Westminster Eyes On Tyre Manufacturing
On Thursday the 18th January , in response to a question from Mr. Peter Pike MP for Burnley, the Minister for Trade, Mr Richard Caborn announced that the Government was to “commission a competitive study to examine the entire rubber industry, and especially the tyre sector”. Peter Pike MP quoted cuts in tyre production in the UK (Michelin, Goodyear, Dunlop, Continental) and advised the Minister that there was concern in his constituency, Burnley, home of a Michelin plant, for the future of the Tyre industry in the UK.
The Minister responded with figures showing overall tyre production standing at £1 billion, and exports at £800 million, and some 8,000 people still employed directly in the tyre manufacturing industry. He added that with electronics playing an increasing part in production we (the government) wanted to ensure the country was at the leading edge of technology, and quoted Pirelli’s new robotics line as evidence the UK Tyre industry has a future. Sir Sydney Chapman MP for Chipping Barnet asked whether, given the sharp decline of the Euro against Sterling should the government not have eased the tax and regulatory burden on the industry? The Minister’s response was that the government’s policies had been welcomed by the industry; that three of the five major tyre manufacturers were operational in the UK and that they were “looking to the government to give a lead on a foresight programme to develop new technology for those industries”.
He added that the standing of the Euro had had little or no effect on the global re-organisation of the tyre manufacturers. In a follow-on question, Barry Sheerman MP for Huddersfield asked if the Minister thought that if a multinational closed down a UK operation, that the UK consumer should be encouraged to be discriminatory about the products he or she buys, to favour UK industries. In response the Minister stated that he did not think this to be an acceptable way forward, that “the way forward was to expand the global economy in a managed way that will produce a good result for the consumer”.