Carmaker Jaguar Land-Rover needs government support to continue providing jobs in Birmingham and Solihull, an MP has warned.
Ministers were urged to back the automotive sector by Erdington MP Jack Dromey (Lab), whose constituency includes Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant, during a heated Commons debate on the future of the economy.
Labour MPs from Birmingham and the Black Country accused the coalition government of cutting back on vital Government funding for industry.
But local Conservatives claimed Labour had wasted millions on bureaucracy and allowed Britain’s budget deficit to soar.
Speaking in a Commons debate attended by Business Secretary Vince Cable, Mr Dromey said: “Birmingham is historically the laboratory of manufacturing and of the genius and enterprise of the British people; too often, now, it is British genius but made in China.
“Our single biggest task is the renaissance of manufacturing in our country. That will not happen if Government once again abandon British manufacturing.”
This is why the Government should provide funding for manufacturing, he said.
“I hope that in refocusing current support, it is not so severely circumscribed as to avoid support for world-beating companies such as Jaguar Land Rover.
“The Jaguar plant in my constituency is at the heart of a hub of 150,000 people in the Midlands who depend on the motor industry for their livelihoods.”
He criticised Government plans to scrap Advantage West Midlands, a Government quango spending £200 million of taxpayers’ money each year to support local employers.
But Margot James, new MP for Stourbridge (Con), claimed that small businesses in the Black Country had been unable to get any help from Advantage West Midlands because of the bureaucracy and paperwork involved.
The Government’s top priority should be to get the budget deficit under control, she said.
“What business needs, first and foremost, is for sanity to be restored to the public finances. A robust deficit reduction plan that will enable us to keep interest rates low is one thing that will support industry far more than this support programme and that support programme.”
Speaking earlier in the debate, Dr Cable insisted that many carmakers had survived without Government help.
“It is worth underlining the point that, in large parts of the British car industry, brilliant companies have got through the recession without Government support. My first visit as a Minister was to the Bentley factory in Crewe . . . it was very badly hit by the recession - it lost half its output - but it kept going.
“The management took a big pay cut, and the workers joined them, accepting that they had joint responsibility for the company. The company survived; it is now flourishing - it has some of the most sophisticated technology in Britain - and it did all that without a Government guarantee.”