A House in need of education

Just when you thought the UK’s public life couldn’t get any more bizarre yet another eyebrow-raising item lands across the desk.

The latest surprise comes from the fertile ground of the House of Commons.

Readers will know that The Packaging Federation sets a great deal of store by the work of our Parliamentary legislators. We endeavor to stay as close as we can to its workings and decisions. Indeed it’s the reason that our All Party Parliamentary Group exists.

However, a recent survey of Parliamentary Perceptions of Manufacturing has done us all a real service in showing the scale of the education job yet to be achieved with our MPs.  A total of 109 MPs were interviewed for this piece of work. Some of the findings are rather jaw-dropping.

For example, on a do-nothing basis UK manufacturing is incontrovertibly in decline. And yet nearly 60% of those MPs polled said that they believed that UK manufacturing was set to ‘increase somewhat’ through the next ten years. 

Nearly half of our MPs believed that UK manufacturing contributed more than 20% to UK GDP. The actual figure is about 11%.

A majority of MPs also appear to believe that the UK’s current energy policy is making UK manufacturing ‘more effective’ whereas the daily plant closures and deterrent to inward investors make it clear that the opposite is proven.

Now I understood that these are statistics that our politicians might want to believe in. But really and truly, baseless optimism and wishful thinking are not great places to start.

 A few good things have been lately found from the desk of Vince Cable – the recnt work around Toyota’s new investments and in relation also to manufacturing innovation.

With the greatest of respect might I suggest that the Minister for Business and his department make it a priority to deliver the manufacturing reality check that is so sorely needed by his colleagues in the Commons on both sides of the House.

Levying the highest energy tariffs and then slapping further carbon taxes on our producers is simply driving UK manufacturing to the wall – period. Making things is still the bedrock of any nation’s prosperity. And however you slice and dice it our UK GDP manufacturing share of 11% – and declining – just won’t do. Time to get a grip.

We are indeed living in interesting times.

Many thanks

Dick Searle