Thursday, 22 March 2012

Celebrating Cornish Manufacturing

Ever since the banking crisis of 2008, everyone has realised that we need to rebalance our economy away from and over dependence on financial services. Ten years ago, it was fashionable in some circles to say that the British economy no longer needed manufacturing and that service industries were the future. It is now clear that such complacency was completely wrong. We need to make things again in order to generate the wealth for the future. Service industries like banking and the legal professions depend on businesses that actually add value and generate income.

The switch of emphasis towards manufacturing will eventually feed through into an economic revival in those regions of the country, including Camborne and Redruth, which have traditionally been centres of excellence for industry and engineering. That can't come a moment too soon for me because the truth is that this part of Cornwall has struggled to regain its confidence since the loss of major manufacturers like Holman Brothers.

It is worth remembering that, despite being overlooked in recent decades, Britain remains a centre of excellence in many manufacturing sectors. GSK, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company, is British. In engineering, there are world beating companies like Rolls-Royce and British Aerospace. Although most British car companies have now fallen into foreign ownership, it is a little known fact that Britain manufactures more cars today than at any time in its history. Then there are those companies, like JCB, in more traditional engineering sectors which have bucked the trend and remain international leaders in their field and have become stronger over the last twenty years.

Last week I visited Teagle Farm machinery at Blackwater. This is a great example of a Cornish success story and is our answer to JCB. It, too, is a world leader in its sector. Like JCB, it remains a private company owned by the same Teagle family who founded it. The number of staff employed has more than doubled in the last ten years to 150 people. More than half of everything the company makes is exported as far afield as Japan, the US and eastern Europe. It has achieved success by achieving the highest standards and by constantly reinvesting in research and development to create new designs which offer engineering solutions to the challenges of modem farming.

I would like to see more support for manufacturing businesses. I think there is a danger that all the support goes to business sectors which are fashionable and tick the box for government departments. But we need to be more willing to lend a hand to those companies which have a proven track record and might achieve a lot more with some targeted help on things like developing export markets and research and development.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.