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British Manufacturers

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 9 June 2011

The coalition Government passionately believe that modern manufacturing is vital if we are to grow and rebalance the economy. That is why, for example, we are investing more than £50 million in the manufacturing advisory service; substantially expanding the number of apprenticeships, as the Secretary of State pointed out; and actively backing manufacturing research and development through our £200 million programme of technology innovation centres.

Next week marks the topping-out ceremony for the first building at the Bristol and Bath science park, which is a £300 million high-value manufacturing centre in my constituency that will generate more than 5,000 new jobs. Will the Minister congratulate the science park on its current progress? What assurances can the Government give the park that we are absolutely committed to high-value manufacturing?

I am delighted to be able to do that. In fact, I was able to do so earlier this week, when the Department launched a new showcasing of composite technology. The national composites centre based at the science park in my hon. Friend’s constituency is an excellent example of UK technological excellence. We have invested £16 million in that centre, and it has our full support and encouragement.

There are clearly changing economic times right across the United Kingdom. What help is there for the British manufacturing industry to take advantage of new green opportunities? Harland and Wolff in Belfast has invested £17 billion in marine wind turbines. Can the Minister assure us that what has happened at Harland and Wolff can happen across the United Kingdom?

Absolutely. The point is that we are not only seeking to invest through technology innovation centres but ensuring that our investment in, as it were, the software—the staff, the apprenticeships and the skills—is brought together. That combination of work on the technological side and in skills is crucial. Harland and Wolff is a good example.