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Design Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 19th March 1997.

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Photo of Dr Ian Twinn Dr Ian Twinn , Edmonton 1:49 pm, 19th March 1997

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the contribution the design industry makes to the United Kingdom economy. [19448]

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

The design consultancy industry alone contributes more than £3 billion to the UK economy. I have announced the millennium product award to bring forward 2,000 new products to demonstrate the excellence of British design, the best of which will be displayed at the millennium exhibition.

Photo of Dr Ian Twinn Dr Ian Twinn , Edmonton

I thank my hon. Friend for that exciting news for the British design industry. Does he agree that the best way for British industry to contribute to increasing its competitiveness in the world is to invest in British industrial design? In doing so, our industry can take a step forward in the world and become even more competitive.

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

My hon. Friend is absolutely accurate. More British companies must realise that design plays a key role at every stage of the manufacturing process, and is not just a bolt-on exercise. The reputation of British design around the world is underpinned by the fact that £350 million a year in consultancy fees is attributable to the British design consultancy industry. That indicates the reputation of British designers abroad, and we must make better use of them in this country.

Photo of Barry Sheerman Barry Sheerman , Huddersfield

Does not the lack of indigenous investment mean that fewer of our excellent designers are employed here by British companies, making those companies more competitive overseas? We have some of the best designers in the world, but too many of them go abroad to work for foreign companies, and between 80 and 90 per cent. of the work of the top consultancies is for foreign companies. Surely it is a mark of the Government's failure that we cannot keep good designers working for British firms.

Photo of Ian Taylor Ian Taylor , Esher

It is an indication of how succesful the Government are in anticipating some of the problems for British industry that we have 53 design consultants in business links around the country, that I have pioneered many of the steps forward for British design in its relationship with government, that we have announced the millennium product award to ensure that British design products are on display at the millennium exhibition, and that the Design Council is going from strength to strength under John Sorrell and Andrew Summers. This is a great tribute to what we are doing, and we are looking for equal enthusiasm from British industry.