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May I join others in congratulating you, sitting there in your smart attire, Mr Deputy Speaker, and also the many hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches this afternoon? Clearly standards have gone up since you and I entered the House in 1992. Congratulations are due to those from all parts of the House who have made such interesting contributions.
I want first to encourage people to think about what has been happening in manufacturing. There has been massive technological change impacting on manufacturing, along with a continual process of globalisation in the manufacturing process, which has put all developed countries under huge pressures to maintain their positions. Because of the changes that have occurred, we have to work at the leading edge-something referred to by hon. Friends who spoke about Nissan and similar projects-if we are to sustain our position. However, one thing is for certain: we will not sustain the number of jobs in manufacturing. There will continue to be pressure on those jobs, as there has been over a long period, because of technology.
I would like to cite two examples from my constituency by way of illustration. Vauxhall Motors used to employ nearly 11,000 people, but now produces a much higher quality product with 2,200 people, with much higher numbers of vehicles coming out of the factory. The Shell oil refinery used to employ 10,000 people, but now the control room looks like something out of NASA and a handful of people can control the whole refinery, because of sophisticated IT technologies, which have made such a massive change to the way such operations work.
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