government have made a determined effort to attract automotive investment, and this is one of the many fruits of their and the local councils’ efforts.
So industrial policy can work, but only that last one could be said to be the result of a determined effort by the UK to establish a proper policy that is consistent, long term and based on a competitive advantage. That is happening in the automotive industry. Another industry that needs a long-term policy is energy, in regard not only to the consumers of energy but to the manufacturers of the equipment used in the industry. Such manufacturers in my own constituency and many others across the country are world leaders.
What are the building blocks of a successful industrial policy that will stand our country in good stead for the 21st century? I shall make a few suggestions. First, we need a clear understanding of what we will concentrate on. The Netherlands, as so often, provides a good example, as has been set out in Lord Heseltine’s excellent report. The report sets out the nine top sectors in which it believes the Netherlands has a competitive advantage and on which it wishes to concentrate. They include agro-food, horticulture and water—all of which the Netherlands has a lot of—as well as manufacturing and service industries such as chemicals and logistics. The report identifies a “golden triangle” involving links between businesses, research institutions such as universities, and the Government.
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Secondly, we need to ensure that we not only make the end products but control as much of the supply chain as possible. That is particularly the case in the aerospace and automotive industries, which are making efforts in that regard. The supply chain has been relatively hollow in those industries until recently. It has become clear that the UK’s manufacturing base has become increasingly reliant on imported components.
Thirdly, we have to ensure that our education and training system is more closely integrated with the needs of the sectors on which we are concentrating. It has been said in this Chamber more times than I can remember that we face a critical shortage of engineers. That is why, this week in Stafford, we are looking into forming a local engineering partnership between universities, colleges, schools and industry. Science and research are an easy target for cuts in both public and private sector budgets because the results are further down the road, whereas the benefits of the cost reduction are felt straight away. But that investment must be maintained. I welcome the Government’s action in protecting the science budget in cash terms in the last spending review, and I urge them to do the same and more in the next one.
Paul Farrelly: The hon. Gentleman is also a great friend of the ceramics industry in north Staffordshire. Does he agree that a laissez-faire approach often translates in government to a “faire rien” approach—doing nothing. I mentioned country-of-origin marking a few moments ago. A measure such as that, we agreed, is not protectionist, but it would afford some support to our industry and is much needed.
Jeremy Lefroy: I totally agree. I have supported country-of-origin marking for many years to ensure that people know that they are getting the best of British and not some foreign substitute or import. It is vital to maintain the quality of our products around the world.
An industrial policy must set out quite clearly how much we as a nation value research and back up warm words with action. Here, I mention research and development capital allowances. Capital allowances are vital for encouraging companies to invest the cash they have on their balance sheets—some £70 billion at the last count—into productive plant, equipment and other capital investments.
Finally, I turn to finance. It is naive to think that all good projects will attract commercial finance in the UK. If that were the case, we would be the home of many more of the largest companies in the world because the technologies were invented here. The first large computer was built on the work of people such as Alan Turing, and the plasma screen was invented in Malvern by what is now QinetiQ but was then the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. Then there is the work on the human genome, which my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman) mentioned. We should have more of these large companies, but we lack them because the finance was not available.
That is why I think the Government’s business bank proposal is a good start, but it needs to be the source of long-term patient capital. Lord Heseltine’s reminder in his report of the work that the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation did after the war is welcome, and
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I urge the Government to consider his suggestion of providing more such long-term capital through the business bank.
In conclusion, an industrial policy is not a panacea, but it is a structure that provides the inventiveness and entrepreneurship of the people of the United Kingdom with the best possible chance to thrive in a competitive world.
Mr Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) and my parliamentary near neighbour the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White) on securing the debate. It was a good initiative of the all-party group on manufacturing to secure this debate about a year after we had the last one. This is a year in which we can see ever more clearly just how important manufacturing is to the country, but also how far we still have to go because of the relatively little progress we have made.
I do not want to interject any party political emphasis into anything I say. Indeed, I think that, on the whole, the debate has been remarkably clear of that. That shows one of the great advantages of having Backbench Business Committee debates. Although it is delightful to see the Minister and the shadow Minister in their places to respond to the debate—we can take advantage of that—I do not think it was ever intended that they would engage with each other in Dispatch Box altercations. On these occasions, Back Benchers can speak for their constituencies and for the whole country without the sort of pressures that inevitably arise on party political occasions.
Having said that, as far as the industrial strategy goes, I very much take to heart what my hon. Friend the Member for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) said in his brilliant tour d’horizon of post-war economic history, highlighting the great advantages that Germany has had. I do not think, however, that we should look wistfully or enviously at Germany’s position, as a period of prolonged devaluation or low-value exchange rate will not be available to us. Looking to the future, it might be less important to us than it was for Germany over long periods and still is within Europe. The one good thing is that we are outside the euro, but I do not think that long-term depreciation of sterling will ever be allowed, even with a floating exchange rate such as the one we have now.
From my experience both inside and outside the House, the basis for an industrial strategy comes back to the Government not only in respect of the provision of finance, but—and this is of equal importance—in respect of the intelligent and unobtrusive use of Government purchasing. Those two things go together. What the country desperately needs—this is agreed throughout the House—is a major infrastructure programme. However, it is proving extraordinarily difficult to get one under way. One of the two or three questions that I want to ask the Minister—I am sure that he will have time to deal with all of them—is this: what is the real stumbling block? Is it a lack of confidence outside, or is it a lack of Government confidence in the projects?
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said many times, although the House is yet to be as seized of it as I am, the Government are showing a lack of confidence in British manufacturing, from the Treasury down through various other Departments. As was pointed out by the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy), they are afraid to invest real money on a long-term basis. Unless we can get over this fear of failure, invest in the long term, and stick with projects despite the difficulties, we shall not succeed.
In that respect, the Government’s role is vital. An industrial strategy comes down to this. Government finance for infrastructure is desperately needed now, for economic and other reasons. What is holding it up? The process is stuck: the Minister knows that, and the Government know it. It would be helpful if the House could be told what we can do, or what anyone can do, to get these projects under way.
Some aspects of the second issue that I want to raise were dealt with by the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir Gerald Howarth), who, as is recognised in the House and widely outside it, speaks with great authority about high-technology industries. Several sectors are involved, and I want to ask the Minister about one in particular. The Government took a bold initiative in becoming a partner and stakeholder in the joint strike fighter project. What I want to know is whether we are being given access to the software technology that is so vital to the process of landing on and taking off from British aircraft carriers.
I understand that the problem lies with Congress rather than with the President or the White House as such. I do not think that it is to do with the political side of things. However, I understand that there is still some reluctance in Congress. It seems that, having taken a risk and invested, I believe, $2 billion many years ago when that was real money, we are now being denied key access to points of software interface between landing and taking off involving aircraft carriers that are different from those that the Americans had. Can the Minister assure us categorically that the problems have now been solved and that we are being given access to what we vitally need?
Sir Gerald Howarth: Although the joint strike fighter aircraft was not part of my portfolio in the Ministry of Defence, I believe that Lockheed Martin’s argument was that it was still struggling with the technology itself. However, the hon. Gentleman has made an important point. It is imperative for the United Kingdom to be insistent in this regard. The United States is our closest ally. It has looked to us for political support, which we have given, and it needs to return that support.
Mr Robinson: I agree with every word that the hon. Gentleman has said. There are always problems with those crucial software interfaces, but this was not really that sort of problem. It was made clear by members of Congress, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, that they were unhappy about releasing the key elements that we needed, for various spurious, specious reasons. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that the problem has been resolved.
As I said, public purchasing is vital, and I hope that the Minister will bring us up to date on it. We are looking for a new approach from the Government. I hope that it will not amount to an overtly “Buy British”
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campaign; indeed, I cannot conceive of its doing so, because that is not in the nature of the civil service. It would be counter-productive, and in any case it would not be allowed. As I said earlier, we must be intelligent and unobtrusive, which implies that we must have confidence in British companies.
One Department to which that applies particularly is the Department for Transport. There seems to be a tremendous anti-British bias within that Department, which was especially noticeable in regard to the Bombardier project. The Department said that the decision must be based strictly on price, fundability and the strength of the company. However, there are other factors, to which the Government’s new public purchasing policy should refer and which are allowed under the treaty of Rome. May we please have some indication of when we will see the policy, and some assurance that it will allow us at least as wide a margin of appreciation in assessing such projects as is taken by the French and, for that matter, the Germans? The Germans have a simple policy—German is best. So they buy German and they do not have to do any more. The French pretty much have a policy that says, “Buy French”, but nobody ever says it. We cannot find examples of that being said, even in writing, but the policy does exist. Will the Minister let us know when we will see the new public purchasing policy and what we might expect to see in it?
On the banks, what are the Government really doing to provide finance for small companies, a matter to which several hon. Members have referred? We know that the money is there, but the cost involved is huge and no real solution has yet been found by government. Why do we not do something with the Royal Bank of Scotland? We could turn it into a bank for industry and give a long time for its sale and the repayment of the money. I hope that the Minister will answer my questions when he winds up.
Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. Four speakers are left, and the Front Benchers have to begin at 4.35 pm. So to share the time out I am going to give each speaker five minutes. If there are interventions, the time will come off the last speaker and they will end up with no time at all.