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Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 5:42 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Mark Pawsey Mark Pawsey Conservative, Rugby 5:42 pm, 18th April 2018

It was a pleasure to hear the Secretary of State, in his opening remarks, speak of the importance of a strategy to help businesses to create quality, well-paid, sustainable jobs. In any walk of life, we need a roadmap to tell us how to get somewhere. That can be achieved through a strategy that involves both playing to our strengths and attending to our weaknesses. The Secretary of State was very frank about the weaknesses that we face, one of which is the issue of productivity. I want to focus on the five foundations for improving productivity: ideas and innovation, people, infrastructure, the right business environment, and the right places.

Companies and organisations are developing those themes at Ansty Park, in the east of my constituency. The site has been visited by the Secretary of State himself, and the Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, my hon. Friend Richard Harrington, will recall doing so as well. It came into its own with the development of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, one of the first Catapult centres. I am disappointed not to have heard any acknowledgement from Opposition Members of the role of those centres. The centre will develop ideas, and will enable us to turn discoveries—and we have been great at discoveries—into commercial products. It is changing the landscape of manufacturing. When I first visited it just after my election in 2010, it was a building site; now it has 65 industrial members working in new technologies.

We will also exploit innovation and ideas at the High Temperature Research Centre at Ansty Park, which is the result of a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and the University of Birmingham and a £60 million investment. It measures 62,000 square feet, and provides a unique casting, design, simulation and advanced manufacturing research facility focusing on aerospace.

A newcomer to the site is the London Electric Vehicle Company’s factory, where an investment of £250 million has been dedicated to the construction of the electric taxis that are now on the streets of London. It will provide the clean growth that the industrial strategy is intended to achieve, and will be supported by the £400 million investment in charging infrastructure. The London EV Company’s new factory at Ansty has been a real success story.

Over the road from the London Electric Vehicle Company is Fanuc, manufacturer of the widest range of robots in the world, and if we want to increase our productivity through investment we will do so through this new industrial landscape. Robots have applications from micro-electronics assembly to the forging of precision aerofoils for jet engines.

We will also create our industrial growth and development through working on our people. The MTC has a state-of-the-art Lloyds bank training centre, opened in 2015 by the former Business Secretary my right hon. Friend Sajid Javid, and was set up to address the skills gap in UK engineering. Between 2015 and 2020, 1,000 apprentices will be trained in the latest technology.

Importantly, the MTC also engages with the community to support young people into engineering and STEM subjects. A year or two ago, I was with 30 local schoolgirls from Bilton School in my constituency who received the chance to have a hands-on training challenge at the centre.

The site continues to develop. AVL is due to open a new test and engineering centre this spring. It will be operating state-of-the-art “testbeds” for advanced powertrains, including hybrid and battery electric vehicles. If that is not cutting-edge, advanced technology, I do not know what is.

The site will be added to again very shortly by Meggitt, which has recently been given planning consent by Rugby Borough Council. It is important to recognise the role local authorities can play in achieving objectives: a proactive local authority responsive to new development can achieve these things. Meggitt is developing a £130-million international aerospace and defence engineering centre to serve as a hub for the next generation of world-class innovation in aerospace thermal management technology. That will consolidate Meggitt’s presence in the business and provide a further 1,000 jobs in the area.

I am proud of what is happening in my constituency. It exemplifies what we mean by an industrial strategy, providing an environment for both new and well-established companies to help make the UK a more attractive place to start and grow a business, with a stimulus provided by our link to the first-class research and development opportunities at the Manufacturing Technology Centre.