Trade minister Lord Simon has been told by the new president of a leading trade body that Labour has sacrificed manufacturing on the altar of interest rates.
Mike Legg, newly elected president of the Machine Tool Technologies Association, claimed that the Government was turning manufacturing into a ‘sacrificial lamb in a misguided interest rate policy intended to slow down the economy’.
Legg told the minister, guest speaker at the president’s inaugural lunch, that the strong pound had hit export and domestic markets severely and jobs were at risk.
‘Manufacturing firms and jobs lost in the short term do not come back,’ he warned.
Simon, former chairman of BP, told the audience of industrialists that moving to a stable and competitive exchange rate was a policy goal, but there was no short cut to achieving this on a sustainable basis.
‘We have a goal of long-term international competitiveness for key sectors of industry and business,’ he said. The way to achieve this would be to create an environment of low inflation and sound public finances.
‘After that a lot of it is up to you,’ he added.