Miliband vows to champion business


Published: Thursday 26th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Ed Miliband has pledged to be a “champion” for engineering and manufacturing if he becomes prime minister after the general election.

Wooing business figures at the EEF conference, the Labour leader warned they may not always agree with what his government does.

But he insisted they would always have “a voice”, adding: “Our future depends on you.”

Mr Miliband set out a range of policies to help business and improve young people’s prospects in his speech, including competitive tax rates, more apprenticeships, vocational and technical education.

“Our plan to extend prosperity to all starts where it has to: with our young people,” he said.

“To build the economy we need in the 21st century we need all of our young people to be developing the skills necessary to compete in the world.”

Mr Miliband went on: “We will need to train 160,000 engineers a year to meet the demands of businesses like yours …

“But today we are producing far fewer than we need.

“If the trend continues over the next five years we will be faced with a shortfall of over 400,000 engineers by around 2020.

“Depriving our country of wealth creation and our young people of opportunity. We must turn this round.”

Mr Miliband said he wanted to give businesses more control over funding, as well as asking companies who win government contracts and those recruiting from outside the EU to take on apprentices.

“Our 10 year aim, our shared mission as a country, must be to ensure that as many young people leaving school at 18 go on to an apprenticeship as go into higher education,” he added.

Mr Miliband also stressed his desire to stay in the EU – in contrast to the Tories’ commitment to an in-out referendum.

“There is no greater threat to the long-term stability and prosperity of Britain and British business than leaving the European Union,” he said.

“That is why it is so wrong to play fast and loose with our membership of the European Union.”

The Labour leader went on: “If I am Prime Minister after May 7, I will champion your cause …

“I believe manufacturing and engineering are the wave of the future. Not simply the pride of our past.

“I dare say if I am Prime Minister we won’t always agree. But you will always have a voice. We will always listen.

“We will always engage in dialogue. And we will always strive to work together. Our future depends on it.”

Mr Miliband was asked about energy prices, spending on science and engineering research and skills funding during a question and answer session. He was also asked if all MPs should have a second job – in manufacturing.

The Labour leader said he believed one job for MPs was a better principle than two. Historically MPs had held other jobs, but the public now expected them to concentrate on their parliamentary work, he said.

Mr Miliband defended his plan to freeze energy prices, adding that decisions on issues such as skills funding should be devolved from Whitehall.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF, said: “Ed Miliband’s clear support for manufacturing and engineering and its critical requirement for skills and innovation are welcome.

“If Labour is in power later this year they must seek to build on what’s worked well in the last few years – including sector industrial strategies, support for innovation and competitive business taxes.”

Published: Thursday 26th February 2015 by The News Editor

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