Manufacturing industry

Lord Soley

I couldn’t resist intervening on Monday. There was a question put down by Lord Steinberg about manufacturing industry.  As there is no speaker to call you to speak as in the Commons, members of the Lords just have to push and shove – most delicately of course! Baroness Wall wanted to emphasise how well the aerospace industry was doing and as she was standing in front of me I gracefully (well fairly!) gave way and jumped up later. I then came in after Lord Razzall who claimed manufacturing was an “insignificant” part of British industry. ‘Not true’ I proclaimed! and proceeded to say how it made up 18% of Britsih industry and was one of the best paid of employment opportunities.

We really do sell ourselves short at times. We are one of the largest car manufacturesr in Europe and we have the second biggest aerospace industry in the world. We also have world beating technologies in thing like sub sea platforms. We won’t get young people to look at manufacturing as an opportunity if we keep putting ourselves down – that’s why I got up!

3 comments for “Manufacturing industry

  1. Barbelo
    03/04/2008 at 5:38 pm

    Aye Aye.

  2. Senex
    03/04/2008 at 8:32 pm

    You said:

    “We really do sell ourselves short at times.”

    Absolutely! I just wish we had the industrial base that the Germans have. For me is not so much the diminution of our own industrial base but the loss of work ethic in a would be labour force.

  3. Malty
    03/04/2008 at 10:46 pm

    If you have not already done so I would recommend you to read the last Sunday Times article on German manufacturing.
    From the late 1980s to the late 1990s Germany was my major export market, I manufactured tooling for the plastics industry. My customers were virtually all SMEs of my own size or up to a maximum workforce of 200.
    Over that period I came to know, very well, what made these people tick.
    Sometimes, flying back to the UK, I could have wept with frustration. At that time the banks were beginning to dominate the business world here, the tail wagging the dog, while in Germany they would have none of that nonsense. In the UK, to the banks, you were only as good as your last quarters results, short termism par excellence. At what we did we were as good or better that our European competition. Ultimatly, I could not build on that.
    I should also point out that up to the early nineties I had been a major supplier to Matrix Churchill, their collapse weakened my company so much we struggled for a long time. One day in 1998 a young man from Lloyds bank (With whom we had been dealing since 1979 and had previously had a good relationship, always keeping them fully in the picture, good news or bad) walked into my office with his laptop, told me we did not fit the Lloyds profile for our type of business and invited me to look elsewhere for overdraft facilities. We did manage to secure some facilities but were left so seriously weakened that we finally closed in December 1999.
    During those later years I had the opportunity to take on a large export contract, to fulfill the contract I needed extra factory capacity, this I had already lined up, (English Estates later reincarnation) Through an oversight I was late completing the paperwork, the factory was given to a local double glazing company, sucking in imports.
    I appealed to my local MP for help, guess who..S.Byers.
    He ignored me, factory lost, contract lost and with it our chances of survival. At the same time Romec, who are, as you will know, the Post Offices engineering division who were losing millions of pounds of taxpayers money, were poaching my highly skilled labour, offering levels of wages and pensions no other local company could compete with, while I and everybody else, were subsidising them to do that. I have no issue with losing labour providing the playing field is level. Romec are a grossly inefficient organisation who are, surprise, still winning Post Office contracts. I may have survived one of the above but not all three.
    However, Germany, the article clearly shows why today they are were they are and we are ..well, you know, don’t you ?
    It is I believe, true, that the market capitalisation of one German company (Siemens) is far greater than that of the entire British manufacturing sector. We in Britain are a million miles away from the German Manufacturing ethic.
    The present plight of manufacturing can well and truly be traced to the present governments attitude, led as they have been by a hubristic liar and now a sulking financial disaster, Browns luck with the economy was almost entirely due actions taken by Thatcher and Greenspan and the upturn in the world economy, he was in the right place at the right time.
    So, whilst your comments regarding aerospace are correct, I would suggest you take a drive starting south of Stuttgart, (Porche), Stuttgart to Manheim, (Daimler Benz,) Russelsheim, (George von Opel) Koln, (Ford) Koln to Berlin, (Volkswagen.)
    Add to that Audi and BMW and the dozens of specialists..AMG, AC Schnitzer, Hartge, FFF, Ruf, etc, etc. And I would seriously doubt that we as a nation produce anything like the same number of cars as Germany, and the entire German car industry is German owned.

    I hope that I have given some insight into the realities of manufacturing, from the perspective of one small (ex) part of it.

Comments are closed.