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Manufacturing Industry

Volume 116: debated on Tuesday 12 May 1987

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14.

asked the Paymaster General if he will make a statement on the trend in the number of employees in manufacturing.

The number of employees in manufacturing has been decreasing since 1966. At the same time, the number of self-employed people in manufacturing has been steadily increasing. The downward trend in employees in manufacturing has slowed markedly since 1983.

How do those figures square with the fact that a thousand jobs were lost in manufacturing employment in February and, in the three-monthly average to that date, 9,000 were lost compared with 2,000 in the three months to November? Does the Minister not recognise that unless he puts the same kind of energy and resources into investing in manufacturing industry as he currently puts into manipulating the figures, any reduction in the figures will be cruelly deceptive?

That reduction of 1,000 is one of the smallest that we have had in manufacturing in any month for many years. Manufacturing output is up 15 per cent. since we hit the trough in 1981. Britain's productivity is up 33 per cent. since the previous election. Investment in manufacturing is rising. Our share of export markets is being held. But manufacturing is becoming more technologically advanced. If the hon. Gentleman were to visit, as I am sure he has, as I have, a computer-integrated manufacturing plant, he would see why jobs are not on the factory floor any more. The jobs are in design, marketing, sales and services, many of them serving our wealthier manufacturing industry. That is a pattern upon which we must expect to base policy for many years to come.