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Industry (Government Support)

Part of Opposition Day — [1st allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 16th June 2010.

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Photo of Mary Macleod Mary Macleod Conservative, Brentford and Isleworth 3:43 pm, 16th June 2010

I thank those who made their maiden speeches today. It is so good to hear them participate in a debate on industry. For me, this is one of the most important debates that we can have, given that we are in the middle of a recession and trying to take our country out of it. Truly focusing on industry, business, skills and innovation will take us through the recession and get us back to the strong economy that we need again for this country.

I also feel personally that this is important. I still remember the day when I was in school and was first taught about the industrial revolution, and how that motivated and inspired me to go and do something in business. I spent the 20 years after I graduated in different sectors of business. The industrial revolution is a part of our history that made us great-one hon. Member mentioned that in his maiden speech today-and we want to make our country great again, and creating a strong economy is one way to do that.

The Government can do several things in that respect. Reducing bureaucracy has already been mentioned by several hon. Members, but I want to emphasise what businesses with which I have worked and spoken-in Brentford and Isleworth and elsewhere-have told me. We must do something about the bureaucracy and red tape that both small and large businesses must manage, because they saw it increase under the previous Government. Instead of that red tape and bureaucracy, we need to ensure that we create the atmosphere and environment in which enterprise can flourish, and create an enterprise-led economy. That means encouraging new businesses and getting them to innovate and create new ideas. Time and again, as a country and as individuals, we have proved that we can do that so well in Great Britain. Let us get rid of the regulation, support new enterprise, and ensure that we build this country again into what it can be.

On creating a better-balanced economy, we have perhaps limited ourselves and focused on too few sectors. I worked in financial services, which in the past has helped us to create a strong economy, and I believe it will again. However, we need to look beyond what we have done before and ask, "What is needed for the future?" I want to ensure that we are supporting the manufacturing sector, research and development, and science and technology, which need our input and support if they are to grow.

On education and skills support for business, I welcome our proposal-it was mentioned today, in the coalition agreement and previously in the general election-for investment in apprenticeships and university places. Businesses have told me that they have spent crucial training time in their organisations teaching people how to read and write, rather than getting on and developing the skills that they need. We must begin to address that at schools, by ensuring that our children get the best possible education, so that we create the skills necessary for the country.

The previous Government pursued wasteful policies in the past 13 years. They introduced a number of schemes that were designed to help businesses through the recession, but those have failed. We now have a duty to this country to review those projects and ensure that we are getting value for money for them. Policy is really all about the outcome; it is not about having another new idea or drafting another piece of legislation every day. It is about asking, "What will this policy actually deliver on the ground in terms of jobs and support for industry?" I encourage the Government to look again at those policies. We need to ensure that we are supporting people in skills-based training and apprenticeships. I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister for Universities and Science for visiting West Thames college in Isleworth with me. That college is a great example of a good scheme. We need to build on such schemes to ensure that we gain the skills that are required in future.

I also encourage the Government to do everything that they can to support British industry and create that competitive environment for business investment. Given the state of the public finances, we must find ways to do that and increase opportunities for business, cut excessive expenditure and red tape, and simplify our processes. I therefore support the Government's amendment, because we should do all that we can to rebuild our country and allow businesses and people across this land to aspire to do what they can to make this country great once again.

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