Battle positive on industry alliances

Government pledges its commitment to manufacturing

The Government surprised industry this week with its strongest commitment so far to a healthy manufacturing sector.

John Battle, science and technology minister, this week pledged to challenge outmoded perceptions of manufacturing, ram home the industry’s importance to the 21st century economy and work in partnership with industry.

He stressed Government commitment to the Foresight process and said trade secretary Margaret Beckett would be taking a personal interest in science and technology policy.

His remarks delighted the audience at a Machine Tools Technology Association/Department of Trade and Industry seminar. Malcolm Taylor, MTTA president described Battle’s words as `heartwarming’ and called for a strategic alliance between his industry and the Government.

Battle said he deplored `pejorative’ references to engineering and manufacturing. `I want engineering to be seen positively in the future. Manufacturing is new technology, future thinking, practical and imaginative. It is important to understand the benefits of manufacturing. As a politician, my job is to change perceptions. Engineering, manufacturing and machine tools are positive, 21st century things.’

He praised the seminar, to debate and share advances in machine tool technology in Japan and the UK, as an example of the sort of co-operation that should exist between industry and the DTI.

Taylor described the speech as `a revelation’. He said that the machine tool industry was `willing and able to regrow manufacturing – but it has to be a strategic alliance. I can assure you that we in our industry will play our part.’

By David Fowler