§ 5.10 p.m.
§ The Earl of Shannon rose to call attention to Industry Year 1986; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, in opening this debate I should like to say how grateful I am that so many and eminent noble Lords have signified their intention of participating. Most particularly I should like to welcome the contribution of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon, who will be addressing your Lordships for the first time. We await his participation with interest. I rise to draw your Lordships' attention to Industry Year 1986. Many of your Lordships may well ask, "Why is this necessary; and, anyway, what is it?" Perhaps a little introduction may be necessary.
§ We are the country which invented the Industrial Revolution and for at least a century we took great pride in our industrial achievements. We were proud of such men as Bessemer, Stephenson, Arkwright, Watt, Brunel and many others who made this industrial supremacy possible. They helped to make our country the manufacturing centre for most of the world. "Made in Britain" was the hallmark of everything that was good, solid, reliable and of advanced design and technology.
§ How sadly has this position deteriorated. Even at the Great Exhibition of 1851, when we thought that 687 we were showing off our great prowess, other continental countries were beginning to show how they were catching us up. Since then our relative decline has been measurable and continuous, so that now we are surpassed in many industrial fields by countries who in those days were enjoying a standard no higher than that in Europe in the Middle Ages. Clearly, they set about copying what was our attitude then, not what is our attitude now. Perhaps it was that our industrial decline caused this attitude or, more likely, that this attitude contributed to our industrial decline. But whichever that may be, for many decades now industry has been held in increasingly low esteem in our country, although it is the most important factor in our national survival—more important than governments. After all, the French showed in the 1930s how you can get on very well without them, and the Italians did so even more recently. But no state can keep going effectively and maintain a worthwhile standard of living for its nationals without sound and healthy industry.
§ It is perhaps more than a coincidence that our attitude of placing industry at the bottom of our social pecking order is in direct contrast to that of our most successful competitors. To them, the making of a profit is not anti-social. Graduates from universities are anxious to accept the challenge of industry where their experience is appreciated. All those working in industry are proud of the jobs they do, of their capabilities, and of their achievements. These are generalisations, I admit; but what a pity that we cannot generalise in the same way about ourselves.
§ It is little wonder, therefore, that those leaving school have inherited a culture which paints the image of industry as a dirty, money-grabbing, rat race and, when it is not polluting the environment, is beset with unrest, strikes and other unpleasantness. In fact, industry is an activity to be avoided if at all possible. It must be this root cause of our attitude which Industry Year 1986 is setting out to attack, with the aim of awakening appreciation and understanding of what industry is all about and what we as a nation owe to our industry. The initiative in this field has appropriately been taken by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, better known as the RSA, with the support of Government, the CBI, the TUC and other major industrial, professional and educational institutions. The Industry Year team is headed by Sir Geoffrey Chandler to whom we must all wish every success in his attempt, with his team, to start a vital change in our attitude to our industry; which change must continue for some years to come and not be just a one-off effort next year.
§ To designate an industry year is something which we have never done before and it is not to be thought of as something like a Buy British campaign. Nor is it to be thought an immediate panacea for unemployment. However, it must necessarily follow that a healthy, thriving and respected industrial sector cannot but produce in the longer term goods which on their own merit will sell competitively in the home and other markets as well as raise the level of employment in the national labour force.688
§ The present state of, and our attitude towards, industry is not attributable to any class or group of people. We must all bear our share of the blame for this situation. Yet, in spite of our overall deterioration, all is not gloom. We have competitive excellence in many fields. Our research and development capability, often too little used, is second to none. We have excellent designers and productivity engineers and some of our companies even now sell competitively in the home markets of countries considered to be world leaders in that particular field.
§ Because, therefore, we have no basic, inherent deficiencies, it can only be that the major cause of our present failings is that as an industrial nation we have allowed ourselves to build up within our own society an anti-industrial culture. This culture stifles industry from receiving its fair share of the talent of the nation. Too much of this talent opts to remain in our seats of learning, or else seeks employment in professional or similar spheres. Without in any way attempting to denigrate the exciting "sunrise" industries, we must remember that it is still to our traditional industry that we must look to provide the bulk of our gross national product and the employment of the majority of our labour force. We must accept that it is just as exciting, and probably more profitable, to introduce new technology to existing traditional industry as it is to dabble in the as yet not always very profitable fields of way-out technology.
§ Industry Year 1986 will provide the incentive for a very necessary change in attitude, and its programme will provide for action in the following fields. First, it is designed to create an awareness and acceptance of the fact that the whole quality of our life is directly related to our industrial success. All the "goodies" which we have come to expect and enjoy, such as our social services, our health service and pensions, derive directly from industry and from nowhere else. If we sit back and deride our industry we will forfeit the right, and eventually the fact, of such benefits.
§ Secondly, where we have good examples of links between education and industry we must learn from them and extend them. Let the next generation appreciate the excitement of innovation and industrial success, and not be condemned to witness their invention being exploited by others. Every school should have industrial links so as to be in a position to guide the talent which that industry is going to require, so that the industry may prosper and provide employment.
§ Thirdly, industry itself must learn to express itself better: to seek to show its adaptability to change and its acceptance of new technology; to explain both its role and its responsibilities as the major, if not the sole, provider for our society; and to expound the principles which underlie its practice. Ignorance breeds mistrust. Let industry explain itself to gain its rightful respect from the society which it supports.
§ Industry Year is perhaps half a century too late, so that the urgency now is all the greater, and we must have a sustained national effort to succeed in altering our attitude towards industry. Such a change in attitude is not by itself a solution; but without that change no solution will be effective, and we shall be left continuing to apply palliatives to the symptoms of our industrial decline, without any real hope of a cure.689
§ Many noble Lords have yet to speak, and abler tongues that mine will enlighten your Lordships on other aspects of this problem as well as on the remedial proposals contained in next year's programme. However, I hope I have been able to give some small introduction to the efforts being made to right a serious deficiency in our national posture towards our industry. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Ripon
My Lords, I welcome the oppportunity to make my maiden speech in this House on the theme of Industry Year 1986. I do so, first, for the personal reason that I began my working life in a major company in the field of electronic engineering. I was part of a research team exploring the properties of silicon as a semi-conductor. Little did we realise then the amazing extent of those properties and the revolution that was to follow their discovery. More importantly, I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate because the origins of Industry Year 1986 lie in part in a series of consultations held at St. George's House, the conference centre associated with the Dean and Chapter of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle; so one of the seeds which blossomed as Industry Year 1986 was first sown in ecclesiastical ground.
Those consultations drew together representatives of many organisations, including industry, education and the Churches. They revealed that a major cause of Britain's poor industrial performance, in comparison with other countries, lay in the attitudes of people in Britain towards industry. Our culture is an anti-industrial culture, as the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, has already remarked. Our education lays stress upon academic but not upon technological achievement. The jobs to which we give status are in the Civil Service, the universities, law, medicine and so on, but not within the industrial enterprises of this country. There is a suspicion towards the industrial life of our nation which undermines its effective performance. We are unable, as a nation, to affirm the process by which is created the wealth upon which we all depend. That inability not only hinders the effective working of our industries but also, I believe, reveals a sickness in our society, for to fail in the affirmation of a basic activity of life is to be in an unhealthy state.
It was the realisation of the wide spread of such attitudes which led the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce to promote Industry Year 1986. The Churches, as a group, are a major participant in this venture, and are designated as the constituency for one of the eight activity working groups. The chairman of this particular group is the former Bishop of Middleton, the right reverend Dr. Ted Wickham, who had long experience of the involvement of the Churches with industry.
There is much work for this group to do. I select three areas out of many possible ones which I believe to be important. There is, first, an understanding of profit. Profit is a much misunderstood word, certainly in the circles in which I move. It is not understood that the making of a profit is a necessary achievement if a company is to have a continuing life. It is not 690 understood that without the making of a profit there is no surplus wealth for the provision of health services, welfare programmes, educational institutions or even churches. The fine churches of East Anglia where I once served were built from the wealth of the wool trade of an earlier century. Many of the churches of Leeds where I now serve were built in the 19th century from the wealth of a growing industrial city.
Not only buildings but the financing of the present-day life of the churches depends upon surplus wealth, upon profit. We need therefore to alter the attitude which regards the making of profit as an improper, almost as an immoral, activity. There is legitimate debate about how such profit is to be distributed; but surely no debate about the necessity of its being made, yet I find that to some of my friends the thought of such a necessity had not occurred. Because the notion of impropriety, or even immorality, is so widely attached to profit, I believe that the churches have some work to do in this area of understanding.
Secondly, within the churches we have to enlarge our understanding of vocation. When young people are being encouraged to think about a career, there is much talk within the churches about the caring professions. Youngsters are encouraged to consider helping their fellow men and women by becoming trained in medical work, social work or church work. Of course, such work demands caring people but we need an equal emphasis upon the vocation to manufacture, to construct and to invent. It is the success of our manufacturers, our constructors and our inventors which makes possible the caring.
A word with a fine Christian history is "service". We use it frequently. We talk about the service sector, contrasting it with the manufacturing sector. We speak of the Civil Service and the armed services. Surely industry is engaged in a service to the whole nation; the service of providing both the goods we need and the wealth by which our other activities are financed. This is a service to our fellows to which the churches can unequivocally call the young people of today.
Thirdly, the churches have work to do in the area of celebration. It is an irony that harvest festivals grew in favour in this country during the early 19th century—the very time when we were moving from an agricultural to an industrial base. I enjoy singing the harvest hymns, but sometimes I am doing so in a parish where I would be hard put to it to find a cabbage growing. We plough the fields and scatter, but frequently the fields lie far from the congregation which is claiming a share in such activity.
There is, I suspect, a romantic conception of the agricultural life which enables us to celebrate it now that it is at some distance from most of us. We are unable to do the same for our industrial life. Festivals of industry in our churches do not evoke the same response as do harvest festivals. Here again is need for change in attitude. One of the focal points of Industry Year 1986 is to be a service in St. Paul's Cathedral during rogation-tide May 1986, at which the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury is to be the preacher. Similar services will be arranged elsewhere in the country. They will enable us to celebrate industrial activity within the setting of worship and to pray for those who engage in it.
691 I shall not take time in this speech to consider the causes of the suspicion with which industry is regarded by the British, although I believe such consideration to be vital to the changing of attitudes. I have alredy expressed my conviction that in that changing of attitudes the churches must fully participate. Though only a minority of our countrymen worship Sunday by Sunday in church, the influence which the churches can exert is still very considerable.
Let me close by stating a further conviction that the involvement of the churches must be undergirded by a theology; that is, an understanding that the industrial enterprise is within the purpose of God. Francis Bacon wrote of mankind using the potentials of creation for the glory of God and the relief of man's estate. There is nothing ambiguous about taking the created resources of this world and turning them into the goods and facilities which provide for us a life of well-being. In the words of a modern statement, by offering his labour to God man is associated with the redemptive work of Christ who conferred surpassing dignity on labour by working with his own hands in Nazareth. I hope that Industry Year 1986 will enable us to recognise and affirm the surpassing dignity conferred upon those who work in the industries of our nation.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Lord Ezra
My Lords, I consider myself fortunate in following the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon in his maiden speech. He will no doubt have been advised by his colleagues that we always treat maiden speakers with great courtesy in this House and thereafter they are treated as one of us. But on this occasion, in making these remarks to congratulate him on what he said, I go beyond the courtesies because it is very clear that he has spoken as one who in his early career started in the high technology about which we are all speaking; so he knows what that means, which may be more than some do here. He has also clearly given great thought to this problem, and he has in this debate on this important subject emphasised very eloquently the deeper significance of what we are trying to do. So for that we are much indebted to him and we look forward to many contributions from him in our future debates.
I should like to express my appreciation to the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, for introducing this Motion at an appropriate time, because Industry Year 1986 will start in a few months' time and it is right that we should be preparing ourselves for that important endeavour. I join him in congratulating Sir Geoffrey Chandler, the former Director General of Neddy, in taking this initiative and in securing such widespread support for it. In my opinion, this is a most timely endeavour. I should like to express the hope right at the start that we do not bring it to an end in 1986. Let us make sure that it is the start of a major campaign to get people, both within and outside industry, to understand better its significance in our country's affairs and to build upon that understanding to the previous successes that we have achieved.
The noble Earl rightly drew attention to the fact that decades ago we were leaders in industrial innovation and technology; and leaders in the export markets of the world. Unfortunately, that leadership has passed to 692 others in the intervening period. This is not to say—and I should like to emphasise this—that considerable progress has not been made by industry in this country and some of our successful enterprises can set an example to the rest of the world. But the fact is that whatever progress we have made overall has been surpassed by many other nations. We have to recognise this fact. So we need—and we must not delay—to take urgent action to try to put this right, bearing in mind that there is no single solution, bearing in mind that this is the result of years of change of attitude and bearing in mind that many factors are involved. Nevertheless, I should like to say in regard to Industry Year 1986 that the very laudable and desirable objectives which are being sought after need to be buttressed in other ways. I should therefore like to make a few suggestions, I hope of a practical and constructive nature. I feel that in these suggestions Government, management and trade unions could all with advantage be involved.
First, I should like to suggest that it is necessary that our commitment to the regeneration of industry be very firmly proclaimed. I think that here we could turn to Government to give the lead unequivocally and firmly. At times we may have wondered—certainly on these Benches—whether that was one of our prime objectives. I think that any doubts we may rightly or wrongly have had should be dispelled in connection with Industry Year 1986.
Secondly, I think we ought to try to devise policies which can be consistent and continuous. Sir Geoffrey Chandler, in an important article in the Three Banks Review of March 1984, writing on this very subject, referred to some of the discontinuities in official policy which have occurred in this country over the past 20 or 25 years. He wrote as follows:These discontinuities included the experiment with national planning in the mid 1960s; the move towards disengagement in 1970; its reversal in 1972; attempts to introduce a more central role for Government in industrial performance in the mid 1970s; its abandonment and replacement by the industrial strategy; and a renewed focus on disengagement from 1979".That is a sorry tale; and when we compare our series of discontinuities with the consistent and determined policies which our major competitors—in Japan, America, Germany France, Belgium, and Holland—have all pursued, then it is time for us to see whether there is not a way in which we can devise policies which can be consistently pursued over a long period ahead.
Thirdly, I should like to turn to investment both in the public and in the private sectors. Of course we are investing more year by year but all the evidence again on a comparative basis suggests that we are not investing enough. Figures are bandied around on both sides—on this side when we try to press the Government that more should be spent in, for example, the public sector; with the Government demonstrating that more is being done. I should like to suggest that one of the objectives of Industry Year should be to carry out an impartial inquiry into this and to see where we stand in both sectors in relation to other countries and in this desire to get industry moving.
Fourthly, there is research and development. Here again we are course making strides in spending more but on a comparative basis we are behind others. A 693 study undertaken by the National Economic Development Office has found that not only is our research and development on a lesser scale than that of our other competitors but it is also less effective. It is less effective in being converted into real results in industry. So here is an aspect which needs serious attention in Industry Year.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is the human aspect, the training of people who can effectively play their part in industry. Here too we have made great strides. There is the Youth Training Scheme, to be extended shortly, and there are other steps. Nevertheless, when we compare ourselves with, for example, Germany, the effectiveness of their industrial training is generally regarded and was so regarded in a study undertaken by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research as being in very large measure responsible for their higher level of productivity in industry. So we have a lot to catch up with there.
In conclusion, I should like wholeheartedly to support Industry Year 1986. I should like to suggest that its three objectives should be added to by the further objectives that I have enumerated.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Lord Polwarth
My Lords, I am sure that we are all deeply grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, for introducing this vitally important subject to us, and to the right reverend Prelate for his splendidly realistic maiden speech in support. I suppose he must be the first electronic bishop ever to have graced our Benches. May he long and frequently continue to electrify us.
It is no platitude to say that industry and its trade are the lifeblood of this country, but why is industry so little recognised in general and generally held in such poor esteem, particularly as a career? Why do so many of our talented young opt for careers in finance, in the professions, in administration and in the services, rather than in industry?
Almost 40 years ago—to be precise, in December 1945—on returning from the forces and being elected a Scottish representative Peer, I made my maiden speech in a debate on the need for greater help to ex-officers to find civilian employment. I turned that speech up today and I found that I described going to a Government appointments office and inquiring about the prospects of a career in civil aviation—admittedly, I had not been an airman—only to be told that there were no openings available and no foreseeable prospect of them. Had the answer been a little less discouraging I might well have found myself an exciting career in an industrial activity rather than being seduced into the paths of accountancy and finance.
Why do so few of these young people choose industry? The best companies certainly sell themselves well to schools and universities, but a great many still convey the wrong image of industry, as has been said by the previous speakers, as something to do with dirty hands and overalls, with indifferent pay and with relatively unattractive prospects of promotion—all by comparison with the high initial pay (I think in some circumstances ridiculously high) in the financial world 694 with the prospects of responsibility at an early age, and social standing.
Even more, is it the fault of our educational system? Far too many teachers are woefully ignorant about industry and give little encouragement to their charges to think about it. Happily, in our universities, at least, I think there has been a great improvement in attitudes in recent years. There is a much greater intermingling between academe and industry, and a greater interest in the setting up of practical and profitable activities jointly with industry. Perhaps I may be forgiven for making, as an example, a bit of a "plug" for the University of Aberdeen, with which I have a connection. We have in the past couple of years instituted a new additional chair in computing science, and, with generous private support, a third chair in engineering (electronics), and we are increasing our courses in oil-related subjects.
We are about to become partners in an exciting new venture—Scottish Innovation Services—along with the Scottish Development Authority, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, other educational and research institutes in the area, and the local authorities. This body is designed to assist with the incorporation of new technology in existing and new products.
I am glad to say that the number of science and applied science graduates entering employment from us last year rose by a welcome 18 per cent., and one-third of all our graduates—not yet enough, but the figure is better than it was—found a job in industry, agriculture and related activities. This kind of progress is encouraging, but we must spread it wider. Industry must sell itself better and show that it can offer an exciting and honourable career—as worth while as any in the professions and in the Administration.
But the encouragement must come from the top. Here I can see where Industry Year comes in. In this House we have a real part to play. We have among our membership a remarkable range of talent and experience in industry. I sometimes wish that more noble and industrial Lords would find the time to come here and shout aloud not only about industry and its problems but also about its achievements and its importance to us all.
Among politicians and senior administrators in general there is still too little understanding of industry's nature and its importance. The same can be said in the opposite direction—of industry in regard to the Administration. It is not their fault so much as the fault of our system of compartmented career patterns. We could do well to emulate the French. They have much freer exchange and movement between industry, politics and the Civil Service. They have a more common culture, which shows its worth in the single-mindedness with which they pursue every opportunity in industry and trade, to their country's great benefit.
Today marks the fortieth anniversary of VE-Day, and it is a good time to look back to those days of the war when so many of our captains of industry went into the corridors of government and worked alongside Ministers and their civil servants as one team, to ensure the delivery of all that this nation required. Those requirements are no less urgent in this 695 time of peace than they were in that time of war. Even if we cannot in peacetime emulate their efforts, at least Industry Year can make us all focus on the need for government and industry to work closer together; for encouraging our young, through schools and universities, to see the satisfaction of industry as a career; and for telling the country as a whole in no uncertain terms how vitally important industry is for the maintenance of our standards of living and, indeed, for our survival as a civilised country. On all these counts, I welcome the concept of Industry Year and wish it every possible success.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Lord Reilly
My Lords, I am sure that we would all wish to congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon on his maiden speech and also the Royal Society of Arts—the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce—for its initiative in organising Industry Year 1986. However, as has already been said, one year is not enough; it is too short a time. A decade or a century would more justly meet our needs—for the purpose of the Year is, in the words of Sir Geoffrey Chandler, its director, to attack our inherited culture and our set of attitudes, which put industrial activity at the bottom of the social pecking order. To attack our national culture patterns is asking quite a lot, even though they are the root cause of our relative industrial decline. But Ralf Dahrendorf once said that an effective economic strategy for Britain will probably have to begin in the cultural sphere.
I was glad to see that design bulks quite substantially in the programme for Industry Year, for design is a positive manifestation of culture. As a member of the Design Council, I was very glad to learn of their funded consultancy scheme through which they are enabled to finance the employment of designers by small and medium size manufacturing companies, thereby improving the standard of their product design and enhancing the pleasure of working for them.
The scheme was launched in 1982 and has been a fantastic success, with the first £3 million being taken up almost immediately. The Department of Trade and Industry, which provides the money, will by 1987 have found £20 million over the five year period—a far better story than when I, as director of the Design Council, tried something similar with no success at all.
We are not of course the only country to resort to such a device. Canada, Sweden and Finland all have similar funding schemes. Indeed, the Scandinavian countries all contribute to exporting their culture, which we should do too once we can be sure that what we have to offer has a present-day handwriting; for let us never forget what Professor Wilhelm Dibelius, the great German pundit on things English, said about us in the 1920. He said that nowhere else in the world have the forms of the past so tenacious a hold upon the present.
That was certainly true then and is still as true today. How else can one explain the rejection of so much that is made in Britain and our great consumption of well-designed Japanese and German goods? It is not that we suffer from technophobia for we are avid consumers of other countries' technology. Nor are we unable to 696 design things ourselves, for many of the imports from Germany, Japan, Korea, France and Holland were designed by Britons. It is just that we should take to heart that message of Industry Year. We should all, if I may make this suggestion, re-read Martin J. Wiener's book, English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit 1850–1980.
§ 5.57 p.m.
The Lord Bishop of Norwich
My Lords, I am very glad that my noble friend and colleague drew attention to the Church's working group because the Churches really are determined to take Industry Year 1986 seriously and to help to remind themselves as well as the nation that we need each other; that we are in this nation dependent on each other; and that that interdependence is an absolute necessity if there is to be advance in the general good ordering of our life as a nation.
We are hoping in that group—as the right reverend Prelate said in his very exciting maiden speech—to provoke constructive discussion about wealth creation. I am so glad that he grasped this business that, on the whole, we in the Church rather tend to think of industry as having to do not only with lucre but with filthy lucre. It is important to remember that the Scriptures say that the root of evil is not money but the love of money; that is quite a different thing.
I, with others, will not transgress the rules of the House by actually congratulating my noble friend and colleague on his maiden speech because, of course, we do not continue doing so under the new rules. So I shall not do so and shall leave it at that! But three times he used the words, "The making of a profit". As we have never had—as the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, reminded us—an electronic bishop in your Lordships' House before, I think that this may be the making of a prophet on this kind of subject—and we shall hear the right reverend Prelate often again, I know.
I want to illustrate the need for co-operation by referring simply to one or two local facts and figures because when I listen to your Lordships speaking about your own situations and what you all know about, I always learn. So I asked my five industrial missioners how they viewed Industry Year 1986. In fact, two of them are very much involved. One was the Sheriff of Norwich recently; the senior one has just been elected as chairman of his district council, and we are deeply involved. The figures are encouraging, and if they are encouraging for us in East Anglia, I believe that they are encouraging for the nation.
In our YT schemes in the whole industrial situation now we have 3,000 youngsters involved in our very scattered area of Norfolk. Admittedly, about 75 per cent. of those are in Mode A concerning the employers, but that is a good thing in itself, so let us congratulate the employers for doing that. The other 25 per cent. are directly related to our own work in our Lynn Task, as it is called, in King's Lynn (no doubt this will receive a word of acclamation from the noble Lord who will follow me, who knows all about that), our work in Lowestoft and our own Project '79 in Norwich. Our long term community programmes for the over eighteens are now running at over 1,000 people, and the Government are to be congratulated 697 on the increase in the programme from one year to two years because I believe that is going to give stability, encouragement and raise morale among older people who find that to be out of work for a longer period is distressing, to put it no deeper than that.
I believe we have to face something of a revolution in our industrial thinking because we have to recognise that, putting it in the simple words of the old history book, 1066 And All That, industry is a Good Thing. As such, we need to say this in your Lordships' House and m the country at large so that we can get right behind all new movements in industry. I believe that if we are going to see a real advance in our industrial life next year, it has to be with a new measure of co-operation. Rather than thinking in terms of management and labour, finance and unions, there must be a new spirit of co-operation. That is a case in which I believe the leadership of this House has something to give.
The noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, mentioned VE Day. Our minds go back to King George VI, and my generation goes back to the days of being a member of the Duke of York's camp, later on to be called the King's Camp, which was his imaginative contribution at a time, frankly, when there was much more division in our country than there is today, and particularly division between educated youngsters and industrial youngsters.
Your Lordships will remember that the scheme was that 200 boys were invited from schools—not alone, but in twos, because boys are nervous of going alone—from the major industrial bases and factories of our country. At Southwold we had a camp of 400 boys divided in such a way so that there were five schools and five industries. I well remember my friend and I from my school were there. Colgate's was one of the people in our team, and Marks & Spencer's were another. I think Marks & Spencer's cheated slightly because the boy learning to be a junior manager managed to get in on that one. But nonetheless we had tremendous fun and learned to understand each other. I have talked about that because as it is VE Day, it would be a great thing if we could be imaginative, even visionary, about drawing the nation together in a common purpose at this time.
If there is anything which not only the Government but we in this House can do to promote greater co-operation and a greater co-operative spirit in the country and in industry then I believe that we should do it. For our part, from these Benches, the industrial mission work throughout the 43 diocese of this country is increasing steadily and has its own contribution to make to this overall good purpose. Therefore, I should like to add my word of support for Industry Year 1986, to be grateful to the RSA for promoting it, and to wish it great success in the coming days.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Lord Whaddon
My Lords, when I first learned of the proposal for Industry Year 1986, my immediate reaction was one of surprise that it should be necessary. It required only a few seconds' reflection to change that attitude. But my own immediate reaction is rooted in my youth, of course, because in the area in which I grew up, the industrial North-West, we never 698 questioned the superiority of men in industry. The whole countryside was covered with enormous engineering, electrical and chemical factories. We all knew that was where the real work was done and where the real men existed. We were vaguely aware that somewhere in the South lived a softer race which somehow existed on the real work we did. Since those years, I have myself migrated and joined the softer regions. Perhaps one's perspective alters, but, on reflection, there is a need for altered attitudes. There is a need for an industrial campaign in 1986 and I give it my wholehearted welcome.
I notice that Sir Geoffrey Chandler is reported in The Times as having said that the apparent causes of Britain's industrial decline were not its ultimate causes. He said:They are symptoms rather than causes. They are symptoms of an inherited culture and attitudes towards industrial activity which have put industrial activity at the bottom of the social pecking order".He called for change in these attitudes. Now, I am rather suspicious of any single cure-all for our economic ills, whether it be Marxism or monetarism or social attitudes. We have much more a chicken-and-egg situation, but certainly our attitudes towards industry do have a considerable adverse effect. There are objective micro- and macro-economic changes which we have to make as well as changing our attitudes.
Industry Year 1986 calls for co-operation between educational institutes and industry for the exchange of students, for instance, with industry. That is absolutely right. But a change in attitude will not cure, for instance, the cutbacks in Government contributions towards the technological universities. Their activities are necessary as well as changes in attitudes if we are to have increased production of the qualified engineers the country so desperately needs. That kind of thing requires money as well as a change in attitudes.
Another change which will have to permeate society is in regard to rewards. The greatest rewards in Britain today tend to be in certain professions, certain services. The service industries have grown enormously in the last few years and have been encouraged to grow to the neglect of manufacturing industry. We shall have to face the fact that if industry is to be regenerated, if those in industry are to enjoy the prestige necessary to attract the best brains, then rates of pay, rates of salary for industrial management and qualified engineers will have to rise considerably relative to the earnings of the rest of society.
Again it is a chicken-and-egg situation. The higher pay will attract the better brains and raise the prestige of industry; but in order to raise the prestige we must accept the fact that, if society is to put the effort into industry which we all need, parts of that society will have to relinquish some of their ambitions in favour of those in industry.
In addition to the objective economic changes which are necessary, changes in attitude are certainly required. Up to comparatively recently, for instance, the Royal Navy had one mess for deck officers and another for engineering officers. Thank goodness those times have changed in the Navy, but that same attitude still exists in other parts of our society.
699 The campaign in 1986 proposes exchanges between educational institutes, higher schools, centres of higher education, the universities and industry. That is wholeheartedly to be welcomed; but could we not extend it? Perhaps the Government could take a lesson from that and arrange exchanges between the Civil Service and industry on a wider scale. I feel that all too often in, for example, VAT offices there is too little understanding of the enormous burden which their requirements place on industry where the real wealth is ultimately produced. A measure of exchange between the Civil Service and industry might go some way towards redressing the imbalance.
There is also the proposal for a media drive in 1986. Yes, unquestionably this will do nothing but good, but it must be done properly. It is not simply a matter of churning out masses of statistics on factory production and productivity. These dry-as-dust facts do not appeal to the emotions. It will not get people where it matters. I have spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe. They put a great deal of television time to reporting their achievements in tractor production, steel production, coal production and interviewing people on the production lines. They put in a lot of time in that respect but it is as dry as dust and hopeless for audience attraction. I hope that in its media drive Industry Year 1986 does not fall into that trap. Certainly media time—particularly television time—must be attracted to this campaign, but it must be done properly.
Looking through the television programmes over the past week or two I noticed that there is hardly any mention of industry in the peak viewing programmes. The lives of doctors, yes; the lives of nurses, yes; the lives of detectives and the lives of secret service agents; so many of the glamorous professions are shown. Time after time the programmes at peak viewing hours are concerned with professions which have nothing to do with industry. If I may, I give a strong tip to Industry Year 1986. It should try to ensure that some of the peak viewing programmes are based on characters from industry.
Where is the great industrial novel of Britain of this year and next year? It has still to be written. Where are the industrial plays? Where are the industral songs or musicals? And why not? I must, therefore, make one specific suggestion to Industry Year 1986 and to Her Majesty's Government. They should think of setting up some cash prizes to authors and writers for the best songs, plays, books and television programmes written in the coming year. That could do a power of good in maximising the impact of television time given to Industry Year 1986.
A great deal of encouragement has been given by the Government to the service industries. I make no complaint about that. However, unless we get a redress in the imbalance between service industries and productive industry there will be precious little left at the end of this decade for service industries to serve. I therefore wholeheartedly welcome the 1986 campaign and wish it the best of luck in the coming 18 months.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Kagan
My Lords, we are all very much indebted for the initiative taken in this debate on 700 Industry Year 1986. I think that perhaps I look at it from the point of view of industry, but also from a background of having worked in this country as well as behind the Iron Curtain. This century has been dominated by a gigantic struggle for the soul of man—a struggle between democracy and dictatorship and between freedom and a totally state-controlled life. This struggle, this challenge, is still unresolved.
Two world wars were fought at enormous cost in life and treasure. The challenge was presented and met on military battlefields, but the horrendous developments in military technology—the atomic bomb, biological and chemical warfare and, above all, the very aptly named MAD, mutually assured destruction—have precluded the emergence of a military victor in any future major conflict. This we know and this our potential adversaries know. Therefore, global war as an extension of politics is not likely to happen. Thus, of necessity, the battlefield has been transferred from the military sphere to the economic sphere. That is where the future battlefield will be.
Therefore, instead of fighting and dying, perhaps we shall be called upon to work and to create for our country, and that, in itself, is not of necessity a change to be regretted. But the effort required in the economic field, in the economic battle, lacks the drama and the excitement of war; and therein there is a very serious danger. That is why the campaign, Industry Year 1986, is so important, for if we lose the economic battle, the consequences will be no less disastrous than if we had lost militarily in 1945. There can be no doubt about that. We shall lose our freedom to choose our own way of life. Many Eastern European nations can bear witness to that. Thus, it may not be an exaggeration to contemplate the industrial economy as a future field where we shall collect glory or disaster, freedom or serfdom, for our society and for our children.
Those in industry, whether on the shop floor, in management, business, administration, research, training, or in the Civil Service, are in exactly the same responsible position today as were the soldiers and officers in the last war. Whether we do our work well or badly is not merely important in the context of our wage packets, our dividends or even our standard of living: it may decide our future free way of life. Each and every one of us in industry, in the Civil Service and in commerce is responsible for holding perhaps a tiny sector of this economic front which ultimately defends the frontiers of our chosen way of life. This is what we in industry are offering to society.
But in return what should society offer to us in industry? First and foremost it should offer an appreciation of the importance of our work. There must be more than money in a pay packet. There must be a sense of dignity, a sense of fulfilment and a sense of identification with the common purpose. We must avoid reducing people to the state where they feel they are an addendum to a machine or a mere item in a balance sheet. That can be done. It is being done quite well in Germany and it is most successfully done in Japan. The manager must know that when a man or woman comes to work he or she gives the company 40 hours of waking life, which is a third of his or her life. Money may be enough payment for time, but for life it is not. One wants more.
701 I think that we should stop begrudging owners, entrepreneurs and shareholders their medals and rewards if they deserve them. The Americans understood that very well, and maybe they owe their present safety, security and success to that understanding—and it has not been a recent one. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote Abraham Lincoln, who 250 years ago said:You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn; and you cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence; and you cannot help men by permanently doing for them what they could and should do for themselves".That was said 250 years ago, but it still stands. If we judge by results, I think that America is good evidence.
The politicians can also make a contribution. They can take industry out of the political football game; it is far too serious a matter. After all, the headache of today's government is a pothole into which the next one will fall, and vice versa. Sometimes one wonders how different would be the attitudes if we had the same system as some South American countries, where governments change every five years. They know that they will inherit mistakes and responsibilities.
Then, of course, there is the attitude of the media. They can make a contribution, as the noble Lord, Lord Whaddon, pointed out, in educating people in the importance of industry. Instead of sensationalising events, they can explain to people the importance of their work and the consequences thereof.
So far as the Civil Service is concerned, maybe it, too, could make a contribution by looking at the definitions "civil" and "service". Civil servants are not always civil. Sometimes one gets the impression that the ones who serve are industry and the civil servants are the masters.
Above all, our taxation system is absolutely irrelevant to economics and is purely political or was so for many years. No man has yet been discovered who can work without incentive and reward. That applies to the miner, to the man on the shop floor, the owner or the investor. I say to anyone who has illusions about that that for 40 years Mao Tse-tung tried to change man, and he did not lack muscle. Now his country is coming back, albeit through the back door, to capitalism.
I should like to quote something that the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said; I think it was in this House eight years ago in July:I should like to see an all-party campaign stumping the country to get the economic truths over to people up and down the country".I should like to see it taking the message to the rank and file in whose hands success and failure will be. My Lords, thank you.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Lord Hayter
My Lords, I go back to the beginning of this debate, when the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, referred to the three principal areas for action. The first was increasing awareness, which I think was Sir Geoffrey Chandler's polite term for public relations. 702 The noble Lord, Lord Whaddon, talked about television, and the thought occurred to me straightaway that if only we could get one-half or perhaps even one-third of the time of "Farming Today" on the radio, at least we should be making a start. Industry of course includes farming, but, at the same time, for it to monopolise so much of our time on radio is, I think, a mistake, so let us try to get it back.
From the factory point of view it may be of interest to noble Lords that a long time ago we had our first factory open day. I hesitate to say this in the presence of the right reverend Prelate, but it was on a Sunday, and none the worse for that. It enabled the people in our factory to show their families what they did in the daytime. It was the first time that they had ever seen that. It also enabled the people in the factory who had been making bits and parts of a product to see the finished product when it was assembled. Above all, the apprentices, who were very much aware of the good things of life, were showing off their prowess to their families and working away on their machines in the full knowledge that that was banking up the work for the Monday and, of course, was at the extra piece-work price.
The second area of action is linking education and industry. I make a plea for the management training of industry. It was many years ago that I got mixed up with Henley which I think in those days was called the Administrative Staff College—and administration is by no means the same thing as management. But it has been constantly in my mind when engaged in industry: it does not matter whether one has come up through the marketing, the engineering or the financial side; unless you have some of the elements of management in your make-up you will not get right to the top.
I discovered that for the same price as I could send one man to Henley, I could take 27 of my main board and subsidiary directors to the Manchester staff college—the Manchester Business School. When we were there—and we had a very long weekend—we were divided up, as perhaps your Lordships can guess, into syndicates. We had a case study of an American firm making barbed wire. I am glad to say that on your Lordships' behalf my syndicate won. But I have to confess that I was accused of cheating. I rang up an American friend and found out what had happened to that company. That was why we knew exactly how to proceed. They called it cheating; I called it common sense.
Action in industry was the third area. I want to make an obvious point, but it applies particularly to myself. It is how important small companies can become. My company was started by my great-great-grandfather and his wife when he was a ship's chandler in Portsmouth. In the trade association to which we now belong a small company like that does not, of course, count. In fact, you cannot belong to it unless you have a certain turnover or a certain number of employees. It occurs to me that in some trade associations there is the opportunity to have a subsidiary association of some sort consisting of small companies which it could watch, develop and help before bringing them into the association proper.
Trade associations are most important. As a company grows in stature and efficiency, it owes something to the industry to which it belongs. That is 703 precisely what can happen in a good trade association. You can find joint efforts in the export field. You can find, too, if you have a proper secretariat, comparative figures so that you can see how your company is developing in competition with your neighbours. Above all, you can foster the business ethics of your industry and, even more important, the standards. I would set much store by the contribution that trade associations can make to this Industry Year. Industry Year 1986, and the continuance thereof, if all do their part, will be a great success. I am sure that all of us are going to support it.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Lord Rochester
My Lords, I hope that it will not be thought impertinent of me if, in my contribution to this important discussion, I refer to a debate that I had the privilege of introducing in your Lordships' House as long ago as 1977. It was on a Motion that called attention to the need for agreed action aimed at increasing the esteem in which industry was held in society, particularly among students. At that time I had just been appointed Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council of one of our newer universities. It is one in which there were then no courses in applied science. I was nevertheless startled to learn that only about one in 20 of those who had graduated the year before had gone into industry.
In a students' union debate, I agreed to oppose a motion that industry does not offer suitable opportunities for graduates. The motion was carried by an overwhelming majority, which perhaps does not say much for my powers of advocacy. But the experience disturbed me because I knew very well at first hand that industry offers many and varied opportunities for graduates educated in a wide range of disciplines. They have minds trained to think, to display initiative and, after analysis of relevant information, to present the best possible conclusion in a particular situation.
Where else, then, could there possibly be more challenging opportunities for graduates than in industry, where their skills and knowledge can be applied in complex situations involving human relations and interaction between technical, financial and commercial considerations? It followed that many students must either be unaware of the opportunities available to them in industry or must choose instead to embark on careers that seemed more attractive to them, in the professions, in academic research or in other fields.
Moreover, the idea seemed to have gained ground not only that industry was unsuitable but that in some way it was selfish. Yet, surely, as has already been stated by one speaker in the debate, services can be rendered to the community as much in industry as in schools, hospitals and the social services. Indeed, the distinctive feature about industry in my view is that without it none of these other things could exist at all. I was even more disturbed by the thought that if the views then being expressed were representative of students generally in universities and polytechnics, that would have disastrous effects on British industry, where nowadays leadership of the highest quality is required.
704 If graduates are not to play a significant part in providing that leadership, where else is it to come from? That was the situation eight years ago. Today it is better. At this point, I should like to pay tribute to many devoted individuals and organisations such as the CBI, the Industrial Society and one that is perhaps less well known, the National Development Centre for School Management Training at Bristol. Between them, they have done much to improve the position by promoting a better understanding of industry by teachers and students and, no less important, of education by industry.
At the university of which I was speaking there have in the last eight years been changes in the curriculum which have made it much more relevant to industrial needs. There has also been a threefold increase in the proportion of graduates entering industry, despite the adverse effect on recruitment brought about by the considerable reduction during that period in the number of people employed in so many firms.
Nevertheless, I believe that the basic problem is still with us. Indeed, having been a member of your Lordships' Select Committee on Education and Training for new technologies, I am in no doubt that we were right to make it a central feature of our recent report that in the United Kingdom technological progress is being impeded by failure to educate and to train enough people of the required quality.
Moreover, like the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, who introduced the debate, I continue to believe that the root cause of the problem is the low esteem in which industry is still held in our society. It is indeed paradoxical that, while we continue as a people to expect a high and rising standard of living, we persist in holding in low regard the industrial activities which alone can provide us with the wealth that this high and rising standard of living demands.
The reasons why we continue to hold industry in such low esteem have been touched upon by a number of speakers. They are, in my view, many and varied. They lie deep seated in the history and culture of the last 150 years, in popular attitudes and misconceptions, in ecological and even ethical constraints, in an education system that is less closely linked to industry than, say, in France or Germany, in industrial relations, in minority governments and in the insularity of politicians, trade unionists, employers and educationists alike.
The point that I should like to stress above all—and it is one that was touched upon by the noble Earl, Lord Shannon—is that we are all in part responsible for the predicament in which we find ourselves and there are therefore measures that we all need to take to help us to get out of it. What must be avoided at all costs is placing the blame for our troubles on everybody but ourselves. Indeed, in my view, it is only when the various interdependent elements in society which have a stake in the problem are prepared to come together to discuss it that we can begin to mark out common ground on which we can unite in order to solve it.
That is one reason why I very much welcome the maiden speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon and the references that he made to St. George's House, Windsor. I am sure, as he was saying, that the Church, among other elements in society, has 705 a vital role to play in this. It was instructive to read in the article by Sir Geoffrey Chandler in The Times of 25th April that he sees the necessary activity as a concerted initiative involving every sector of the community in transforming, through actions not words, the attitudes which have made us an industrial country with the anti-industrial culture of which the noble Earl, Lord Shannon spoke. That is a perception which it may be uncomfortable to face up to, but I believe it is a true and a challenging one which demands a response from us all.
§ 6.43 p.m.
The Earl of Munster
My Lords, I should like to add my thanks to the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, for initiating this debate. I believe that we have in this country at present the best industrial design units in the world. However, I feel that this will not necessarily be so in 15 or 20 years' time. Although the Government say that they are taking an interest in the need to encourage British designers, one wonders why the design of British Airways, for instance, was put to an American design group. I cannot help but feel that a home-grown firm would have done the job better and more cheaply, the inference being that their submissions were considered to be inferior to the one chosen, when in fact British designers were never given the opportunity to compete in the first place. This sort of thing must undermine the standing of British designers. To top this, it now appears that British Telecom is to have American designed telephone boxes over here.
I concede that the training of future generations of designers appears to leave much to be desired. In this connection, I should like to make a few points. In the 1950s, when I was studying design, the best teachers and lecturers were those who taught part-time and earned their living, in the main, as practising designers. Now, with Government cuts, the part-time staff are the first to be disposed of, leaving the professional teacher who earns his living by teaching and who has not necessarily had the practical experience in what he is supposed to teach with the responsibility for training students for the world of business.
I feel very strongly about this as, when I recently visited a long established college of art, I found it most distressing to realise that I could not have employed any one of the final year students in graphic design on the strength of the work on show. In fact, I submit that the tendency for education to become more and more separate from the business world is one of the prime causes for the decline of our competitiveness in industry.
On the brighter side, a few institutions have had the foresight to initiate educational courses that run contrary to this tendency. The Royal College of Art, for instance, have forged a link between design engineering and industry by providing a two-year post-graduate course in conjunction with the Imperial College Engineering Department. It is satisfying to report that in the final degree examinations for this course it has not been possible to tell from which college the candidates came originally. The Royal 706 College of Art are also running a two year post-graduate course in automotive design, which is attracting employees of Toyota, Audi, Citroen and Porsche. Unfortunately, the same institution reports that its graduates who have found employment in this country have little hope of advancement. In contrast to this, in America and Europe it is quite normal for a designer to be on the board of directors.
Finally, I repeat most emphatically that, if we are ever to retain our leading position as an exporter of goods, which we must do before the oil runs out, the importance of the industrial designer must be taken more seriously.
§ 6.47 p.m.
§ Viscount Chandos
My Lords, your Lordships' House has, I think, shown its gratitude to the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, for initiating this debate through the interesting contributions made by all the noble Lords who have spoken this evening. There can rarely have been more meat crammed into a two-and-a-half hour sandwich, which is a tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, and to the other speakers, as well as to the significance of the subject being discussed.
The aims of Industry Year 1986, to increase understanding of the role of industry and its services to the community, have understandably received support from every quarter of the community. It has been customary to look at different political parties and at different groups within them as being either pro-business or anti-business. The truth is that almost everyone in this country and almost everyone in political life wishes to see a successful industrial community and a good relationship between industry and the rest of society.
The noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, can probably find a few members of his party whose support for industry is fairly well disguised, but your Lordships would no doubt join me in hoping that the understanding and support for industry shown by today's speakers—which will no doubt be shown by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce—will prevail among all the noble Lord's colleagues in the House of Commons and in the country.
In general, therefore, it is not the objectives for industry but the means of achieving them that divide our political parties and the different parts of our society. The initiators of Industry Year 1986, the Royal Society of Arts, played a similar role in promoting the Great Exhibition of 1851, the symbol of the height of Britain's industrial power and success. Everybody wishes to see that success recreated, but not everybody would advocate the economic policies of that era as the best means of recreating that success, or be prepared to tolerate the working practices, the poverty and the social injustice that accompanied the success of Victorian industrial Britain.
I am not suggesting that the Royal Society of Arts and many of the other sponsors of Industry Year 1986 are prepared to accept such a price for renewed industrial success, but many of your Lordships and many leading industrialists are concerned that the Government's contribution to Industry Year 1986 will include the continuation of policies which neither promote the success of British industry nor increase 707 the understanding of its role and its service to the community.
In the short time available I should like to suggest some of the key developments which I and my colleagues in the Social Democratic Party should like to see over the next two years to make 1986 truly Industry Year. To paraphrase President Kennedy: Ask not what industry can do for me, but what I can do for industry. Of course, the relationship between industry and the rest of the community is two-way, but the change of attitude towards industry which is needed can perhaps be promoted as well by such an exhortation as could the change in the relationship between the individual and the country which President Kennedy tried and succeeded in achieving 25 years ago.
The importance of the relationship between education and industry at every level has been stressed in the initial objectives of Industry Year and has been widely echoed by speakers this evening. A far greater and wider appreciation of both the importance of industry and, even more relevantly, the satisfaction that can be gained from playing a part in the success of industry must be promoted throughout the educational system. Not only must there be this increased awareness, but education itself, particularly in the sciences, in mathematics, in engineering and in management, must be given the resources to enable this and future generations of students, having understood the overwhelming importance of industry, to play a full role in industry with the same degree of education, training and skill as will be possessed by their counterparts in other industrial countries.
The record of the Government and their policies towards further education and research are creating the real danger that, while understanding of industry may be increased and expectations raised, both industry and those who aspire to work in it may, in the event, be miserably and disastrously disappointed. I therefore call on the Government to mark Industry Year 1986 by an urgent and substantial increase in funds available for research and further education, coupled with the same commitment to procure a productive and fruitful relationship between industry and the educational system as has been given to the programmes of privatisation and market deregulation in the last five years.
Industry, too, has a great task ahead of it if it is to fulfil the opportunities afforded by the national support for Industry Year. The excitement and satisfaction of a career in industry at every level must be ensured and then demonstrated. A significant extension of industrial democracy is a crucial part of the policies of the Social Democratic Party and our Liberal allies, but industry has within its powers the ability to make real progress in these fields this year—in Industry Year and thereafter—even before a general election can bring about the political pressure to achieve these changes.
Industry, therefore, as well as appealing to a new generation of employees and giving greater satisfaction to its existing employees, must play its full role in society. Successful and competitive industry will, of course, give us the national prosperity and resources to 708 support an efficient, strong and inviolable welfare state, but industry has a role beyond that. Even under different economic and social policies, but most urgently against the background of this Government's policies, industry must bear some of the burden of helping the disadvantaged. The principle among companies of employing handicapped people is generally held but insufficiently adhered to, while the prospects facing those who have had problems of mental illness, drugs or alcohol in finding jobs in industry are awesome.
As massive youth unemployment at the level of both school-leavers and university or polytechnic graduates is in itself an inevitable and frightening cause of problems of this nature, the wholehearted commitment of industry in partnership with the Government is needed to cope with the task. Anyone who, like I, has met a senior director of an American company who had been taken on 20 years previously under an alcohol rehabilitation programme, with no expectation on either side of great advancement from a junior clerical level, will know that such a programme is not only essential in restoring individuals to their place in the community, but also hugely worthwhile for participating industry.
Industry must play its full part, too, in the conservation and the improvement of the environment, not only through the control of its own activities but through positive initiatives and action in partnership once more with Government and those concerned professionally with environmental matters. Industry, too, should continue to play a major role in the artistic and cultural life of the country, and increase both its financial support and its direct participation, not as a substitute for the proper level of Government support but as a necessary and desirable complement to it.
I and my noble friends and allies welcome the increasing interest of industry in the affairs of Government and hope that this year's conference of the Confederation of British Industry will set the scene for even greater and more widespread support in industry for constitutional reform, in the shape of the introduction of a Bill of Rights and of electoral reform, to provide the security and stability of Government that industry is dependent on and the absence of which in recent years has done so much harm, as my noble ally Lord Ezra has already emphasised.
I should like to conclude by returning to the role of Government. Industry Year 1986 is all about the inter-relationship of industry and the rest of the community, and the Government are as much a part of that community as are individual citizens. The Government are inescapably involved in this country's industrial life at every level, and it is damaging to every part of the community if they pick and choose where they feel responsible and where they do not, according to whichever is the currently fashionable theory of the Adam Smith Institute or some similar body. As my noble ally Lord Ezra has already pointed out, in those countries which are both our major industrial competitors and our trading partners there is a consistent and committed level of support for industry as regards its domestic operations and its exports which the Government have not given British 709 industry, and the absence of which will mar Industry Year.
The Prime Minister and her Government may have earned one place in history through their refusal to accept defeat from an aggressor country over a territorial dispute. Why cannot the same resolution and determination be shown in refusing to accept industrial defeat in the formidably competitive international marketplace? The Prime Minister may still pride herself as being known as "the Iron Maiden", but she should not forget that you need iron to make a breastplate and industry to forge it.
In welcoming the prospect of Industry Year 1986 and in calling on industry and the rest of the community to make their contributions, I also call most strongly for the Government to mark Industry Year with more than a token commitment of support: instead, I ask them to mark it with a new approach to their own relationship with and support for our country's industry.
§ 6.57 p.m.
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, we on these Benches wish to thank the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, for having introduced this debate. We should like to join with him in extending our support to the excellent efforts that have been made and which will, of course, still be made by Sir Geoffrey Chandler in inaugurating with his colleagues Industry Year 1986. Indeed, we on these Benches would go further than that. We agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, who expressed the hope that we should not only mark 1986 as Industry Year, but that we should also continue that process. We on this side of the House hope that it will extend for at least the next decade, because this country will most certainly need it.
It falls to me also to offer our felicitations to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon for the most interesting and informative speech which he has made on this occasion. Over the past few years this House has been accustomed to the ever-increasing participation by the Bench of Bishops in affairs temporal. No doubt as time passes this will be reciprocated by those on the temporal side seeking to draw moral attitudes from the Bench of Bishops on matters spiritual and temporal combined. We shall most certainly look forward to the future contributions of the right reverend Prelate.
The purpose of Industry Year is set out in the opening paragraph of the interesting and well-produced pamphlet which has been produced as follows:A central aim of Industry Year is to bring about a better appreciation of industry's contribution to the community and of the dependence of the quality of life on the basic productive activities of the country".In so saying it gives a resounding endorsement of the observations offered within a different context to the Select Committee of your Lordships' House on Science and Technology in February 1983, when the Minister for Information Technology at that time underlined the point and said:Manufacturing industry provides about 25 per cent. of our gross domestic product and 25 per cent. of jobs, but it provides 75 per cent. of our visible trade exports. If we were to replace the 710 contribution made by manufacturing industry to the balance of payments, we would need to increase our exports of services by £60 to £70 billion a year. To do that we would have to increase our share of world exports of services quite dramatically from under 10 per cent. to over 50 per cent. and that is really a wholly impossible task at the moment. So without manufacturing industry Britain could not survive".That opinion at that time received the undoubted support of most of your Lordships who had had some experience in industry and, indeed, some knowledge of economics.
Therefore, in approaching the objectives set out in Industry Year 1986 the first thing we have to take account of—particularly in the light of the observations made by the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, in which he emphasised the responsibility of Government in this matter—is that the attitude of the Chancellor of the Exchequer differs substantially from the views expressed originally by the Minister for Information Technology. I quote from col. 1009 of the Commons Hansard for Thursday, 9th February 1984, in which he delivered himself of this remarkable observation:I am at a loss to understand the selective importance attached by the honourable Lady, and many Opposition Members—and some Conservative Members—to the manufacturing sector".That is one of the most remarkable observations, in view of our current situation, that could ever be made by a responsible Chancellor of the Exchequer in a Government at this time, bearing especially in mind the fact that even while he spoke the deficit on our trading position was running at about £2 billion a year on information technology services alone.
If Industry Year is to bring enlightenment and inform the people of the country at large as to the great and crucial importance of British manufacturing industry—the basic industries to which this campaign is directed—the first thing we must do is to proceed to enlighten Her Majesty's Government, and see whether it is possible during Industry Year, and the year after, if they last so long, for them to assimilate some of the basic truths which have become common knowledge throughout industrial circles over the past four or five years.
The first thing one has to remember is that the Government are always of two minds when it comes to the basic elements of their policy. For many years now industry in this country, whether by the stimulation of demand, whether by the kind of stimulation that would come from the bringing forward of investment by public industries, has sought Government help one way or the other. It has often sought some kind of support in its competition with other countries whose governments quite shamelessly and openly support their industries. For the last four years industry has had to be content with being told, "You've got to be more competitive; you've got to be more competitive, more efficient". That is the rote. That is the lecture that has been given indiscriminately by the Government over the last four years.
Any question of subsidising certain sections of industry has been greeted with derision and talk of helping lame ducks. We know perfectly well that that did not apply a fortnight ago with Johnson Matthey, the financial institution which was immediately bailed out to the tune of £200 million. But that was not manufacturing industry.
711 We know perfectly well that aid to industry has been talked about in lame duck style as somehow sapping the energy and the initiative of industry; you cannot support them, as it somehow weakens them. Those are the observations which have been made day after day for the last four years. Any call for protection against competition arising from those things has been once again greeted with the term, "You've got to be more competitive; you've got to be more competitive".
Contrast the attitude when it comes to agriculture. When it comes to agriculture we suddenly find that massive subsidisation, hundreds of millions a year, is not regarded as somehow sapping the energies, the results, and the enterprise of the agricultural industry. Indeed, the Government boast of the increase in productivity and the increase in production.
Nor do they avoid any kind of protection. In fact, they ensure that the agricultural interests in the United Kingdom are more heavily protected than any other industry. This is the problem. The Government are suffering from a kind of intellectual schizophrenia in this matter: one kind of policy for agriculture and a diametrically opposed policy for manufacturing industry.
It is not for me to say, but Mr. Samuel Brittan pointed out in the Financial Times of October 1983 that this may not be altogether unconnected with the fact that many members of Her Majesty's Government have direct financial interests in agriculture; and somebody has to say that.
When we are talking of industry we are talking of people—people who have hopes, aspirations, purposes in very much the same way as Members of your Lordships' House and Members of another place. Because a person is in manufacturing industry it does not follow that he is not entitled to look to the same vistas, the same prospects, as other, more fortunate, people. Yet when it comes to discussing the personnel in industry we have queer expressions coming from the Government about the difference between the creators of wealth and the others. The creators of wealth are always assumed to be those persons, or institutions, who provide the means whereby wealth may be created—either the money or the machinery; in other words, your ordinary, large-scale investor. They are not the creators of wealth. They are the people who, as a matter of caprice, of public purpose or of perfectly laudable resolve provide the means by which wealth may be created.
We should remember that wealth is created by ordinary people working day after day; sometimes, due to the division of labour which is an inseparable and necessary part of the system, under conditions which are repetitive or boring and under conditions which make it impossible for them to identify themselves with the end product. It is not always a very pleasant occupation to be engaged in production industry, but the operative at the point of production is the person who creates the wealth, who performs the action that creates it—and there are millions of them. They are not in the higher reaches of society. They occupy the little streets of England. They occupy the smaller dwellings and millions of them live in substandard accommodation.
712 There are people higher in the chain. There are the foremen and the chargehands, there is the works manager, there are inspectors, progress chasers, production controllers and maintenance personnel. There are machine setters and very often in larger companies there are technical managers. There are designers, production engineers, works directors, technical directors, marketing directors and executives, sales directors and representatives. There is a financial department with a financial controller and chief accountants. There is a research and development department, a managing director and a board of directors. These, all taken together working in conjunction with one another and working together, are the people who produce the wealth of the country. It is the duty and task of the Government, any government of whatever party—whether it be the Conservative Party or at some time in the remote future the Alliance, or whether it be the next Government, which will be a Labour Government—to promote the climate in which industry can function and in which people can work together. This is the only way it can be done.
The one thing the Government must do is to stop confrontation. Many of your Lordships would have been amazed to read in the Sunday Times of 7th April last a report of the Prime Minister's speech in Malaysia, where she said:Workers were being given the message that if they wanted to hang on to their jobs, labour costs would have to come down".The moment any government start to sow fear among workers by saying that their task is to hang on to their jobs, the possibility of industrial harmony and co-operation goes out of the window. The greatest thing the Government can do to help British industry at the moment is to assist those many companies, some of them very large companies, which have excellent industrial relations and good profit records, whose relationship with trade unions is good and strong, rather than to confront and divide by their utterances, their style and above all their actions. They should urge forward a situation in which people work together instead of fighting one another the whole time. That is the real responsibility of Government and the way in which Her Majesty's Government can help industry in 1986 to go forward to a success to be continued, we hope, into the next succeeding years.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, I came this afternoon to the debate in the happy knowledge and certainly with the happy thought that I would respond to a debate about an endeavour. However, I find myself instead in part having to respond to what some noble Lords have used as an attack upon the policies of the Government in the area of industry and industrial relations which I personally should have thought better placed on another occasion. I shall during the course of my remarks respond because the invitation has been made.
My contribution primarily is to respond to the Motion moved by the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, and to give the Government's response to Industry Year. I am glad to do so because in that respect I am in the very pleasant position of responding to a major national initiative established by others. I should first 713 like to pay tribute to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for their initiative in establishing 1986 as Industry Year, and at the same time to acknowledge the work of those concerned individuals who are responsible for the RSA taking this on.
The fact that it is not a Government initiative is of course a great strength. It is one of our fundamental beliefs that Government cannot by itself create a prosperous and expanding economy. Certainly we have a role and it is our role to set the conditions under which economic activity can take place and not to stifle it through regulations and controls; but once Government have set the scene it is for individual men and women in our society to create the wealth—wealth that is, as a number of noble Lords have underlined, so sorely needed to pay for the services and standard of living which we would wish everyone to enjoy. By that I do not mean that the Government in no way wish to dissociate themselves from the activity. I give that assurance to the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, who asked the question. This initiative has the full support of the Government, and I can tell him and other noble Lords that my department will be making a significant contribution to the central running costs. We endorse to the hilt the message that Industry Year is seeking to promote, as indeed do the TUC, the CBI and the British Institute of Management, and others. It is essential that all representative organisations back the project as it is crucial to all of us that Industry Year succeeds.
The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, reminded us of the aims of Industry Year. He said that the aims were to increase an understanding of the role of industry and its service to the community. That is where I agreed with him, but practically everything else he said I disagreed with. He, like the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, used the debate—in my view quite unfairly and quite improperly—to mount an attack on the Government on individual policies and not to support that which the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, had invited us so to do. Unhappily, the remarks of the noble Viscount and his criticisms of Government policies in the industrial arena were misdirected if he directed them to me. Since the Government came to power our policies have improved the productivity, the profitability and the investment in our manufacturing industry enabling it to compete very much more effectively across the marketplaces of the world. Before the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, says "Here we are! Here is the Government lecture on competitiveness!" may I ask: what has his lecture been time and time again? His lecture is, "Spend more taxpayers' money!" I have stood at this Box, I have sat on the Bench opposite and I have heard his lecture more than once. That is his lecture and where does he get the taxpayers' money from? It is from exactly the same place that he and his party obtained it last time: by raising taxes or by borrowing. And that is what we were faced with six years ago. We have transformed the industrial scene in terms of Government policy. That is all I want to say to those two noble Lords this evening.
I believe that Industry Year is not particularly about the analysis of individual problems, which the noble 714 Lord, Lord Ezra, sought to make it, although the problems cannot be forgotten. The message of Industry Year is not about that; it is about attitudes. It will provide, I believe, a focus for a change in people's overall attitude towards industry. Industry Year is about action and not talk; it is about action to make people understand the role of industry, its place in the scheme of things and the fact that the quality of life depends on industrial success. It is about action to build on the good examples of industrial success and the good work already under way linking industry with education. It is about action to encourage industry itself to promote its role in the community, a better understanding of its principles, its practices and to take a more active part in the community. We have to use Industry Year 1986 as a focus to get people's attention and then build on it in the years after.
May I say to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Ripon how very much I enjoyed his contribution. He described the beginning of his working life in industry. I understand that because that is where I started my working life, in a factory. I know what I am talking about—and I address that to the noble Lord opposite. I know what it is like to be in a manufacturing plant, on an assembly line, where the line goes along remorselessly hour after hour. So he should not think that I do not understand what he seems to suggest that I do not.
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I was making no such imputation about him personally. But since he has mentioned me in that connection, may I also say that I had a fairly protracted experience on the production line too.
§ Lord Lucas of Chilworth
My Lords, I shall return to what I was going to say to the right reverend Prelate because I am particularly glad that the Christian Churches are fully involved in Industry Year. The Church's response was the subject, as he reminded us, of a St. George's House consultation last September. It resulted in the formation of the Churches' working group on which he remarked. Historically the Church has celebrated agriculture, and farming particularly, through the harvest festival. Industry Year provides a further opportunity to celebrate and affirm God's providence through nature, technology and human enterprise. The working group is encouraging churches to have special services on Rogation Day to lay emphasis on the importance of industry and the people who work in it. As he reminded us, there is to be a national interdenominational service in St. Paul's.
I am happy to pay a tribute to the Churches' endeavours in this regard. As for (if I may put it this way) our dear friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Norwich, I liked so much of what he said so simply: "Industry is a good thing." We have heard him say this on more than one occasion and I am delighted again to hear it.
My noble friend Lord Polwarth and the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, started their contributions this evening, if I may say so, at the beginning in that they both referred to education. I took it from my noble friend Lord Polwarth that he started the education process in this context at a fairly early age. I believe 715 that the most important area of Industry Year is education. If our young people enter their adult life with a proper appreciation of wealth creation and, even more important, the attitudes and skills enabling them to make a contribution, they will do a great deal to reverse the industrial decline of the past 50 or so years, let alone the seven years to which the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, referred.
In that context, Industry Year is extremely well timed. The 1980s look like being one of the most significant decades for educational change in this century: the prospects of a complete revision of the examination system and a thorough review of the curriculum. As a result of these changes, we are already seeing a much greater interest in making the curriculum relevant both to industry and to the young people themselves. It is interesting to note that of all the working groups within Industry Year, the education working group has been, as I understand it, the most productive to date, reflecting the tremendous willingness of those in education to play their part.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Rochester, I hope that the young people will respond. In this area, above all others, Industry Year will not be working barren land but land which is very fertile. The teaching profession, after all, are in the best place to see the impact of industrial decline and youth employment opportunities. I congratulate those very many teachers who are dedicated to playing their part in creating a more relevant curriculum, often against pressures from parents who see any change in education, however necessarily, as some terrible and awful form of decline.
In paying regard to the tremendous amount of work—distinguished work, if I may say so—that the noble Lord, Lord Reilly, has contributed for the Design Council, I was heartened by what he said, and that took me almost automatically to what the noble Earl, Lord Munster, had to say. I agree; I think that too many firms still regard design as an afterthought, believing that investment in design is a luxury in times of economic difficulty. There are still, I know, boardrooms up and down the country where design is never discussed and designers are certainly never represented. We in Britain must compete on design and quality rather than relying on price and price alone. I believe it is vital that managers in every sphere of economic activity should be aware of the contribution that the designer can make to the success of the company's operation. My department has been raising the level of awareness over the past three years, particularly with our Design for Profit campaign, which was in 1983, and with the continuing success of our funded consultancy schemes. Industry Year will provide an opportunity to reinforce this message—another area on which I hope the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, will take heart that Government are meaning what they say.
May I touch briefly on the point that the noble Lord, Lord Whaddon, made in his interesting contribution? He was talking about secondments between industry, commerce and the Civil Service; which again is an area which we think is tremendously important. I should tell him that currently we have over 300 secondments both in and out of the Civil Service; and in the 716 Department of Trade and Industry there are currently 40 inward secondees, and we have 40 of our own people outside in industry. There is a great deal of benefit both to the department and, I believe, to industry in this project. The noble Lord, Lord Hayter, spoke about television and publicity. Industry Year must not be merely a publicity campaign. Industry itself must use Industry Year to consider why its public standing is low and how the position can be reversed. If it is left to organisations outside industry to make the case, even organisations as sympathetic as the RSA, then industry cannot expect the case to be made successfully. I would want every chairman of every company therefore to recognise Industry Year as an opportunity. It may have problems, undeniably, but it has always been said, has it not, that one man's problems are another man's opportunities?
I believe there are opportunities for companies and, indeed, a challenge: an opportunity to get over a more positive message and a challenge to recognise that industry is perhaps far from perfect, that some of the negative impressions of industry are fully justified and that improvements in the relationship between industry and the rest of the community need to be made. I am not, of course, talking in terms of confrontation, because I believe that the community appreciates that industry is a wealth creator—and that is something a little different from profit.
I have tried in my remarks to underline the reasons why Industry Year is so important, why it is a challenge for Government and society as a whole. I would hope, as my noble friend Lord Polwarth hopes, that in this House, and indeed elsewhere, the next question to be asked will be: What can I do to help? I can assure your Lordships that the Government will be playing their part, and the team of people for Industry Year, both regionally and nationally, will, I am quite confident, be full of ideas, and will be able to suggest to people who wish to make a contribution to Industry Year how that contribution may in fact be made.
I hope it will not be just those involved in industry who will ask, "How can I help?" but also those in commerce—indeed, in all walks of society, whose future depends so much upon a successful industrial sector to create wealth. Many of the matters that come before your Lordships' House are, quite rightly, concerned with how to distribute wealth. But the creation of wealth is a prerequisite of that debate, and I believe that Industry Year could be a significant opportunity to further that aim and to further wealth creation. I am delighted that we have been able to have this debate this evening. I thank the noble Earl, Lord Shannon, and indeed all noble Lords who have taken part.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ The Earl of Shannon
My Lords, I can hardly claim to be disappointed, because it is a great pleasure being able to initiate a debate which has received so much support. I should like to thank all those noble Lords who have participated, and also the Minister for his kind and thoughtful response. If we can impart our enthusiasm throughout the country, Industry Year 1986 will undoubtedly succeed.
Your Lordships' House never fails to surprise one. I thought that I could reasonably be said to be an "odd 717 one out" in having practised in industry as a pipe-work engineer and later as a professional blacksmith, but I must concede precedence to a Prelate in electronics and to his admirable maiden speech.
The noble Lord, Lord Ezra, called for a strong lead and a firm commitment to the regeneration of industry by Government—a strong and, above all, consistent lead, which others can support. The noble Lords, Lord Polwarth and Lord Whaddon, referred to the rewards in industry. They must be comparable with service employment. Also there must be pride, dignity and a future in industrial employment, and it must be seen to be there. We had an interesting suggestion of interchange of personnel between industry and the Civil Service, and I think we were all very interested to hear the noble Minister's response to that suggestion.
The noble Earl, Lord Munster, on the subject of design, cleared up a little matter that has been puzzling me for many years. I think I heard him say that British Airways had gone to an American designer. Now I know why they have rectangular cups! They may stack or store very well, but, for their major purpose in life, they are a disaster. If your Lordships try to drink out of a cup with a straight edge, especially in an aeroplane in a constricted space, you will realise that British Airways got all they deserved.
The noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, referred to urgent and substantial funds for research and for education, matched to industrial requirements. He drew attention to the responsibility of industry to the community in the social sphere. The noble Lord, Lord Rochester, reminded us that it was as long ago as 1977 that this subject was mooted in more or less the same terms in which we have been referring to it this evening.
With regard to those contributions which referred to party political points, I think it would be invidious and inappropriate for someone from these Benches to comment on them, so I will pass over them.
I am sure that your Lordships' comments will be of great value to the Industry Year team, and especially such comments as the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Whaddon, for the media presentation of industry. The slogan of Industry Year 1986 is "Thanks to Industry". Let us all show our gratitude by raising, and encouraging others to raise, industry in our estimation. Perhaps I might finish by quoting the right reverend Prelate's remarks as another slogan: "Industry is a good thing". My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.