Encouragement in capital investment will certainly help our run-down industries. But the sad fact is that over the past decade British manufacturing industry has been decimated. Literally from 'ships to sealing wax', British sources of supply either do not exist, or share the market with vigorously promoted imports. Any upturn in the economy, therefore, will suck in more imports, as has happened so many times before. Even North Sea oil, that dwindling asset, seems unable to balance our trade, and what happens when that runs out?
Even more worrying, long term, is the irreversible loss of professional skills and technical crafts as more and more engineers are thrown on the scrapheap.
As you pointed out in a leading article ('Management on the line', 25 September), the Department of Trade and Industry takes the relaxed view that it is immaterial whether our export earnings come from manufactures or services. Here is a suggestion. How about closing down half of the DTI, and replacing it with three experts head-hunted from the Japanese equivalent, the Ministry for International Trade and Industry? But for that, we should have to await the national government that Lord Desai implies.
DEREK A. PIMBLE
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