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National Quality Campaign

Volume 113: debated on Wednesday 25 March 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on his Department's national quality campaign.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
(Mr. John Butcher)

The campaign was launched in 1983 to raise British industry's awareness of the importance of quality for economic success, to help firms to raise the level of their quality performance and to enable firms to demonstrate their achievements. To date, over 50,000 firms have been contacted through the campaign, and there is no doubt that Britain's quality performance has improved as a result. Nevertheless, much remains to be done, and the commitment of all sections of industry and commerce to quality remains vital.

Does my hon. Friend agree that all the advantages that we have with regard to increased competitiveness, lower interest rates, and lower inflation, and the advantages in price and the other things that go with it, could be set at naught if we do not achieve the highest quality possible in our goods and services, so that we can beat off the foreign imports on our own terms and show, as we used to in the past, that "Great Britain" means "great" in manufacture and services?

I am sure that my hon. Friend will celebrate with me the recent figures, which show that the rate of growth of manufactured exports is slightly higher than the rate of growth of imports. I am sure we all hope that that trend will continue for the foreseeable future. My right hon. Friend is also right in linking non-price factors, such as improved quality and design, as part of the cause of that healthy trend. The national quality campaign has been the key in changing attitudes in British industry.

May I congratulate my hon. Friend on an excellent quality campaign? May I reassure him that "Best made in Britain" is a good policy? Our companies are competitive. Provided we deliver our goods on time, even in Leicester, we have much to celebrate. The campaign should be supported by the Opposition, because it ensures that British goods are the best made and the best for our country's future.

My objective is to double the number of companies that take part in the national quality campaign, by implementing quality programmes within companies. This year we shall also take a more targeted approach, concentrating on and helping major companies and their suppliers, concentrating on individual sectors and also involving regional campaigns in the approach.