Manufacturing Industry — [Joan Walley in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:55 pm on 2nd December 2009.

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Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Chair, Regulatory Reform Committee 2:55 pm, 2nd December 2009

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have seen examples of work being done on hybrid vehicles and alternative transport in the north and in Scotland, down south in Ricardo's, and in the M25 ring where the Formula 1 market is so strong. Work is continuing with KERS-the kinetic energy recovery system-which worked so well for McLaren, but we need to transfer that technology to vehicles such as London buses. There are huge UK successes, and we must ensure that the Government support them through development and into manufacture.

My final comments will be about small and medium-sized enterprises. The real pressure in my constituency has been on SMEs. There have been problems with the banks, and some of them have promised that they will try to do better. My hon. Friend the Minister needs to use his influence and put pressure on the banking industry-Regional Ministers should do so at regional level-to ensure that small supply chain companies do not lose out. This is a critical part of the equation.

The other day, I visited a company in my constituency that is suffering as a result of the banking crisis; dozens of SMEs that have not approached me are likely to be in a similar situation. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and there are some very successful SMEs. I visited a pharmaceutical business in Neston a couple of weeks ago. Pro-Lab Diagnostics is extraordinarily successful and produces infection testing kits for virtually every NHS trust in the country. Such companies need nurturing, because they are the future of the SME sector, which consists of small specialist companies that have grown from brilliant ideas and been turned into manufacturing operations. It is critical that the Minister's Department is seen to be supporting such companies, but so should the banking sector.

It is not all doom and gloom. There are some great success stories and we should be proud of them. All of us-Government and Opposition Members-must give our maximum support to manufacturing to ensure that it is around for our children's benefit.