Cable lays foundations for manufacturing growth in Lancashire

BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable drove home the Coalition government’s commitment to supporting British industry during a fact-finding visit to a Lancashire truck maker.

He said it was working to re-balance the economy – with Lancashire’s “world-class” manufacturers well-placed to play a major role in that endeavour. But he stressed the government did not have a “blank chequebook”.

14.1.13 Leyland Trucks l-r Ron Augustyn, md Leyland Trucks; Vince Cable, Business Secretary; Ray Ashworth, md DAF Trucks UK

Senior management at Leyland Trucks were among those who had private meetings with Mr Cable during his trip, which also included a visit to BAE Systems’ Warton plant, where he visited the Eurofighter Typhoon assembly workshop.

At Leyland, Mr Cable toured the UK’s only volume truck assembly plant, which has a 1,000-strong workforce, and saw its new DAF XF flagship model which will enter production in April.

He said he did not accept that there had been much talk but not a great deal of action over the need to re-balance Britain’s economy towards manufacturing and exports.

He said: “We have an industrial strategy, we have identified some key industries: automotive is one, aerospace is another along with life sciences and new renewables, we have sat down with companies and worked through the things they need and the things government can do.”

“The Government cannot go around with a blank chequebook, but we can help with training, research and development, export promotion and certainly the companies I deal with feel they are getting the necessary support.

“A lot of it is psychology; people in this country have got into the way of thinking we no longer make things any more, but we do. We have got a very high-quality manufacturing sector and we have to build on that.”

The Business Secretary praised the workforces at BAE Systems and Leyland Trucks and described both as “world-class” manufacturers.

He said:  “I think the region is well placed, but the British economy is still struggling to get out of this terrible crisis.

“The way I see it is that the future structure of the British economy has to change, we have had an over dependence on banking and financial services, we need to shift more towards making things, manufacturing expertise. This is the kind of industry that will flourish in the future.”

He also said the Government was aware of the concerns of industry leaders over the lack of skills in the UK and the need for more vocational training.

And he added: “We are going to get out of this crisis through exports and manufacturing. I will continue to bang the drum to the extent of boring everyone!”

Mr Cable was accompanied by Terry Scouler, chief executive of manufacturing industry body the EEF, during his trip.

They met with new Leyland Trucks managing director Ron Augustyn. He said: “At the meeting we were able to communicate some of the business needs, not only for Leyland Trucks, but for British industry in general.

“In the new DAF XF we have a truck that sets the industry standard for clean emissions, low noise, fuel efficiency, payload and driver comfort. Meeting this new legislation is vital to our continuing success in expanding DAF’s presence across Europe where it is the fastest growing truck marque. “All right hand drive models for the UK market – where DAF is leading the market with a record market share of almost 30% last year - will be built at our highly efficient plant in Lancashire. And it is also here that our team of development engineers are finalizing the development process of the Euro 6 LF distribution truck, which will be produced uniquely at Leyland Trucks and which will be officially unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham in April, together with the versatile Euro 6 CF series.”