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Industrial Strategy

Part of Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 6:12 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Jack Brereton Jack Brereton Conservative, Stoke-on-Trent South 6:12 pm, 18th April 2018

I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this debate. This is an exciting time for British business, particularly the UK ceramics, advanced manufacturing, digital and logistics industries that do so much to create jobs and prosperity in Stoke-on-Trent.

I am delighted to have visited several businesses in the city over the Easter recess: Don-Bur, which makes some of the most technologically advanced trailers for lorries; Michelin, which is leading the way with retreads for tyres; and Midway Manufacturing, which specialises in bespoke electronics and, I am pleased to say, has expanded and just relocated to Longton in my constituency. Stoke-on-Trent is on the up, and it is businesses like those that are driving the resurgence of our great city—as, indeed, they are driving economic growth throughout the country, underpinned by the internationally competitive tax and regulation framework delivered by this Government.

Stoke-on-Trent is increasingly seen as an attractive place for businesses to locate and invest. From my recent Adjournment debate, the Minister will know about my personal ambition to see Stoke-on-Trent’s ceramics economy grow to an annual £1 billion in gross value added. Now is the time for the Government to help to underpin and realise that growth by building a sector deal for the ceramics industry into our modern industrial strategy. I am committed to the creation of a national research centre—indeed, a dedicated international institute for ceramics—in the authentic world capital of ceramics, Stoke-on-Trent.

Increasingly, advanced and technical ceramics are being used throughout the global economy. We all know about tiles, crockery and household ornaments, but ceramics are also used in thermal barrier ceramic coatings for jet engines, in ceramic armour, and even on the space shuttle. They are used in semiconductors for electronics, and in healthcare and many other industries. Our industrial strategy must ensure that it is global Britain that harnesses the power of the 21st century advanced ceramics manufacturing industry. A British, authentically place-based research centre for ceramics, focused on Stoke-on-Trent, will be a magnet for exceptional research, design and talent.

A sector deal for ceramics can realise the potential for enhanced skills, education, apprenticeships and training. This will keep UK ceramics internationally competitive as a world leader in products and technology, and a driver of British exports. Although the world of ceramics defines Stoke-on-Trent—we are the Potteries after all—we have a wide range of vibrant industries to encourage and support. Our local economy is more diverse than ever before. As I said at the beginning of my speech, logistics and bespoke electronics are part of our economy, as are industries ranging from retail to advanced technical engineering through to bespoke digital security. I totally agree with what my hon. Friend Trudy Harrison said about the potential of modular nuclear reactors. I hope that they can be at least partly manufactured at Goodwin International in Stoke South.

The industrial strategy needs to have an eye on the skills needed for these industries to emerge, grow and flourish—not just academic or technical qualifications, but personal skills such as innovation, enterprise, flexibility, and resilience. This is all about making our communities, our city and our country more productive and more prosperous, and ensuring that everybody is able to access these opportunities to live up to their full potential.