'New Industrial Revolution' Is Needed in Region
Byline: JONATHANWALKER Political Editor
Britain needs a "new industrial revolution" to back manufacturers and bring jobs and prosperity to the West Midlands, ministers have been told.
Midland MP Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) called for a range of measures, including using cash tied up in local authority pension funds to invest in manufacturing. He was one of a number of MPs to call for more government support for West Midlands manufacturers in a 90-minute House of Commons debate.
They said that manufacturing firms were ready to create jobs and help end Britain's economic slowdown, but businesses needed more backing from the Government.
The MP said: "We have to be inspired by that history and to create in the 21st century a new industrial revolution to bring new businesses, investment and jobs to the region."
He set out proposals including: ||Setting as an ambition for the region the biggest rise in educational standards anywhere in the UK.
A university technical college - such as the JCB Academy in Rocester, Staffordshire - in every town in the region, equipping youngsters with the skills manufacturers need. || Regional and industrial banking, possibly using local authority pension funds to invest in successful manufacturing firms which were ready to expand, but struggled to obtain credit from banks.
He also called for an extra stop on the planned high speed rail line linking London to the West Midlands and the North, so that a "spur" taking the service into Birmingham city centre was extended into the Black Country. MPs covered a range of topics during the debate, which was led by Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson (Con, Staffordshire South). He said: "We can make sure that the West Midlands are the industrial heartland and the manufacturing centre of this great nation, and that our manufacturing businesses are once again growing and are employing more people. We are starting to see that, and that is what we all want and what we are all striving for."
A number of MPs argued that police forces, fire brigades and ambulance services should buy British vehicles.
Black Country MP John Spellar (Lab Warley) said public services in other countries bought local products, but in this country they were sometimes banned from doing so by civil servants in Whitehall.
He said: "Those competitor countries actually look after their own industry, but we in the UK have ambulances and fire engines being imported. Is not that an absurd position to take, and does it not need all parties to get a grip of the civil service on this issue?" And politicians from both major parties backed calls to ensure London's "black cabs" continue to be manufactured in Coventry.
Ministers were told it would be "an absolute tragedy" if the traditional London taxi was built overseas. …