Right of Reply

An industrialist answers Gordon Brown's criticism of manufacturing productivity
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The Independent Culture
THE UK chemical industry is "world class" because it has to be to survive. For my company, W. Canning plc, to survive, we have to be world class and competitive. Technology, quality, service and price are what we have to manage every day against some very good overseas competitors.

Governments can and do survive without having to be competitive. Companies like mine simply won't. What we want the Government to provide is a suitable environment in which we can grow our businesses in whatever markets we sell to.

A suitable fiscal environment for an exporting business like ours, requires stable interest rates. The role government can play is cutting the costs of business. If the Government wants a quintessential example, it should look at how the British government developed and led the success of the Hong Kong economy. That success was created by a government which really understood what business needed to succeed.

Industrialists with my background have no real confidence in running social security, the NHS or the Ministry of Defence or whatever. Requirements of these "businesses" are completely different to our own. But we do know how to run manufacturing, we do know how to sell overseas, and we do know we need the support of our government in creating the right environment for success.

Productivity tables focusing on the best, and not the worst, example may help; but what we really want are stable interest rates, so that we can set a world-wide pricing policy that lasts for more than five minutes.

Leave government to govern and industry to industrialists, and aim to positively support each other through our efforts.